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What We Learned From Google in 2015

One thing is for sure in this day andf age. Google trends change so often, it is often hard to keep up. To get in the know, we've compiled the top five trends for SEO in 2015.

1) Emphasis on Mobile--and Mobile Ads

2015 was the year that mobile took over. Extensive testing shows that more and more users are using their phones for reading news, shopping and entertainment. This emphasis on mobile also applies to paid search. With the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, people's phone screens are getting bigger--and Google is using this as an opportunity to test out more ads. In December 2015, many people noticed Google testing out the use of four ads on mobile. This pushed organic search results down further on the screen, making it harder for even the number one result to gain as much visibility.

2) More Panda Updates--And Possibly a Penguin Update

Like the old SEO saying goes, content is (still) king--at least in Google's eyes. The search engine giant pushed out another Panda update that focuses on high-quality, unique and authoritative content. Google also promised another real-time Penguin update, but that may not be released until the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.

3) Changes in Local SEO

Arguably one of the biggest changes the SEO world saw this year was to the way local SEO has changed. Google introduced the "snack packs," which displays three searches instead of the previous seven. Many businesses were upset by this decision, as it made it more competitive to be visible in the local results.

Google My Business also recently introduced a new special hours feature, which allows businesses to update their hours on a day-by-day level--and in advance. This can become especially useful during the holidays, when many brick and mortar stores open earlier and close later. With the special hours feature, they can set these hours as they need, and once they are over, their store hours will revert back to normal.

4) Google+ is On Its Way Out

2015 was finally the year that Google admitted defeat with its increasingly unpopular G+...well, sort of. The social media platform isn't completely gone, but it's changing the way it displays information. Google has made changes to G+ even as recent as December 2015.

5) Focusing Less on Exact Keywords and Keyword Phrases

While this trend has been going on for quite some time, it especially made an impact in 2015. Even as little as a few years ago, many SEOs engaged in "blackhat" tactics of stuffing articles with the same keyword over and over. Since then, SEOs knew they still needed to use keywords but in a more natural fashion. In today's SEO content world, keywords do have value, but keyword ideas and phrases are more important than ever. For example, if you are writing an article about tacos, you may mention the exact phrase tacos two or three times, but you'll also talk about the history of tacos, toppings, taco variations, other Mexican food, etc. These content pieces are more topic focused, giving users a more engaging and useful experience with your website. Because Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms for unique, valuable content, this trend will continue to be important.

These are some of the latest updates from Google in 2015. Check back for more updates in 2016.

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