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Understanding How Google’s Most Recent SERP Updates Can Help You Win at SEO in 2016



It’s no secret that ranking well in search engines provides immense value to your business. However, with each passing day, first page search rankings are becoming more difficult to achieve. Links drive great results, but can be hard to acquire, and creating “great content” is much harder than Matt Cutts makes it sound. If you’re searching for ways to improve your rankings in a scaleable manner, one of the best points to start is to be the first to adapt to algorithm updates.


Google currently updates their search algorithm 600 times per year, so it’s no secret that every year will hold large-scale changes to search. On top of that, 2016 marks one of the most significant years in search engine updates, despite the fact that we’re only halfway through the year.


WHY? Because ranking #1 on Google doesn’t mean shit now.


advision-google-serp.pngWell, that’s an exaggeration, but the value of ranking in the traditional first position in search engines is significantly decreasing as newer SERP features begin to take up more space at the top, which decreases the visibility, and therefore, click through rate of these results.

Searching “denver inbound marketing” currently brings up AdVision (our company) as the #1 position, but as can be seen here, we do not appear above the fold for this #1 result.


With some of these updates being brand new, there is a MASSIVE untapped opportunity to drastically enhance your search engine visibility by leveraging these recent updates before others have even heard of them, and begin to be found by the people who are actively searching for what you provide. With that in mind, we're proud to present our comprehensive guide to Google's most recent SERP updates.


The Ultimate List of Resources on Google's 2016 SERP Updates 

 google-serp-update-overview.pngrankbrain-machine-learning-google-serp-update.png  search-engines-results-page-pixels.png  candidate-cards-google-serp-update.png  Google-new-partnership-twitter-serp-update.png  sem-google-serp-updates.png  voice-search-google-serp-update.png  rich-cards-google-serp-update.png  accelerated-mobile-pages-google-serp-update.png



Chapter 1:

Understanding Google's Algorithm Updates: An Overview

For those who are newer to SEO, it’s important to understand how search engines determine the order of results on search engines results pages (SERPs). Start by reviewing these articles about the history of Google’s algorithm updates, and how SERP rankings are determined.


Chapter 2:

Mastering the Intent of Searches with RankBrain

RankBrain is Google’s newest step towards helping robots to take over the world. RankBrain is currently working with the other elements of Google’s algorithm to learn more about user intent, and using those learnings to improve the algorithm. In other words, it’s getting smarter by reading existing data, and using it’s new learnings to improve Google even more. Here, you’ll get a much more thorough explanation of RankBrain, as well as actionable tips on how to optimize your site for RankBrain.


Chapter 3:

SERP Pixel Changes Increase Value of First Page Rankings

Google has tested a variety of different pixel lengths for title tags and meta descriptions, and recently increased their pixel length to allow more characters for both. You’ll learn about the details of this recent pixel increase, and how to leverage this for increased visibility of your pages in the SERPs.



Chapter 4: 

Candidate Cards and the Opportunity that they Will Soon Present for Businesses

Google launched Candidate Cards in January as an experiment, providing deeper insights into political candidates. While this feature is only available to political candidates, we should expect this to be rolled out to businesses soon. Here, you’ll learn about what Candidate Cards are and how you can expect them to impact local business.


Chapter 5:

How to Leverage Google’s Newest Partnership for Increased Visibility

News of a new agreement between Google and Twitter first leaked in 2015, and we’re now starting to see the full extent of this partnership. Read about the opportunities that this partnership presents in terms of indexability and increased visibility for time-sensitive material.


Chapter 6:

Increasing First Page Rankings with SEM

Earlier this year, Google eliminated ads from the right side of the SERPs and increased their ad limit to allow up to 4 paid search ads at the top of the SERPS. Here, you’ll learn how search experts expect this to impact SEO, and how you can use this update to maximize your search visibility.


Chapter 7:

Voice Search Opens the Door to User Intent

Automated assistants like Siri and Alexa are getting better at teaming up with Google to understand user intent. This provides a massive opportunity to enhance your rankings for voice related searches. Here, you will learn about voice search and how you can optimize your site for voice search.


Chapter 8:

Standing Out from the Pack with Rich Cards

Back in May, Google announced the release of rich cards, a new form of schema markup. These rich cards will soon replace rich snippets in the SERPs as a way to separate your listing from other related results. Rich cards are currently only available for movies and recipes, but we can expect that to change soon.


Chapter 9:

Wowing Your Readers with AMPs

Officially rolled out in February, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are described by some as a “godsend” for SEO. Read about how this recent SERP update can drastically boost site speed and pageviews.



Did I miss anything? I doubt it, but do your best to come up with anything that you feel I missed.

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Pat Ahern
Post by Pat Ahern
June 24, 2016