Search Engine Land’s Top 10 News Stories Of 2014: When Pandas, Penguins & Pigeons Attack


The clock is ticking on 2014. In a matter of days, we’ll all turn our calendars to 2015 and close the books on another year. Before we do that, the editorial team that brings you daily news and features on Search Engine Land and Marketing Land is going to look back at the most popular content we published during these past 12 months.

If you’re a new or recent reader, you’ll likely find some important news and commentary that you missed the first time around. If you’ve been reading our sites all year, you’ll hopefully enjoy a reminder of the year’s important marketing news. (And thanks for being a long-time reader!)

Over the next week two weeks, we’ll reveal our most popular columns (overall, and broken down by topic) and our most shared stories on the main social networks. But let’s start today with a look back at the most popular news stories we published in 2014.

Search Engine Land’s Most Popular News Stories Of 2014

This list is based on pageviews, and includes news stories published through December 18th.

1.) Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now

Barry Schwartz, May 20: “Is this the softer and gentler Panda algorithm? From talking to Google, it sounds like this update will be gentler for some sites, and lay the groundwork for future changes in that direction.

“Google told us that Panda 4.0 affects different languages to different degrees. In English for example, the impact is ~7.5% of queries that are affected to a degree that a regular user might notice.”

2.) Google’s Logo Moves Some Pixels Around

Barry Schwartz, May 26: “Google made a slight change to their logo recently, as a Reddit user posted. The “g” in the latter part of the word was moved left one pixel and the “l” in the Google logo was moved down a pixel.”

3.) It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results

Eric Enge, August 28: “The primary reason behind this shuffle of products is Google’s unswerving commitment to testing. Every product, and every change or innovation within each product, is constantly tested and evaluated. Anything that the data show as not meeting Google’s goals, not having sufficient user adoption, or not providing significant user value, will get the axe.”

4.) Panda 4.1 — Google’s 27th Panda Update — Is Rolling Out

Danny Sullivan, September 25: “The rollout means anyone who was penalized by Panda in the last update has a chance to emerge, if they made the right changes. So if you were hit by Panda, made alterations to your site, you’ll know by the end of next week if those were good enough, if you see an increase in traffic.

“The rollout also means that new sites not previously hit by Panda might get impacted. If you’ve seen a sudden traffic drop from Google this week, or note one in the coming days, then this latest Panda Update is likely to blame.”

5.) Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year

Barry Schwartz, October 19: “Publishers hit by the last version of Penguin — back in October 2013 — have been waiting until now to see if actions they’re tried such as removing spammy links have worked. If so, they’re likely seeing some improvement in traffic this weekend. If not, they have to try making more changes and then waiting until however long it takes for Google to release Penguin again.

“By the way, for those who tried disavowing bad links, if you did that within the last three weeks, that was too late for this Penguin update.”

6.) Google “Pigeon” Updates Local Search Algorithm With Stronger Ties To Web Search Signal

Barry Schwartz, July 24: “Google told us that the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more.

“In addition, Google said that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters.”

7.) Google’s “Olympic Charter” Logo Stands Up To Russia’s Anti-Gay Legislation

Danny Sullivan, February 6: “If you had any doubts over how Google feels about Russia’s legislation against gay “propaganda,” just go the Google home page. The company has started what will be a string of special logos for the Olympics with one that includes a quote stressing that the official Olympic Charter is against discrimination and using the colors of the rainbow gay pride flag.”

8.) Apple Drops Google For Bing As “Spotlight” Search Provider In iOS 8 & Mac OS X “Yosemite”

Danny Sullivan, June 2: “This is a big new integration for Bing, which last year knocked Google out of Siri. Currently, Spotlight offers a “Web Searches” option which launches Safari (if you haven’t changed your default browser), which in turn runs a Google search, as Google is the default on Safari.”

9.) How A Single Guest Post May Have Gotten An Entire Site Penalized By Google

Danny Sullivan, March 26: “More broadly, while it’s easy to dismiss all this as some type of SEO squawking, it should be pretty disturbing to any publisher that Google might fairly broadly decide just how narrow your site has to be, in order to escape a penalty, if you have guest authors it deems writing off-topic.”

10.) Is eBay A Big Loser In Google’s Panda 4.0 Update? — Winners & Losers Data

Barry Schwartz, May 21: “Yesterday, Google began rolling out their Panda 4.0 update designed to punch low-quality content. That’s generated both “winners” who have moved up in rankings as “losers” have dropped down — and eBay might be one of the big losers.”

With just a couple exceptions, the top 10 articles are specifically about Google rankings, algorithms and search results — which is no surprise. Last year’s list was 100 percent Google-related, and also filled with articles about Google’s various animal-related algorithm updates/filters. If you need a refresher on those beyond the articles linked above, see our article library to get caught up:

We’ve also compiled a similar list on our sister site, Marketing Land: Marketing Land’s Top 10 News Stories Of 2014: Facebook Layout Changes, Oscar Selfies, CIA Tweets & More.

On behalf of the Search Engine Land editorial team, thanks for reading us during 2014. Happy holidays to you and best wishes for 2015!

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