Just last year itself, you completed your research and groundwork of Google algorithms and optimized your website design, content, backlinks, and so on accordingly to ensure that your SEO ranking stays on top. Think it’s time to relax?
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), you can never rest. SEO is a continually evolving field that requires constant monitoring and tracking, or else, you might fall behind in the game. Google confirmed this dynamic feature of its search engine optimization algorithms in a tweet:
In fact, Google changes its algorithms nearly 500-600 times every year!
Hear that, digital marketers? It’s no time to snooze now! [bctt tweet=”In 2018, Google has come up with some major changes in its algorithms that are already creating a wave of change in search engine optimization.” username=””] The SEO game has entirely changed now – it is no longer for the marketers instead it is more about the user experience now.
Let’s look at what Google has in store for us in 2018, shall we?
1. It’s The Era Of The Mobile
Not long ago, mobile traffic was something that marketers would schedule for the last. Mobile search and mobile traffic wasn’t a big deal just five years ago from now. It was enough to focus on curating the website content with relevant keywords, metadata, and backlinks. And maybe, after those efforts were successful, one could think about targeting a small crowd of mobile users.
That was a time when the desktop meant everything. But needless to say, the tables have turned now. Today, almost 60% of searches come from mobile devices. In such a scenario, one can only ignore the potential of mobile at his/her own peril.
According to Zenith Media, by the end of 2018, mobile traffic will make up 79% of the internet traffic! So, if you’re not targeting the mobile-friendly crowd, begin at this instant!
In November 2016, Google announced its mobile-first indexing:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”[/perfectpullquote]
What this means is, while most people use Google on mobile devices, most website owners are still designing their websites to target the desktop audience. In other words, most sites are not optimized for mobile which results in bad user experience. With Google’s mobile-first indexing, you can no longer afford to do that. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you will likely see a massive drop in rankings and traffic.
Thus, you need to build an efficient mobile-friendly site and make sure that its content matches to that of your desktop.
Once, you’re done optimizing your site for mobile devices it is time to boost your page speed. Slow loading pages and poorly designed UX are the two primary causes for increasing bounce rates. The higher your bounce rates, the lower will be your SEO ranking.
To boost the speed of your web pages, always keep the design and outlook neat and straightforward. Avoid heavy elements and bulky CTAs; try to use plain white backgrounds and simple black texts, and you’re good to go!
2. The Rise Of Voice Search And Zero-result SERPs
Way back around 2010, Google search results looked something like this:
Today, however, our search engine results pages (SERPs) are replete with FAQs, related information associated with your search topic, and much more. Something like this:
So, you can see the drastic change that our SERPs have undergone in the past eight years. With search results so graphic and informative, sometimes users don’t even need to click on the blue links as so much information is already visible on SERPs.
This transformation is mainly due to the rise in artificial intelligence tech and voice search. Google maintains that around 40% of adults use voice search on a daily basis.
Tools like Rank Tracker are excellent in researching and analyzing the kind of questions your potential audience could ask.
In March 2018, Google tested a new algorithm –Zero-Result SERPs. The result contains only one single information:
So, if you wished to see other results, you’d have to click “Show all results.” So, when you click this, Google would display all the relevant pieces of information extracted from top sites:
This is an initiative on Google’s part to refine the search engine into a more result-based instead of being link-based. Although, as of now, this test remains on the hold, this might be the future of SERPs.
3. Updated PageRank Is The Newest Link-Building Trendsetter
In April 2018 the fact that Google has made modifications in its PageRank patent came to the fore. According to the new update in the PageRank algorithm, now Google will be using a web-link graph to map out the distances between authoritative and spam websites.
The mapping will look somewhat like this:
This mapping structure will allow Google to figure out the shortest route to seed authoritative websites. Now, you would think that having more backlinks in your content will help you emerge as a trusted domain within the new mapping structure, right?
Well, you’re wrong.[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Stuffing your web content with links isn’t the key here. The focus is to have relevant, resourceful, and high-quality links. Thus, even if you are a minor website crowded with magnates like Amazon and eBay, you can outrank them provided your link-map comprises of trusted and relevant domains.[/perfectpullquote]
This algorithm aims to ensure seamless linking of authoritative websites with one another for enhanced user experience.
March 7, 2018, marked a drastic wave of change for SEO rankings, courtesy Google’s “broad core algorithm update” which was termed as “Brackets” by GSQi.
Within a few days of this core update being rolled out, significant fluctuations in rankings, and rich snippets was witnessed. Glenn Gabe of GSQIS stated:
He further went on to say:
“This was one of the biggest updates I’ve seen in a while. It seems Google once again improved how it assesses quality, and with Google always looking to surface the highest quality content for users, that’s a really big deal.”
According to Google, if the rankings for specific pages had dropped after the core update, “there’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well…Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.”
Content and links are the #1 and #2 ranking factors for Google.
To further clear up the confusion regarding falls and rises in rankings of websites, John Mueller explained during a Google Webmaster Hangout session that the March 7 Google core update was all about the relevance of content. So, if your website has seen a drop after the update, it’s not necessarily a suggestion that you have low-quality content, but instead it indicates that your content lacks the answers to particular queries of the searchers.
So, what must you do now?
One thing is clear – high-quality content is the order of the day. Your focus should thus be on how to improve your content and design in a way that searchers find useful. Now is the time to assess and audit your content to see the loopholes that can be improved upon.
For instance, suppose your website content is about search engine optimization. You cannot just talk about what SEO and why it matters. Such generic content is lying all around the Web. You have to give a unique edge to your content – write about the top SEO tips and tricks, SEO algorithms to keep an eye out for, KPIs, and others interrelated things. That’s how you’ll ‘create’ utility for the end user.
Coming to your website design, Google Analytics can be a beneficial tool to monitor your landing page metrics.
All you peeps using HTTP for your websites, be prepared! Starting in July this year, Google is going to mark all sites using HTTP as “Not secure.”
And from October 2018 on, all such sites will be marked with a red-hot warning!
Although this algorithm update isn’t going to affect your Google rankings, it sure will affect your bounce rate and user experience adversely, which will eventually deliver a blow to your rankings.
Stressing the importance of HTTPS, Adrienne Porter Felt tweeted:
According to Searchmetrics Google has already started giving more importance to HTTPS sites for specific sectors:
So, before it’s too late, make the transition to HTTPS. But make sure you tread the right path or else, you might lose traffic. The following three things should be enough:
All versions of your website should redirect seamlessly to the updated HTTPS version.
Update every internal link on your site from HTTP to HTTPS.
Update your sitemap with the new HTTPS link.
Finally, before going official with your HTTPS run a complete SEO audit of your site to check whether you’ve covered all your bases.
Thus, as of 2018, these are the five search engine optimization algorithms you need to keep in mind. Yes, yes, we know that it’s more than overwhelming to keep up with so many changes all at once, but once you do, the results will be rewarding. And given the competition out there, you can’t really afford to stay indifferent to these changes, can you?
To be on top, you must go that extra mile!
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