Google updates are well known by marketers, but clients rarely know what an algorithm change can mean for their business. Most of the time, marketers elect not to inform clients of these changes because it sounds so crazy.
“Well Google is targeting any business that purchases links and places them on irrelevant PR4 and above websites.”
“Google thinks your site is spam.”
“Google is doing things to your site’s ranking just because it can.”
“We had to disavow some of your links because of Penguin.”
These are all phrases you probably never want to bring up to a client as it’s bewildering or downright spam. Clients may even think Google is a downright bully specifically targeting their website, but go ahead and try to explain algorithms to your client. We’ll wait.
Now for the latest in Google updates:
1. Payday loans, gambling, cash for gold and Viagra are still intolerable sites according to Google, but more specifically payday loans. Google has made several updates to its algorithm to reduce rankings for payday loan sites. Its latest update on this algorithm was in June 2014.
2. In October 2014, Penguin 3.0 was released with an update to further fight spam on the web. It also was the first time since 2013 that most publishers could see if their disavowed links made any changes to their ranking position after being hit by the initial release of Penguin. Google also stated that refreshes on rankings would happen more quickly with this latest update.
3. HTTPS everywhere was rolled out in August 2014. This is a new ranking signal meaning that sites needed to have a secure, encrypted signal to rank well in Google. This was done largely to encourage website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS.
4. Google Pigeon was an update for local search results that occurred in July 2014. New web signals were created to ensure that local results reflected what people were researching nearby where they lived. It uses distance and location ranking parameters to rank search results higher or lower among hundreds of other signals relating to authority, secure website connection and relevance.
5. In August, Google took away Google Authorship, which was a tool for authors to link Google+ to their updates on websites. It was featured in search results and became a major way that marketers pushed for better content. However, the function was largely abused and led to authors getting first or second results on topics when they weren’t always relevant, well-written or wanted by visitors.
To get a full map of Google updates since the beginning, check out SEO Memory, an interactive timeline on Google’s algorithm activities.