Google Algorithm Weather Report : December 2015

Google’s not going to launch Penguin 4.0 this year

Anyone who follows the Google Algorithm changes probably expected Google to drop Penguin before the end of the year, mainly due to the Gary Illyes comment about it a couple of months ago stating that it should be ready for release by the end of the year. Barry Schwartz and Jennifer Slegg received word from Google that “With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year”, so if you were holding your breath for a release before the new year, it’s not going to happen. Google are, however, confident that it will be ready for a January release, but this isn’t an official statement, more a comment from John Mueller in a hangout, which you can view below:

AMP ranking boost

Google has implied that pages created using Accelerated Mobile Pages may receive a ranking boost, and perhaps a “Fast” label in SERPs. They have also announced that AMP pages will be coming to the mobile SERPs as early as February next year. If AMP is something you are considering for your website, have a read through the documentation provided by Google to get started, but if you are doing it solely for the ranking boost, prepare to be disappointed because it probably won’t be much.

 Potential Search Ranking Update

There has been talk of a potential search ranking update that hit on the 4th, 10th and 16th of December, we have definitely seen evidence of shifts on the 16th in our tracking tools, an example of which can be seen below in the SEMRush screenshot (each line is a different website, and the graph shows their average ‘visibility’) as you can see, Green took a clear dive on the 16th, but recovered shortly after, while purple enjoyed a small boost. This update has been named the HTTPS update by Algoroo as it coincided with Google’s statement about HTTPS indexing, which you can read here, or read below for my short summary on the subject.



Google is indexing HTTPS by default

Very often we see websites that have HTTPS but are allowing Google to crawl both the HTTP and HTTPS versions of the site, this causes duplicate content issues and can be a headache for the uninitiated. Google have stated this month that from now on they will be indexing only the HTTPS version by default if there are equivalent pages with both protocols, so if your website is available at both HTTP and HTTPS (you can check this by simply removing “https://” from your URL and refreshing, if it doesn’t add the “https://” back in, your site is available at both) then they will ignore the HTTP side. This essentially eliminates any issues with allowing Google access to both versions of your site, meaning you don’t need to know about .htaccess or canonicals to avoid the duplication issues that come with it (we still recommend getting familiar with it all, though!).

This post was written by Andrew Lambert

This post was written by Andrew Lambert

Off-Page / Content Team

Part of our busy content marketing and creative team. Andrew also contributes to our technical HTML SEO auditing services.

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