Google algorithm updates often sneak up on you without warning. A vast majority of people don’t notice them until they see changes within their own websites, such as drops in traffic and fluctuating rankings.
This often results in a feeling that a mistake was made on your end, but that is rarely the case. In fact, some of Google’s updates are unnamed or unofficial.
Well, to help make improving your SEO and managing your website easier, we included 12 Google updates and details about what they truly mean in this article. So, make sure you keep reading as not to miss anything important.
What Should You Do After a Major Google Algorithm Update?
It’s natural to become a bit nervous after learning about an update to Google’s search ranking algorithms. But there’s one thing you should keep in mind: Constant change is the one thing about SEO that stays the same.
In fact, it’s been said that Google makes updates to its algorithm between 500 and 600 times each year. Some of these updates are small and unnoticeable to most users. While others a big enough to change the way you run your website entirely.
Regardless of the adjustment, there are two important steps you should follow when you’ve noticed a change or even a few from Google:
Don’t Freak Out
Of course, major updates to the algorithm are stressful. But an emotional reaction won’t help simplify the process.
Instead, take your time to evaluate the change. If you don’t know much about the adjustment, you may find some information posted directly by Google in the Google Webmaster Central Blog.
Check there to see what kinds of details you are able to find. Such as how the update will or will not change your daily operations.
Don’t React Right Away
After learning as much as you can about the Google update, it might be tempting to make a ton of adjustments to your website. After all, you want to stay ahead of the issue, right? Wrong.
Wait and see if the update has even impacted your site first. In most cases, if you are already handling your SEO properly, your website isn’t going to take a negative hit.
It’s actually common for webmasters to see a positive change in a scenario like this.
When an algorithm change takes place, it is best to wait a few days or couple of weeks. In the beginning, make a note of your metrics and website performances then gone back to see what changes, if any need to be made.
2018 Google Algorithm Updates You Need to Know
Some of the things you will see in Google’s updates this year include penalizing websites that load slowly, rewarding content that effectively answers search queries, and optimizing websites for mobile-friendly pages. But what does this all mean?
We’ll explain these things and much more in this section.
1. Website Speed
Back in April 2010, Google released new information about its ranking for page speed. However, this update was only for the desktop version of websites.
In January of this year, Google released an official announcement about its page speed updates taking full effect in July. The update was designed to decrease the SERP positioning of the mobile sites that were extremely slow to users.
“2 seconds is the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.” ~Maile Ohye, from Google.
If your website is penalized as a result of this update, it is likely that you will not be notified in Google Search Console. This is because the update isn’t a manual action, just an algorithmic one.
On the bright side, this update will only disrupt the slowest sites possible.
With that said, if your mobile site loads extremely quickly, you will not receive a boost in your rankings. This update only punishes slow websites.
2. Chrome Will Clean Up Messy URLS
If someone shares an URL through the URL streaming “Share” in Chrome, unnecessary tails will automatically be removed from the end.
This update can cause a bit of trouble for you. It could become annoying if when sharing a link only the main page will load. This can cause you to lose specific location information that was attached to the anchor text.
While the update might become useful in the future, it’s an annoyance to most users right now.
3. The Relevancy Update
Google rolled out its relevancy update in March of this year. The update is about Google trying to figure out which websites are relevant depending on certain user search queries.
While this update is more about relevancy, keep in mind that they aren’t using it to count quality.
Many of the websites that were flagged after this update had a few similarities. For instance, they were often bigger brands who ended up losing rankings on their articles due to things like duplicate content.
This makes it clear that Google is going to continue punishing sites that don’t provide useful, unique, or helpful information on their pages.
If your site was one that took a hit with the update, you shouldn’t take it as meaning your blog content is terrible. It’s more that Google found your competitors’ sites to answer searchers’ questions better.
You can fix this by removing duplicate content from your site and completing a website audit where you can compare your content to others.
4. New Google AdWords Updates
Google added some new AdWords features almost every month for the first part of this year. Here are a couple:
The January update allowed advertisers to make changes to keywords, such as adding, editing, and removing them while they were busy with other tasks. Users also have the ability to name and identify issues with their Display ads from the Overview page to find out more about the impression shifts in the search results.
