4 Ways Search Engine Optimization Has Changed In 2016 (So Far)

The search engine optimization (SEO) game is always changing. That’s why people hire firms like ours – to keep their website ranking well for the keywords which are important to their industry, among other reasons.

At Cohlab, we stay on top of the latest news and developments in the world of SEO so you don’t have to. But if you want to here’s a breakdown of the big news, in chronological order, in SEO so far this year.

1. Google Moves Ads To Top Of Search [February]Search Engine Optimization

You might be thinking, “Hey, ads are part of search engine marketing (SEM), not SEO.” And you’d be right. Except we’re not paying attention to the movement of the ads, but the reason behind the movement of the ads.

Until February, Google AdWords ads were displayed at the top and bottom as well as the right-hand column of the search engine results pages (SERPs). The top and bottom each might have had between 1-3 ads, while the right-hand side could host up to 8 ads. After the change, the right-hand side ads were removed completely, and now between 1-4 ads will appear on the top with 1-3 ads on the bottom.

This is important because this reduces the total number of ads visible for a search, which increases the importance of appearing naturally in search results – SEO.

It’s also important because of why it was done – to create a uniform experience across desktop and mobile devices. This means optimizing your website for mobile, as well as optimizing the content on it to rank better in search is absolutely necessary.

2. Panda Update Makes Content More Important [March]

Content received another boost as a ranking factor for SERPs in March. Panda is the name of an update to Google’s search algorithm meant to lower the rank of websites with little content or low-quality content. While Panda was first implemented in 2011, it was updated this year to place even more importance on the quality of the content on a page.

3. Increasing Relevance Of Mobile-First Design [May]

In April 2015, Google started the process of dropping the SERP ranking for websites which weren’t mobile-friendly. In May, this process was ramped up dramatically, because more Google searched than ever before are being performed on mobile devices.

Mobile-first and responsive website design are more important than ever to retaining people’s interest in your website and converting them into customers.

4. RankBrain Update Makes Great Content Even More Important [June]

RankBrain is Google’s name for their machine-learning AI system they are using to help process searches and rank websites. RankBrain was rolled out to less than 15% of search queries at the end of 2015, and this summer was rolled out to every single search which goes through Google.

While this update is important, we’re keeping most of our knowledge on this update for our current clients. If you’re interested in learning more, we’d be happy to help you improve your website and SEO!