A Definitive Analysis of SEO in 2018: The Biggest Changes and Google Upgrades
2018 was undoubtedly an eventful year for search engine optimization or SEO, owing to an almost never-ending list of Google search algorithm upgrades and other similar changes. Webmasters and SEO professionals had to keep with the big changes that were made within the management team of Google. Some of the major active changes that were experienced this year include mobile first indexing and other modifications with Google search console. Besides, the year also witnesses a great amount of transition to Google local, Google maps, and My Business along with the huge shift in terms of voice search, thanks to the Google Assistant.
Here is a detailed review of the SEO year 2018 that will help you understand where Google is going with rankings and how you can maintain the best SEO practices to be on the top of the chart:
Google Algorithm Updates and Search Ranking
The year 2018 has seen a broad spectrum of search engine algorithm changes made by Google out of which, some were confirmed, and some went pre-announced. Check out the major changes made by Google in 2018:
Speed Update: Released in June after being first announced back in January of 2018, the Speed Update mainly targeted the slowest websites in accordance with their ranking placement in search.
Medic Update: Perhaps the most conclusive search ranking algorithm change that was experienced by the SEO professionals was the Medic Update and it was declared around August. Classified as a “broad core algorithm update” by Google, the update looked to a great range of websites around YMYL and health categories.
Some of the other search engine algorithm changes that were confirmed by Google included the April core update and the March core update.
Google first initiated its experiments revolving around the mobile-first indexing back in 2016. The major search engine was in the prospect of starting crawling and indexing the Internet from the perspective of a smartphone rather than that of its desktop counterpart. As a matter of fact, Google also started to roll out notifications through its Search Console whenever a website was conveyed to mobile-first indexing. According to searchengineland.com, Google recently mentioned that almost fifty percent of search results are now based on mobile-first indexing.
Modifications in SEO
Structured Data: In contrast to SEO, 2018 was a year that witnessed a great emphasis by Google over structured data and schema. Allowing speakable markup for queries related to voice search, a fresh indexing API and guidelines related to job posting schema, live stream support, the new Q&A pattern and image search queries and so on.
Other changes in terms of SEO involves the support for the new meta tag along with the standout tag and putting heavy efforts around lazy loading content and dynamic rendering.
Minimal Usage of Personalization: The application of personal data and the fall back on Facebook targeting made Google to drop a statement confirming that they do no put personalization much into use. It is light in manner and is mainly utilized for small things such as understanding when to display the local results.
Google Search Console and Various Tools
Needless to say, the Google Search Console team was pretty much occupied most part of the year as they provided access to the brand new Google Search Console before removing the beta tag from the upgraded version and redirecting some of the past reports of old Search Console to the new version this December. It also started to highlight Search Console snapshots for the webmasters in the search results directly. Moreover, Google also made it convenient to gain access to their Search Console with an automatic verification once you have an account on Google Analytics.
Google My Business: Known as the management panel for business owners and local SEOs to monitor their local listings in Google search and Google Maps, the major search engine recently rolled out an update for its Google My Business. It now enables business owners to upgrade and control their listings on the move with additional features such as more query data, and insights data. Google also established an agency dashboard for local SEO companies.
Google Posts: If there is one feature that Google took the most time to fine-tune in the year 2018, it is Google Posts that is now exceptionally intriguing for the online users. They have also modified the Google My Business console to allow Google Posts on the Internet or through the mobile utility.
Voice Assistants and Mobile Search
With the introduction of Google Assistant devices and Google Home features, voice assistants are still a great deal of attraction and upheaval among the SEO community in 2018. The way Google responds to the voice search queries is top on the mind of most SEO professionals and with the features snippets playing the key role in it, SEOs are trying their level best to keep up with these changes. Even though there is a massive competition with Microsoft Cortana, Apple Home, and Amazon Echo, the Google Home devices are generally considered the smartest in the online market.
User Interface Changes
Change is the ultimate constant in the world of Google and SEO and this was once again proved with the many tests and changes in the user interface. Google launched the more results button on the compact devices while rolling out an upgraded design for the search results that take place on the desktop. Besides, the auto-complete predictions were enhanced in 2018 and started to display famous personnel cameos in the search. Speaking of the AMP, Google announced a developer preview of displaying the publisher links in search and not the cache URL laid out by Google AMP.
Other Big Google Reports and Bing
With John Giannandrea being replaced by Ben Gomes and Google+ getting shelved much earlier than predicted, the year was really active for the major search engine. In addition to that, Bing was also highly active with boosting its crawler efficiency and working on the backlogs with the assistance of Webmaster Tools. It also developed a Bing entity search API that can be used by the public.
Finally, this is the recap of what happened in 2018 in terms of SEO and Google, which will pave the way for the best SEO practices in the coming year. Keep these changes in mind and carry forward your SEO campaign accordingly.