5 Google Updates That Will Impact Your SEO

Wednesday 06th, April 2016

Every year, Google update its algorithms over 600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally pushes out a major update that significantly affects the search result rankings.

2015 was a rollercoaster for marketing professionals who tried to keep up with the Google updates. Much more is expected in the coming year.

You need to ask yourself – Is your SEO strategy robust enough to tackle the challenges in 2016?

It is always suggested to stay abreast with the latest developments to stay ahead of the curve. So let’s take a look at some of the shifts in Google algorithms that will shape the landscape of search marketers in 2016 and beyond.

Rise of Knowledge Graphs

Gone are the days when Google search used to retrieve ten blue links to the websites to choose from. SEO used to be much simpler with Meta data and inbound links.

Now, if you search a particular query you find the answer directly as the first result, instead of going into the site and finding it. This has become possible due to Knowledge graph- A colossal vault of information built by Google.

Search boxes have become a prominent feature in the new SERPs. They’re a part of Google’s reaction to our ever decreasing attention spans and expectancy of an immediate answer. Google measures success by how quickly you get the user from the question to an answer. Thereby, featuring in the search boxes is going to be an integral part of any SEO strategy.

Pete Meyers of Moz rightly pointed out, ‘SEO in 2016 is all about “being the answer”.

As evident from the updates, Google no longer wants to be the middle man- it wants to be the answer!

RankBrain: A Machine Learning Algorithm

Sundar Pichai , Google’s CEO, on the company’s earning call stated that, “Machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing”.

RankBrain is the brainchild of this transformative thinking. It is Google’s newest machine-learning algorithm having Artificial Intelligence at its core. RankBrain greatly interprets search queries and learns from each action on the go. In 2015, millions of search queries were intercepted by RankBrain the results according to Google are ‘better than expected’.

It is safe to assume that machine learning systems will adapt and learn from the users to provide the best possible results. In other words, Google has been smart all the time but Artificial Intelligence is turning things a notch higher.

Impact of Mobilegeddon: The Mobile Update

This update had created a huge stir among marketers about the possible effects on search rankings. However the impact wasn’t as much as expected.

Google has given developers ample time to make their sites mobile friendly. If you haven’t gone mobile responsive yet, then hurry! Your honeymoon might be over soon.

Mobile usage has overtaken desktop searches last year and the importance of mobile responsiveness is ever increasing. It is the standard that has been set and you have to conform to the need of the hour. People expect great mobile experience and if you aren’t able to give it to them, they’ll leave your site immediately- hurting your rankings immensely.

HTTPS- A Ranking Signal?

The first question that Google asks when the bots crawl the website is that, ‘Can I trust this site?’

Google signaled that HTTPS is a ranking factor, which again sent ripples down the marketers. Many webmasters moved to HTTPS, a more secure version of HTTP, in an attempt to gain a competitive edge. However, not much happened as anticipated.

Nevertheless, Google is pushing for secure connections and moving to HTTPS is definitely a safer option for the future. In 2016, a study of a million search results indicated that HTTPS has a strong correlation with the first page results. It was expected as Google has confirmed that it is a ranking factor- a trend that is going to continue in 2016 and beyond.

Switching to HTTPS might be difficult or easy depending on your software and hosting environment. Yet, if you’re starting from the scratch, going HTTPS is definitely a better option.

Structured data

Industry experts suggest that rich snippets will soon rank higher in SERPs.

This makes sense, since adding meaningful dimensions to your content by categorizing it, will help RankBrain in its perception of entities and results. Google advises webmasters to implement structured data to help reduce data ambiguity. In the coming years, structured data will become an important factor in determining your search engine rankings.

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