We can be sure of 4 things in life. Those are life, death, taxes and Google algorithm changes. Google tends to give little warning of upcoming changes, though, and they don’t like to tell people about changes that they have made in detail. After all, they are trying to prevent people from cheating the system, hence why they keep details of their algorithms a closely guarded secret. We know that they are coming, but we can never be entirely sure of when, or exactly what they will entail. Even though they may not give precise details on exactly how their algorithms work, however, Google will still let us know what they are hoping to achieve in general. With a steady release of news, rumour and speculation from SEO services in Singapore and further afield, we will often have a reasonable idea of what to expect from upcoming algorithm updates. Here’s a look at what we can expect from Google in 2018 and beyond.
Gearing up For More Mobile Usage
According to StatCounter, the internet is now accessed by mobile devices more so than non-mobile devices such as desktops. All signs indicate that this trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future at least, and Google intends to keep up with the trend. In Singapore, the number of mobile internet users exceeds 4 million, which is a significant proportion of the population. Any SEO consultant in Singapore should also be prepared to keep up with the trend.
Web users are generally an impatient bunch as it is, wanting thorough results as quickly as possible. With an increasing shift toward mobile devices, the expectations for speed and convenience are going to increase. With this in mind, we can expect upcoming Google updates to favour websites that deliver a prompt service to their users, especially those on mobile devices.
With more people using mobile devices, it would only make sense that Google will switch priority to those devices, and that is exactly what is likely to happen. Currently, Google has two search indexes covering both desktop and mobile. According to Moz, it is not going to stay that way for long. At some point in 2018, we can expect the two indexes to be merged into one, and it will be mobile devices that take priority. This means that whereas currently your desktop version will be crawled alongside your mobile version, the change will mean your mobile version will be crawled first instead. This places a clear emphasis on the need to not only have a mobile version but to also make sure that it conforms to Google’s requirements.
Speed of Finding Relevant Search Results
You could place most of the emphasis on upcoming changes into two main categories: The speed at which Google’s users find what they want, and the speed at which individual websites deliver. Google doesn’t want their users spending time on their search result pages. This would suggest that users are struggling to find answers to their queries, so they are placing an emphasis on being able to deliver the right results, and quickly. It’s not just that people want the Google search results to load quickly, but they also want their users to be able to find exactly what they are looking for on the page at a glance.
This means an increased emphasis on rich snippets, tags, meta descriptions, XML sitemaps and anything else that allows Google to know all that they need to know. While this is, in large, already the case, the focus will be on having these elements in place on mobile versions. Many current web owners are focusing more on their desktop versions, so they will need to start giving equal love to their mobile versions.
Website Loading Speed
A slow loading website can be a very frustrating thing for internet users, especially those that are using mobile devices. Google is well aware of this and will be placing more emphasis on websites that load quickly and give desired results fast. Google already favours mobile websites that have AMP enabled, and enhancements on speed are likely to build from there. Not everybody is a fan of AMP, but Google is, and they are the ones that get to decide what really matters. Google also intends to enhance AMP technology where they can to try and overcome some of its flaws.
In addition to enabling AMP, try to reduce the use of large image files and anything else that might slow down the speed of your mobile site. Doing so won’t please only Google, of course, but will also make your site a more enjoyable experience for your visitors and may well encourage more sales.
Google’s machine learning algorithms (the latest iteration being called RankBrain) aim to understand more about the meanings behind the search terms that people are using. This will help Google to understand better what the client is looking for and, in turn, deliver more accurate results. What this means for SEO consultants and website owners is more emphasis on plenty of quality, relevant content within the site that Google can crawl. As Google better understands what their users are looking for, so they will better understand which sites have the answers to their users’ queries. Some think that in the future, machine learning may overtake Google algorithms altogether but, for 2018, we should expect to see more of a focus on it at least.
An increasing number of people are using the voice search function instead of typing their queries into a keyboard. This function offers even more speed and convenience to users and, as has already been explained, Google likes speed and convenience. Those that are best geared up toward voice search will find themselves listing higher in searches made by voice, and this could be a pretty big deal. In order to achieve this, you should try to include terms in your site that people are likely to use verbally as well as in text. This will help Google to find relevant matches and list your site in the SERPS for voice searches.
In summary, upcoming Google algorithm changes are unlikely to be sweeping changes, asides perhaps from the mobile first policy. This round of changes is mainly targeting speed and ease of use for Googles users’, placing further emphasis on some practices that are already largely in place.