Every year, Google quietly releases hundreds of refinements to their search engine algorithms. Most of these updates are small, incremental changes that go largely unnoticed. The major upgrades, however, receive serious coverage by mainstream news outlets and bloggers alike due to the momentous impact that they have on the broader web at every level.
Though more than a year has passed since its inaugural rollout, the effects of the infamous Panda update of 2011 are still being felt today. Impacting nearly 12% of web search queries right out of the gate, it was responsible for traffic declines at websites both large and small in a matter of hours. To fully understand how the latest Google updates work and why they were necessary, some history is in order.