Did Google just change something?
Yes, I am sure that they did!
I know that it sounds pretty amazing but Google makes around 500 to 600 changes to their algorithms each year. Most of these are small changes and don’t really affect rankings.
However, along with these minor changes, there are major updates as well.
2018 was busy for Google with some very major changes taking place.
These changes have been driven by the extensive use of mobile devices as well as privacy and security concerns.
The beginning of Mobile Indexing
2018 saw the beginning of Mobile Indexing. The fact that Google is now indexing mobile separately from desktop is quite significant. If a website is not seen as “Mobile Friendly” then it will not be indexed on the mobile side, and that site will have a very hard time being shown on a mobile device during a search. In other words, if a site is not truly responsive or mobile-optimized it will lose access to a huge percentage of its potential audience.
SSL is now paramount to any website
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) has gone from being an option, it is now a necessity. If a website is not on an SSL these days, it will show “insecure”. Not only is this a ranking factor, but it is an important User Experience issue. Stats over the last few months show that over 40% of site visitors, either hesitate or leave a site that is not secure.
Better be fast or folks will be leaving
Page Load Speed has also become more critical. Page load times of 3 to 4 seconds or more have a huge impact on user experience as well as ranking. High load times lead to much higher bounce rates, people that land on your site and leave without doing anything. If a site has a high bounce rate, Google sees it as less relevant to the user. This leads to the page being shown less, which leads to lower rankings.
Content, content, content – what more can I say?
Content, I could write a book on this subject. The bottom line, Google wants great content, period! Pages and posts that used to rank in the past may not do so well these days. Your content needs to be longer today then it used to and not only does it need to be longer, but it also needs to be better than just good. Googles RankBrain has become much more sophisticated as far as how it “sees” or “reads” language. Creating great content has become a bit more of a challenge and requires thought and preparation.
Those were just the highlights.
All these changes can be a bit challenging to keep up with at times. This is why I talk about the importance of continually working further my education on my Homepage and the reason why I take my certifications so seriously.
For those of you that also like to try to maintain a grasp on all these ongoing changes, this is a list of my most trusted resources and a little about why they are worth keeping up with.
Search Engine Journal has been around for quite some time. They have a very active blog that focuses not only on the search engines but also a lot about the changes in Social Media and some on web design.
Yoast the makers of what I believe to be the best SEO plugin available have their fingers on the pulse of Google probably as well as anyone. The Yoast blog is all about SEO both from a holistic side, but they are very strong on the technical side as well.
The Whip by WPMU DEV is completely focused on Web Development and it’s relationship to SEO. SEO starts with the website structure and these guys know their stuff. There is also a lot of information as far as Gutenberg and the changes to WordPress that will be coming with the new builder. You can find them by searching Google for WPMU Dev
Website Magazine is another publication that is just what the name implies. Another excellent resource for web design information and how it relates to SEO. They also cover a lot of other marketing related topics.
WordPress.org is a great place to go for answers to some of the more obscure areas of WordPress. This is also the repository for virtually every WordPress Theme and Plugin out there.
Authority Hacker this is Gael Breton and Mark Webster have several websites under the umbrella of Authority Hacker. These guys are big affiliate marketers. They have several very successful websites. They are affiliate marketers, however, they are very transparent about their operation and they do a lot of testing with their sites, especially when it comes to content creation and how the Google changes affect their traffic. They are true believers in the power of good SEO.
These are my go-to publications when I am looking for answers to a specific question.
There are countless blogs out there that are great reads, but these are the ones I find to be the best on a consistent basis. When I come across anything new and worthwhile I will add them. However, there is a lifetime of reading right here – Enjoy.