As 2016 comes to an end, SEO experts are still busy keeping track of all algorithm updates that took place. For the next year, we can expect more updates and a significant rise in organic searches. Here’s a look at some of the major Google algorithm updates in 2016, as observed by a reputed SEO company,

AdWords Upgrade: Feb. 23, 2016

Google’s SERP experiment continued during the first quarter of 2016. By February, four-ad blocks took over two- and three-ad blocks and represented more than one-third of all top ad blocks. The new ads featured rich keywords and location enhancements through various site links.

The new upgrade removed all right-column ads. Although this upgrade was designed to enhance paid search, it had several implications for organic results and CTR. By removing right-column ads, mobile-friendly websites got an automatic boost in their search engine rankings.

Mobile Friendly II: May 12, 2016

Hardly a year after Google’s famous Mobilegeddon edition,  the second mobile friendly upgrade rolled out. The new algorithm provided page-by-page signals to search engine bots to assess each page. Mobile-friendly websites witnessed a spike in their Web traffic. The new upgrade also revised certain Webmaster guidelines and aimed to penalize keyword-saturated pages.

Possum: Sept. 1, 2016

Although there was no official name given to this upgrade, local search community gave this algorithm update the name “Possum.” The name implies the popular phrase “playing possum,” whereby many business owners thought that they were losing out on their Google My Business ranking when, in fact, they were not. We guess Google was just playing possum.

This upgrade had an impact on SEO-ranking in Local Finder (Google Maps). It prevented spam from ranking and diversified local search results. Due to the refined local search results, businesses falling outside city limits experienced a spike in their ranking.

Universal Drop: Sept. 13, 2016

For more than two years, SEO experts have been wondering when Google will update its Penguin. By September, Google made an announcement that it will be rolling out a Penguin update soon. As a result, this was the hottest and most volatile month for SERPs.

At some point in mid-September, SERPs with vertical images witnessed a massive drop. This led to substantial volatility, since image results boost organic search results. While the impact on SEO was uncertain, it was clear that Google was preparing to roll out Penguin upgrade.

Penguin 4.0:  Sept. 23, 2016

After two years of speculation, Google finally launched Penguin 4.0 in the last week of September. The company stated that Penguin is now going real-time and will become a core part of search engine algorithm.

The Penguin filter catches spam websites in search results. Google then penalizes those websites marked “spam” by removing their rankings. As a result, such websites have to revise their content and wait until this new update (ie: two years) to be free and get their ranks back.

To escape these penalties, experts recommend that on-site pages should focus on relevance and quality of information rather than stuffed keywords.

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