That’s it 2014 is over and 2015 begins in earnest (possibly not in earnest if you celebrated too hard last night!). In this post we’ll take a look at some of the major updates in SEO from the year: algorithms, services changing, tool upgrades, legal wrangles as well as some more fun stuff such as Google Doodles, unfortunate mistakes and easter eggs. Enjoy!
The Serious Stuff:
- After what looked like a sleepy January start, early in February we had an algorithm update to target sites top heavy with ads, the snappily titled “Page Layout #3”: http://searchengineland.com/google-updates-page-layout-algorithm-go-sites-top-heavy-ads-183929.
- The next confirmed major update was May’s double whammy of Payday Loans 2.0 and Panda 4.0: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-spam-algorithm-updated-18580.html.
- As a result of Panda 4.0 – or maybe not – Ebay got whacked in the organic results: http://recode.net/2014/05/23/yes-google-punished-ebay-for-bad-seo-practices-but-it-wasnt-part-of-panda-update/ Some estimates put the cost of the resulting drop in traffic in the hundreds of millions of dollars!
- Then in June we got another Payday Loans update: http://searchengineland.com/google-launching-payday-loan-algorithm-3-0-targeting-spammy-queries-week-193821. The other big update from this month being the drop of authorship photos. A stock task for pretty much any SEO client was on its way to being completely redundant: http://moz.com/blog/bye-bye-author-pics.
- Another month another shock algorithm update and a new addition to the stable too – Pigeon, the local results algorithm: https://www.elementarydigital.co.uk/google-pigeon-update-developing-story/.
- Moving into August Google started a huge scramble to move to HTTPS/SSL as it announced it to be a ranking signal. No amount of tempering this announcement by saying it carries less weight than other signals or that it afects less than 1% of queries could stop the rush. This lead to a few people punishing themselves with borked implementations. Whoops! Carrying on from the removal of authorship photos we had authorship dropped entirely in this month, as announced by John Mueller: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JohnMueller/posts/HZf3KDP1Dm8.
- In September we had a Panda update (4.1) that affected 3-5% of queries. If I remember it’s also around this time the Penguin rumours started to mount significantly, though we wouldn’t see the official announcement until the next month. This happened rather (in)conveniently whilst I was on holiday! Here’s some great links to events as they unfolded: http://www.linkresearchtools.com/news/penguin-3-0/. This one has been interesting. Not only a long time coming, it was (maybe still is) on a slow worldwide rollout and should be updated more regularly. So hopefully the end of waiting months to rescue a site. It did mean, however, that it was hard to tell one algorithm change from another as several were thought to have hit at once at one point. As we said at the time, don’t just consider one algorithm in isolation.
- The other big update of the year – that we know of- was October’s Pirate 2.0, which was quite a targeted update effecting copyright (or allegedly) copyright infringing sites. So we’re going to be nice and assume you don’t need to know much more about that one!
So what else has happened this year? Matt Cutts went on leave: http://searchengineland.com/matt-cutts-on-leave-195785 which started rumours that he wouldn’t be coming back, rumours which gained serious traction when the leave was extended into 2015: http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2379189/matt-cutts-extends-leave-from-google-into-2015. We also had some helpful expansions to Google Webmaster Tools, particularly the Mobile Usability tool.
The Lighter Side of SEO:
Easter Eggs, April Fools and funny errors have kept us smiling throughout the onslaught of algorithms noted above. Here are some of the ED team’s favourites from 2014:
- To kick off, how about David Hasselhoff photo bombing your snaps in this fantastic new feature? Who wouldn’t want that? http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/introducing-auto-awesome-photobombs.html
- How about the announcement of the Coffee To The Home service? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2JBFlW–UU. Where is it? Come on guys I’ve been waiting since April 1st….
- Finally Rufus the Elementary Digital Cockapoo (it’s a thing, look it up) can do more in the office than just steal pens. Introducing Google Apps for Business Dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97IS180hxR4.
- Enhance office board games (or gambling) with a die that’s hard to ‘through wrong’ and hopefully not ‘loaded’: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-roll-a-die-coin-flip-19452.html
- In August Google had a bit of a knowledge graph snafu with respect to Greggs. Fact fans note: I used to work in the pictured Greggs in this article, that was odd to see! http://searchengineland.com/google-knowledge-graph-proves-pr-nightmare-major-uk-brand-greggs-bakery-201084
- As a company that’s usually up to date on standards, it has taken around 15 years for Google to recognise and properly handle the HTTP error code 418: http://searchengineland.com/new-google-easter-egg-seo-geeks-server-status-418-im-teapot-201739. A very important error I’m sure you’ll agree!
There’s plenty more to be out there. To be completely honest you could make an entire series of posts from Google’s 2014 April Fool’s day jokes so there’s lots more out there. What made your list? Let us know in the comments. Again, HAppy New Year, here’s to 2015!