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Which Google algorithm changes impacted marketers most in 2016 – and what can we expect from 2017?

Last Updated: March 4, 2017

Between the long-awaited rollout of Penguin 4.0, a strengthening of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking signal and the ‘Possum’ algorithm update impacting local search, 2016 was an interesting year for Google algorithm changes. And with an upcoming move to a mobile-first search index already on the cards, as well as a penalty for intrusive mobile interstitials coming into effect on the 10th, 2017 promises to be just as eventful. Looking back at 2016, which algorithm changes were the most impactful for marketers in the industry? And how can brands best prepare themselves for what might be around the corner? I spoke to Sastry Rachakonda and Ajay Rama of digital marketing agency iQuanti, along with Search Engine Watch’s regular mobile columnist Andy Favell, to get their thoughts on what’s to come in the search industry. The most impactful algorithm updates of 2016 “Mobile-first indexing is probably the most significant change that happened this year,” said Rachakonda, who is the CEO of iQuanti, a data-driven digital marketing agency, “since companies were creating unique mobile content that was not the same as their desktop content. They did that for user experience. There were smaller snippets that were design friendly, but weren’t relevant and optimal for the search query.” But while Google’s shift to emphasise mobile search even more heavily – which has included a much fuller rollout of Accelerated Mobile Pages into organic search results – was probably its most noteworthy update overall, Rachakonda believes that a different update was actually more impactful from a brand perspective: Possum. ‘Possum’ is the name given to a major update to local search on Google which came into effect on 1st September 2016, and which is thought to be the most significant algorithm update to local search since Pigeon in 2014. The name was coined by Phil Rozek of Local Visibility System, who thought it was fitting as after the update, many business owners thought that their Google My Business listings were gone, when in fact they were only filtered – hence, ‘playing possum’. The apparently ‘dead’ Google My Business listings gave the Possum algorithm update its name. Image via Wikimedia Commons The update seemed mostly aimed at improving the quality of the local search results and removing spammy listings, which meant that some businesses who had engaged in less-than-kosher practices in order to rank found themselves demoted. “Possum has been the most impactful update for brands by far,” said Rachakonda. “One of our Fortune 500 clients in the insurance industry saw a 7% drop in keyword rankings, which resulted in a 13% loss of month-on-month traffic. We believe this was due to some outdated tactics their previous agency used to get them ranked, which clearly Google wasn’t fond of.” While some…

Source: Which Google algorithm changes impacted marketers most in 2016 – and what can we expect from 2017?

About the author / 

S K Routray

S K Routray is a computer science graduate and Co founder at Gracioustech.com. He worked as a Online Marketing lead at many MNC Companies. He has passion for writing on SEO techniques, Social Media Marketing and digital marketing techniques. If he wasn’t an online marketer, he'd take his love for food and become a great chef cum hotel entrepreneur. Join NAS Writers team to write for NAS.

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