Bourbon Update

Google executed an algorithm update between May 20, 2005 and June 06, 2005, which became known as the Bourbon Update. Its purpose was to improve filtering of spam from the SERP and updating of backlinks and PageRank of websites. In the fight against websites that violate Google’s the first target was the detection of duplicate content and factors which concerned the entire website rather than individual pages, see domain authority.


Consequences of the update[edit]

SEO expert Brett Tabke from the [ WebmasterWorld] forum presented a thread on the consequences of the Bourbon update on the Internet, which comprises today more than a thousand posts from concerned specialists. According to it, the Bourbon update focused mainly on the following new features:

Duplicate content[edit]

If identical or very similar content is found on multiple pages, both within and outside of the domain in question, then Google interprets this as an unfair, dishonest practice to improve ranking. Google can more accurately find such duplicates since this update, even if it is not completely identical (near duplicate content).

Links without thematic relevance[edit]

If websites link to another website without the content actually being relevant, the website receiving the link may be downgraded.

Inferior links[edit]

Google might suspect link buying or link exchanges if a lot of links from domains with less credibility are directed to a strong website. Backlinks that refer directly to spam, will definitely downgrade a website after this update.

”Fraternal linking”[edit]

Google targeted entire networks of websites which all belonged to the same operator and all linked to the same homepage just to improve their ranking. Artificial and natural links are being better differentiated after the update.


Brett Tabke of WebmasterWorld was also responsible for the name of the update. The WMW Webmaster Conference was held in New Orleans in 2005 and the Google update was named after the famously local Bourbon Street.


Directly after the Bourbon update, programmers and publishers were concerned since search results were only gradually findable again. Fluctuations in the SERPs were observable over several weeks. Google therefore asked for patience until the update would be running reliably on all Google servers. In June 2005, there were speculations in programmer forums about bugs, worsening or improvements in the ranking associated with Google AdSense, and errors in assigning duplicate content which would downgrade original websites incorrectly.

Web Links[edit]