Google recently announced a broad core update to its algorithm. Here are the facts and what you should do about them.
This isn’t like the relatively minor updates Google makes once or twice a day. This one is a so-called broad core algorithm update, which happens once or twice every year. This means it will significantly affect the algorithm, and consequently Google search results.
It is more important than ever for web-developers and website owners to stay on top of updates like this one. That is why we have put together this handy guide, which will tell you all about what’s going on and what you can expect, as well as some tips for keeping your website at the top of Google search results.
What has changed?
Google doesn’t like to be too specific about its algorithm or its updates, so we don’t know all the details about what is being changed. On their @searchliaison Twitter page, all they said about the broad core algorithm update in August 2018 was that it took place, and that their advice remains the same as in March.
In March, during a similar broad core algorithm update, Google’s public liaison Danny Sullivan advised web-developers that some sites may see drops or gains in their rankings. He elaborated that “there’s nothing wrong” with the pages that are performing less well, but that instead the system is now “benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded”. Sullivan further discouraged web-designers from looking for a “fix” for the consequences, and suggested focusing instead on offering high-quality content to users.
However, we still know some very helpful bits of information about how Google is trying to improve their services. They have been carrying out a number of updates recently which can tell us about what they’re trying to achieve in general. These, of course, are not the only updates Google has made, but they’re the big ones that have taken place since the last broad core algorithm update. Ultimately, they can hint at what the broad core update entails. Let’s go over the big ones one by one:
Chrome Security Warnings
On July 24th, 2018, Google announced that soon, all websites without HTTPS encryption would be marked “not secure” by Google Chrome. They have been working hard to implement this change in order to help users understand whether their personal details are safe. Having started by only marking sites that collect personal information like emails and passwords as “not secure”, they are now spreading this to all HTTP sites. Eventually, rather than marking encrypted sites “secure”, they will become the unmarked default.
Image courtesy of Enableds.com
HTTPS, which stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, ensures that details like credit card numbers and passwords are encrypted and remain private. When you load websites over standard HTTP, the personal information you send through that website is not encrypted. Anyone else on the network can look at the information that is going back and forth between you and the server.
How does HTTPS work? It uses either SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security), both of which are systems that encrypt communications. They are known as asymmetric, because they use two “keys” for encryption and decryption. What is encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted with the private key, and vice versa.
When you open an HTTPS webpage, the site sends its SSL certificate to your browser. This certificate contains the public key and allows the secure session to begin. Your browser and the website then have an “SSL handshake”, which means a uniquely secure connection is established between the two. Most web browsers display a green padlock when you visit a site with a trusted SSL Digital Certificate.
Web developers are more motivated than ever to use secure HTTPS servers, because they load faster, rank better on Google, and serve the crucial function of protecting users. It is clear to us that one of Google’s recent priorities is online security, and it is doubtless at the forefront of their broad core update in August 2018.
Mobile Page Speed
In January 2018, Google announced that page speed would influence mobile search rankings, and in July they rolled out the update for all users. Page speed was already used in ranking desktop searches, so this was just an expansion of that into searches made on mobile. After all, everyone cares about how fast a site loads, no matter what device they’re browsing from.
Google reassured us that the speed update would only affect the slowest sites and a small proportion of searches. They promised to hold all web pages to one standard, and that excellent, relevant content would still help a website rank highly, even if it’s relatively slow.
But despite what they say, speed is crucial for all web-pages, including desktop and mobile. No matter how great your content, users will not look at it if it doesn’t load. Google knows this, and wants to provide users with faster pages in their search results. If you want to see how your site matches up, try using the helpful Pingdom speed test.
What can you do to keep your site on top?
We don’t know exactly what the results of the broad core algorithm update will be, and Google is reluctant to tell us. We do know, judging by the focus of their updates, that Google’s emphasis in recent months has been on security and speed, and most importantly, user experience.
As always, Google’s main goal is to be an effective search engine. This means it aims to respond to user queries quickly and with relevant, high-quality information. Basically, it wants what you want: to answer all your questions, and help you find exactly what you are looking for.
For the sake of your users and your search rankings, you should always think about user experience before you worry about loopholes you can find in the Google algorithm. Your priority should be to offer high quality, relevant information in a fast, secure, and usable form.
Let’s cover some crucial steps to ensuring your website will rank highly on results pages, and attract all the traffic it can.
Optimise for Mobile
No ifs or buts, you need a mobile-friendly site. Too many people browse the web from their phones in the modern world for you to miss out on all that traffic. Besides, Google’s recent mobile-first indexing update will mean that your site will underperform if it isn’t optimised for mobile browsing.
Protect your users’ details from hackers, provide verification to your visitors, and reassure customers that they are safe when they use your online services. You can do all of these things by installing an SSL certificate. Why wait?
With technology advancing so fast, and internet speed constantly improving, the only way you can keep up is to have a super high-speed website. When a user clicks on a link, they want to open it, and they want to open it immediately. If they’re searching on Google, the first results they’ll see will be the faster ones. Your page speed is crucial to maintaining visibility and low bounce rates for your site. Ensure your website is hosted on superfast servers.
What can Koncept do for you?
Koncept is a Norwich-based digital media agency, and we specialise in website design, hosting, promotion, and much more for all sorts of businesses. We are experts in all the latest and best SEO practices, ensuring that our clients get everything they can out of their online presence.
Our experienced team always put quality first. That’s why we build mobile-optimised, attractive, secure, and user-friendly sites that are guaranteed to attract traffic. Thanks to our brand new, lightning-fast HP Enterprise servers which run multi-core Intel Xeon processors, we can guarantee that the websites we host work at top speed.
Does your site need a serious upgrade in light of Google’s 2018 algorithm updates? Or do you just want to make sure that your online presence is doing everything it can for your business? Get in touch with Koncept today for a free evaluation of how your site can be improved!