5 Google Updates from early 2018 that will affect your SEO and ranking today

Keyword stuffing and link farming were legit SEO strategies even a couple of days ago. Then with the advent of Hummingbird and Penguin, those days of the black hat are thankfully gone. Does that mean SEO experts from all around the world just heaved a sigh of relief and took a long vacation? Well, that is quite impossible since Google releases over 600 odd updates to the core search algorithm in just a year’s time. Therefore, the stone doesn’t catch moss in the world of SEO. Everyone working on optimization strategies has to be on their toes at all times to ensure that their website is performing well.

Introduction of a new schema markup

This is coming from the hotplate; Google has added schema markup to their SEO starter guide. This is Google’s way of stating exactly how important your site has a proper markup. This is not new for either Google or Bing but adding the structured data markup to their official guide is a big step indeed. It is like putting the Google seal on the most necessary features of any SEO campaign. You can check out the requirements of markup for local businesses on any leading blog by SEO Company in Atlanta.

The new Google Rich Result Tests

Google has released a recent rich results test. This one serves search results in the form of “Rich Results” that are marked up results alongside the regular SRL. They are sometimes even replacing the organic results. This bears a lot of similarity to the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. This test verifies if your website content has recent structured markup updates for the rich results. At this moment, this update and test work for limited categories of searches including Movies, Recipes, Jobs, and Courses. This emphasizes how much Google is rooting for proper Schema markup in 2018. 

Bulk location verification on GMB

Google has also made it compulsory for businesses with multiple locations to verify their locations in bulk. If you run a franchise, you can bulk verify your locations (10+) in Google My Business. The new updating features ensure that you do not have to verify the individual locations via physical mail like it was the norm. You can take help from the leading SEO consultants and strategists in your locality to list your business locations on GMB. This will help you optimize the business locations for Google Maps, and it will help you take advantage of the most recent Google services for larger businesses. 

Page Speed is a definite factor for ranking

This one is quite obvious. Over the last several years, SEOs and website owners have spoken about the importance of page loading speed as a ranking signal. In 2018, Google Speed Update has again emphasized on how important it is for your site’s ranking, CTR, bounce rate and conversion rate. Here are a few stats from the leading experts working with the leading search engine –

  • A webpage with a 3 second loading time usually sees an average bounce rate of 58%. As the loading time increases, the bounce rate also increases. The ideal loading time is below 3 seconds, ideally between 1 and 2 seconds, only.
  • Webpages with a loading time of 5 seconds easily see an average abandonment rate of over 90%.
  • Mobile users tend to be the most impatient. Over 50% of mobile users seem to like or dislike a site based on loading speed. Loading speed directly affects their loyalty.

This is one of the first instances where Google has publicly stated the importance of page loading speed.

A stark increase in data storing time

Most importantly, Google is introducing new reforms in the realm of GSC data storage. In a world, where data privacy and breaches are ravaging loyalty and customer rights, Google is taking a brave step to increase data storage time from 90 days to 16 months. While, there is little chance of a breach, since this data will mainly pertain to search trends, website optimization, and traffic trends, this will aide strategists and marketers to understand the evolving trends that may have influenced their sales and revenue in the last 16 months.

Simply speaking, there are over 200 ranking factors Google uses and a span of just three months to study the parameters is simply not enough for even the best of the best strategists and software tools to outline the trends accurately. The updated Google Search Console will now include index coverage, job posting data, search performance and AMP status. Overall, this is a huge step for Google amidst a lot of controversy and requests from the search marketing community. 

Google’s shift towards a mobile-first index, the introduction of schema markups, increase in data storage period, and release of page speed data shows the increasing importance of user experience. To please the search engine lord, you need to please your potential users first. Your primary focus should be the improvement of UX, and that will lead you to better results and rankings.