SEO algorithm updates never end.
This is an ongoing process by every search engine to upgrade its algorithm such that it can provide the most appropriate results for a given query. While Google and Bing are the most used search engines, there are other smaller players in the market.
However, this article will focus on the most popular search engine algorithm updates that will help you in understanding Google’s intent in making so many changes.
You will be able to apply best practices that matter most to Google, not be penalized overnight, and not lose the effort and hard work you put into it.
SEO Algorithm updates that should know about
In a year itself, Google makes multiple updates in the process of improvising its algorithm. While some are announced and very apparent, some are considered minuscule for an announcement. Irrespective of the magnitude, all of them affect your website and page ranking on Google.
Knowing and adapting to some of them make a really big difference to your website and SEO efforts. Some that you should know about and can add value to your organic search team are as follows. Again, some of them are picked in retrospection and some as a pro-action.
1. Page Speed Update for Mobile
We have seen many beautiful sites with great content and UI, but they falter when it comes to user experience (UX). Page speed is one of the most important factors that determine the quality of UX.
If the page has many great elements, but a poor loading speed, especially on the mobile device, then Google is likely to be unfriendly in ranking those slow-speed web pages. Look out for its effects by July 2018; it is popularly referred to as the ‘Speed Update.
What should you be wary about? Any Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) linked to a slow AMP could rank lower due to the speed of those pages. Since it is completely algorithmic, the Search Console will not be able to share a proactive prompt or indicate an error that could be used to fix the pages. Bottom line is that it is all about better and better UX.
2. Mobile First-Index
If the user receives a great experience on the mobile, by getting the necessary information from a page, then Google will add more value in ranking it. Mobile-First Index does not use the same index as the one picked up during desktop results. It brings up those pages that are able to create a good mobile experience.
Using AMPs, increasing page speed, and using responsive design are some quick fixes that can help in keeping your pages mobile-friendly. Mobile-first index is a gradual algorithm upgrade that ensures that mobile-friendly websites show up higher during a mobile search. This started in 2015 and Google has been amending the algorithm to meet the mobile-friendly criteria.
RankBrain is an AI-enabled ranking system that is part of the Google Hummingbird update. RankBrain is created to refine the results of search queries and also help web pages rank better. It also builds on signals that are used as a criterion to rank pages. Some of them are quality links, keywords, and the content of the website.
RankBrain has made Google more intelligent with the application of an interpretation model. This model ensures that the algorithm thinks beyond the mere keyword and tries to interpret the context, to be able to generate more accurate search results. Find more about RankBrain here.
Some content-loaded websites with flimsy UX were penalized heavily in 2017. The slump is still effective for any website that is considered to exist only for monetization through ads.
Any website that came across with an extremely large presence of ads, content (usually in blog form) on all sorts of topics created for ranking purposes, content has ads or affiliate links spread throughout, and the quality of content is far below industry-specific sites, deceptive ads (looks like a download or play button to trick someone into clicking), thin content, UX barriers, mobile problems, aggressive affiliate setups, and/ or aggressive monetization were prey to the Fred update.
This update targeted black-hat techniques that were driving aggressive ad monetization using the gaps in the Google algorithm.
5. Intrusive Interstitial Penalty
If you are excited that you are able to capture the attention of your visitor with a newly designed pop-up, hold onto your excitement right there. Google has an eye on the user experience, even after they land on your page away from the Google search engine. Intrusive Interstitial penalty is pulling down the ranking of all those websites that have too many pop-ups or have them at inappropriate places, blocking the reading view of content.
SEJ has stated that this penalty applies to all those websites that belong to the following criteria:
The penalty only applies to:
- Websites that display pop-up interstitials that cover the content as users try to enter their site or while they’re on the page.
- Websites that include an interstitial that users have to close before they can access the content.
- Websites that have the main content below the fold and a message that resembles an interstitial above the fold.
Noting that interstitials have been quite cumbersome to mobile users, Google has been stringent on this with mobile apps. Some ways to get around this are by:
- Placing content closer and approachable to the user
- Pop-ups are created for a strong purpose and are not very intrusive.
- Avoid re-appearance of ads
- Desktop interstitials are still allowed, hence revise your mobile strategy.
- Even on your mobile websites, you can use pop-ups while exiting the page. You can still keep those!
6. Chrome HTTPS
Is your website secure or not? Google has had this in its list of rules that can be defined as great websites — using HTTPS to make your website secure. From a consumer, perspective HTTPS was a make or break to building a secured image for banking and transaction-oriented websites.
This update is called Chrome HTTPS because the update will reflect in ‘Chrome 68’. If you haven’t done it yet, you have a critical task on hand before July 2018.
These updates, all put together would definitely affect the mobile version of your website. These just indicate that Google is heavily concerned about its users’ experience with each device. Using websites on each device drives a different outcome altogether. It is time to develop exclusive SEO trends and Ad strategies for each device.