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How the World’s Favourite Search Engine Changed in 2017

Google’s ranking rules and logic continued to undergo fluid change in 2017, building on previous safeguards against ‘gaming the system’ and further personalising users’ experience of “Googling It”. 2017 saw the almost constant updating of existing rule groups (given fun names like ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’), and the introduction of one new set “Fred” (it looks like they ran out of cute animals to reference this year).

It feels like we’re fast approaching a point where we’ll see the introduction of logic which allows the algorithm to review and revise itself, and that should excite us.

The majority of changes which Google Search has undergone throughout 2017 have been relatively minor. Most common, have been the continuations and refinement of existing rule groups and logic. The Pandas continue their diligent battle against content plagiarism and keyword-stuffing; the Hummingbird persists in its semantic quest to measure the relevance of a website conceptually rather than by direct keyword matches.

This is all good news and good signs for those with original stories to tell and genuine points of view to share; SEO expertise is becoming increasingly secondary.

The major release of 2017 was ‘Fred’.

Fred is the latest rule group on the Google scene, but he’s really only interested in Ad-Revenue content. Fred’s the new enforcer of proper practice amongst web pages which offer free content to attract users, and sell advertising space alongside this content to 3rd parties. Fred is an update to the algorithm which targets low-quality ‘bait content’ websites, but marketing sites will undoubtedly be affected by this increased scrutiny of these search-listing rivals.

We should perhaps temper our expectations of Fred, by remembering that low-quality content websites often raise to search-engine prominence off the back of social media traffic, and this is unlikely to change soon. Further, Google will be careful not to take steps towards punishing the activity of ad-revenue digital service in itself (for obvious reasons), and Fred will likely be restricted to punishing only the most severe thin-content offenders.

If you’d like to find out more about how search engines measure the value of your website, or fancy a chat about digital strategy in general, get in touch!

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