Anytime a Googler speaks to or about SEO, it tends to be a big deal. In this case, Maile Ohye (of Clarity ‘16 fame) did a video for the webmaster support forum entitled, “Do you need an SEO?”. It covers key points to review, questions to ask, and even provides a timeline (4 months to a year) for results. Specifically stated is the fact that, “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google”..
For subscription based services, such as the Wall Street Journal, Google encouraged their “First Click Free” program which allowed users to see the article if directed there from Google search results. This provided a useful experience for most users. The WSJ has since removed their articles from this service and gets denoted as a subscription within Google News results now, but not the standard results. The subscription piece could cause SEO performance issues as content won’t be fully indexed.
Carousel type search results seem to be popping up more often for a variety of entities in Google’s SERP. John Mueller confirmed that this algorithm that determines what is displayed and in what order is not the same as the regular search algorithm. Speculatively, these results appear to somewhat based on the knowledge graph and having a knowledge panel.