Google has made an abundance of changes to its search algorithm, affecting how national and local internet marketing professionals use the engine for ranking purposes. SEOMoz notes that in 2012 alone, Google has made 18 changes, although it allegedly alters its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times annually.
MarketingProfs took a look at some of the most recent - and influential - changes Google has rolled out over the past year or so.
Google's tendency to use friendly animals to name its ranking algorithm changes could be seen first in its Panda update - which aimed to shut down content farms and affected a total of 12 percent of search traffic - and then Penguin, which intended to lower search engine rankings of pages that violated Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
There was also the "Freshness" update, which was targeted specifically at news results. Rankings were shifted to display the most recent content first and foremost.
"For example, if you search for information about the NBA Playoffs, Google displays the 2012 playoffs, not playoffs from other years," explains the media outlet.
A less-heralded update was Secure search, in which Google hid your organic search details from websites if you were logged into Google. It's estimated that between 15 percent and 30 percent of a site's organic traffic is unknown, which places a burden on local internet marketers.
Beyond algorithm changes, Google's two big releases were Google+ and Search plus Your World. The former is a social network created to compete with Facebook, although it's been unable to make a real dent thus far.
Researchers at RJMetrics found that as of last month, the average Google+post has less than one +1, less than one reply and less than one re-share. What's more, 30 percent of users who make a public post never make a second one, and among those who make publicly-viewable posts, there's an average of 12 days between updates. This points to a real lack of engagement among users who simply don't feel motivated to check the social network on a regular basis.
Search plus Your World was implemented so Google could index your social feed to include results from your close friends and family ahead of natural searches, so results became personalized.
"The dynamic of managing how your company shows up in search has changed - forever," explains the news source. "What does a 'page one result' mean when every search engine results page is personalized?"