SEO year in review: 2018 saw a lot of Google updates and an emphasis on mobile devices
Here is a summary of what happened in SEO in 2018 - with brief information about the most significant developments in the field of search and SEO.
So, 2018 for SEO was exciting, with a lot of updates to Google's search algorithms, indexing from mobile devices and all the changes from Google Search Console. In addition, Google Local, Google My Business, and map changes.
What else? Reliance on structured data in Google search and rollback to personalization features, and let's not forget about the huge shifts in voice search using Google Assistant and other devices, including significant changes in the Google user interface this year. In the western segment woke up Bing search.
Google search ranking and algorithm updates
Google made many updates to the search ranking algorithm this year, some were great, some were small, some were confirmed, some remained unconfirmed. Some were even announced in advance!
Update speed. For example, the speed update was previously announced in January 2018 and released a few months later in June. The update, according to Google, affected only the slowest sites in terms of their ranking in search. Google said it "affects only a small percentage of requests."
Medic Update. Probably the most significant search ranking algorithm that the SEO community felt was the so-called “Medic Update”. This happened around August 1. Google confirmed that this happened after the SEO community paid attention to it. Google classified it as an “update of basic algorithms,” which they do several times a year. This particular update was fully deployed a week later and appears to have been targeted at a wide range of health and YMYL sites. Google told SEO professionals that it’s impossible for your site to get a higher one-night rating with this update.
Other updates of the search algorithm. Google also confirmed the March and April updates.
In 2016, Google began its first mobile indexing experiment. In short, Google wanted to start scanning and indexing the Internet in terms of a smartphone, not a desktop computer. And Google did this largely in 2018, starting to introduce change for many sites.
Google also began sending notifications through the Google Search Console when the site was being switched to mobile indexing.
Today, 3 years later, Google said that more than 50 percent of search results are now indexed using mobile indexing.
Structured data The general theme of SEO this year, specific to Google, was probably related to how much attention Google paid to structured data and schemes. Enable voice markup for voice search queries, new API indexing for job publishing scheme, image search changes, various updates for recipe markup, new task publishing rules, new question and answer scheme, streaming support, data set scheme, like, QA, FAQ chart and more. This list has no end.
Other changes. Google refused to support the news meta tag and editorial choices in Google News, which was so important to publishers.
Personalization is light. Although Facebook targeting was canceled, and personal data was used for post-2018 targeting, Google decided that they didn’t use personalization too often. Google said that personalization is used in things like knowing when to show local results (for example, “the weather is now”) and something like the last used query. Although DuckDuckGo published a study that says that Google is acting differently.
Google search console and other tools
Google search console. It was a very busy year for the Google Search Console team, which gave everyone access to the new Google Search Console, then removed the beta label from the new version and redirected some of the old search console reports to the new version on December 13.
Google also began displaying search console images directly in search results for site owners. Google has removed the ability to use the public URL sending tool and changed the limits and quotas for scanning and indexing in the search console. Google also made it easier to access it by automatically checking that you have a Google Analytics account.
New notifications about the slow loading of the site began to appear through the search console. Google tested a new form of domain properties for cross-site reports and added a bunch of reports for event lists, AMP, links, mobile device usability, and more.
The new search console was accompanied by a 16-month database, and Google also added it to the search console API.
Lighthouse. Google has updated its PageSpeed Insights data entry tool to the Lighthouse. This year version 3.0 of Lighthouse was released, and Lighthouse has a new SEO audit tool.
Google Posts. Google Mail was a feature that Google spent a lot of time tuning this year. He tested a lot of user interfaces around Google Posts in regular and mobile searches. The Google My Business console has been updated to enable Google Posts on the Internet or using a mobile application. But in the end, at least by the end of this year, according to many local SEO experts, the level of traffic and activity of Google Posts decreased.
Google My Business. Google My Business is a control panel for local SEOs and business owners who can manage their local listings in Google maps and Google search. Recently, Google has significantly updated the Google My Business mobile apps so that business owners can update and manage their lists on the go. Google added more analytics to the portal, including brand search, additional query data, and even created agency control panels for local SEO agencies.
Google has updated the Google My Business API many times throughout the year.
Mobile search and voice assistants
Voice assistants and the distribution of Google Home and Google Assistant devices have been and still are of great interest to the SEO community. How Google responds to the question “Ok, Google, tell me about X” is a question for many SEO experts. Google Home devices are still considered the smartest, but they have competitors like Amazon Echo, Apple Home and Microsoft Cortana.
Google UI changes
One of the constants in the world of SEO and Google is “change”. Google developed a new design for desktop search results with a rounded search box that resides at the top of the page. Google is now officially showing zero results, as it takes time, calculations, and conversion-related queries on mobile devices. The Google homepage for mobile now displays the search channel, not just a search box. Google also deployed the "More Results" button on your mobile phone.