As someone who teaches Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I know the biggest worry many business owners have is keeping up with Google’s algorithm changes so you can maintain your rankings.
Staying on top of the latest SEO news is essential in our competitive digital world.
So I’ve compiled some of the most recent updates in the world of Google to give you a head start.
Update 1: Google AMP
AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source initiative that encourages publishers to create mobile-optimised content and have it load instantly. It’s all about improving the mobile experience, where speed can be an even more critical factor than for desktops.
Websites that implement Google AMP will display stripped back content that launches more quickly.
At first, AMP focused more on publisher content. But Richard Gingras has announced that AMP will be coming to recipes in the mobile search results.
Recipes in AMP will be in a carousel format and include a photo, similar to how we currently see AMP appear in the “In the News” mobile carousel.
It’s likely that AMP will be rolled out across all content soon, making it a definite must for your SEO to-do list.
Further reading: How to get started with Google Amp
TOONTIP: If your site is buillt using WordPress, consider installing the WP Amp plugin to dynamically generate an AMP-compatible version of your site content. Currently it only works for posts, but I suspect they’ll upgrade it as Google rolls out AMP.
Update 2: Changes in the Google Search results
Google recently moved the ads from the side column of the search results to the top of the search results. This has had a number of knock-on effects:
- The width of the results has increased from 500 to 600 pixels.
- Organic results have crept a little higher up the page—a good thing seeing as Google has put four AdWords ads at the top of the results pages.
- We now have around 70 characters (including spaces) for our all-important title tags.
Further reading: Google increases width of main results column
Update 3: Local advertising on Google Maps
We already know that certain local terms will result in a local three pack appearing in the blended results. But Google is taking it one step further, launching multiple new advertising opportunities to advertise on Google Maps with everything from promoted pins to in-store promotions.
The ads are in the identical format to the regular 3-packs (with only a teeny Ad graphic to distinguish them) so there could be some confusion over whether they are organic or not.
Further reading: Show local search ads on Google Maps
Update 4: Featured snippets increasing
Another impact of the increasing popularity of mobiles is the increase in featured snippets.
This is where Google plucks some content out of your page and uses it in a featured box at the top of the page to make life easier and quicker for mobile users.
Although some people fear having the answer in the results will stop users clicking through to your website, the opposite generally proves to be true. To increase your chances of being featured in the featured snippet, I recommend:
- posting content that answers specific questions (think “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how”)
- having a clear, interesting image on the page.
Further reading: Featured snippets in search
Update 5: Bing traffic share increasing
According to comScore, Bing’s share of the search market rose by 0.2% in April, while Google’s dropped by 0.2% during the same period. Google’s total share of the US desktop search market has dipped below its previous 64% to 63.8%, and Microsoft’s share of desktop search is now sitting at 21.6%.
Many Australian brands focus their efforts purely on Google. But moving forward they may want to give Bing a larger role in their SEO strategy.
In other news Bing announced their internet speed testing tool, which is visible in the search results.
Update 6: Google launches partner badges
Google has introduced Partner badges and plan to launch premier partner badges soon.
It’s important to remember that the Google Partner badge relates to Google ADWORDS only and has nothing to do with SEO qualifications.
Some unscrupulous SEOs use the badge and pretend it’s shows that Google has verified them for organic SEO services.
Remember: Google doesn’t verify anyone for organic search.
Further reading: Finding the right Google Adwords partner