On the 23rd of February, Google made some big changes to the SERPs, removing the right-hand column of adverts and placing a block of 4 adverts at the top of the SERPs. For any given search term, organic results were now pushed down the page. Above the fold, most searchers only saw the paid advertising links.
On May 12th, Google rolled out a second mobile-friendly update that essentially reinforced the first and made mobile sites perform better on mobile search platforms.
On the 1st of September, another animal joined Google’s ranks. The “Possum” update was thought to target local search rankings, increasing the diversity of the local results, but also preventing spam from ranking. Local businesses that had previously found it difficult to rank for a city’s results, simply because they were just outside the limits of the city, now found it easier.
On 23rd September, Google announced Penguin 4.0. This was a long- awaited (and anticipated) update by the SEO community. Penguin 4.0 is real-time and a core part of the algorithm. That means that any pages caught by Penguin, can be fixed, and those penalties reversed as soon as the page is re-indexed and reassessed by Penguin. With previous iterations of Penguin, webmasters had to wait months (or even years) to see if their SEO fixes reversed the Penguin penalty.
It's very important to be able to get a good free SEO report to understand your website properly.
Changes in 2017
In January, Google started to roll out an update that would impact pages that had intrusive popups or other “interstitials” ruining the mobile experience. Essentially, anything that covered the main content on mobile devices and required attention (e.g. a click) to dismiss it, was targeted.
In April, it appeared that HTTPS websites were favored over the insecure HTTP sites.
In October, Google introduced Google Chrome warnings for insecure websites. That wasn’t an algorithm update but I felt it was important bearing in mind what I wrote in the previous paragraph.
We also saw a reduction in the number of featured snippets in the search results, with an increase in knowledge panels. With these changes it has become more important for companies to engage a good affordable SEO company.
Changes in 2018
In March 2018, Google rolled out the Mobile-First index. This change meant that instead of indexing desktop versions of pages for the search results, Google started using the mobile versions of the web pages. Why? Because of problems searchers had on mobile devices when the desktop and mobile versions of a page were vastly different.
In July 2018 Google started showing all non-HTTPS sites as “not secure” in the Chrome browser.
In August, Google rolled out a big core update that has been nicknamed the “Medic” update. This update affected a lot of health-related sites (hence the name), especially alternative medicine. There have been suggestions that this update targeted sites that made money by recommending products that could be “dangerous” to health or livelihood. If a business owner in Belfast needs a company that understands all these changes then they should engage the best SEO Northern Ireland company.
If you are building affiliate style websites, the Medic update is the single most important reason to stay away from niches related to health & finance. In fact, anything that could be perceived as “risky” to a visitor.
If you have a website in one of these niches and you have been hit by the Medic update, then I am sorry, but I have no simple solution for you. If you search Google, you will find sites that claim to have recovered and those sites would be the best place to start.