The world’s most popular search engine is ever evolving, but what does that mean for your website?
Keeping up with Google’s new algorithm changes is about as easy as mopping up a waterfall – there’s always more coming!
That said, there are three big changes that will affect the way your website appears in the Google SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) throughout 2018.
You can leverage these changes to serve your business and SEO:
1 – Website meta description length
One of the major announcements from Google in the past few months has been the change in its meta description snippet length limit.
The meta description snippet is a short piece of text that is displayed below the title of each search result. The content displayed is either your custom meta description or the first paragraph of your text body, in case you haven’t added any meta description.
There are also times when Google’s AI can decide to entirely overwrite your description and combine parts of the page’s text so it can display a more relevant description to the user.
The character length limit was 160 characters and, from late 2017, it went up to 320 characters.
With this change, Google provides users with more information about a certain website before clicking on it. Several tests have shown that more information reduces the users’ insecurity, potentially increasing the click-through rate on top results and decreasing it for lower results.
If you have an online business, it is essential to fill those 320 characters with a detailed description of your webpage and what it’s about. It should be as detailed as possible, and include your main keyword(s), so that Google can evaluate your website in the most accurate way possible.
2 – Mobile Website Version Indexing
It is evident that mobile has become the go-to tool for searching the web, but the last few months saw a major shift in priorities regarding indexation of websites’ pages.
Indexing is basically the process of adding a web page to Google. Depending on which tags you use (index or noindex) the crawler will ‘read’ your page and add it to Google’s database with all its search results.
For years, Google has always crawled and indexed a website’s desktop version. If it had a mobile version, better, but the desktop version was always its focus. This has changed. With the new mobile-first indexing, the priority is given to the mobile version of your page. It is now the basis on which Google defines its search rankings.
The move to mobile can also be seen in the recent algorithm changes, which gives more importance to a mobile page’s speed. Websites with slow loading pages will be ranked lower.
If you do not have a mobile version of your website, it will still appear on search rankings, but it will be impacted negatively if it’s not mobile-optimized. A website which is not optimized for mobile will, for sure, rank lower than if it was.
As users tend to reach websites more often through mobile devices, a page that takes a lot of time to download will jeopardize the user experience and that will negatively impact your website’s rankings more than ever before.
3 – Voice Search using Google
Google’s voice search has been rising in popularity over the last few years and is forecasted to become one of the main trends in 2018; resulting in less of a need for users to type. By using voice search, you can ask Google anything and instantly obtain an answer.
Voice search allows users to search for what they want to know/find on mobile or desktop, by simply speaking to it. According to Google, in 2017 about 20% of searches were via voice.
There were no major changes implemented regarding Google’s algorithm, but since the percentage of people using voice search is rising so rapidly, this is a big change to note in itself.
Queries from voice search are a lot more complex than written ones, as users tend to use a more natural language to address their devices. Therefore, long-tail keywords tend to have higher search volumes and soon they will become more competitive. Copywriters and SEO marketers should plan in advance and prepare their websites for this ‘revolution’, by increasing the content’s readability, and adding more long-tail keywords so that Google recognizes it accurately.
So, next time you update your site, remember to keep these 3 changes in mind to stay as visible as possible.
Use mobile responsive web templates, research longtail keywords for your business, and add well thought out meta description to keep up with the new changes.
By the way, we’d love to help you with all your SEO needs. Please visit our SEO Services Page, for more details.
Update: Just a few weeks after publishing this post, Google decided to revert back to the older meta description length, after almost 6 months of testing the longer character limit.
The current limits seem to be around 160 characters for desktop and 130 for mobile.