What’s New In SEO And How You Can Make The Most Of It

With 92% of the world market share in search engine queries, Google is the focus of most SEO efforts. (Image source: )

The global information powerhouse updates their algorithms every day, sometimes more than once. But, a few times per year they release ‘core’ updates that drive major changes in existing website’s rankings.

Following every core update, the SEO community and online business owners the world over have to learn to adapt. And, while Google always suggests focusing on ‘just doing you’, there are steps we can all take to better meet changing demands.

From Florida to Panda and Hummingbird, the last 6 years have been a steep learning curve for Google and SEO experts alike. But what difference have the last year of updates really made? And what should you be doing about it?

In this blog, I’ll help you to keep up to speed by summarising 4 of the most important recent changes in SEO, and summarise the main takeaway from the most recent adjustment, the snappily-named “March 2019 Core Update”.

Goodbye black-hat, hello content

We’ve all heard about black-hat techniques, even if some of us have always avoided them. Essentially, their purpose is to find and exploit loopholes in Google’s algorithms and make it easy to rank well without actually putting the effort in that Google expects.

But, since 2016, the search engine has effectively shut down the black-hat industry by making it more effort than it’s worth to engage in shoddy tactics. Dodgy link building, keywords stuffing and many other techniques have been suitably quashed and no one has really come up with any new, effective and cheap strategies to beat the bots over the last few years.

What should you do?

  • Focus on creating great content that people find useful and actually want to read and share
  • Don’t be seduced by the big promises of the still-prevalent black-hat SEO ‘experts’, they’re just trying to cling to their income

The mobile-first index puts mobile results above all else

By 2015, mobile searches overtook desktop and laptop searches for the first time, ushering in what SEO experts dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’ (a satisfyingly dramatic name).

It followed Google’s mobile-first indexing update in November 2016, which strengthened the ranking position of mobile-friendly sites. More recently though, Google has recombined mobile and desktop indexes and, in 2019, its algorithm will prioritise mobile when crawling.

Hence, Google has brought in changes to the Local Pack that reduced the number of visible businesses from seven to three and places more importance in search results on Featured Snippets.

What should you do?

  • Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how well your site performs on mobile compared to the rest of the market
  • Don’t just scale desktop sites to fit mobiles, build your desktop site around the needs of mobiles (keeps it faster, more responsive and easier to use on phones)
  • Focus on speeding up your website as most mobile versions take five times as long to load as people are willing to wait (e.g. upgrade to a better free web host or paid plan, or streamline on-site data and code)

Favour for Featured Snippets and structured data

Speaking of Featured Snippets…
These are the box of text that appears above the regular SERPs results, aka ‘position #0’. It can contain lists, dates and listings, or short answers (aka, Google’s Answer Box).

Most experts agree that Google will be placing increasing emphasis on Featured Snippets throughout its 2019 updates and on ‘structured data’ in general. Structured data is a line of code you can add to a site’s HTML to structure it to produce Featured Snippets. The snippets are generally less than 29 words long and are highly optimised for the search query they show up in.

What should you do?

  • Add structured data code to your site
  • Write the kind of content that shows up in Featured Snippets, like Q&A, page summaries and FAQs

A continuation of the voice search bandwagon

It’s no longer the case that we ask questions of search engines by typing some keywords into a device. Voice search on mobile phones is rising and smart devices like Alexa and Google Assistant are increasingly becoming an everyday habit for people the world over.

According to searchenginewatch voice search has seen a 3500% increase in use on Google over the last decade.

What should you do?

  • Focus your keyword efforts on the kind of longtail, natural and often question-based phrases we use when speaking to voice search software, e.g. try to rank for ‘what is a Featured Snippet?’ rather than ‘Featured Snippet’
  • Keep in mind that Featured Snippets are, essentially, voice search answers that are read out or presented as answers to voice-based queries

March 2019 core update is bad news for niche pages

Other than, again, targeting websites in the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) area, analysis by Searchmetrics suggests that pages that focus on a single or limited subject matter will lose out as a result of the March 2019 update.

Niche pages, particularly those considered to by YMYL are now more heavily scrutinised for trust signals like the strength of their brand profile, the broadness of their topical focus and their authoritative signals.

What should you do?

  • Unless you’re running a niche health, wellness and fitness-related site, don’t worry about it
  • If you are, focus on demonstrating E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
  • All websites should continue to focus on building their brand and trust signals

The takeaway…

It’s always tempting to overblow Google’s core updates. They still maintain that analysis of the effects is futile and websites would do better to focus on creating great content above all else. But, there do seem to be some potentially helpful takeaways beyond just commissioning better content:

  • Forget finding short-cuts.
  • Really focus on making a great mobile site.
  • Get involved with Featured Snippets and voice search optimisation.
  • Build trust if you’re in health, wellness and fitness.


Jodie is a Conversion Copywriter, Content Strategist and Optimisation Specialist working with bold B2B SaaS and marketing brands. Before founding This Copy Sticks, she’s spent a decade selling the toughest value proposition around and raised £2 million for charities before her 25th birthday. After 10 years convincing the public to embrace their inner altruist, Jodie now puts her words to work helping tech-mad trailblazers grow their businesses.

Jodie Manners

Jodie is a professional writer and editor working with UK Web Host Review. She translates dense topics into accessible information to help everyone from small and niche business owners to budding web masters to reach their goals. She explores design, brand psychology, marketing and tech. You can connect with Jodie through LinkedIn.

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