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Google algorithm update history

The digital landscape has drastically changed from what it was 5 years ago. A few on-page element optimisations would get you ranking on the top of search results. However, these days with more webmasters coining on to the idea of SEO and how effective implementation can result in increased rankings, traffic and sales competition has never been more fierce for that first-page ranking.

Today’s online space consists of more than 1,518,207,412 websites. Businesses can no longer rely on the simple SEO strategies of the past.

In this article, we will summarise some of the changes Google has laid out over the last few years and what we have learned from them in terms of SEO.

Mobile-First Indexing

The desktop version of a website was always the focal point for webmasters, but as more and more users were accessing websites from their mobile devices, Google needed to emphasise the importance of website responsiveness. This brought an action of Google’s behalf – enter Google rolled-out mobile-first indexing in March 2018.

What did this mean for your website? The desktop version of a site will no longer be used as the primary version for indexing and crawling. Google will prefer the mobile version of a site. This does not mean that a website with only desktop version will not be crawled, but it may impact your ranking when a website with only a desktop version is compared parallel to a site with both – mobile and desktop.

Google took this move in the light of growing numbers of searches through mobile requests. With sites only offering a desktop version, mobile users encountered problems with the search. Google realised here that the future of SEO is in mobile devices.

Loading Speed

Only a few months after the launch of the mobile-first indexing, Google also introduced the mobile speed update. What did it mean for SEO? The ‘Speed update’ was a new algorithmic factor which “only affected pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries” – Google said. In other words, if your website was extremely sluggish which resulted in a negative user experience, Google could have dropped your website from top SERPs.

If you are a business in 2019 looking to make the most out of SEO and possible experience a quick increase in SERP ranking, your first steps should be to create a mobile version of your website and optimise it for fast load times if you haven’t already.

Featured Snippets

Google continuously evolves to make search more accessible and convenient for their users – and featured snippets are this new format. Chances are you have come across these on Google Search even though you didn’t know what they were called at the time. Featured snippets are the boxed paragraphs that are usually shown in response to a question or list request.

The best things about featured snippets are they rank on 0, meaning they are listed even above the organic searches. According to Ahrefs, 99.58 per cent of websites with featured snippets already ranks on the top 10 results for the search.

If you have observed these featured snippets in the past, you might have noticed that the webpages that rank for this have common keywords such as lists, recipe, best, vs., make, and definitions.

Articles that contain lists or steps are the ones that most frequently make the featured snippets. There are three types of featured snippets – paragraph, list, and table.

1. Paragraph

2. List

3. Table

SEO in 2019 is all about making it to the featured snippet. If all this is too much for you, we can handle your SEO strategy and help your website rank for snippets where required.

Voice Search

Voice search has been on the horizon for some time now with new emerging technology such as the Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa. It is estimated that by 2020, 30 per cent of searches will be conducted without a mobile screen.

Voice search dramatically increases the efficiency and experience of search, and as Google is always looking to better the search experience for their users, this is going to be huge for SEO. There were nearly 1 billion voice searches before 2018, which indicates it is on the rise and will play a more significant role in SEO in 2019 and beyond.

Voice search SEO is still an un-ventured pasture, so the same strategies used for traditional SEO may not be as effective in voice search SEO. Businesses may need to focus on terms users might say rather than type for greater SEO performance in the future.

Video Carousels

It is not just the featured snippets alone that are drawing attention to the SERP. Google are also providing more emphasis on videos. In SERP, the static three video display has been replaced by a video carousel that keeps revolving to give the user the ability to browse videos from the search page. We already know that video is more engaging than written content. As a business, you need to take advantage of this and optimise your SEO strategy to have some of your videos in this video carousel.

Security

In 2014, Google announced that websites with https would be given an SEO boost. However, until 2018, no specific steps were taken to penalise sites that did not have https. In light of GDPR, where data privacy was at the forefront, Google made some changes and is starting to penalise websites with non-https.

As a Google Chrome user, you would have noticed a little lock box before the URL of websites. Since the Google Security Update in July 2018, the box now says Not Secure for sites with non-https.

So, as a business looking to optimise on the SERPs, you should immediately migrate from http to https.

High-Quality Content

Quality content is still at the core of SEO. Earlier, just churning content stuffed with your desired keywords could get you in the top ten of SERP, but if anything you produce that is already present on Google and does not add value to the users using the search engine, Google will not value that. Long-format content is still something that Google cares about because it indicates in-depth information on a topic.

Some marketers are even producing content as long as 7-10 thousand words. Gone are the days of 500 words blog which could get you a good SERP ranking.

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