Significant SEO Moments of 2014

Pin-pointing the most influential SEO changes of 2014 is a tricky prospect. An algorithm update that penalises a client from one industry may have the opposite effect with another; a change in Google’s ranking tactics may have hit a long standing retail giant hard while working wonders for a new local business. With over 83 major algorithm changes since 2011, Google didn’t relax with its adaptations in 2014, causing some of the world’s most renowned online retailers to be faced with a penalty.

So what exactly happened in 2014 to make us SEOs rethink our approach?

  • Unnatural Link Building

Throughout 2014 there were multiple instances of Google cracking down on dodgy external link building. Announcing the retribution of those using guest blogging to gain links, it become evident early on in the year that link building was a risky business – and genuine links became more and more difficult to come by.

  • Keywords ‘Not Provided’

Following the move to ‘not provided’ in late 2013, Google increased its secure search in 2014 to ensure that the majority of keywords a website is found for shows as ‘not provided’ in their analytics. In other words, Google removed yet another function that previously allowed us to calculate the success of our SEO.

  • Panda 4.0

A further Panda update that targets websites with low quality content. Big brands such as eBay were allegedly heavily penalised as a result of this algorithm revision – whether their content was deemed unhelpful, irrelevant or laden with overly palpable keywords we’ll never know, but either way this update forced many websites to alter their content or suffer the consequences.

  • The Emergence of the Pigeon

Google threw a new animal into the algorithm mix – the Pigeon, making more drastic changes to their ranking methods; most notably affecting local searches in the attempt to prevent unrelated, distant businesses appearing when a local business is what’s required.

  • Increased Mobile Focus

If you’re a regular reader of the NetBiz blog, you’ll know our stance on the importance of going responsive. The mobile website has become increasingly present in 2014, and Google has made it abundantly clear that herein the future lies – Google analytics have a mobile-friendly tool, and their experimentation with algorithms aimed towards mobile-friendly websites can only imply future development.

  • Internet Privacy

Google took another step towards supporting internet privacy by announcing that HTTPS would become a ranking indicator. Exactly how much of a factor is yet to be established – could this be something we discover in 2015?

  • Abandonment of the Authorship Program

Starting with the removal of the authorship photograph, Google ultimately abandoned its authorship program which previously allowed content writers and bloggers to claim ownership on their work and direct readers to their personal profiles.

  • Penguin Refresh

October saw an update in Google’s Penguin algorithm, targeting spam but giving those previously affected by Penguin the opportunity to regain their stance in the online world.

Predictions for SEO in 2015

The above is by no means exhaustive, but merely a glance at some of the key factors effecting Google rankings during 2014. Predicting what’s coming for SEO in 2015 is arguably more difficult than predicting the year’s weather forecast, but if you’ve learnt anything from this year it will be to give your customer what they want. Clean up your content and offer a smooth, enjoyable user experience that is just as impressive when accessed from mobile devices. Better yet, let us do it for you!