Soon after 2016 began, it quickly became a year of big announcements for the online advertising industry. Between the launch of Penguin 4.0 and the removal of right side desktop ads, industry experts have had a full year of navigating adjustments. These adjustments will bring a very busy and new way of structuring business campaigns in 2017. With the New Year upon us, here is a quick look at some of the biggest updates, launches and affects 2016 had for PPC and SEO experts.

1. Google Stops Showing Ads on Right Side of Desktop Search Results

Google made a huge change in 2016 when they announced that they would no longer be showing AdWords ads on the right side of the desktop search results. Since that announcement, Google ads only appear at the top and bottom of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Officials at Google said this change came after deciding that the right side ads on the desktop search were “less useful.” Google said another reason they made this change was to keep the user experience consistent across all devices and to have a better understanding as to how users engage with campaigns.

2. Expanded Text Ads Went Live

Soon after Google did away with the right side ads in desktop search results, expanded text ads became a hot topic of conversation. By giving advertisers more room to work with, it has allowed agencies to revamp their creative strategies and become more granular with messaging and their overall campaign goals. Soon after Google’s announcement about ETAs, Bing announced that they would also support the new text ad format. Both search engines giants have encouraged advertisers to rethink their overall creative instead of just adding to their existing content.

3. Google Accelerated Mobile Pages Launched

Another huge adjustment also surfaced in February when the Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project launched. This launch promised to enhance user’s overall mobile experience, and so far as delivered! The AMP format has since helped eliminate slow loading searches and has helped users identify AMP friendly websites on their mobile devices. Since the launch of this project, Google has recognized which websites have implemented the new HTML format with a boost in search rankings.

4. AdWords Schedules a Redesign

Google announced early in 2016 that AdWords would be getting a redesign from “the ground-up.” This facelift will review how everything from bidding, measurement, navigation and overall workflow is managed. Google’s goal for the redesign is to give marketers a better way of connecting the digital world to the physical world. With Google testing still underway, advertisers can hope to hear more about this new interface sometime in 2017.

5. Individual Device Bidding Became Available

Google announced that they would be bringing back individual device bidding. This announcement was well received by the industry since it would give advertisers more control over device-level bidding within AdWords. This adjustment has since allowed advertisers to anchor their base keyword bid to the device most useful to their business and then set bid adjustments for each of the other devices. Since the announcement, advertisers have also been able to have a wider range to adjust their bids.

6. Penguin 4.0 Launched, Becomes Part of Google’s Core Algorithm

This update came after many months of speculation as to when the update would actually go live. The original Penguin algorithm initially launched in April 2012, and was established to catch websites that were displaying spam-related behavior within search results. The original launch of Penguin affected webmasters who were buying links or gaining them through link network systems in order to strengthen their backlink profile. After the 4.0 release, Penguin now operates in real-time and is page specific. By operating in real-time, webmasters who were previously penalized for bad links or other faults within their website can see the benefits of the adjustments they made a lot sooner. By being page specific, rather than affecting an entire website’s ranking, this update allowed Penguin to devalue spam on specific pages.

7. Google Launches Mobile-Friendly Update

In spring 2016, Google rolled out a second version of the mobile-friendly algorithm. This algorithm gave an additional ranking boost to websites that were recognized as mobile-friendly in search results. Google assured users that if their website was already mobile-friendly, they would not be affected by this page-by-page signal. The great thing about this mobile update is that it is never too late to benefit from since it is conducted in real-time. Be sure to review Google’s mobile guidelines if you are looking to make your website mobile friendly in 2017.

8. Search Quality Rating Guidelines Gets Updated

In March, Google announced that they would be updating the search quality rating guidelines, reducing the document from 160 to 146 pages. The biggest changes that came with this revision included an emphasis on local which was renamed “Visit-in-Person.” An emphasis was also placed on the role of Your Money Your Life and Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T). A de-emphasis was made on supplementary content. It was also stressed that mobile is still very important. Examples were provided in the updated version of the document. You can review the recently updated guidelines through this PDF.

9. AdWords URLs Get Upgraded

In 2016, Google announced that destination URLs within AdWords would no longer be able to be used, edited or created. Since the upgrade launched, advertisers can now enter the landing page portion of the URL and their tracking information separately. Advertisers can also specify URL options at the account, campaign, ad group, ad, keyword, auto target, and sitelink level without stopping the ad or resetting their ad stats. Google released a URL upgrade guide to help advertisers ease into the transition.

10. Introduction of Google Premier Partners Status

In June 2016, Google not only launched new partner badges, but they also launched Google Premier Partner status. Intertwine Interactive is proud to be recognized as a Google Premier Partner! In order for an agency to be considered a Google Premier Partner, the agency must demonstrate a high level of expertise with AdWords and more importantly deliver agency and client growth.  Intertwine has been a Google Partner since 2011, but approximately only 3% of Google Partners were promoted to premier status.