Much effort is devoted nowadays to derive accurate finite element (FE) models to be used for structural health monitoring, damage detection and assessment. However, formation of a FE model representative of the original structure is a difficult task. Model updating is a branch of optimization which calibrates the FE model by comparing the modal properties of the actual structure with these of the FE predictions. As the number of experimental measurements is usually much smaller than the number of uncertain parameters, and, consequently, not all uncertain parameters are selected for model updating, different local minima may exist in the solution space. Experimental noise further exacerbates the problem. The attainment of a global solution in a multi-dimensional search space is a challenging problem. Global optimization algorithms (GOAs) have received interest in the previous decade to solve this problem, but no GOA can ensure the detection of the global minimum either. To counter this problem, a combination of GOA with sequential niche technique (SNT) has been proposed in this research which systematically searches the whole solution space. A dynamically tested full scale pedestrian bridge is taken as a case study. Two different GOAs, namely particle swarm optimization (PSO) and genetic algorithm (GA), are investigated in combination with SNT. The results of these GOA are compared in terms of their efficiency in detecting global minima. The systematic search enables to find different solutions in the search space, thus increasing the confidence of finding the global minimum.