We’ll replenish 120% of the water we consume by 2030, and we’re actively supporting water security and ecosystems where we operate. In honor of Vanessa Fox leaving Google, the “Buffy” update was christened. No one was quite sure what happened, and Matt Cutts suggested that Buffy was just an accumulation of smaller changes. Google released their monthly Search Highlights, with 39 updates in May. Major changes included Penguin improvements, better link-scheme detection, changes to title/snippet rewriting, and updates to Google News. Google rolled out another Panda data refresh, but this appeared to be data only and had a much smaller impact than Panda 3.7.
Google announced a Core Update that appeared to roll out quickly, with the bulk of the impact hitting on December 3rd. MozCast hit 112°F, on par with the March 2020 Core Update and August 2018 “Medic” Update. Some sites reported reversals a few days later, but this seems to have been limited. The key was to leverage Web users’ own ranking abilities by tracking each Web site’s “backing links”—that is, the number of other pages linked to them. Most search engines simply returned a list of Web sites ranked by how often a search phrase appeared on them. Further, a link from a heavily linked Web site would be a more valuable “vote” than one from a more obscure Web site.
The timing was unclear, but it seemed to roll out just prior to Penguin 2.0 in the US and possibly the same day internationally. After months of speculation bordering on hype, the 4th Penguin update (dubbed “2.0” by Google) arrived with only moderate impact. The exact nature of the changes were unclear, but some evidence suggested that Penguin 2.0 was more finely targeted to the page level. This was not the “everflux” many people had expected after Panda #25.
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Google officially launched their jobs portal, including a stand-alone 3-pack of job listings in search results. These results drew data from almost all of the major providers, including LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder. Algorithm trackers and webmaster chatter spotted increasing flux starting around September 25th, which seemed to spike on the 27th, after a period of relative calm. Algorithm trackers and webmaster chatter detected a high amount of flux, peaking around November 15.
Internet search, advertising, apps, and maps, as well as the mobile operating system Android and the video-sharing site YouTube, remained under Google. Separate Google ventures—such as longevity research company Calico, home-products company Nest, and research lab Google X—became separate firms under Alphabet. Page became CEO of Alphabet, Brin its president, and Schmidt its executive chairman.