Search (SEO)

The Top 5 Google Algorithm Changes (AND) Updates To Look Out For in 2017

Top 5 Google Updates In 2017
To be a real contender in the SEO industry you'll have to stay up to date with industry trends and algorithm changes - you'll also look pretty bad ass when you're the one informing your colleagues of what's happening at Google HQ. They'll think your an SEO champ.
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To make your day better, I’ve got together the top 5 Google algorithm changes/updates that will be soon rolling out to live / and or have already been deployed. These changes are pretty big and will most likely change your perspective on things and how you will go out deploying awesome stuff in the future, or making amendments to your overall search strategy.

1) Penguin now real time. Whaaaaat?

Yes, that’s right, I’m sorry to put a downer on your day. For some, it’ll be a big HORRAAAH! On Friday, September 23rd Google officially announced on the Google webmaster blog that “Penguin is now part of our core algorithm” and that “Penguin is now real-time”. It’s not technically ‘real-time’, but Google will check to see if your site passes the Penguin algos when it crawls your site, so in essence, if Google frequently crawls your site, it’ll also run your site through the Penguin filters more often too. Lots to cover on the Penguin subject, but it’s something to take into consideration when moving forward with your search strategy in 2017, the way we build links will be changing.

2) Googles scary move towards a more secure web

As fascinating as this may sound, Google is obviously doing this to better the web, it’s a very scary time for webmasters. If you’re unaware of the gossip, Google plans to update their web browser (Chrome, duh) to “eventually” mark all HTTP pages as non-secure in big, scary, red devil writing, regardless of what the page is about. This could be a services page, a blog post or even a forum post.

Google Move Towards A More Secure Web

Beginning January 2017, they will start with a first phase deployment to mark HTTP pages that collect passwords and other confidential information like credit cards as nonsecure. However, in time, they plan to mark all non-https pages as not secure. By the looks of it, Google wants everyone to move over to https, especially now they have confirmed they will be giving a slight ranking boost to https sites.

3) Google’s mobile first indexing

This is a big’un! Possibly the most interesting Google update that’s going to be released over the next couple months, scary but exciting – I have mixed emotions re this change at the moment, still lots more for Google to release regarding the change. Basically, Google will primarily look at your mobile site (hence, mobile first) when taking into consideration where the site should rank in its SERP’s, before taking a look at the desktop content to provide a ranking to both desktop and mobile, not anymore. Now, Google will crawl your site and use the mobile version of your site to determine it’s ranking for both mobile and desktop. Yes, I know, scary. If you don’t have a ‘mobile site’, not to worry, Google has confirmed that they will still index the desktop site if they cannot access a mobile version.

It’s currently in the pipeline to be deployed, but we’re months away from that. Google are testing the mobile-first index and hope to roll it out to everyone in the near future. So it’s time to get on the mobile-friendly bandwagon!

Here are some interesting FAQ’s I’ve managed to dig out of Twitter regarding the mobile-first index change, w/ responses from Google employees:

When do you plan to launch the mobile-first index?

When Do Google Plan To Launch Mobile First Index

In terms of impact on webmasters, what do you think this will cause?

Mobile First Impact On Web Masters

Does this mean ranking will be based on mobile content?

Mobile Ranking Content

Is this a global roll out or just to the US?

Mobile First Global Roll Out

Is anything changing in terms of mobile ranking factors?

Mobile Ranking Factors Still The Same

I have hidden content on my mobile site – what will happen?

Content Hidden For UX Should Have Full Weight

If you aren’t on the mobile-friendly boat, I suggest you get your developers to start reconsidering their strategy moving forward into 2017. Please note that Gary Illyes is not Google, notice the word of “should” in a lot of his posts – this is confirmed but gives us an idea of what is yet to come. There are still a lot more answers to be uncovered, I consider this Google “transparency” at it’s best.

4) Mobile interstitial penalty coming in Jan

I have to admit, I’m a very big fan of this one, very chuffed, hehe. Google are looking to simplify the mobile results, therefore mobile interstitials are a no-no. No more pop ups that cover the main content, no more standalone interstitials on load .. yay. To improve the mobile side of things, Google will be rolling out a new penalty on, or shortly after January 10th 2017 that will cripple pages that aren’t easily accessible in the SERP’s. I recall, yes another mobile update, can you see that Google is trying to raise a significant importance on mobile sites? If you aren’t a mobile friendly site, please do start the transition.

Google are looking for websites that make content less accessible to the user on their mobile site, therefore the following have been confirmed to be against Google’s terms:

  • Showing a pop up shortly after a user visits your page, during the time that Googlebot has visited your site and immediately after is presented with an interstitial. Google have not yet commented on interstitials that load after # of clicks, or after time. However, we do know that interstitials on page-load are bad and will be affected by this change on Jan 10th 2017.
  • Having a standalone interstitial on the page that the user must dismiss before proceeding.
  • Have an interstitial that pushes the main content below the fold of the page, quite similar to a standalone interstitial as mentioned above, but the more important/original content is pushed down and below the fold.

Lots of Google gossip entering 2017, if you have any questions please do let us know in the comments. What do you think about these updates? Have fun all!

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About the author



Brett is currently working as a full-time SEO Analyst for a leading, international eCommerce company that recently won a Queens Award For Enterprise. In addition, he's also worked client side for 3 years at a digital agency, managing just over 20 local SEO projects. He's very knowledgeable when it comes to technical SEO and he's well known for his consultancy during https site-wide deployments.

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