SEO Year In Review: 2018
In 2018, Google released several updates that impacted the way we approach search engine optimization for our clients. From tool improvements to algorithm updates, the SEO team at Green Hat has used these new developments as opportunities to improve service to our clients and give them the positive results they need.
Here are some of Google’s most noteworthy announcements from 2018:
Sites Migrated to Mobile-First Indexing
In March 2018, Google gradually started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. This means that Googlebots are indexing and ranking sites based on the quality of their mobile pages.
This update prompted sites to prioritize mobile-friendly content and user-responsive designs. Failure to optimize for mobile-first indexing devastated some sites’ website traffic.
- Make your website responsive or mobile-friendly as a high priority.
- Test your site at Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
Algorithm Updates That Reward Relevant Content
Spring 2018 saw Google algorithm updates that rewarded pages with content considered “under-rewarded.” These updates placed extra emphasis on relevant search content.
Author credibility and brand reputation contribute to page quality and, in turn, search rank. Poor reputation is a signal of low-quality content.
This ranking factor corresponds with the way that humans evaluate content. Building trust — i.e., creating value — is important in the development of loyal site visitors.
- Find influencers in your industry and start building a personal relationship with them without asking for anything in return. This will take time; this is just the first step. More on this later…
Flagging Non-Secure Sites
Google began to flag sites that use HTTP protocol as not secure in July 2018. A non-secure site may discourage consumers, causing bounce rates to increase. This update motivated smart sites to move from the HTTP protocol to the more secure HTTPS protocol, ensuring a greater degree of user trust.
Secure sites protect user information and make visitors feel more comfortable, especially when sharing personal data like purchase information.
- Contact your hosting provider and ask them to move your site to HTTPS. Some hosting providers will do this for free.
Structured Data Schema Additions
Structured data expands and enhances the results that users see on a search engine results page (SERP). In 2018, schema updates added even more ways for users to get SERP info.
Date Published and Date Modified schema were two of the most interesting innovations to structured data schema. Date Published schema should be used for non-evergreen content that is constantly changing — news, technology information, reviews.
When evergreen content is updated, the Date Modified property can signal to Google that the content is current and relevant to searchers.
These schemas allow users to decide if the date of content will help them find what they need.
For example, while Recipe Markup is still optional, Google started recommending category, cuisine and video keywords. Not having one of these schemas for a recipe results in warnings on the structured data testing tool.
Another major release: Speakable Markup was introduced in 2018. Sites with speakable structured data allow Google Assistant to speak back marked-up content. Voice search, with the help of smart speakers, is becoming more and more prominent in the search environment and is quickly contributing to a fairly major shift in SEO strategy.
- Test your site in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
- If you are using WordPress, consider using one of these structured data plugins.
Speaking of the near future, 2019 is here, and like every other year, new trends, tools, and strategies abound. With companies like Google always looking ahead to improve their search services, it is best to ensure that you are able to keep the pace up and prepare for the impending changes that will come your way.