For those in the know; your eyes haven’t been deceiving you, Google’s results really have changed...
There have been a lot of changes in the way Google works over the summer months and things seemed to be happening everyday during August. Here is our round-up of recent Google updates.
Pop-Ups & Interstitial Pages On Mobile Searches Will Be Devalued By Google
From mid-January 2017, Google will be devaluing sites which use pop-up banners or employ interstitial pages that interrupt the user's journey from SERP to viewing the desired site.
This is part of their campaign to maximise user experience and will further reward sites which put this first. The announcement also states that anyone who tries to get around this by placing the info from the pop-up/interstitial page to fill above the fold will also be penalised.
Google Will Stop Telling Us Which Results Are Mobile Friendly
This is because 85% of search results are now mobile friendly. It just makes logical sense to slightly declutter the SERP and make it that little bit cleaner by removing this little notice. This was widely reported on SEM, Moz and all other reputable inbound marketing blogs (yes, ours).
AdWords Keyword Planner Data Is Massively Restricted
That is, unless you spend more than their designated threshold amount, in which case you won't notice any changes. If you're just a lowly content creator, like me, as opposed to a paid PPC professional, like Sam here at Digital 22, you will have uselessly wide parameters of data.
"10k-100k avg. monthly searches" doesn't really tell you much.
Check the differences in average monthly search numbers.
AMP Results Will Be Included Beyond The Top Stories Scrolling Card
We blogged a few times about Accelerated Mobile Pages throughout August because it's a pretty big topic and well-supported by Google. At the moment you can only scroll between AMP news stories in certain Top Stories results, but by the end of the year AMP results will also form part of the organic results.
There Were (Probably) Some Sort Of Algorithm Changes - But They Were (Probably) Reversed
Back in July, there was a lot of chatter as it seemed that Google altered their ranking algorithms a couple of times in as many weeks. Sites such as RankRanger clocked some spikes in SERP ranking.
Then everything seemed to level out. It seems previous positions were roughly regained once things settled down - or the changes (if there were any) were reversed.
There Were Some Pretty Big Layout Changes
And it was unclear what the criteria was for who received the new layouts and who didn't. What I was seeing on my screen was different to what my office-neighbours were seeing. And only one other person in the whole office was seeing this new layout that I was.
There was a lot more white space, all results were carded, there were as few as eight organic results and various numbers of ads.
It led to some serious speculation about what would be filling all this newly available space, and of course there were bound to be PPC implications to how ads were now appearing.
I'm now back to seeing the "old" layout as per the left hand screengrab, by the way.
Is anyone else still seeing the new format shown on the right? Tell us in the comments below.
Paid Ads Were Expanded
And the old-style format of ads will be switched off sometime during this Autumn.
The new format of expanded text ads allowed an 80 character page description, a longer URL and roughly 50% more copy space. Here it is on the back-end:
AdWords Ads Have Started Appearing In Local Search Results
As far back as June, some businesses have been able to pay to put their business within geo-based search results within Google Maps. It was then noticed that paid ads were appearing (albeit very briefly) withing the local results pack on the main SERP.
And AdWords Became More Mobile Orientated - Just Like The Google Results Page
After removing the unsightly sidebar ads, amongst other mobile priority changes earlier in the year, there were some changes to AdWords which followed in June.
The tool now included the bigger headlines, longer descriptions opportunity and more specific URL showcasing (mentioned above), but there were other tweaks.
Display Ads could now respond to devices and bids could change depending on devices they appear on - a great tweak to allow better targeting of campaigns in line with your buyer persona.
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