Quarterly SEO Update: What Has Google Changed in 2014 So Far?

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With the first quarter of 2014 behind us, we wanted to take a quick look at some of the biggest news on the SEO / Google front so far this year.

January:

  • Webmasters speculate that an unconfirmed algorithm update occurred between January 8-10 due to shifts in placement and traffic drops.
  • Google punishes a large French blog network called Buzzea.
  • Google tests a knowledge graph snippet overlay, meaning a snippet pops up when you hover over a search result. (Note: I currently do not see this feature happening, so the test may have already ended)
  • Matt Cutts personally addresses guest blogging on his personal blog. He writes this message “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
  • Matt Cutts posts a video about not posting to article directory sites such as ezine.com.
  • Google announces a “page layout algorithm improvement,” which could potentially penalize any website that has excessive advertising above the fold.

February:

  • YouTube videos are enlarged in the SERPs. If someone is searching for a specific music video, the results page will show the YouTube video at the top of the page, making it more accessible for the user.

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  • Google punishes a German agency and link schemes.
  • Google updates the “page layout algorithm” for the third time. This was only a refresh and had little impact in the SEO community.
  • The Google Panda update celebrates its third anniversary.
  • Google Analytics rolls out a new user interface to make it cleaner and easier for users to access data.
  • Google’s OneBox answers become more detailed. Google uses knowledge graphs and authoritative websites to answer questions typed into the query box. Below are two examples of how Google answers these queries:

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March:

  • User interface in the Google SERPs has been updated several times over the past few months. Some of the most recent changes include:
    • Google Ads are now labeled “Ad” in a yellow box instead of being highlighted in a light peach color
    • Underlines in each search result have been removed
  • Due to the redesign in the SERPs, the font size for title tags has increased, resulting in a decrease in characters displayed on the page. Moz has released a title tag preview tool that can help webmasters choose the length of their title tags.
  • Google continues its attempt to fight spam by penalizing link networks in Spain, Germany, and Italy.
  • Matt Cutts announces that Google is working on the next generation of Panda updates that will soften the algorithm.

What to Expect for the Summer:

  • Fewer announced updates from Google
  • More user interface changes, especially in the knowledge graphs and Google cards
  • More intuitive answers and results from queries
  • An increase in mobile site optimization

Google has kicked off this year with a whirlwind of changes and will only continue to push more updates in order to improve and evolve into a better and more user-friendly search engine.

If you have questions about Google updates and how they may have impacted your website, call us at (512) 806-7955 for more information.

Nancy Tran  April 1st, 2014 – Posted by to Search.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: ntran@thesearchengineguys.com