Article

Arvind Patil
Arvind Patil 26 March 2018

The Handy List of Major Google Search Algorithm Updates of 2017

Google’s search algorithm updates keep webmasters and SEO professionals on tenterhooks. More so, because it makes the changes surreptitiously, often giving little time to take any action. This write-up will help you become familiar with the major search algorithm updates of 2017.

It’s no hidden fact that Google comes up with hundreds of updates every year. Many of these go unnoticed because the search engine giant releases them without fanfare. This has led to professionals in the industry to track each movement of the search engine lest their websites are affected.

In case you missed the updates last year, or want to brush them up, here is an all-encompassing list of the major Google search algorithms 0f 2017.

  • Penalizing Intrusive Interstitials – Right at the beginning of the year, Google came down heavily on intrusive ads. These are ads that cover all or a part of the web page content when users visit the website by clicking through web searches. The formats include popups, which cover and prevent visitors from accessing the main page content; standalone overlays that need to be dismissed first and layouts in which there’s a mixup between interstitials and above-the-fold content. It’s obvious that these interstitials lead to poor user-experience.

Google had earlier rolled out the intrusive interstitial penalty on mobile, which was a fair warning.

  • Set of Unconfirmed February Updates – In February, Google tweaked the way it handled links. This was considered to be a change made to its Penguin update and associated with detecting and devaluing spam. In fact, many black hat practitioners reported losses. Another update was related to the core search algorithm of the search engine and was majorly a guess by experts. This update also hinted at the content quality, although Google kept mum!
     
  • Fred Update – The Fred Update of early March 2017 was given the moniker by Gary Ilyes as a joke. It hit sites with low-quality content.
     
  • Mid-May Unconfirmed Updates – Some of the most notable Ecommerce websites such as eBay, Overstock and Amazon had their rankings shifted. The fluctuations were attributed to Google changing the SERP placements of the sites. This was suspected to be a core update by Glenn Gabe.
     
  • Unconfirmed Update in June - A few more website ranking fluctuations were noticed in the website rankings by industry leaders in June. The caveat was that the movements were noticed in different country domains on the search engine giant. The fluctuations caused the tracking tools to heat up. Nevertheless, John Mueller denied these.
     
  • Unconfirmed August Update – Google once again targeted sites with poor quality with an unconfirmed update in August. On its radar were sites with subpar UX, disruptive ads and several other technical SEO issues.
     
  • Hawk Update – Another update in August that shook the SEO universe was the Hawk update. It was strictly local in nature, with no impact on the non-local results. This update removed a filter that was introduced by Possum in 2016. As a consequence, Google refined its proximity filter with some strict rules. To cut a long story short, the update prevents local businesses that have shared address or building from appearing as a part of the same pack.
     
  • Google ccTLDs – By the end of October, Google made its search results specific to the user’s location. This was a deviation from it’s earlier rule that let users access international results by modifying the ccTLD. With this change, the searches will be completely devoid of the country-specific domain. There were reports of a spike in the AdWords ads and a drop in the SERP local packs with the update.
     
  • Increased Length of Meta Descriptions – In December, Google increased the length of the meta descriptions from 160 characters to 230 characters along with an increase in the Snippet length. This came after two years of testing longer search snippets! And although it confirmed the update of handling the snippets, no details were provided by the search engine giant.
     
  •  Maccabees – This was an update that came to light by Barry Schwartz’s analysis, which concluded that the update hit sites with doorway pages that target several subcategories/locations using keyword variations within the content. Google did confirm releasing “several minor improvements during this time frame.”

The Wrap

These are the heads-up of the major updates from Google that took place in 2017. Apart from these, there were many other unnamed updates, which remain unconfirmed or unnoticed. These updates clearly tell us that Google is making way for a future, where users and their experience on websites will be given precedence and inferior quality content or spammy links will no longer be tolerated. With these takeaways, you can focus on creating a user-centric site, which ranks high in the SERPs. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for other updates that are in the pipeline.

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