Important SEO Algorithm Changes over the past 3 years

Every year Google is thought to change the search algorithm between 500-600 times. A large percentage are very minor and will go unnoticed to many businesses but they do occasionally roll out large scale updates. You may have heard of the Google Panda and Penguin updates.
These had a huge impact on how data was seen and used by Google and how they then listed your links on the search engine results page. For Web Marketers like myself, knowing the dates of these changes can help understand and explain changes in organic web traffic.
Below are some examples of the large scale updates rolled out by Google over the past 3 years.

2016:

February 23rd 2016 – Adwords Shake Up:

Major changes were made to Adwords, removing the right hand column displaying the ad’s and moving the ad’s to the top of the page. This was a paid search update however it did cause issues with CTR (Click Through Ratio) for paid and organic results.

May 12th 2016 – Mobile Friendly 2:

In 2015 Google rolled out the first Mobile Friendly update. This time there was a boost for websites that are mobile friendly. Fortunately by this period, 80% of our customers websites were already mobile optimised. So we didn’t really feel the affects of this.

September 23rd 2016 – Penguin 4 Announcement:

Google announces the release of the penguin update, various sources analysed the initial impacts and these were minimal. However it was later revealed that the roll out was unusually long and across multi phases. In this update Google started looking at more page specific content as opposed to overall site wide content. So the content on a page was now more important than spamming the page with keywords.

2017:

January 10th 2017 – Intrusive Interstitial (Pop up adverts) Penalty:

Google started to penalise websites that showed aggressive adverts and pop-ups on mobile websites that may dampen a users experience. Google did provide a rare warning five months prior to the release of this update. The affects were minimal but still something to consider when thinking of adding calls to action to your website.

April 16th 2017 – Google Prioritising HTTPS websites:

According to numerous sources online, half of the page 1 results were websites utilising a HTTPS Certificate. This later increased to around 75% by the end of 2017. If you want to find out how we can add a HTTPS certificate to your website than please click here.

November 30th 2017 – Meta Description Limit increased:

This was an unconfirmed update however, numerous sources found that after testing longer search snippets for over two years, Google’s limit was now 300 and not 155 which is nearly double the length. Google later went on to update how snippets were handled but didn’t provide anymore in-depth details.

2018:

March 26th 2018 – Mobile First Indexing:

Google announces that it will be rolling out mobile first indexing, this had been tested for many months and Google said that they will be rolling out the update gradually. In the past Google bots have always looked at desktop content, which caused issues for mobile users when performing searches and what links that returned.
Google will now be looking at both the content on Desktop and Mobile and this will be stored in a single index. Google may still show content from a mobile site that is slow loading and not optimised specifically for mobile, however you will be in a much better position for being found if your website is optimised for mobile.

May 13th 2018 – Snippet Length Drop:

Back in November 2017, we saw Google increase the limit of the meta descriptions to 300+ characters. This was then rolled back to around 155-160 characters. So any Meta information that was changed in this time needed to be readdresed and optimised accordingly. We manage SEO for a number of our clients, giving them peace of mind that we keep an eye on trends and optimise their websites accordingly.

July 9th 2018 – Mobile Speed Update:

So after Google announced six months prior that they will be releasing a mobile page speed update, the update was rolled out. Now websites that loaded slowly on mobile devices would be penalised on the search engine. Your mobile page speed is now a ranking factor and part of Google’s elaborate algorithm. So make sure your website loads well on all devices and not only desktop. Google has a free tool that you can use called PageSpeed Insights, simply visit – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ and enter your website URL.

July 24th 2018 – Chrome Security Warnings:

 
Google’s popular website browser (Chrome) is now showing a “Not Secure” message just adjacent of the address bar if you do not have a HTTPS certificate. So if your website isn’t secured and showing this message it can impact users trust on your website and deter them from staying on your site. In turn impacting your bounce rate and affecting your Google rankings.
If you would like any help or more information on these matters, please feel free to get in touch with us.