The Top 7 Things I’ve Learned About SEO This Year

2018 has been an eventful 12 months for the SEO business.

In this text, I’ll share each issues that I’ve realized and essential developments which might be price emphasizing.

1. This Year’s Google Updates Were Unparalleled (And No One Really Knows What Changed)

Search engines have been rolling out updates because the early days of the business — nothing new there.

We’ve seen large updates such because the Panda and Penguin updates, which had a large affect.

And but nonetheless, the frequency and complexity of the Google algorithm updates we’ve seen this 12 months are unparalleled.

And typically, whereas SEO execs are scrambling to determine what an replace was all about, it’s being rolled again as quick because it was rolled out!

The SEO sport has modified for good.

I feel AJ Kohn’s current article “algorithm analysis in the age of embeddings” helps that.

Google’s algorithms have gotten so advanced that nobody actually is aware of what was modified.

SEO isn’t about these well-known “200 factors” anymore. It hasn’t been for a very long time now.

There’s a just about infinite variety of components that may differ for each person, second, location, question, and vertical.

2. It’s Google’s World – We Just Live in It

Google dictates the type of SERP we see, and what it accommodates.

And now we have to cope with that.

We’re all simply check topics in Google’s large, repeatedly updating assessments.

They say their purpose is to serve their customers the absolute best outcomes, however we are able to’t assist however observe that coincidentally, we’re seeing Google answering increasingly more questions instantly via SERP options (“zero-click searches”) whereas additionally driving up CTRs for paid listings.

So, our content material is used to reply questions instantly within the SERP, and we get nothing in return (besides perhaps for a bit of name worth).

Slowly however absolutely, Google’s consuming up the SERP, and reducing the CTR for natural listings.

I do know this has been the pattern for some time, however current developments for the SERP options — in addition to the outcomes of a current Rand Fishkin examine on CTRs — are alarming.

3. Google’s Mobile-First Index Hasn’t Had Much of an Impact (Yet)

Over the course of the 12 months, the mobile-first index rolled out, and… truly nothing a lot occurred.

Back in November 2016, Google stated they’d roll out the mobile-first index slowly and monitor its affect carefully —and that has turned out to be the case.

Even although the mobile-first index shift solely modified how they collect their information, not how they rank websites, I nonetheless anticipated to see much more fluctuations.

I anticipated websites that present a poor person expertise for cellular customers to get hammered, however up to now, the affect has been restricted.

4. SEO Pros Are Creatures of Habit & Dislike Change

Even although we’re a part of a fast-moving business, many SEO professionals are creatures of behavior who dislike change.

They don’t like to alter how they audit web sites, the best way they report, the instruments they use, and so forth.

I do know, SEO execs are human, too — and people usually don’t like change.

But if you wish to keep forward of the curve, it’s good to innovate.

Deep down, everyone knows this.

You must embrace change and the truth that individuals will problem your current approach of working.

A typical instance of that is the old style 50+ web page SEO audit experiences that take months to arrange. Kevin Indig’s tweet sparked a vivid dialogue on Twitter:

Another instance is counting on scheduled crawls to catch SEO points and adjustments on websites.

You don’t know what occurs on web sites in between the scheduled crawls, so that you’re lacking important info.

On prime of that, you need info to return to you rather than your having to get that info (push as a substitute of pull).

Reinvent the best way you’re employed.

Reinvent your processes and reevaluate the instruments you’re utilizing to match your new approach of working.

5. DuckDuckGo’s Growth Has Picked Up, by a Lot

While they’re nonetheless a small participant on this planet of serps, DuckDuckGo’s development has surprisingly picked up by quite a bit.

As of November 26, they’re processing 33.6 million direct queries per day, in comparison with 19.1 million a 12 months earlier than.

The causes for his or her development?

The proven fact that they’re staying true to their phrase is one — and I’m positive the truth that we’ve seen some large privateness scandals additionally performs of their favor.

Growth of DuckDuckGo's Direct Queries

You can observe their development right here.

Google having some actual opponents could be actually good for the SEO business!

So let’s hope that various serps similar to DuckDuckGo continue to grow, to allow them to in the future symbolize a real problem for Google.

6. Search Intent Is Extremely Important

I feel plenty of the Google updates we’ve seen lately assist Google serve the correct outcomes for the correct search intent.

Google has a great deal of person information, and so they’re repeatedly testing whether or not searchers are proud of the outcomes that they’re proven.

Never earlier than has search intent been as essential as it’s now.

Sure, it’s at all times been essential from a conversion standpoint.

But within the outdated days, you might rank for pages that didn’t match a person’s search intent.

It seems to be like these days are over.

When doing key phrase analysis and writing content material, pay shut consideration to satisfying your required customer’s intent.

I like to recommend studying “Optimising for Latent Intent,” in addition to the beforehand talked about article by AJ Kohn.

7. Google’s Far from Perfect

Google employs the neatest engineers and so they’re utilizing probably the most superior algorithms to find out:

  • What your content material is about.
  • What their customers’ search intent is.
  • What outcomes fulfill individuals’s sophisticated search queries.
  • And far more.

And but on the identical time, Google’s removed from good. They typically even don’t get the fundamentals proper!

Here are some examples:

  • Many persons are reporting that the standard of search outcomes has gone down after current algorithm updates. See right here and here.
  • Many old-school spammy hyperlink ways nonetheless work, and have truly began to work higher, with the introduction of Penguin 4.0.

This video exhibits an absence of end result high quality within the notoriously aggressive and spammy (and profitable) viagra area of interest, following an algorithm replace meant to extend end result high quality:

So, What Does 2019 Have in Store for Us?

Obviously, for the foreseeable future, Google will carry on dominating the lives of us SEOs. They’ll attempt to grow to be much more dominant, presumably by leveraging AMP and the WordPress partnership.

Google will carry on pitching updates at us at a excessive tempo.

These updates might be ever extra unique, as we’ve seen this 12 months, since they’ll proceed to combine machine studying into their algorithms.

The outdated saying says “keep your eyes on the ball.” But SEOs want to observe the place the ball goes.

They have to be versatile and to adapt faster than ever earlier than.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Screenshot taken by creator, December 2018

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