Google uses its search algorithm to rank websites in search results. It’s complex, it’s kept pretty under wraps (Google doesn’t explicitly tell us how it works), and we’re not exaggerating when we say it’s constantly changing — try 500 to 600 times a year. Most of these updates go unnoticed, but every once in a while, Google throws a curveball. Here are the top three changes we saw in 2018 and what we’re expecting to see in the coming year.
1. Introducing mobile-first indexing.
In March, Google announced its slow rollout of mobile-first indexing. Before, Google’s bots primarily crawled desktop versions of sites. But since most users search from mobile devices, Google has started to make the switch by using mobile versions to index content. Mobile-first indexing comes with no ranking advantage and is separate from the mobile-optimization ranking signal, but it reminds us their focus on mobile stills stands.
If you have the same content on your desktop and mobile site, there’s nothing for you to do. If your site gives users different content on desktop vs mobile, read up on these best practices from Google.
2. Adding mobile page speed as a search ranking.
Another update came in July when Google started using mobile speed as a search ranking signal for all users. Page speed has been part of Google’s algorithm for a while, but before this change, they only measured sites on desktop. Google has stated that this update will only affect a small number of super-slow sites. But still, having a fast website is an easy win with Google because it improves user experience on your site.
How fast is your site? Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to measure your load speed on both mobile and desktop.
3. Marking non-https sites as “not secure”.
Perhaps the biggest change this year was in July when Google started marking any website without an SSL certificate as “not secure”. Secure sites mean any information a user gives you stays totally private. It’s a ranking signal and it inspires trust with visitors. This update fits with Google’s “https everywhere” mission. If you don’t want your site’s first impression with visitors to be “not secure”, you have to get on board too. Learn more about SSL certificates here.
If you’re a Mopro client and you don’t have an SSL yet, we can easily add this to your subscription — just email email@example.com to get started.
So what should we expect in 2019?
Based on the information Google gave us this year, we can expect these to be big players next year too: Mobile, UX, and Security. If your site gives a less than great experience on mobile or if you’re still not part of the https club, don’t wait any longer to pick up on these trends.
If you’re looking for a website solution that’s built with SEO in mind, Mopro can help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we build websites that win with search engines.