Google is constantly working on new features and making changes, but they’re usually unnoticeable to the general public. However, there have been a few new developments that I felt was big enough to discuss.
1. Google warns bloggers and publishers to disclose to their readers about sponsored product reviews.
(Announced this month)
This is nothing new. Google has always frowned upon paid links, including sponsored product reviews. For Google to publicly post another warning tells me that they are not only being proactive, but continue to aggressively fight against unnatural link building. If anyone is caught selling links or doing sponsored product reviews without properly disclosing and no-following the links, they may very well face a penalty.
My thoughts: Don’t sell do-follow links. To risk a penalty on your site to make a little side money doesn’t make sense. Try to make money using other methods – like banner ad sales and affiliate programs.
2. Google has officially confirmed that Google PageRank will no longer be visible to the public.
(Announced this month)
According to a Google spokesperson, PageRank will still be used internally by the company, but will simply be displayed as “not available” to the public. There are a couple of reasons why Google has decided to stop displaying PageRank. 1) To put a stop to webmasters who are using PageRank as a metric for selling links, and 2) To put to rest all the discussions of when the next PageRank update will happen.
By removing the toolbar PageRank, we can all forget about it and move on. I think Google is winning the war on paid links. For the last 10+ years, I’ve seen a drastic decline in the paid links market.
3. Google will remove ads from the right side of their search results, on desktops.
(Announced last month)
The news is that Google will completely remove all ads from the right side of their search results, but knowledge graphs may still display there. By norm, Google displays 3 ads on the left side for desktop searches, but they have said they may display up to 4 ads at the top in situations when the search query is very competitive (ie: insurance or cars). This major change comes as a result of a 6-year long testing phase.
There are several reasons why Google has decided to do this:
- Makes the search results page cleaner and more focused.
- Ads above the organic listings (left side) receive significantly more traffic.
- Mobile search does not have right side ads, so this move creates a uniform layout for both mobile and desktop.
Will this affect organic traffic for sites that receive most of their traffic via SEO? My guess is it will affect organic traffic for most sites because chances are the addition of more ads at the top of search results will take away from the organic listings below them. Studies have shown time and time again, that the lower your organic ranking, the lower the traffic volume.