January 21, 2019 That’s a wrap: SEO in 2018

By Melinda Jennings

laptop showing SEO graphs

It’s been a big year! We had a total lunar eclipse, a royal wedding, and a robotic voice recording that divided the globe (it totally says ‘Yanny’, by the way).

In the SEO world, there’s been plenty going on as well. Here we look back at the year that was, what big changes came our way, and unpack what we can learn from 2018 to potentially predict what 2019 has in store for SEO.

Cue the nostalgic music, maestro!

Broad core algorithm update 1: Staying relevant

Google has long emphasised the importance of having well-written, relevant content on your website. This year, they drove the point home even more through an algorithm update that they rolled out in March and April (and later tweaked a little in August, but more on that later).

This update was all about seeking out websites that had well-researched content, and lots of it. Authoritative websites were marked as ones that had plenty of content, and not just for the sake of it. Instead, Google looked out for websites that had regularly updated content (i.e. quality blog posts being posted periodically), addressing topics in a broad and deep way, not just scratching the surface.

Broad core algorithm update 2: The trust factor

Explaining a topic well and establishing yourself as an authority is all well and good, but what about industries in which that doesn’t apply? Ecommerce businesses, in particular, are usually pretty thin on content, aside from brief product descriptions.

The second part of the Google update that rolled out in August rectified anyone unfairly left out in the cold earlier in the year by really delving into trust. This is the where the E-A-T factor came in. No, we’re not talking about splurging out at restaurants (we wish) – we mean:

  • E for expertise,
  • A for authoritativeness, and
  • T for trustworthiness.

But instead of just looking at the content being published, Google also seemed to take into account brand name. That means well-established and trusted brands could still rank well, without necessarily having to write a bunch of placeholder text that wasn’t even needed.

Search quality guidelines re-release: Who writes your content?

Did you know that Google contracts more than 10,000 ‘raters’ to make sure the search quality of results is tip top? But what are they looking for, exactly? Well, since 2015, Google has made their guidelines for search quality public, and it’s been updated a few times in the last 3 years.

This year in July, it got another big edit, with lots of changes for business owners to comb through. Rather than making you read the 164 pages yourself though (although, feel free to!), we’ll let you in on a little inside scoop…

One of the biggest, most significant changes was that Google now wants their raters to look out for the reputation of not only the brand, but the people behind the brand. Too many websites fall down by not having a great ‘about us’ section or explaining who makes a company tick, and that’s been marked as a potential red flag for raters to look out for if they want to make sure a website is really as trustworthy as they say.

(Speaking of trustworthy teams… have you met us?)

Speed Update: Hold onto your mobile rankings

People are busy. They Google Christmas gifts to buy while they’re on a train on the way home (I’ve heard). They don’t have time for slow websites, especially when they’re working with a tiny screen.

Google’s big Speed Update in July focused on using mobile loading times as a ranking factor for mobile search results. It was a pretty bold move, and, despite many years of promoting the importance of getting your mobile site in order, really showed that Google meant business.

So what can we expect for SEO in 2019?

Based on how SEO has evolved in 2018, it’s fairly obvious that 2019 is going to see a continued focus on quality content and mobile-friendly websites. These are both things that Google has repeatedly said it prioritises when it comes to determining ranking factors, but it’s clearly getting more and more serious on honing in on them with every algorithm update.

Whether it’s been a while since you’ve updated your content, or you just don’t know if it’s at the level of quality it could be, next year might be the time to get ahead of the game and take your copy to the next level. Avion Communications could be just the team of copywriters to do that for you; contact us today and see how we can help take your content to new heights in 2019