Shake Ups in Organic Search
Why is SEO so hard? The answer… because Google is constantly improving upon and testing their search algorithm. Typically some sort of change is made to the search algorithm about once a day, meaning with 365+ changes a year it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Although many of the changes are very small, and, even if we knew what they were, we wouldn’t always see the results. Generally, when Google makes a big change there will be some kind of announcement or industry publications report it. For example, in October 2015 RankBran was introduced. So how many Google algorithm updates have there been in 2016? Four major ones that we count…
Google Algorithm Updates In Q1 & Q2
Technically this first change didn’t affect organic search. In February ads were removed from the right-hand side of the search engine results page (SERP). This had a major shake-up in AdWords, dramatically affecting the dynamics of front-page bidding. As there are now fewer opportunities to advertising on the front page, competition for spaces and Cost Per Click (CPC) increased. For some advertisers, the CPC dramatically increased. We’re still seeing the fallout of this major change, as advertisers are revising their AdWords strategies in order to compete.
The effects of the AdWords change affects organic search as well. Because of the new structure of the SERP, searchers are scrolling farther down on the page. There are less distractions (no ads on the right sidebar). Time will tell if searchers are willing to scroll even further to find the right results.
“Mobilegeddon” was a major change inSpring 2015. Web sites that weren’t mobile friendly suffered in search. There was another Google algorithm update — dubbed Mobile-friendly 2 by Moz — in May. It gave a boost to mobile friendly sites especially in results on mobile devices. For those sites who didn’t heed the mobile warnings were hit again. We found that smaller businesses, those who weren’t ready to spend money on upgrading their sites, were hardest hit. In 2015, web traffic for non-mobile friendly sites had a downward trend and it dropped to a trickle by mid-2016. Google is very serious about the move to mobile, and we suspect that 2016 algorithm updates will continue to support this strategy (as mobile searches make up more than 50% of all web searches). For those ready for the mobile revolution, you probably didn’t notice the change.
Any more for any more?
There were two unnamed 2016 Google Analytics updates in Q1 and Q. The first one in January was confirmed to be a core update, but details remain sketchy. The second shake-up occurred in mid-May. If you follow Mozcast, you probably noticed some hot temperatures — indicative of lots of changes in SERP. Again, details weren’t released, rumors flew and no real explanation was shared.
So, what’s a Webmaster to do in light of all these 2016 Google algorithm updates? Stay the course with White Hat SEO techniques, of course. Follow quality guidelines, respect the human searcher, and maintain your website so it provides an excellent user experience. Yup, that’s the recipe for success regarding how many times Google and other search engines fiddle with the code.
That’s what’s happened in the first half of 2016. Did you notice any difference in your organic search visibility or website traffic? If you have, can it be explained by either of the updates mentioned above?
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