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Google 2018 algorithm, what does it mean?

Did you know that Google’s search algorithm changes and I mean a lot! So what does the Google 2018 algorithm mean and how will it affect you?

There have been hundreds of both large and small updates since 2000 affecting how content climbs and falls across search engine results pages (SERPs). As marketers, we understand that a new Google algorithm 2018 is forever just around the corner. These frequent and secret changes to the algorithm obviously lead to speculation on how organisations can adapt their SEO strategy to stay on top of the rankings.
And just as obviously we are never told exactly how the algorithm changes, here we look at five algorithm aspects you should pay close attention to.

Mobile-first
60% of internet searches are performed on mobile devices, making mobile compatibility progressively more important as Google recognises this shift and alters its focus from mobile-friendly to mobile-first, already splitting its search index, one for mobile, one for desktop, back in November 2016:
“Our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

That eventuality has now come to pass. This year, Google will reconfigure the two search indexes into one, prioritising mobile when crawling.
Check to see if your website is easy to use on a mobile device and ask yourself how suited your website is currently to mobile browsing with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Focus on Featured Snippets

Referred to as position #0, ‘Featured Snippets’ (also known as rich search results, Featured Snippets are multi-faceted and can be lists, reviews, dates of events or answer boxes) appear above regular results on SERPs, providing a serious boost to your click-through rate and site traffic.

Google is set to expand Featured Snippets this year, placing greater importance to structured data (code that you add to your website’s HTML that can provide Featured Snippets). By adding structured data, you can, for instance, score an answer box for a common customer pain point or design a Knowledge Card to give a more visually appealing insight into your organisation. Referred to as position #0, ‘Featured Snippets’ (also known as rich search results, Featured Snippets are multi-faceted and can be lists, reviews, dates of events or answer boxes) appear above regular results on SERPs, providing a serious boost to your click-through rate and site traffic.

Google is set to expand Featured Snippets this year, placing greater importance to structured data (code that you add to your website’s HTML that can provide Featured Snippets). By adding structured data, you can, for instance, score an answer box for a common customer pain point or design a Knowledge Card to give a more visually appealing insight into your organisation.

Voice Activation
Searching the internet using your voice has seen some of the biggest growth areas with assistants like Google Assist, Cortana, and Alexa becoming ubiquitous. In the past decade, voice searches on Google alone have matured by 3,500%, with 40% of adults using voice search once a day.
Because we can reasonably expect this trend to continue its upward trajectory, this puts additional focus on optimisation for mobile, as voice search also has latency to alter the structure of search terms, with the prediction that more ‘organic’ search phrases will come through voice search, with the tendency of humans to ask more fully-formed questions.

Voice search will use ‘longtail’ keywords (meaning more conversational phrases should be used when optimising for voice search) and your keyword strategy should match this. As longtail terms are more explicit, longtail keywords usually have reduced search volume, conversely that results in less competition and a higher conversion rate (people searching specifically for those longtail keywords know what they want and therefore more likely to buy).

‘Linkless’
Last year, Gary Illyes, a Google webmaster trends analyst, proposed that Google can now associate ‘mentions’ without the need for a physical link. These ‘linkless mentions’ such as positive reviews, testimonies, or other non-linked mentions of your organisation will play a role in SEO.

To this end, it is a good idea to gain as many positive mentions of your business, its products, services or people as you can. Whether on your blog, site, or on social media, Google will treat these testimonials favourably, even when they are not hyper-linked.

Real links are still useful, so don’t neglect them, as these physical links give these mentions body and evidence should people want to check veracity. Don’t make the mistake of starting to embellish your business, you will be found out!

Security-focused
Google was forced to admit a short while ago that they favour HTTPS sites with regard to security, and so rank them slightly higher. In the recent Google roadmap, they said that in 2018 they will begin punishing site publishers who failed to add an SSL (secure socket layer).

By enabling an SSL on your website, you can make sure that any data going to and from your server is encrypted (the difference between “https” and “http” with the ‘s’ meaning secure) and is essential if you use geo-location, payments, or notifications that necessitate the transfer of confidential information. Getting an SSL isn’t hard, all you have to do is buy a certificate and ask your website host to install and activate it.