SEO summary: Some of the biggest changes to come from Google in 2014

We’re only half way through the second month of the year and already Google have fired a few shots in the war against spammers, changed search results and have decided to reign fire upon Germany.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the latest happenings from Google that might affect websites and search as a whole. Here are some of the biggest changes to come from Google in 2014…

Music Search Results

Google have further tweaked how it displays search results for songs and artists. Now when a user searches for a song, for example, “Hood Gone Love It” by Jay Rock, they will be greeted with a large screenshot for the song linking straight to the video on YouTube.

Music results

– How does this affect search?

Immediately obvious is how much screen real estate the music results take up, with total space roughly on par with four regular SERPs. This still counts as one result, and there are still a total of 10 on the page, but it’s likely the bottom results are going to get an even frostier reception.

Interestingly Strawberrysoup has yet to find a result that has come from YouTube. Though this might seem like a no brainer, as YouTube is a Google property, after Google’s recent issues with European courts, one would think Google might have included results from competitors.

– What should be done?

While we’re curious about the amount of retail space and lack of competition, the changes are certainly colorful, and have brightened up search. We doubt it will affect any rankings much just yet, except for Sweet’s Blockbuster perhaps.

Google vs. Germany

It’s not uncommon for Matt Cutts to offer cryptic warnings about when they’re doing a big takedown of link networks or link spam, and earlier this month he came out with two tweets:

Matt Cutts tweet Matt Cutts tweet

While the agency in question is still unknown, it is clear that Google is squaring off against Germany. This region targeting isn’t uncommon, both the UK and France have come under fire before.

The promise of more to come proves interesting, though any movements from Google or affected agencies have not been reported.

– How does this affect search?

We suspect many German agencies are currently reviewing strategies and backlink profiles as we speak. Though search results, agencies and networks will be affected in Germany, it is unlikely any of it will translate to the UK until Google come back over the pond to dish out justice.

– What should be done?

Unless you have a German site, and are worried about your backlink profile, you’re not going to feel the burn of the web spam team’s wrath. However it is always worth doing a review of your backlink profile regularly, you never know what it is going on behind the scenes.

The Top Heavy Algorithm

The Top-Heavy algorithm has received its third iteration, with no changes reported since 2012. Once again this algorithm affects sites that have opted for the “ads first, content last” approach, i.e. sites that don’t have much content above the fold.

– How does this affect search?

The update only targets sites that have been overusing ads on their pages. Updates in the past have had very little impact on search as a whole, the previous updates affected between 0.7% and 1% of all searches, it stands to reason that this update will produce the same kind of results.

– What should be done?

Typically, business sites such as online retailers and distributors do not feature ads on their sites; but blogs, editorial and media sites could be feeling the heat as ads account for their business models.

Based on historic data, it would appear this update is easier to recover from than say Panda or Penguin, but anyone who is hit by it is going to have to say farewell to some of their revenue.

Less than two months in and Google have had three big updates to search. People seem to forget about the little stuff like this, but it all has an impact. Just remember to keep checking your Google Webmaster Tools, and if you see anything unusual, let us know!