Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Consider the Source
If you follow various Digital Marketing forums and news feeds, you’re aware of the spirited debate about what’s going on in the world of Google algorithm updates. Is a big change brewing? Let’s examine what’s conjecture, what Google’s said on record, and what to expect in the coming months for SEO in 2018.Ready to Talk?
SEO in 2018
As with any industry, you’ve got a range of perspectives and opinions. On one side you’ve got Webmasters who follow the spirit of Google’s quality guidelines. The rules are pretty simple: respect your audience and don’t try to trick them, provide the best user experience you can while helping connect people to your solutions and give information.
On the other side….some Webmasters don’t follow the rules and think they can get faster results by seeking out and exploiting blind spots in Google’s algorithm. As you can imagine, this is an elaborate game of cat and mouse. Yes, Google is the cat. With very sharp claws. It’s just a matter of time Google hunts down the cheaters and pushes their websites down on the SERP. By the way, the practice of using these loopholes is called Grey Hat SEO.
In the Webmasters World forum, the March 2018 thread is showing mixed reviews. Some mention significant drops in both organic traffic and conversions: “Biggest drop ever. Much bigger than every Panda or Penguin.” While others aren’t seeing any impact: “No drop here. Traffic has been good this week.” Theories abound, including the updates is targeted to specific niches.
MozCast reports on SERP volatility. If you live and breathe SEO, then you’ve probably bookmarked this page. If you’re not familiar with this SEO-related weather report, it’s an index. The hotter the weather, the more changes are noted in SERPs. As a point of reference, the weather has been hot (frequently over 80 degrees) for over a year. This phenomenon points to Google rolling out changes consistently.
Want more detail on what SEOs are saying? Here’s an interesting article from Search Engine Roundtable on the subject.
So what does Google say?
Official Google Blog Focused on Search Console Updates, Lighthouse, Page Speed
Google has been mum about recent algorithm updates. They are chatty about recent improvements to Search Console. By the way, we’re excited to see upgrades to this powerful SEO tool. If you’re not familiar with the beta, we urge you to check it out.
The other SEO-related news Google is sharing relates to Lighthouse, a Chrome Extension. This tool enables developers and Webmasters to run a basic SEO health-check on any web page.
Other big news you should be aware of is page speed in mobile search ranking. More on that later.
That’s No Way To Live
If your website consistently experiences deep and long dips in SEO traffic due to algorithm updates, then you’ve got a bigger problem to solve. Fluctuations are normal. Extended and dramatic declines are not.
Managing a website with non-White Hat SEO tactics is a little like playing archery with the target dynamically moving. Sometimes you’ll get it right by landing in the bullseye. Other times you’ll miss the mark. A sane Webmaster knows that when playing against Google, Google always wins. Play by the rules or go home.
What’s (Probably) On Tap for 2018
Page Speed in Mobile Search Ranking
Google has been harping on page speed for years. The Mobile Search Index is coming (or maybe has already arrived). Some think they are slowly rolling it out now to avoid huge fluctuations in the SERP. Others think it’s another round of Mobilegeddon. Recommended action item: work on page speed for both the desktop and mobile experience. Use the clues in the PageSpeed Insights post and use Google’s free PageSpeed tool. We also recommend other tools like Pingdom to cross-reference page speed improvements. Consider Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to super-charge your mobile page download speeds and Schema to better represent your site in search.
In many articles Google is a proponent of making the Web a safer place. What better way to do that by using encryption technology availability with HTTPs? Even if you don’t handle financial or other sensitive transactions on your site, adding this layer of security is a good bet. Recommended action item: setup SSL encryption for your domain.
So what’s your opinion of the State of SEO in 2018? Blue skies ahead or a turbulent ride?