Just like every year, in 2018 Google released several new search algorithm changes to their platform. Some were minor and some were major. Google stated that almost daily there is some type of focused update made to the algorithm and several times a year they will release a broad core algorithm update, which consists of bigger updates. In this blog post, we examine some of the search algorithm changes made to Google in 2018!
Shorter Meta Descriptions
If you noticed your meta description character limit increase and then decrease within a short time-frame, you’re not alone. In December 2017, Google increased the character limit allowed for meta descriptions. In a statement made to Search Engine Land, Google noted:
‘We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.’
Fast forward to May 2018 and Google decreased the length of these snippets. Danny Sullivan, who is Google’s public Search Liaison wrote on Twitter,
‘Our search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks, though slightly longer than before a change we made last December. There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.’
It is speculated that the meta descriptions were shortened in May because they were taking up too much room on SERP’s. 150-160 characters is the limit that is now being allowed.
“Medic” Core Update
Google released a broad, global, core update that has been nicknamed “Medic” Core Update. This update peaked around August 1-2 and seems to have impacted YMYL (Your Money Your Life) websites as well as medical and health sites. YMYL websites are comprised of pages that are important enough to have a potential negative impact on a persons life, happiness or income. Many webmasters who have sites in these industries have reported to have seen a decrease in their rankings while other sites rise above them. The update may be putting a higher focus on quality content. Google noted that if your site did see a negative impact after this update roll out, the best thing to do would be to follow the Quality Raters Guidelines and to focus on creating high quality content. These guidelines provide a great window into what Google considers high quality.
The ‘Speed Update’
The ‘Speed’ Update started rolling out in July 2018. Google recognizes that users engage more with high-speed pages no matter what device they are on. Page Speed has been a ranking signal on desktop since April 2010 and as of this past July, Google announced that they have expanded this ranking signal to include mobile as well. Google stated,
“Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
Have fast is your website? Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to help determine your sites speed!
Chrome HTTP ‘Not Sure’ Notice
On July 24th Google officially released their Chrome HTTP notice update which marks all sites that are not encrypted with HTTPS as ‘Not Secure’. The goal of the update is to make users aware of when they are on a non-secure website as well as provides motivation for webmasters to secure their own website. A regular HTTP connection is not encrypted which means that any user on the network can view information going back and forth or even modify the contents of the site before it gets to you. HTTPS provides a true encryption that keeps eavesdroppers locked out.
In June 2018, videos on desktop were moved from basic search results to their own dedicated video carousel. This update increased the number of videos that were displayed on SERP’s while shaking-up results that were originally tracked as organic. The new update offers a new look for the desktop SERP. According to Rank Ranger,
“When comparing the data on the new carousels to Video Thumbnails, the former appears on 40% more SERPs, and is applicable to roughly 25K more keywords within the dataset. Meaning, the video carousel has not only all but replaced Video Thumbnails, but is bringing “video” to all new SERPs for all new keywords.”
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