Biggest Pushes In SEO For Google
Very few companies have evolved as rapidly or as substantially as Google’s search engine. In the beginning, SEO was nothing more than the practice of stuffing keywords, modifying back-end code, and spamming hyperlinks into a search bar until you started matching keywords. Check out this website, to see a long, detailed list of Google algorithm updates since the beginning of the 21st century. Although Google makes changes to their SEO services quite frequently, below is a list of the most substantial and noticeable updates that every user should understand. Google has had their search foundation set up since the mid-2000s, so they have come a long way. Let’s take a look at their most modern efforts to SEO advancement.
The Cleaning of Content
Following the Panda update in 2011, spammy content and keyword stuffing dwindled to a near death. Google has placed an enormous amount of their energy into refining their search engine so it can produce the “best” content for a user. The update called for the eradication of “content farms” which were websites that had an abundant amount of inadequate information. The sites were engineered to rank highly in Google searches by hiding keywords on the page.. By punishing these spammy sites, Google was able to raise the ranking of websites that had higher quality content, so users had a more precise and accurate search experience.
The Pigeon Update
The Pigeon update contributed to the reshaping of the local search engine. Launched in 2014, this update, “provides more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals." It provides a different ranking of sites depending on where you are. Thanks to mobile devices, local searches have become more familiar. For instance, this update allowed individuals to search for something like “food near me” while the engine generated a list of the top websites based upon the individual’s location. Simply put, Google is making the information you receive more applicable to what you are trying to find.
The popularity of mobile devices has grown tremendously since the 2007 release of the iPhone. With this, Google has advanced tremendously to emphasize the importance of developing mobile interaction. Recently, mobile searches excelled past desktop searches for Google users. Their mobile-friendly update which occurred in two separate phases was one of the most important updates Google has ever done.
Punishing Pop-Up Ads Mobile
One of the most recent changes in Google SEO is their strenuous efforts to eliminate pop-up ads specific to mobile devices. These pop-up ads, also known as “intrusive interstitials,” will be removed and penalized if it conceals the primary content, either previous to or while the user is accessing it. The reasoning backing the update comes from Google’s continuous drive to enhance the mobile experience. They suggest these intrusive interstitials offer a poor experience to users compared to pages, where the content emerges instantly and undisturbed. According to SmartInsights.com, Google defines negative popup ads with three examples. They are as follows:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.
The same article mentions that it would not penalize the popup if they were used responsibly. The examples for those instances are as follows:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
As Google continues to perfect their interface for mobile users, I’m confident that we will see many more updates regarding the enhancement of the way a user interacts with the search engine through a smartphone.
Encrypted with SSL (HTTPS)
Within the last year, Google has made tremendous efforts to eliminate the unencrypted internet by deeming nearly two-thirds of the web unsafe. They are attempting to form a secure channel with every website on the internet. The HTTPS is essentially an added security layer over the original HTTP. "The goal of this proposal is to more clearly display to users that HTTP provides no data security," Google's Chris Palmer wrote. According to motherboard.vice.com, “The rationale is that on every website served over HTTP the data exchanged between the site's server and the user is in the clear, meaning anyone with the ability to snoop on the connection, be it a hacker at a coffee shop or a repressive government, could steal passwords, private messages, or other sensitive information.” The author of the article continues to say, “But HTTPS doesn't just protect user data, it also ensures that the user is really connecting to the right site and not an imposter one. This is important because setting up a fake version of a website users normally trust is a favorite tactic of hackers and malicious actors. HTTPS also ensures that a malicious third party can't hijack the connection and insert malware or censor information." Encrypted sites are also ranked higher than unencrypted sites. But Google is far from the only large competitor on the web working for HTTPS. Apple and Mozilla have both declared that they want more web encryption. And even more so, the US government has taken significant steps in that direction, demanding all .gov sites to be HTTPS by standard before the conclusion of this year.
SearchEngineLand.com on whether an individual should use HTTPS: “If you run a site in the e-commerce, financial, search, social networking or related fields, you should already be running HTTPS on it. In fact, if your site utilizes a member login or any type of shopping cart, you should really switch to HTTPS. On the other hand, if you’re running a blog, brochure site, news site, or any sort of information site where users don’t provide you with any personal information, I would recommend not using HTTPS. It costs money; it takes resources to implement; it slows down your site; it’s not needed; and it won’t hurt your rankings. Long story short: if you make the switch, do it for the users and not because Google said it’s a ranking signal, because it really isn’t.”
From the birth of SEO to its most recent update, the understanding of the advancements Google has provided for us will help make you a better marketer. Google is always pushing the boundaries of SEO — So as we work alongside it, make sure you stay focused on the next ten years of search engine updates so you can stay relevant in the web world.