To kick off the new year, we’re looking back at the changes Google made in 2018. Keeping an eye on enhancements to Google’s core algorithm is a great way to monitor fluctuations in site traffic and allows Radd Interactive analysts to provide the best optimization services possible. In nuanced practices like SEO, it is important to pay attention to the changing landscape of the internet. With this in mind, here are some moves Google made over the course of 2018 to change the way we do SEO.
1. February – New Version of Google Search Console
This new search console opened 16 months of traffic data and other updates to the public as a simplified way of optimizing a website’s presence in the search results pages. Included features are search performance, index coverage, AMP status, and job posting reports.
2. March – Google Begins Mobile-First Indexing & Updates Core Algorithm
Before mobile-first indexing, Google would typically crawl, index, and rank the desktop version of a page’s content. However, due to the sheer volume of search that is done on smart devices, the mobile version of a webpage is now predominantly used for indexing and ranking.
Additionally, they unrolled a routine broad core algorithm update designed to improve search results overall. On Twitter, Google stated that the changes aimed to benefit pages that were being under-rewarded, and that no fixes could be made for pages that may have suffered as a result.
3. April – Google Announces Update to Core Algorithm
Google took to Twitter to confirm another routine algorithm update, stating that while some sites may experience improvements, others may see zero or negative changes. They also stated that the best way to adjust in accordance with the update is to improve overall site quality.
4. May – Change in Meta Description Length
In late 2017 we saw an increase in meta description length to roughly 300 characters, then in May of 2018 this length was shortened back to around 160. Although there was a clear fluctuation in acceptable meta description length, Google maintained there to be no fixed character requirement.
In addition to this, Google began testing the use of responsive search ads. Responsive search ads allow business owners to create adaptive advertisements. The idea is to write multiple headline options and over time Google will utilize the one/s that perform best.
5. July – Website Speed Becomes Ranking Factor for Mobile Searches
Fairly straightforward, Google began to heavily favor websites that are mobile friendly. A site that offers a fast, pleasant, and user-friendly experience on computers as well as smartphones is ideal.
Statistics show that 53% of site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Since nowadays more than half of total web traffic comes from mobile search, it is important to inspire people to stay longer and engage with your content. Studies indicate that visitors will stay up to 70% longer on a page with a faster load time, making them more likely to interact. So, best practice is to not overdo the mobile version of your site, or any version for that matter. A load time under three seconds is ideal, and no more than five is recommended. Faster is always better, and of course, sometimes less is more.
6. August – Release of the Medic Update
This update is called the “Medic” update because it appears to have most greatly impacted websites in the medical, health, and wellness fields. To read more about this update, check out our post, Google’s Algorithm History: Past, Present, and Future.
7. September – Happy Birthday, Google!
To celebrate their 20th birthday, Google decided to do some maintenance and make some behind-the-scenes adjustments. They also broadened their definition of “close variant” as it relates to exact match keywords, thus working to include words with same meaning i.e. synonyms.
We also saw another slight broad core update at the end of the month, with Google publicly stating that the update was small and simply a matter of routine. With updates such as these, Google maintains that best practice is to continue keeping your site content fresh, relevant, and well-written.
There have been many exciting developments and changes in the SEO industry in 2018, and there’s an even more exciting year ahead. We look forward to what the rest of 2019 has in store. Be sure to visit us online here at Radd Interactive to keep up with the latest in SEO and PPC industry news.