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2015’s Most Noteworthy SEO Updates From Google, And How They Matter In 2016

2015 was a big year for Search because many game changing events took place that redefined how websites interact with their customers and end-users. In today’s post, we will look at some of these events and why they will be even more important going into 2016.

Google’s approach is very methodical when it comes to changes to its ranking algorithm. Every move it makes has a reason and a long term effect behind it. Mentioned below are twomost important events of 2015 that redesigned how companies went about SEO for their business.

The Mobilegeddon Update

With the continuing rise of mobile internet users, many companies were quick to evolve accordingly with the new paradigm shift and immediately designed a mobile friendly version of their website in addition to the standard one. Others ignored it and instead focused solely on traditional SEO. Google’s Mobile Friendly update changed all that.

On April 22, 2015, Google announced that it will rank mobile search results differently for sites that are mobile friendly. Before this update, mobile rankings for keywords were the same as the organic rankings; The only benefit of having a mobile website was having one additional portal to display your website and having some form of mobile presence. With this update Google started rewarding sites that for having mobile presence and many others were forced to create a mobile friendly version in order to capitalize on the mobile traffic.

Having a mobile friendly version is no longer an option today. It is mandatory. Most clients who initiate SEO for their website start things off with a mobile friendly version first so that the proper foundation for SEO is set in place before the actual work can begin. It is a smart move that pays for itself in the coming month.

Panda 4.2 Update

Panda stunned everyone when it went live in 2011. So many top rankings websites disappeared completely. While many unknowns rose to the top; all in a matter of hours for most websites. The idea behind Panda was to eliminate the negative user experience; encourage white-hat SEO services and set an example for companies who opt for shady link building to gain quick rankings or traffic.

Google has been rolling out different versions of Panda ever since 2011. Last year in July, 2015 Panda 4.2 was rolled out. Though regarded more of a refresh rather than an update, Panda 4.2 affected 2 to 3% of overall queries and didn’t cause ripples like the first update. This is because many websites have completely abandoned black hat SEO and are opting for long term natural SEO for their website. All Panda update are essentially a re-implementation of the same processes that were introduced in the original Panda update.

Moving on to 2016, the need for natural SEO, relevant link building, and original content will only continue to grow more and more importantly. With a majority of the SEO strategy being content driven, being mindful of Panda will continue to be a top SEO priority. That means less content scrapping and more original content development, less spammy links and more relative authoritative links; less posting on low quality sites and more interaction on relevant high quality websites.


Google made a major announcement regarding their ranking algorithm in October 2015. This was a very unusual move by Google as the company rarely make major announcements, especially when it comes to the ranking algorithm.

The update called RankBrain revealed that machine learning will become a part of the Google ranking algorithm. This is a process where a computer teaches itself rather than receiving input from humans or through detailed programming. It is Artificial Intelligence at its peak. RankBrain recognizes patterns between unconnected search terms in order to understand how they are actually similar to one another. In this case, RankBrainwould be used to sort through the billions of pages in the Google Index against the 7 billion daily Google searches and display the best possible results. For businesses that means quality content will always win and natural, long term SEO strategies will always outlast, grey-hat or black hat techniques. Rightfully so, The RankBrainis regarded as an extension to the Google Hummingbird, another update from the previous year.

So what were the take home lessons of 2015?

  • Have a mobile friendly website ready
  • Only follow white-hate SEO that is spearheaded by original, high quality, relevant content
  • RankBrain will play a crucial role in refining search queries

As we start 2016, these points should be at the top of the list for any business that is serious about capturing the only market and more importantly, sustaining it for the long run so that they can build upon it and increased their online presence and visibility. We at SearchBerg Labs, would surely recommend that all businesses add these two approaches in their online business model if they are to succeed commercially in 2016.

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Aaron Tylor

Aaron Tylor

Aaron Tylor is a Senior Account Manager at Search Berg, a full-scale SEO and WEB Agency.

He brings more than 15 years of practical, hands-on experience in Lead Generation, Web Development and Digital Marketing. Starting out as a junior link builder right out of college, Aaron has expanded his career to deliver quantifiable results for some of the most demanding, high-profile campaigns. He regularly contributes to the SearchBerg Blog and on other web and digital marketing platforms. His goal is to get published on Moz and give a presentation at PubCon.

In his spare time, Aaron can be found golfing or binge-watching on Netflix. You can follow Aaron on Linkedin here.