6 Must-Know Changes to Google’s Search Engine Results Pages

6 Must-Know Changes to Google’s Search Engine Results Pages

Google has made a number of important changes to how they rank and display results in their search engine results pages over the last six months.

Some you might have heard about and others you might not. Either way, it’s important to know whether your site has suffered or benefitted from these changes. If your site has suffered, it’s crucial that you address the problem so that your website continues to generate traffic, leads and sales for your business.

The search engine giant is continually looking to improve the quality and relevancy of their results for its users, so here are six of the most notable changes they’ve made over the past six months, and how they affect rankings.

1. Mobile-Friendliness as a Ranking Factor (February 2015)

With browsing via mobile devices growing rapidly, it was no surprise when Google announced that as of Tuesday, 21st April 2015 your website’s mobile-friendliness will have a ‘significant impact’ on how your site is ranked within their search results. In a nutshell, if you site isn’t deemed mobile-friendly, Google simply will not rank your web pages.

Previously, Google has created updates to make sure our websites are configured properly and viewable on mobile devices. But now, Google wants to start making the mobile browsing experience as easy as possible by only displaying mobile-friendly sites in its search results.

So, if you have found that your site’s mobile rankings have dropped dramatically, it could well be due to this latest algorithm update.

The search engine has provided a guide to making your site mobile-friendly, as well as a Mobile-Friendly Test. to  discover how well your site fares.

With mobile traffic still rising make sure you’re not left behind!

2. Twitter Results in Search (February 2015)

Google struck a deal with Twitter in February to include the social network service’s tweets in its search results.

The deal means, that sometime before July this year, tweets will start to appear in Google’s search results, immediately after they are posted.

Twitter has more than 302 million monthly active users, posting up to 140-character tweets at a time – that’s a lot of results for  Google to process into its results!

This means that your tweets will have a larger audience than ever before.  Does this mean more junk in Google’s results?  More clicks to their AdWords ads?  Or more up to date relevant information for users?  Time will tell…

3. Pigeon Expands to the UK (December 2014)

Google confirmed in mid-December that their local Pigeon update was rolled out in the United Kingdom, (as well as other countries), during the middle or towards the end of the Christmas shopping season.

The Pigeon update had gone live in the USA in July 2014 with the intention of providing more accurate, relevant and useful local search results.

So, if you or your client is a florist in Leeds, or a butcher in Manchester, you may have noticed some changes in your rankings at the end of last year.

Overall though, Pigeon hasn’t affected anything too major in the results and a number of businesses would not have noticed any change. The impact this update had on companies varied depending on the specific businesses.

4. Mobile-Friendly (November 2014)

Google launched their ‘mobile-friendly’ label in its mobile search results towards the end of last year. This came after months and months of testing from the search giant.

Here is how the mobile-friendly label looks:

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By doing this Google is making it clear to their users, particular mobile browsers, whether or not a website is mobile-friendly before they click on the result.

Perhaps a precursor to the most recent mobile-friendly rankings update referenced in point one, but it certainly underlines how important a mobile-friendly, or responsive, website is these days in the user journey and user experience.

Visiting a website on your mobile that is difficult to navigate is incredibly off-putting and will cost you business. So, if you want to appear in Google’s results on mobile devices, make sure you follow the steps indicated in the first point.

5. Continuous Penguin updates (December 2014)

The Google Penguin algorithm update was originally rolled out more than three years ago, aimed at hitting websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, such as black-hat SEO techniques to manipulate the number of links pointing to a website.

Originally the algorithm update only affected websites initially or when Google hit the update button every few months.  A Google spokesperson confirmed to Search Engine Land in mid-December 2014 that they are now continuously updating the Penguin algorithm.

Previously, Google algorithm updates had been processed offline and published on a specific date – causing a massive change in search results overnight.

If you are suffering from a Penguin penalty, the most obvious signs are that your traffic has dropped off as a result of your website rankings in Google decreasing or even being kicked out altogether.

So, if you’re removing and disavowing links, looking to clear your website of a Penguin penalty you can see the benefit almost immediately, rather than waiting the many months some of our penalty removal clients had to endure previously!

6. Penguin 3.0 (October 2014)

Six months ago Google pressed the go button on its third Penguin update, causing a  noticeable change to many websites’ rankings in the SERPs.

Penguin 2.0 had been released at the beginning of October 2013 and the original Penguin release was in April 2012.

The effects of a business or website suffering from the Penguin update can be catastrophic.  Companies that are reliant on Google for a significant amount of business and traffic would face issues should their site drop out of Google as a result of underhand SEO and link building tactics.

To avoid being hit simply avoid breaking any rules in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Or, if you have been hit, you can contact us to use our penalty recovery service.

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