Search Engine Optimisation is a fluid beast, with methods constantly adapting to the needs of users and understanding the intricacies of how search engines work. The advent of machine learning and ‘AI’ has rendered the traditional algorithm updates obsolete, with changes now occurring more frequently and quickly.
Here are a few notable updates that happened this year in the SEO world:
Big Push on Mobile
Google made a strong push this year for sites being mobile friendly, rolling out mobile-first indexing. Typically, Google used the desktop version of a website’s content when indexing a site which potentially impacted mobile users where a mobile website’s content differed from its desktop counterpart. As most searches occur on mobile, search engines have now begun to favour this content, so it’s more vital than ever to ensure that your website is both responsive and mobile friendly.
Voice Search and answers to questions
We’ve mentioned before about how voice search is on the rise and Google’s changes earlier this year shows its commitment to making it easier to find answers to questions. Instant answers have been in a state of flux for some time - Rather than give one answer at the top of the page (sometimes referred to as ‘Position 0’), Google have been improving the ‘People also ask’ box since its introduction in 2015. This year was no different with Google giving the box more prominence on the page and experimenting with the text auto-expanding and dynamically adding content.
More of a technical consideration, rather than a content one but Google have begun their shift to preferring sites that use HTTPS. Over the course of the year, Chrome has started labelling sites that use HTTP as ‘Not Secure’, which in addition to looking scary, it is a genuine security concern. Content can get injected into websites that use the insecure protocol so it makes sense that Google has started to weight HTTPS as a higher ranking factor for SEO purposes.