Updates from The Summer of SEO – HTTPS, Penguin, Pigeon and Authorship

SEO is always changing because algorithms are always changing. We have provided a breakdown with links to outside resources of the most recent changes from the search world.

Check out the summaries below.


It has been over 10 months since the last time Google has refreshed Penguin. What this means is that any efforts to remove over-optimization, get rid of duplicate content, remove keyword stuffing, and other Penguin clean-up tasks within the last 10 months have NOT been recognized by Google yet. A “complete data refresh” is required in order for the algorithm to review changes. Google has basically stated that they want to make sure that the refresh is exactly what they want it to be before releasing an update.

It has been rumored amongst the SEO community that the Penguin refresh can be coming any day. The 10 months is the longest time between major updates to algorithms such as this one.

We will provide an update as soon as a refresh occurs.


Towards the end of July, Google launched a new local search ranking algorithm which has unofficially been titled “Pigeon” from leaders in the SEO community. This is not just an update to an existing algorithm, but an entirely new local algorithm. There has been no official comment from Google about this new algorithm or what the ranking factor changes have been.

The area that has seemed to have seen the most amount of change is what has been known as the local 7-pack which included a list of 7 local search results that looked like a normal organic listing which was then followed by non-local based results. From testing, the local 7 pack has not been showing up for most local search results.

This update has seemed to benefit local directories the most. For example, websites like Yelp. When searching for a local restaurant, it is more likely for the Yelp page to show up near the top of search results. Same goes for hotel and travel sites like Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, Travelocity, etc. A search for “hotels in south beach” provides a local search carousel of individual hotels which is followed up by Expedia, TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, and large national hotel chains.





After a couple years of pushing the concept of Authorship, Google has decided to kill it. Over the last couple of months it has been an area of concern of SEO’s as to why some search results were being shown without the author’s image from their authorship profile showing up.

One of the benefits of authorship has always been that a visitor is more likely to click on a link with an authorship image next to it than a link without an authorship photo. Google has stated that there is no proof or evidence of that. The SEO community as a majority has disagreed with that.

Although the images were removed, the author’s name still showed next to the meta description which still provided a better click-through than those that did not include the author’s title. Once again, Google seemed to disagree.

As of today, Google is no longer showing authorship images or authorship names within search results as they feel it provides a better search experience for the user.

Until Google regroups and rethinks about their decision on authorship, it is now completely gone from the search results.

Google’s two primary reasons for discontinuing the authorship model were “low adoption rates by authors and web masters” and “low value to searchers”.

Google is, however, still showing authorship photos in search results from content that is being shared on Google+. One may think this is a way to get more usage out of Google+

Here is an example from a search of Danny Sullivan, the creator of Search Engine Land:


Should we remove the Google Authorship snippets from our site? No.

As with several other Google products, they may bring this back. Also, keeping authorship snippets implemented will still provide value for content that is posted to Google+


On August 6, 2014 Google made the announcement that they are now using SSL/HTTPS as a ranking signal. The first thing to note with this announcement is that it is an incredibly weak signal at this time and SEO’s and webmasters should not rush to move their site to HTTPS. Google mentioned that this ranking factor is only effecting “fewer than 1% of global queries”. Over time, this factor is likely to become more powerful, but will be a slow roll out in order to give webmasters the time to plan and implement the HTTPS properly.

The concept behind this ranking signal is that Google is trying to make the internet more secure. One way that they feel they can do this is provide websites with a secure layer a boost in the search results which makes it more likely that a visitor will click on that link as opposed to visiting a site that is not as secure.

Do you need to migrate to a HTTPS Site? Yes.

Do you need to migrate to a HTTPS site today? No.

This is just one of who knows how many ranking factors (thousands!) that goes into a first page search result. An HTTPS site with crappy content, bad links, no social signals and horrible design is still NOT going to rank above a site with great content that people interact with, share, and convert.

Here are two resources from Google’s Webmaster Support Forum on more information about best practices for setting up HTTPS and the proper steps of setting up re-directs from an HTTP to HTTPS site.



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