And we are here again, earlier than expected, for the final stretch of our journey through the history of SEO, this time, from 2010 to 2015!
For starters, nowadays, when you type a word in the search bar you receive various suggestions, and that is thanks to the Google Instant technology, which was launched in September of 2010, but Google Instant, along with the evolution of SEO from 2010 on, was just another phase in the search engine’s history and despite some controversy around pages whose rankings were actually improved by negative reviews, Google still believed in the algorithm and it was eventually adjusted to penalize sites using such tactics.
2010 also saw a growing importance of social media content in SEO. In December, both Google and Bing added ”social signals”, which first displayed in any written Facebook posts, for example, from your own network that matched your query, but it also began to give PageRank to Twitter profiles that were linked to with some frequency, and the importance of Twitter in SEO didn’t end there…
2011 The Year of the Panda
Of course, the trend of punishing sites for unfairly gaming Google’s algorithm would continue. Some of these incidents were quite public, like the one with Overstock.com in 2011. At the time, domains ending with .edu generally had a higher authority in Google’s eyes. Overstock took advantage of that by asking educational institutions to link to its site — and used keywords like “vacuum cleaners” and “bunk beds” — offering discounts for students and faculty. Those inbound links would improve Overstock’s rankings for queries with such keywords, until Overstock discontinued the practice in 2011 and Google penalized them soon after.
It was also the year of the Panda, no, not that one, it was an algorithm update that cracked down on content farms and first rolled out that February. Those were sites with a lot of frequently updated, low-quality content that was written with the sole purpose of driving search engine results. They also tend to have a higher ad-to-content ratio, which the Panda was trained to find out.
2012 – This Time We Get a Penguin
In April of 2012, Google took “another step to reward high-quality sites” with the first of many Penguin uptades. Penguin targeted sites that used non-white hat SEO tactics more subtly; for example, those with content that might be mostly informative, but was also sprinkled with spammy hyperlinks that had nothing to do with the page’s H1.
It’s worth noting that 2012 also saw the “Above The Fold” update, a throwback to Google’s original anti-ad-heavy thesis with, which began to lower the rankings of sites with heavy ad-space above the “fold,” or the top half of the page.
2013 – It’s Payday Time!
Eventually, Google would go beyond targeting spammy content itself with the Payday Loan algorithm update and focus more on queries that were more likely to produce spammy results. Those were typically searches for things like, well, payday loans (and thus the name), and other things that might make your mother blush. Google adjusted its ranking system to help keep spams out of those results, and while it didn’t necessarily impact the SEO efforts of legitimate sites, it displayed efforts to keep the search results as authentic as possible.
2014 What? This Time it’s Just a Pigeon?
Keeping with the tradition the next update was called the “Pigeon” (dubbed so by SEL) launched in 2014, and it carried a huge impact on local search results. At the time, it looked like it was designed to improve Maps queries, which began to be treated with the same technology that was applied to its other search functions, like “Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, and synonyms”. Google was making sure that local searches were going to become a big deal, and it will continue to do so, as you’ll see in the next bit…
Then, in 2015…
This year had the biggest post-2010 SEO announcement, Google’s mobile update of April 2015, which sawn that non-mobile-friendly websites would start getting lower rankings. That meant SEO was no longer only about keywords and content, now responsive design mattered as well.
Google announced that change in February of 2015, with a mobile-friendly test that allowed webmasters to view potential issues and make changes before the rollout. And that would not be the last of Google’s mobile updates…
But we will see it next time as we enter the last leg of our journey and take a look at what happened in the world of SEO from 2016 to 2019! Remember that you can get in touch with us if you really want to improve on Project and SEO Management. Stay tuned and I see you guys next time!