Significant SEO Industry Updates – July 2018

IMI SEO Industry UpdateThere were several SEO industry updates last month that grabbed the attention of marketers. Learn more about a few of the most significant updates, takeaways, and what to do next.

Google My Business Insights Adds Queries Used To Find Your Business

On July 3, 2018, Google My Business rolled out a new report, Queries Used to Find Your Business report, located in the Insights section of the console. This new rollout is designed to show businesses how users search within Google Maps and Google Search to ultimately find a local listing.

In this new report, you can analyze the most popular queries for your business by unique users within a specified timeframe.

Subjective Attributes Report

Along with this new report, on June 27, 2018, a Subjective Attributes report was also been added to Google My Business Insights for restaurants and cafes. In your Insights section of GMB, this report is categorized as “What Your Business is Known For.”

This new report is generated by customers who submit attributes to help the business and other customers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Queries Used To Find Your Business Report is officially available. It can be found in the Insights section of your Google My Business account.
  • This new report is to help business better understand how users search.
  • Subjective Attributes Report can also be found in the Insights section of your Google My Business account, but only for restaurants and cafes.

Google Speed Update Now Released to All Users

On July 9, 2018, after studies showed people care about the speed of a page, the Speed Update officially rolled out for all users. Page speed has been used in ranking, focusing mostly on desktop searches. Starting in 2018, page speed will be a search ranking factor for mobile searches as well.

The Speed Update only affects pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and the slowest of sites on the Internet, and will only affect a small percentage of queries. This new update also applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build a page. Google encourages developers to think about how overall performance affects a user’s experience.

“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content,” per the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Tools to evaluate your page performance:

Key Takeaways:

  • July 9, 2018, page speed is officially a search ranking factor for mobile searches.
  • The Speed Update only affects pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and the slowest of sites on the Internet.

Chrome Starts Telling Users HTTP Sites Are Not Secure

As of July 24, 2018, Chrome browsers marked HTTP sites as not secure sites. After a six-month notice from Google, this change is now in full effect. 

Before the Chrome 68 update, Chrome displayed a small “i” icon for HTTP sites. Chrome now displays a “not secure” message next to the “i” icon for HTTP sites.

Some of the most important sites to update to HTTPS URLs are sites that include payment information, logins, form fills, and private information. However, upgrade your website to HTTPS to become secure. Depending on the size of the site, a migration from HTTP to HTTPS can be quite an undertaking, but necessary.

Key Takeaways:

    • This new Chrome update took effect on July 24, 2018.
    • Chrome officially displays a “not secure” message for HTTP sites.
    • Upgrade your website or your client’s website to a secure HTTPS URL.

Migration resources and guides:

Google Tests New Hotel Search Results Design

July 26, 2018: Currently only seen as a test, a number of people have noticed the design and layout of this newest Google Search test, specifically for hotel search results. Hotel search results are listed straight down with a more compact and modular look.

August 2, 2018: Google tests another design variation of the hotel search results. Similar to the July 26th test, Google shares hotel search results side-by-side, with a total of 4 hotel cards and a link to view more, rather than the straight down list, which was tested in July. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Google is still testing different variations of the new design.
  • The new design of Hotel Search Results is currently still a test with nothing confirmed yet.
  • The new look is a more compact and modular design.
  • Google is testing user interfaces around local and hotel results these days.

Google Algorithm Update: August 1, 2018

On August 1st, Google announced another update to their core algorithm. Research shows this update mostly affects “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) sites, which provide medical, financial, and legal services and information. Many call this the “Medic Update” due to a large number of medical sites that have been affected.  

Google states in their Quality Rater Guidelines: “We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”

Survey result of the type of websites that were affected by this algorithm update:

pie chart of sites affected by Google's August 2018 algorithm
[image credit: SERoundTable.com]

Key Takeaways:

    • There is no simple solution to recover from this algorithm update. It requires a long-term focus on creating high-quality content. Marketers must build on E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) as described in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines.
    • Provide unique value to users. Remove disruptive ads and ads above the fold. Publish unique content that is significantly better than competitors’.
    • Google’s John Muller recommends getting objective feedback from users about the site usability and quality and making improvements based on that feedback.
    • Continue to implement best practices for SEO, UX, and CRO.

Want to hear more from our SEO Director, Joe Arduini, about these and other industry updates? Head to our IMI IGTV Channel to tune in.

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