Google has made a lot of big moves and changes with its search ranking algorithm over the past few years. Below is a quick list of recent hot Google ranking algorithm changes that will impact SEO heavily through 2018. Learn how Google is evolving, and what this all means for your website.

March 26th , 2018 – The Mobile First Initiative: Approximately two years ago, searches on smartphones outpaced desktop traffic. In response, Google launched the mobile-first initiative. This means that Google uses the mobile version of your website to help determine search engine rankings in preference of your desktop version. This includes factors like mobile content, mobile page load speed, SSL and user interaction. If you’re website is not up to today’s mobile site standards, it most certainly is time for an upgrade.

October 17th , 2017 – The SSL Initiative: Google is very serious about SSL and if your website is not yet SSL, then you absolutely are taking a ranking penalty hit. Google announced that SSL would be a factor about one year ago. It then made a serious push to move the world to SSL in October 2017 by providing warnings in Chrome for non-secure content. By Spring, 2018, Google began implementing ranking penalties. Later this year, Google’s non-SSL warning on Chrome will get more severe. SSL should be your #1 digital priority for 2018.

January 10th , 2017 – The Interstitial Initiative: People hate pop-ups and Google wants people to be happy with the websites it serves to searchers. For websites that have pop-ups that take over the screen, be it an ad, a coupon, a newsletter signup or other, if your website has a pop-up, you’re making Google unhappy. As alluring as it may be to help increase newsletter subscription or other user actions, its probably not worth it in regard to the search ranking penalty that is imposed against your website.

October 26th , 2015 – RankBrain AI Initiative: While not a “new” update, RankBrain evolves every day. RankBrain is Google’s neural network – learning software that know what people think about your website. RankBrain understand human behavior. It understands when someone is trying to cheat as SEO and undermine Google, it knows if people don’t like your website for whatever reason, it knows if your website provides the info people are searching for. RankBrain is just one of the 200+ signals that Google evaluates to determine search engine rankings. However, it is weighted very heavily and continues to evolve. You can’t outsmart RankBrain. The only way to make it happy is to have a good quality website that provides functionality and information to your prospects as good or better than your competition. No one wants to shop at a dirty grocery store, just like no one wants to visit an outdate, dysfunctional website.

August, 2013 – Voice Search Initiative: While a Google algorithm change back in 2013 is not new news, the trend and impact it makes is even more important in 2018 than ever before. This was exacerbated by the flood of voice search products ranging form Alexa, Google Home, evolved GPS systems, Apple’s Siri and other gadgets making the search demand from voice grow exponentially. But what does this mean and how does it impact search? The primary issue to consider is that your audience is migrating more and more heavily away from PCs and toward mobile phones and digital gadgets. Search phrases will change slightly, from a typed search phrases to a verbal request. Geographic references must be strongly considered for any business that serves a local community. Is your website optimized for the communities you serve? Can people find you through local resources like online yellow pages, Google My Business listings or Yelp? Google needs to know what you do AND where you do it. Humans need to be able to interact with you through their mobile devices. To top it off, voice search often results in a question, rather than statement. People are more likely to say something like “where is the best pizza near me?” compared to a PC search for something more like “pizza delivery.” Be aware of these changes and accommodate both Google and humans for this transition to voice search.

Summing it all up – ALL of these recent Google changes have a common theme… Serving websites in Google’s search results most likely to provide a quality experience for Google’s users.