April’s update promised users a chance to get a better look at keywords that weren’t showing ads together with an explanation.
All of the AdWords updates were created to have a positive impact on business owners’ advertising by providing deeper insight.
5. Mentioned on Wikipedia Carousel Included in the Search Results
This update is important because a multitude of website owners had complaints because Google hadn’t been mentioning where carousel information was taken from. As a result, Google added a new feature to the carousel in April.
The feature is especially convenient because it is visible on both the desktop and mobile versions of websites. When you click on the carousel, you are taken to the Wikipedia page where a particular brand or product was mentioned.
The main takeaway about this update is that websites and major brands that appear in the Mentioned on Wikipedia section have doubled their possibilities of showing up in Google SERPs. Additionally, when there is a search, a featured snipped instead of a carousel appears.
6. Search Console Year-Plus of Data Adding
This update made plenty of digital marketers and website owners very happy. It included a new version of the Google Search Console that included 16 months worth of stored information.
There were also plenty of other new features included with this update like a new:
- Index Coverage report that tells you about new issues and helps you monitor them
- Job Posting Reports
- AMP Status
You should also note that this Google Search Console update is supposed to be a long-term solution. So, they will continue making updates and asking for feedback.
7. A New Google-BackedTwitter Account for Search News
This isn’t exactly an update to Google’s algorithm or rankings, but it is one that you’ll find highly beneficial if you stay in the loop about search engine trends.
Google’s public search liaison, Danny Sullivan, established a new Twitter profile called Google SearchLiaison in order to guide, explain, and inform Google users about news regarding the search engine. Although you can find such information from his existing profile, the new one is void of some of his quirkier tweets.
8. A Mandatory Switch from HTTP to HTTPS
This change is yet another way Google establishes that it cares about security, trust, and user experience. With this update, all websites need to have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) on their site in addition to providing an HTTPS backing to website visitors.
Website owners who don’t meet these terms will suffer.
For starters, switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS is safer for you and your data as a webmaster. Also, if your website isn’t HTTPS compatible, Google will send a very blunt warning to people who visit the site telling them it isn’t safe. If this happens to you, your bounce rate will be through the roof.
But it isn’t just the bounce rate that will have issues. Other important rankings like your affiliate links, advertising impressions, and conversion rates will decrease.
Since Chrome is available throughout the world, the impact is huge.
9. People Also Search For…
This update is very similar to the “People also ask” section. However, the main difference is that it sends web users to other SERPs.
The update was designed to refine searches in order to benefit the organic results. If your website doesn’t match one of the keywords entered into the search bar, Google may still send people to your website in order to provide another variation of their initial search.
This may also happen the other way around. For instance, if your page content is optimized to use both long and short keywords, it might be the answer to multiple queries. If this happens, you can show up in the SERPs twice.
10. Mobile-First Indexing
Earlier this year, webmasters and digital marketers were excited by the announcement made at PubCon about mobile-first indexing. But since it’s rolled out, it’s been unnoticed by most people.
This is because there was a very small number of sites alerted about whether the update changed their rankings. So, what exactly did this update mean?
Mobile-first indexing was created to index and rank websites using the mobile point of view. This only comes into play if your website is, in fact, mobile-friendly.
Google would rank and index the mobile version of your website before the desktop version.
11. A Change in Search Console Crawl Limits
Google changed its Search Console crawl limits in order to combat spam and abuse despite there only being a small number of culprits. Here’s a look at the before and after effects of the change:
Before- Only the selected URL was submitted to Google for the purpose of re-crawling. You were allowed to submit a total of 500 URLs individually within a 30 day period while using this method.
Now- You can submit a total of 10 URLs each day with the same feature.
While white-hat SEOs don’t use this tool very often, it will become useful to black-hat users because it will block spam and other unwanted activity.
As a result, the affected websites may double or even triple their visibility, increase their traffic, and rank higher.
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