MARCH 2018 CHANGES TO SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
'Search relevance' is now the key focus for SEO.
Google is focusing on "search relevance" in 2018 and it is certainly shaking up Search Engine Optimization (SEO) management. Google launched their 2nd large algorithm of 2018 last month (March), after releasing their first 2018 update in January, and there are some core functions that need to be addressed. Google has made their intentions clear that unrelated or irrelevant content will not be searchable. Or at least not easily.
“if you lost rankings/traffic it’s because something else was under-rewarded and now ranks higher”.
- Google, 26th of March 2018
Google's latest tweet expands on this point in more detail. Clarifying that some websites may drop in ranking simply due to other websites being acknowledged and recognised by Google for having high quality content.
As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded....— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 12, 2018
The one thing to take out of this is that websites - if they are dropping off in search rankings - is due to other websites merely leapfrogging them, rather than being hit with a penalty. Whereas websites with high quality content that were previously overlooked are now skyrocketing in Google searches for their optimized keywords. We're receiving the message loud and clear. Content is King and even Google is treating it as such.
"My serach relevance has dropped. How do I respond to this update?"
If you were negatively affected by this update you have 4 options available to you to improve your website's SEO.
Check over your entire website. You might have groaned in agony after reading that, but it must be done. You should ideally be reviewing your website every 3-6 months anyway. But this time it is crucial given the negative penalty you just accrued. Searching for (and fixing) broken links throughout your website will help improve your ratings. Also reducing image sizes will improve your websites speed which is another important factor for Google.
Develop high quality content for "search relevance"
You might think you don't have the time for this part, but developing high quality content on all web pages is an integral part of improving your search rankings. Pages with over 400 words in text format with the appropriate metadata will help boost your rankings online and direct more traffic to your website. It will most likely increase your chances of converting leads as users want all the information they can get their hands on!
External website review
It can be really difficult to objectively review your website to determine how useful or competitive it truly is. Sometimes you can be too close to the topic to explain it in layman's terms. This is where an external (outside) opinion is beneficial. External perspectives can provide you with insights that can often be overlooked. They also can provide hints and tips that your competitors are doing better than you at - which you can then match or even improve upon! Explaining your services and/ or products in more detail is always beneficial for the user and Google. Could you make a buyer's guide, or an instructional video? Add the ability to review your website or integrate it with Google Maps to allow people to find you easier. This is where a professional copywriter can help you.
Removing duplicate content
Google is punishing any content that appears multiple times. Duplicate content can negatively impact your website and simply removing it (and preferably replace it with high quality content) can see a positive boost to your Google search rankings.
When improving your website, you must focus on developing superior content to your direct competitors to rise above them, rather than simple adjustments to slightly edge them out. Google truly wants to rank the best websites first. It's best to give them every reason to rank you the best by developing high quality content. There may be a few hacks to slight Google's algorithm, but if this update doesn't punish you, the next one will. The true way to get ahead not just for today, but for future updates as well is to develop the content that users crave.
Develope the ultimate website for search relevance with the ability to easily edit your content.