Every site owner is interested in the changes made by Google to its algorithm since it is one of the main causes why the rankings fluctuate. There are many different things you have to learn about if you want to get into the subject, but staying up to date with the latest changes is going to help you focus on what needs to be done to improve your sites.
One of the first changes made by Google was on January 8th, which goes to show their employees did not get too much sleep during the holidays. There was a big spike in the rankings over the weekend and one of the ideas was that Google had released a new version of Penguin. This happened because many Penguin affected sites were influenced.
Another big change in Google came on February 23rd when they changed the placement of the AdWords. Instead of showing a complete list on the right side of the screen, they moved them on top of the list of the organic results , but they limited it to only 4 ads. This was a big shock over the web and there were all kinds of mixed feelings about it.
Mobile search results got a big kick
The mobile search results got a big kick on February 24th when the AMP was released. This project is an initiative that helps people build ads and sites that are faster and performing at a much higher standard no matter what device you are using. Over the last year this initiative has broadened its horizons, making the web community much better.
April had a wide range of tips about the future changes in the algorithm, but this was a month that was packed with manual actions from the team at Google. There were more than 500 penalties and warnings sent every hour and each site was analyzed from various points of view. Penalties for product review or rich snippets were at the top of the list. On May 10th most tracking tools started going crazy.
Even if there were a number of spikes registered in the SERPs, there was no confirmation of any update going on from the representatives of Google. Some users complained that their sites vanished from the rankings, others that the name of their domain has been split in keywords and so on.
Only two days later, on May 12th, Google launched the new mobile friendly update. This had nothing to do with the spikes registered on the 10th because the tools that keep an eye on the SERPs focus on the desktop results. Luckily, most webmasters have focused on making their sites friendly for mobile devices, so it is not the end of the world yet.
The month of June did not bring too many serious updates to Google. The Panda update was still rolling out at a slow pace over the past months. A visual change made by the team was when the color of the ads went green. There were also a few talks about two unconfirmed updates, but in the end there was no confirmation from Google.
Things were quiet over the summer, but on September 1st Google came out with an update that targeted local results in an attempt to help the local businesses and to clean up the spam. The limits of the cities were increased, businesses that used the same address were filtered out and the rankings started to be influenced by the user’s physical location.
September 13th marked another big change in the rankings because a lot of the images dropped out of the search results. The popular belief was that this change was related to the rollout of Penguin 4, but the representatives from Google did not say anything about that.
What was about to happen would have an even more significant impact. The Penguin 4 update was finally officially released on September 23rd. There were some improvements made to the update when it was implemented. It went real time and it is applied on a page by page basis.
The links from spammy pages are now devaluated and your site is no longer penalized for having them. These are meant to improve results. At the beginning of October users were pretty disappointed as only 12% of them saw any improvement after Penguin was released and 15% experienced a drop in the rankings. By October 13th it was completely rolled out. If you have not seen any changes by that time and you still feel the same way, you should focus on improving your site.
SERPs showed a significant shift on November 10th. A number of tracking tools have also shown some activity, but the results were reversed on November 18th. Most considered this to be an unconfirmed update or a test for the new changes that will be made in the algorithm, but the people at Google did not confirm any of these allegations. December was marked by a few signals of an update on the 15th.
There were quite a few spikes before the holidays and there were also some updates made to the Search Console. This was one of the last significant activities of the year and it opened quite a few doors for what is to come. You should keep up to date with the changes made in 2017. As you can see, there are always new things going on in the online community and each of them is noticed, discussed and debated in various sources over the web.