Google’s algorithm is ever-evolving, keeping SEOs on their toes when it comes to developing strategies and techniques for reaching the top of search results pages.
Every year new updates are applied by Google, looking to provide the best search experience for their users. In fact, 500 to 600 algorithmic changes are made each year. The vast majority of these are minor tweaks and updates. However, these changes also include major updates that can significantly affect search results.
In this post, we look back at the major algorithmic updates that were brought in by Google during 2014. The dates of these updates can help in understanding any changes that may have occurred in your traffic or rankings during the last year.
Google refreshed their Page Layout, or Top Heavy, algorithm. Initially launched in 2012, the filter is designed to penalise or downgrade sites that contain too many advertisements above the fold, or are too distracting to users.
The Payday Loan algorithm was updated, targeting particularly spammy queries.
A major Panda update was rolled out, having a large impact on search results, with around 7.5% of English search queries affected. The algorithm targets low quality content and prevents it from working its way into top search rankings.
Another update to the Payday Loan algorithm only a few weeks after 2.0. Google statements suggested that whilst 2.0 targeted specific sites, 3.0 looked more at the spammy queries.
Google dropped the authorship photos from search results pages, much to the surprise of those in the SEO industry. This was something that had been promoted by Google only for them to change their mind.
The Pigeon update brought about big changes in some local search results. The algorithm brings the local algorithm closer to the core algorithms. Pigeon rolled out in the US on this date, and brought to the UK in December.
It was announced by Google that making your site more secure using HTTPS would give a very small rankings boost. Although confirmed as only a lightweight signal, it was implied that this may gain more weight in future.
It was announced that authorship markup would be completely removed from the search results pages. This follows on from dropping of authorship photos in June.
Another substantial Panda update was rolled out targeting thin or poor quality content. This roll out was a prolonged and slow rollout so he date is not set in stone here.
A new “In The News” Box was brought into search results pages, expanding news links to listings from a wider range of sites and sources. This had an effect on traffic to major news sites.
This much-awaited update was brought in over a year after the prior Penguin update, which targets low quality linking. Timing of this rollout is unclear as it is stated to have been rolled out over a number of weeks. It was later announced that Penguin will carry on continuously updating.
Google brought out a new update to their algorithm designed to target digital media piracy, over 2 years later than the original release of Pirate. This saw changes in rankings for a small selection of sites.
2014 saw a fair few major updates to Google’s algorithms, shaking up the search rankings. This list goes to show just how much can happen in a year and the importance of keeping up to date and aware in the SEO industry.
This year, we can expect to see plenty more updates and changes throughout 2015. We’ll be sure to report on these as and when they happen, so watch this space.