Google Updates Local Pack Algorithm

Google’s local pack results algorithm has had a big update as of last week, and various SEO forums have lit up with webmasters detailing the various changes to rankings they have noticed, with some saying this update is the biggest change to local rankings in a long time.

The update is thought to mostly be the spam algorithm refreshed, with new results appearing for certain terms for the first time in years, while other pages are suspended. These findings indicate that the update is either a core local ranking change, or a clean-up of the spam in the local index. Either way, spam is no longer ranking as well in local.

Google hasn’t commented on the changes.

New Mobile Penalty Arriving Early 2017

Google have announced that they will be clamping down on “intrusive” interstitials on mobile devices which impede their users’ browsing experiences. The new algorithm will launch in January 2017 with the aim of making pages running certain interstitials “not rank as highly” as previously. Google advised that the following would be affected:

  • Sites using pop ups that cover the main content, whether it’s immediately after accessing the page, or while browsing it.
  • Sites displaying an interstitial which users have to dismiss before accessing the page’s content.
  • Sites that use layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Google has also advised that the following would not be penalised, if used responsibly:

  • Interstitials that appear due to a legal obligation, for example for cookie usage or age verification.
  • Login boxes on websites where content is not publicly accessible. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content hidden behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible.

Google to Drop Mobile Friendly Label

Google announced on the 23rd of August that they will be axing the ‘mobile friendly’ label from mobile search results. It’s important not to confuse this with the idea that Google are scrapping the mobile friendly ranking factor/signal – that remains as important as ever. Instead, Google is simply removing the indicator on search results which tells readers whether a site will load well on mobile, and the change is thought to be mostly cosmetic.

Additionally, Google have commented that “85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label”, indicating there is no longer a great benefit to the label.