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A Look at the Major Google Updates that Have Happened Throughout 2014

Google is a company that believes strongly in testing concepts and ideas to see how they work. Certainly it is a great way to see the effects made, and leads to the search engine giant getting some excellent data to work with. However, it also means that websites have to deal with a constant list of Google updates being rolled out. Google are constantly refining their algorithms, changing them between 400-600 times a years. However, only several of these changes actually have a noticeable impact on search results. Here we’ll look at several of the most significant changes that have occurred during 2014, and the impact they’ve had on search results.

The Removal of Google Authorship

What was seen as a minor change to Google authorship in the form of the removal of author photo snippets in July this year, quickly turned into something much more significant with Google announcing in late August they would be dropping the authorship project altogether.

Over the past three years Google put a lot of effort into trying to make Authorship work. They made small tweaks, and significant changes, but in the end they decided the work simply wasn’t worth the results. There were two main reasons for behind Google dropping the program. The first was that Google Authorship simply hadn’t taken. The rates of adoption by webmasters and even authors themselves were low. The second reason was that the information provided by authorship was seen to have limited value to users. In some cases it was believed to have detracted from the results.

In future, Google are focusing their attention on another big project of theirs, Google+. The idea is that searchers will begin to see relevant Google+ posts in their search results, and on the right hand side of the screen. Whether or not this latest Google update is adopted by users remains to be seen.

Google Updates to Pigeon

The major Google update for Pigeon this year was related to creating more relevant local search results. The changes to the algorithms were made based on improving search parameters and distances. Unlike the highly visible updates made to Panda or the complete removal of Authorship, the changes made to Pigeon were relatively low-key and took place mainly behind the scenes. However, many local businesses reported noticing small to significant changes on their ranking as a result of this update.

Panda 4.1

Google made two major updates to Panda this year. Following on from the 4.0 update that was designed to prevent websites with poor, low quality content, from ranking highly, the 4.1 update refined and updated some of the changes made in the 4.0 update. 4.1 continued on in the same vein as its predecessor, in that it penalised websites with mediocre content, as well sites that engaged in keyword stuffing, and other black hat SEO practices. The changes hit some websites quite hard, with search results being affected by as much as 7%. 4.1 wasn’t quite as big a change, with searches being affected by around 3% – 5%. However, 4.1 was also a chance at redemption for websites who had been hit hard by the previous update. It allowed those websites that had taken the time to make the suggested changes, and implement better quality content to begin ranking highly once again.

The Constant Stream of Google Updates

Google is constantly updating its algorithms, and for some businesses, dealing with the ever-changing nature of the search engine can seem daunting. Still, there is a general pattern present in Google updates. It basically comes down to creating a website that is useful to your customers, filled with relevant, high quality, engaging content. It also involves using trusted ‘white hat’ SEO techniques to ensure you are ranking well organically.

If you want to get on top of the latest Google updates, or you just want to begin ranking highly once again, contact us at Punch Digital.

Fin Marriott
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Google Updates – An Overview
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About The Author
Brett Hardiman is MD at SEO Melbourne Experts and a Search Engine Optimisation expert with over 15 years experience working with and advising businesses of all sizes on their internet marketing strategy.

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