Search Engine Land’s Top 10 News Stories Of 2015: Google’s Quality Update, Mobilegeddon, RankBrain & More


If there was one buzzword that permeated the world of online search in 2015, it was “mobilegeddon.”

Google’s decision to begin ranking mobile-friendly web pages higher in its mobile search results made news across marketing and tech websites, as well as in numerous traditional media outlets. Mobilegeddon wasn’t the most-read single news article of the year here on Search Engine Land, but it does have two of the top 10 spots — and another story about the growth of mobile search also makes our list.

Unlike 2014, which was dominated by Google’s animal-themed updates, only one of this year’s top 10 stories was about Panda, Penguin or Pigeon. Replacing those? The Quality Update, RankBrain, and even a couple of Google Doodle articles.

Between now and the end of the year, we’ll be looking back at the most-read articles and columns we published in 2015. Recaps from our SEO- and PPC-related columns will start to arrive tomorrow, but we begin today with a look at the most popular news stories of the year.

Search Engine Land’s Most Popular News Stories Of 2015

This list is based on page views and includes news stories published between January 1 and December 19, 2015.

1.) Love Quotes & Tech-Themed Valentine’s Day Google Logos Help Searchers Get In The Mood

Amy Gesenhues, February 14: “Google is spreading the love today with five animated Valentine’s Day-themed Doodles and quick answer romantic quotes from writers like Sylvia Plath, Carson McCullers, e.e. cummings, Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, Dr. Seuss and more.”

2.) The Quality Update: Google Confirms Changing How Quality Is Assessed, Resulting In Rankings Shake-Up

Barry Schwartz, May 19: “It’s not your imagination. Google’s results have changed since the beginning of this month, and Google’s officially confirmed to Search Engine Land that this is due to a change with how it assesses content quality. Call it ‘The Quality Update,’ if you will.”

3.) FAQ: All About The New Google RankBrain Algorithm

Danny Sullivan, October 27: “Among those can be complex, multi-word queries, also called ‘long-tail’ queries. RankBrain is designed to help better interpret those queries and effectively translate them, behind the scenes in a way, to find the best pages for the searcher. As Google told us, it can see patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches to understand how they’re actually similar to each other.”

4.) Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out After Waiting Almost 10 Months

Barry Schwartz, July 22: “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, you unfortunately won’t notice the full impact immediately, but you should see changes in your organic rankings gradually over time. This is not how many of the past Panda updates rolled out, where typically you’d see a significant increase or decline in your Google traffic more quickly.”

5.) Mobilegeddon Checklist: How To Prepare For This Week’s Google Mobile Friendly Update

Barry Schwartz, April 20: “Early tests show that it can take anywhere from a few hours to over 72 hours if you do everything right for Google to show your web pages as mobile friendly. I would not be surprised if large sites can take up to a month to be displayed as fully mobile friendly.”

6.) Google Is Hiring An SEO Manager To Improve Its Rankings In Google

Barry Schwartz, July 15: “Google is hiring an SEO manager, based on a recent job posting on the Google Careers portal. The job listing is for a ‘Program Manager, Search Engine Optimization.’ The description of the job makes it clear that this is about marketing…”

7.) Mobilegeddon Cometh: New Google “Mobile Friendly Update” To Reward Sites Beginning April 21

Barry Schwartz, February 26: “Google said that on April 21, 2015, Google’s mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly, but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in the search results. Google said this algorithmic change will have a ‘significant impact’ in the mobile search results, impacting all languages worldwide.”

8.) Independence Day USA Google Logo Reflects Timeless Fourth of July Traditions

Amy Gesenhues, July 4: “Today’s Google Doodle by Brian Kaas celebrates Independence Day with a classic Fourth of July scene: aluminum lawn chairs, a cooler and flip-flops.”

9.) Google Releases The Full Version Of Their Search Quality Rating Guidelines

Barry Schwartz, November 19: “Google’s Mimi Underwood said that ‘ratings from evaluators do not determine individual site rankings, but are used to help us understand our experiments.’ She added, ‘The evaluators base their ratings on guidelines we give them; the guidelines reflect what Google thinks search users want.'”

10.) It’s Official: Google Says More Searches Now On Mobile Than On Desktop

Greg Sterling, May 5: “With this revelation that mobile search has now overtaken desktop search we get a bit more color and context for the recent mobile-friendly algorithm update. I’ve been arguing for well over a year that mobile is now the ‘primary screen’ for marketers. That now extends to search marketers as well.”

So there you have it — the most read news stories of the year on Search Engine Land. In case you missed it earlier this week, we already published the top 10 news stories of 2015 on Marketing Land, our sister site. Tomorrow, we’ll begin posting a daily look back at the top columns that we published here on Search Engine Land throughout the year.

On behalf of the Search Engine Land editorial team, thanks for reading us during 2015. Happy holidays to you and best wishes for 2016!

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