9 Changes Google has Made in 2016

It’s only halfway through 2016 and Google has already released a barrage of changes designed primarily to help ensure optimum organic search quality. These changes are expected to guide webmasters and website owners, particularly link builders and SEO specialists, all over the world to strive for quality content, put the quality experiences of their customers above all else, and refrain from doing activities that are not only considered as deceitful but also grossly unethical.

Here are 9 changes that Google has made so far this first half of 2016 and which have the greatest impact on SEOs and links.

  1. Consequences for Freebies
    Google now penalizes bloggers who publish links in their blog posts redirecting their readers to websites where they can purchase the products for which the bloggers have received for free. The warning was given by Google earlier this year hoping that blogger will heed the warning. The guideline is pretty straightforward, to say the least. It just directs bloggers to NoFollow any links that will point or redirect their readers to websites of products or services for which the bloggers themselves have received. All links that are the result of a transaction whereby the blogger received something in exchange for a review, then there should be a rel=nofollow on the variety of links connected with the review.
  1. Top 3 Ranking Signals Revealed
    In the past, Google tried very hard to keep its ranking signals a closely-guarded secret. Aside from the occasional press releases where they would say that there are more than 200 ranking signals used by Google, the rest of the internet world, particularly SEO specialists, can only speculate on what are the top 3 ranking signals of Google. In 2015, Google announced that RankBrain, its article intelligence system, currently sits at number 3 in its ranking signals. Several months later in March this year, Google Ireland’s Senior Strategist for Search Quality, Andrey Lipattsev, finally revealed that the top 2 ranking signals are links and content, in no particular order. It is sufficient to say that the top 3 ranking signal of Google are content, links, and relevance.
  1. No More Right-Hand PPC Ads on SERPs
    By February this year, Google has overhauled the layout of its search results page. Gone are the annoying AdWords ads once located on the right-hand side of the search results page. The result is a cleaner and easier to use layout. However, this is not to say that the whole ad thing has already been removed. The present layout consists of an additional AdWords Bidder #4 above the fold. Many SEOs worry that this layout change will eventually push organic search results to the bottom of the screen, especially on mobile devices.
  1. Green-Colored Label for Paid Ads
    Another welcome change in the layout of the search engine results page of Google is that the labels on paid advertisements have all been recolored green instead of yellow. It is not yet clear as to why Google chose green and what possible effects the color change have on organic click-throughs as well as PPCs.
  1. Panda Becomes an Integral Part of Google’s Core Algorithm
    Barely two weeks after the world greeted 2016, Google confirmed the integration of the Panda algorithm update as one of its core elements. The Panda Google update emphasized the importance of ensuring overall website quality to rank highly in search rankings. Quality indicators are measured against certain standards to come up with a unique overall value for the website. This means websites that continuously post highly relevant, fresh, and very useful content coupled with an equally trustworthy backlinks have a greater chance of ranking high in SERPs.
  1. PageSpeed Notifications on Google Search Console
    Google has started sending notifications about PageSpeed in its Search Console in the first week of April. The notifications are directed to website owners and administrators who may be using a much older PageSpeed version which can be exploited by hackers and malware developers to bring harm to the website’s legitimate visitors.
  1. PageRank Removed
    There was a time when everyone was so engrossed at getting their PageRank to score high. The early parts of March this year saw the removal of Google’s Toolbar PageRank. Many Google followers say that the changes were long overdue since the last time Google updated its PageRank toolbar was in 2013. PageRank is considered to be the grand-daddy of many of Google’s search algorithms today. In fact, when Google was launched in 1998, PageRank was the blueprint for ranking the importance of webpages in the internet. Unfortunately, much of that has been replaced by more sensitive and more efficient search algorithms. Nevertheless, PageRank remains a hallmark of how websites today are ranked.
  1. Warnings to Websites that are Non-Mobile-Friendly
    More and more individuals are using their mobile devices to connect to the internet. As such, websites that have not yet made the necessary changes to make their websites mobile-friendly may find themselves in the crosshairs of Google’s strict Search Quality team. The warnings are readily visible on the owner’s website. Web owners and developers must therefore look into ways in which they can migrate their existing websites into a mobile platform. Experts agree, however, that overhauling the entire website to make it more responsive is a lot better than creating two different websites for desktop and mobile internet users.
  1. Updated Guidelines for Search Quality Rating
    There are three very important guidelines that Google updated in the last few days of March. The updates were related to search quality ratings and provided for a renewed emphasis on local searches and the removal of emphasis on supplementary content. Additionally, the updated guidelines called for the growing importance of mobile searches owing to the fact that more and more people are now using smaller mobile internet-enabled devices to perform organic searches. Websites must therefore be able to adapt to this need for a mobile-friendly website.

These are 9 of the changes that Google has made so far this 2016. And with 6 more months to go before 2017, it is clear that more changes will follow.

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