5 major changes made by google that is taking effect here in 2018. We’ll cover what has changed, where SEO is going in the future and what you need to do, in order to keep increasing your organic rankings and traffic.
Note: All of these changes are documented by Google employees with interviews already and can be found publicly if you want to.
SEO is always changing, and they have multiple algorithm such as Panda (lanched in 2014), Penguin (launched in 2012), Hummingbird (2013), Mobilegeddon (launched 2015) and a few other, to make sure every website and webpage rank for the right keyword(s). This article is not about what SEO used to be, linkbuilding or all of these other ranking factors, but mainly what the major changes is SEO is all about.
Even though there are 100’s of different ranking factors for Google and Bing, we do know for sure that some are more important than other, and we do know how to optimize these.
So, what has changed in search engine optimization (SEO)?
First of all, Google is evolving into a far smarter and “humanized” version of how to determine which pages to rank for which keywords. In other words, Google today in 2018 is more about “what question can my content answer” and that is your keywords. Because of the massive amount of linkbuilding in the past, Google is trying to put more effort into focusing more on the content and the website as a whole instead of individual ranking factors.
Let’s get started with the first change and getting a bit more in-depth.
- Update: Semantic searches and query
Let’s say you want to search for “car battery died” in Google. Google might “re-write” this into “automobile battery died” or maybe a specific car brand or model in order to make your search more relevant for you. This also means that Google also know that “car” and “automobile” is the same thing, as well as Google also knowing that a similar article or documentation of “changing old car battery” or something similar might be relevant and important for your search intend.
The intend is where Google is getting more interested, because Google is changing up their algorithm to match the intend of the search and not by the keyword itself. In other words, Google are trying to match you with the right result based on the intend of your query.
This also means that keywords are dead.
This also means that keywords are dead.
Yes I wrote that twice, but I do it for a reason. Everything we have known about SEO earlier is changing up now, which also means that keywords is not relevant anymore. That is simple not how Google work anymore, and it’s not the right way to optimize your website for better rankings.
In short, is this a good or bad thing for me?
Good! It now means that you solely can focus on high quality content creation (blog post, video material, podcast, infographics etc) and not worry about if you have the right keyword in your headline and in your bodytext as well.
Instead people have a query or a topic that they want to learn more about, and they type this in Google and get a better and more dynamic experience. This also means that you can have an article or video about “how to change a car battery” and rank for a keyword like “automobile battery died”, because Google know that this query might be relevant for you.
So, forget KEYWORDS, and focus on creating the highest possible content.
- Update: Forget about linkbuilding, think about compelling content
As I mentioned a little bit above, think more about the content itself. Think about what your customers want to know, what their questions and thoughts is like, how you can help them etc, and create content about this. Creating backlinks is still generating linkjuice to your website and is still important, however generating non-natural backlinks is violating Google’s ranking policy, and is actually determined as “black-hat”.
So in other words, if you’re doing linkbuilding solely for SEO purposes you’re doing it wrong, because you’re trying to make your content worth more than it actually is (according to Google’s guidelines).
Does this mean linkbuilding is dead?
No of course not, but you should focus more about natural highly relevant backlinks than just doing a lot of guest post on random sites, even though you write a lot of content. This is not a “new” thing about Google, and this is what Google have been saying for a decade.
However there are still a lot of valid ways to create good natural backlinks (is covered a lot more in our other article), such as creating a Youtube channel, doing infographics that you can share on social media, reaching out to other bloggers, reaching out to media companies etc.
Remember Google will always try to make their search engine as appealing and helpful for the users, as possible. If Google found out you’re violating their guidelines, they’ll drop you in the rankings in seconds and basically destroy all organic traffic in that website. This is not a sustainable way to build a business which is why we don’t recommend doing this.
- Update: WordPress take care of 80-90% of technical SEO
WordPress is now taking care of about 80-90% of all technical SEO. This means if you’re hosting your website on WordPress, you’re already doing pretty good, for the technical part. You actually don’t need to modify WordPress that much anymore because WordPress are getting better, and Google is getting smarter, and they actual work very well together.
This might surprise a lot of people, but remember, people make money with all these fancy SEO software and plugins that can do all kinds of crazy things, but for most users, small business and especially WordPress sites, you don’t need these things (in general).
You don’t need 100s of plugins to adjust, modify or change up your site in order to make this “magical” SEO thing work. It’s easier today and might only require an SSL certificate working on the site, make sure the website loads fast and then you’re almost good to go.
SEO is not that mysterious anymore and it actually make a lot more sense now, in the way that Google is trying to be more “human”, which means, more like you. You know how human thinks, and this good enough, because this is where Google is heading with their algorithms. That’s the ultimate goal to make their AI 100% precise for every search query.
What does this mean for me? Also do I still need YOAST SEO?
In most cases (not all), you don’t need to care about any technical things related to SEO if your site is running on WordPress. Since keywords doesn’t matter anymore, I wouldn’t even recommend Yoast, because this is not 100% accurate anymore. You don’t need keywords, and they don’t matter in this way, anymore. Forget all this and focus on the content you create.
All Google really needs is a simple hierarchy of how the site is structured, so they can find the different pages and crawl them. They need a title, they need a description and a website that load fast (especially for mobile-first update – read more about this in our earlier post) and they need your content. If you do this you probably done 98% of all SEO, and your time is not worth getting the last 2% unless you have a big business or maybe 1000s of pages to optimize at once.
If you do these simple things, you’re good to go and will be able to rank organic just fine.
- Update: Keyword density doesn’t matter
A lot of people think that there is a magically number that represent the exact right amount of keyword density in order to rank for that keyword(s). That is simply not true, and not how Google works. In the past, it did make sure sense to do “keyword stuffing” and just have a lot of keywords and maybe 2% density in your content of your targeted keyword, but that is way too updated.
There is no such thing as keyword density, anymore.
Well, how does Google know what my actual keyword is and what to rank my site for?
As I mentioned, Google is getting smarter every day, and this also means that Google is actually able to read your text or “listen” to your video, to understand what your content is about. Google know synonyms of different words and sentences and understand what the content is, what it need to rank for etc. Which is also why the intention of the search being important (mentioned earlier in this post) because keyword is a thing of the past, and the intention is what is important now.
Always think about the query and the logic behind the search, why did someone do this search, what does he/she want to know about, want to buy etc – and how can you help them with this?
This is also why my team and I don’t recommend following a lot of these SEO WordPress plugins anymore, because they simply don’t help you with doing SEO the right way anymore.
Keyword density is dead, which is great!
- Update: Simple URL
This is actually a simple but still very need thing to keep in mind when you’re doing SEO. It’s actually represented in Google’s own SEO starter guide (click the link to read more).
As you can see on the screenshot above, Google actually have a very simple explanation to why you need a simple URL structure, and it’s actually very simple to do on a lot of sites, especially WordPress.
To change this in WordPress head over to the navigation Menu -> Settings -> Permalinksan then you get the following options to choose from. We chose “postname” since it does make a lot of sense when our individual post rank for individual search queries and people can then read what it’s all about instead of just random numbers or something similar.
These settings can be found of a variety of different sites and platforms and is often very easy to setup and just a global setting, that will change your whole URL structure at once.
Conclusion – In short
If you just focus on creating the best possible content for your visitors, leads, customers, client etc, and just do a reasonable job at SEO, you’ll be just fine. SEO is getting easier to understand and focus a lot more on logically thinking as a human, which just make everything easier for you.
Hope you could use these updated information’s, and implement these new changes on to your site or business.