The year 2014 has been an exciting year for SEO, and the experts can attest to that. It all began with the Page Layout change in early February of this year where sites with too many ads above the fold were penalized. The next three months entailed some of the other updates such as Payday Loan 2.0 on May 20th, the Panda 4.0 Update in May followed by another Payday loan update in early June.
Google delivered some disappointing news to bloggers and content publishers in late June when they announced the removal of author photos from search results. To the dismay of the blogging community who had long since benefited from increased traffic for having author photos, Google announced this design change to their layout justifying that it was a move to having a mobile friendly design.
Some of the more shocking updates rolled out in June 2014 with their Pigeon update which drastically changed the way the search engine handled location cues. Google said that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters which goes to show how relevance and micro targeting is quickly becoming important factors for search marketing. At the time of this publication, the latest algorithm update has been the HTTPS/SSL update where Google announced that they will be giving preference to websites that provided secure browsing options. Though they rolled out this update in a relatively small scale, they are expected to scale up in the future if the results are positive.
All of these updates are geared towards providing value to Google users. As a digital marketer, I feel that this brings more importance to the quality of our content and the user experience of our websites. The latter is a new addition, but the growing usage of mobile users is probably why Google is trying to accommodate factors such as responsiveness, secure browsing & page load times. Going forward, I think we need to stay close to the roots of good SEO and focus on providing great value to our users