In its drive to become an-ever-more intelligent (and humanlike) answering machine, Google continues to roll out its periodic algorithm updates. These are geared towards providing the best search engine user-experience possible. To everyday searchers, brand marketers, and all varieties of busy professionals. And so far, it seems that all the back-end effort (on part of the engine’s engineers) has really paid off! Because Google, according to my latest Optimum Internet search, continues to lead the search engine market in 2018.
Google is Still the King of the Search Engine Domain:
As per Statista’s July 2018 estimates, the engine showed an impressive 86.02 percent of search engine market capitalization share. Its main competitor, Microsoft’s Bing, lagged far behind with only a 6.5 percent stake. And these figures really speak for themselves; indicating that Google easily seems destined to continue onward with its victorious march. At least until something completely revolutionary takes place in the search engine world. And new players arrive on the scene.
A future which, to be honest, seems almost fictitious at this point!
In total, SEO specialists have identified 12 algorithm updates/shifts so far since the onset of the New Year. And 9 of these have been confirmed – meaning that they are currently effective. So if you’re a search engine tech, you should really make haste to learn about them. Otherwise, you may risk losing some ground from beneath your feet. Especially if your website projects have something to do with the industries that a few of these updates address.
So ‘being forewarned is being forearmed’ is really the best approach to take in this case.
2018 Algorithm Updates – by the List…
The following list only indicates those algorithm working-changes that have been confirmed by Google. And these are the ones which you should cater to on a priority basis.
- ‘Brackets’ Core Update – March 2018
- Zero-result SERP Test – March 2018
- Mobile-First Index Roll-out – March 2018
- X (Without Label) Core Update – April 2018
- Meta-Description Length Update – May 2018
- Graphics Carousels – June 2018
- Mobile Speed – July 2018
- Chrome Security Update – July 2018
- ‘Medic’ Core Update – August 2018
I’ve briefly discussed each of these below.
Brackets – March 8, 2018:
Informally called the ‘Brackets’ update, this core algorithm tweak was soon confirmed by Google’s Danny Sullivan in a tweet posted on March, 12. This update was thought to basically refine the way in which Google analyses and shows ‘Rich Snippets’.
Rich snippets are the extra information tags (pictures and captions) that make a search result query more meaningful. Because of their aim, they are thought to improve the search engines user-experience.
In the SEO community, reporting about site ranking-drops started pouring in as early as the first week of March. That was the time when many techs anticipated an update taking place from the search engine’s end. The ‘March Tremor’, some were calling it.
Sites that were already optimized for these page elements didn’t seem to suffer too much. And those in this category that saw rankings drop were soon relieved. Because their SERP positioning was more or less restored by the last week of the month.
Zero-result SERP Test – March 14, 2018:
This was a test conducted by Google for a one-weekly period. Its purpose was to test user response against time/date and mathematical calculation queries. Many SEO have taken careful note of this ‘case study’. Because they think that Google may be onto making some similar future standardizations on this front.
When the update was in effect, users didn’t see any organic search results (pertaining to these queries) in SERPs. Instead, the answer to their question came in the form of knowledge cards.
Specifically, the results came as part of the search box.
From a developmental perspective, these could come in very handy for mobile surfers. Google has already, on numerous occasions, communicated on the importance of making all sites mobile-friendly. And to many developers, this test seemed like further progress in that direction.
Mobile-First Index Roll-out – March 26, 2018:
This update is a good reflection on Google’s on-going commitment towards full-on mobile search viewing. Through it, the search engine’s crawlers finally started indexing mobile-optimized sites on a preferential basis.
If an updates trend-graph is plotted for recent Google updates, it becomes quite apparent that most of them relate to mobile optimization.
Unnamed Core Update – April 17, 2018:
Like many updates in the past, this one continues to stoke a lot of mystery in SEO circles. Google didn’t name it. Nor did the SEO techs who monitor such algorithm shifts. With the reason being that they didn’t quite know what it was for.
But its detection was significant because search rankings for a lot of sites were affected.
Meta-Description Length Update – May 13, 2018:
Meta-descriptions continue to command a great deal of importance for search results. And very simply, this is because they inform searchers about the content of a particular site page.
Whereas Google had previously allowed snippet lengths in the 300 characters range, the search engine decided to cut back on this provision. And so on the 13th of May, it confirmed that character-length was being restricted to about 160 characters. This update, as was expected, was soon followed by SEOs furiously instructing their content writers to limit their creativity. In the case of snippets, that is.
Graphics Carousels – June 14, 2018:
This update proved to be a real pain for some brand websites that relied primarily on marketing their products through video thumbnails. Because of this change, Google started to display video thumbnails in the form of a carousel.
SERP results were greatly impacted as a result.
Mobile Speed Update – July 9, 2018:
This update targeted mobile sites with slow page-loading speeds, in an effort to force them to make changes. Other websites, as per page rank measures, didn’t see any significant drops in their SERP positions.
Chrome Security Update – July 24, 2018:
This was an attempt by Google to reign in non-HTTPs sites by placing a ‘not secure’ tag on them. So whenever a searcher attempted to access them, he was confronted by this warning message. But for these dialog boxes to appear, users were first required to install the latest Chrome build.
‘Medic’ Core Update – August 1, 2018
This update was seen to primarily affect websites that belonged to the health & wellness industry. Some of these pages saw major increments in their search engine positions. Others weren’t so lucky. There were even rumors of some major health retailers suffering from sudden losses in profits.
Which was to be expected, by all accounts.