It’s been a busy year in the search engine Google, much has happened and I’m sure in 2015 much more will happen. Some highlights this year included Googles head of Spam (Matt Cutts) taking an extended leave from Google after nearly 15 years’ service. Both Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have been released the later resulting in lots of webmasters and SEO specialists shouting that the sky is falling after the update kept scrambling the search results for an extended period of time in a busy holiday season.
Search engine results pages (SERP’s) have changed a lot since the start of the year with authorship removed and updated news. There has been some friction build up in the EU however resulting in more of a push to separate Google. With Google’s slow of popularity in Europe Yahoo has shown an increase in searches thanks to a new deal with Firefox. New search engines have also been improved and finding a place in the market like DuckDuckGo which aims to have more privacy compared to its competitors. Whilst I’ve not mentioned Bing it’s been busy and plans to move more into the mobile market which makes a lot of sense as mobile searches are expected over take desktop searches by the end of 2014.
However you came here to read about the biggest search engine – Google. So without further ado let’s get into what major changes happened with Google in 2014.
Pigeon released in UK, Canada & Australia
Google released its pigeon update into the UK, Canada and Australia having previously been released in the US search results back in July. The update aims to help local search results giving more accurate and relevant info for local results, at time of writing this update is also being rolled out to most English speaking countries beyond UK Canada and Australia.
Google to Close Google News in Spain & Remove Spanish Publishers from all Google News Versions
Spanish Government added a new tax for republishing news articles, as Google makes no profit from prompting news it has closed its Google news in Spain, time will tell how this works out for Spanish publications. If like Germans earlier in the year it may well turn full circle once it realises that its harming publishers more than helping.
More info can be found with search engine land
Google announces penguin to be continuous
Google announced that it wants the penguin update (First released in October) to be a ongoing update, with the aim of tweaking it. For around a week starting 27th November (American Thanksgiving) many people saw their rankings fluctuate many naming it a penguin rollback week or penguin double take. Since 2003 Google have kept an unofficial promise not to release updates in busy holiday periods yet it seems they have broken it here, is this because Matt Cutts was on leave?
Firefox drops Google as its default browser moving to Yahoo
Firefox changes it default search browser from Google to Yahoo (from version 34) this has resulted (as of December) a boost from 9.6% market share to 29.4% this has also resulted in a drop of Googles search share. Combined with Yahoo’s announcement that it plans to gain its own search engine (it’s currently piggy backing on Bing) this is exciting news for the future of searches.
European parliament votes to break up Google
The European parliament voted that it wanted to break up Google (though Google was never mention by name). There are no legal implications of this vote but it does add to increasing frustration from the EU towards Google
Some more info can be found with Search Engine Land
Google launches Mobile friendly tag in search results (international as of December)
Google gives Mobile friendly tags to websites that are mobile friendly. As of December this tag was given to global results (e.g. other language)
Head of Google spam Matt Cutts extends his leave into 2015
Matt Cutts extended his leave into 2015, his original leave was to give him more time with his wife and home life.
Google released Penguin 3.0
Google released penguin 3.0 affecting 1% of searches however this update continued to roll out even into December and was probably the largest update of the year, it proved to be a head ache for many SEO’ers
Google released penguin and Pirate 2.0 update
After criticisms that Google was not doing enough to fight piracy it released pirate 2.0 (with the previous update around 2 years prior) it was aimed, aimed towards copyright infringement etc. Affecting queries like “watch movies online” etc. Sites penalized by the update lost as much as 98% of their traffic.
Google updated in the news box
Google updated its “news box” in search results to use more sources other than just traditional news sites, it not includes sites like Reddit etc. which opens up more opportunities for SEM.
Death of PageRank
Google announces that it will not be updating its PageRank in the future. The previous update was believed to be a mistake.
Google released Panda 4.1
Google’s authorship was completely removed from Google – This was the photograph of the author next to results which was also reduced in June. Technically this affected a lot of searches but only cosmetically.
Google Starts Giving A Ranking Boost To Secure HTTPS/SSL Sites
Google started to give a small ranking boot to sites with HTTPS/SSL certificates however Bing has announced it has no plans to follow Google’s example believing it doesn’t add to any benefits with search.
Google launched a new update nicknamed “Pigeon” aimed toward boosting local search traffic providing more useful and relevant info for local searches.
Matt Cutts goes on leave
Head of Spam Matt Cutts announced he would be taking an extended leave of absence to have more time with his wife. He later (November) extended this ins 2015.
Authorship Photo Drop
The authorship photos were dropped from search results which was the first step towards complete removal of the authorship tag in Google tags.
Payday Loan 3.0
Unlike Payday 2.0 this update aimed at the searches compare to the site’s themselves targeting terms like payday loans, casinos, Viagra etc.
Google’s panda update aimed to target low quality content sites. It affected different languages but for English it affected 7.5% of searches
Payday Loan 2.0
This pretty much does what it says on the tin targeting “very spammy queries” affecting just 0.3% of us searches however this also affected as much as 4% of queries in Turkey it was aimed at sites in porn, pills and casino markets.
Page Layout #3
This update aimed to improve the above the fold content and would affect 1% of global searches
Lastly I wanted to share the following link Google has published which is “A year in search”
What was your favorite moment in 2014? If you think we missed anything or want more info please let us know in the comments we would love to hear from you.
We look forward to seeing you in 2015.
Happy New Year.