Recently Google has made a lot of big moves and changes that impact search rankings for your business. We put together a list of recent the bigger Google ranking algorithm changes that is heavily impacting our clients websites and how you can be ready for whats coming. Its important to learn how Google is evolving so your website isn't left in the dust.
The Mobile First Initiative (3/26/18): For the last 2 years, searches on phones outpaced desktop traffic. In response to this growing trend, Google created the the mobile-first initiative. What this means that Google uses the mobile version of your website to help determine search engine rankings in preference over your desktop version. This includes factors like mobile content, mobile page load speed, SSL and user interaction.
Action Item: If your current website is not up to 2019 mobile site standards, you need to upgrade or redesign your site.
The SSL Initiative (10/20/17) - Google is now very serious about the importance SSL. If you website does not have SSL, then you are now taking a ranking penalty hit. What was initially thought of as a minor algorithm change is now much more major than anticipated. Google did announce that SSL would be a factor about 18 months ago. And it did so with an initiative to move the world toward SSL in October 2017 by providing warnings in Chrome for non-secure content. By this Spring, 2018, we noticed Google began implementing ranking penalties to non-SSL websites and it clearing impacted traffic and ranking. SSL should be your #1 digital priority for 2018.
The Interstitial Initiative (1/17/17): While marketers love to use pop-ups the average user hates them and Google wants people to be happy with the websites it serves to user. As attractive as it may be to help increase newsletter subscription or other desired actions, its probably not worth it in regard to the search ranking penalty that is imposed against your website if your business is depending on organic ranking.
RankBrain AI Initiative (10/26/15): This one is not a "new" update but it does continue to evolve each and every day. RankBrain is Google’s learning software that knows what people think and how they interact with your website. In other words RankBrain really understands human behavior on the web. It even understands when someone is trying to "game the system" with SEO thus trying to undermine Google. It knows if your website provides the info people are searching for. RankBrain is one the 200+ signals that Google evaluates to determine search engine rankings. However since 2015, it is weighed very heavily and continues to evolve. You can’t outsmart RankBrain. The best way to make RankBrain happy is to have a functional website that your users prefer over a competitions website. No one wants to shop at a dirty and outdated grocery store, just like no one wants to visit an an old and dysfunctional website.
Summing it all up – Make sure you are have a quality user experience on your website and provide relevant content with targeted keywords on and an SSL website. All these factors will help your website outranking your competition over time.
Sam Casey is the Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner at Banyan Creative.