List of Google Updates 2021 [Updated]

Every year, Google rolls out a new Google Update list to make search engines ranking more comprehensive and apt for people to ensure a smooth user experience. The list includes all the small and remarkable updates that directly affect SEO and search algorithms on the search engine. These changes might not be clearly noticeable, but unknowingly they impact our search pages and advertising drastically, making the process either smooth or more troubling than before. Each year it introduces new features and updates, and 2021 was not different. 

Knowing what changes Google is making enables companies and brands to alter their workings accordingly for a better page reach and smooth procession of various other tasks. These changes usually affect the way page rankings are placed by the crawlers. The prominence of such updates and changes focuses on making search results more accurate. Undoubtedly, pre-existing spaces face changes due to these updates, but knowing what changes are made can help improve pages accordingly.

1. Passage Indexing– February 2021

Passage Indexing or Passage Ranking update enables Google to rank paragraphs and sentences from the relevant pages. Now, not only web pages but the most suitable paragraphs and sentences will be highlighted in the Google search results. The update aims to make searching results convenient for users, finding the answers to their query without reading through a web page. The AI-enabled feature’s key point is to deliver quality search results while only displaying the key moments of a video under navigation.

2. Featured Snippets Drop– February 2021

Featured Snippet is the brief answer that comes up while searching for something. Snippet appears at the top of a search page to precisely answer the inserted query. In the February Google update, featured snippets noticed a decrease in the number of appearances by several tracking tools. Many sites get traffic heavily with the help of featured snippets promoting their content. But with a significant decline in snippets, lower-ranking pages may suffer. Many speculated that this could be a bug from Google’s end. 

3. Recovering Featured Snippets– March 2021

After further research and data analysis, it was established that the featured snippets drop was a bug and not a deliberate action from the company’s side. In February, Google experienced a big drop in the snippet feature, which caused snippets to appear only in a few search results. The drop recovered to a more stable version in March, allowing snippets to appear as it always did. However, Google did not officially address the situation, nor did it offer any confirmation for the same.

4. Product Reviews Update– April 2021

In the product reviews update announced by Google, the platform will reward well-researched and more detailed reviews than the thin, brief reviews. This means page rankings will be affected based on the type of reviews it receives. According to Google’s report, products that include issues addressed, quantitative measurements, decision-making factors, benefits, and drawbacks will be considered the well-written reviews eligible under the rewarding system, creating a better page ranking.

5. Core Update– June 2021

June marked the commencement of a two-tiered core update, half of which was released in June 2021 and the other half in July 2021. The update drastically changed rankings for several pages ranked on top of the SERPs, while some winning sites experienced sudden growth in their traffic and page rank. Google assured pages that suffered a loss in the first half of the update would recover in the next core update. Overall, the update is addressed to ‘focus on offering the best content they can.’ 

6. Spam Update– June 2021

Google rolled over a spam link update in June, which led the sites to reassess their backlinks. The update rolled over a two-week period that included focusing and nullifying the link spam on websites. To summarize, the update was a drawback for any website using irrelevant backlinks or paid links to increase page rank. The algorithm can also identify links across multiple languages – it can impact multiple sites. 

7. Page Experience Update– June 2021

For site owners to improve their page experience, Google’s page experience update rolled out with a set of alterations, namely Core Web Vitals. The new metrics prioritized factors that improve user experience on the sites. These changes included

  • LCP: Largest Contentful Paint, gauging how immediately the content present on the main page loads.
  • FID: First Input Delay, assessing how quickly the web page responds to a user’s action on the very first click.
  • CLS: Cumulative Layout Shift, ensuring the stability of layout.

8. Core Update– July 2021

The follow-up of June’s core update arrived in July, which ranked high in algorithm volatility. High levels of ranking fluctuations were seen in the recent update. As opposed to the claims made in the June algorithm update, the July update turned out to be a lot more unstable. The fluctuation was uniform on all devices. Despite the heavy fluctuations, many pages emerged as winners with higher page rankings than their performance before the core update was coined.

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Purpose of Constant Google Algorithm Updates

Extensive research and experiments by users have resulted in people deceiving their way to higher page ranks by shortcuts and unacceptable practices. These practices tend to misguide users from getting the right results. Thus, Google constantly improves its algorithms and rolls out updates to keep such malpractices in check. 

In addition to making SERP results more relevant and quick, Google intends on keeping it trouble-free, which is why constant updates and bug fixes are rolled out more frequently than is expected of the platform.

Tips to Undergo Updates Safely

Not all pages are ranked higher due to irrelevant content or spammy links, yet they are likely to suffer the defeats an algorithm update brings from time to time. For many such pages that wish to maintain their ranking and protect their sites from experiencing a freefall, a few tips might help to achieve the task. Preparing for an algorithm rollover can greatly benefit your site and maintain stability under heavy changes. 

  • Ensure presence of only high-quality content 
  • Perform periodic technical checks
  • Use the most relevant keywords
  • Enhance site speed to improve user experience
  • Use only relevant backlinks

Learn More to Stay Relevant

Keeping up to date with the Google policies can get pretty challenging due lack of relevant knowledge and appropriate resources. This is where online certification courses can come to your rescue. Advanced Certificate in Digital Marketing and Communication offered by upGrad is one such program preparing students to keep up with the fast-paced world of digital analytics. 

upGrad’s comprehensive learning programs include an 85+ countries learner base, with 40,000+ paid learners globally. All the courses offered by upGrad promise 360-degree career assistance with special attention to global networking, preparing learners to take challenges head-on!


Since Google algorithm updates are consistent, site owners must prepare beforehand to keep up with such changes without experiencing any major drawbacks. Warranting an organically ranked site is the best way to make it through such updates without falling from the page rank.

What is the Google Algorithm for SEO?

Google algorithm for SEO undertakes the keyword research and placement in consideration while ranking pages. By specifying keywords, sites can offer accuracy to sync well with the searched question.

What are the major Google updates for 2021?

The core Google update, rolled in July 2021, has three major points as their parameters to enhance the overall user experience. These parts incorporate changes meant to make the user experience smooth and swift on the websites.

How do algorithms affect SEO?

Google’s algorithm update impacts SEO by making changes to the page ranking metrics. For example, the recent spam link update removed an unnecessary amount of backlinks included in any website. As the number of SEO backlinks improves the page rank of any website, backlinks removed may drop page rank.

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