Here are just some of the online trends that have become predominant in 2018: secure internet connection becomes an important part of online browsing, often promoted by major companies on the internet market; mobile versions of web pages are expected to be ranked just like the desktops ones; speed of a webpage loading is becoming a big factor in those rankings; and a new version of Page Speed Insight was released in November.
Let’s cover all of these trends in search engine optimization in more details.
Security remains one of the key issues of this year. In fact, internet security was always a concern, for a long time it was up to user to determine whether the website he was visiting was safe to browse. Now most browsers indicate a web page as safe or suspicious.
A couple of years ago Google had announced that it has started to work on marking sites without SSL protocol as “not secure” in URL bar of Chrome browser.
SSL-protocol encrypts all sensitive user information and helps to prevent intrusions at any point of connection. So HTTPS is the future of the Internet.
Since Chrome 68 is launched all of its users can now see if the site owner cares of their safety. Sites with plain HTTP are marked at the top of the browser with the grey inscription “Not secure” and a small icon “i”, which when clicked would display information explaining that one should not leave any credentials or personal info on that website. Whenever a user starts to enter his personal information this inscription turns red.
Sites with HTTPS are marked with a grey icon depicting a lock. It could be clicked on in order to get more information about the safety of current connection.
Today such labeling affects user behavior and awareness, but in future, due to increased bounce rate, it will also affect the ranking.
Safari and Mozilla browsers are moving in the same direction. Moreover, big companies such as Mozilla, Cisco, Facebook, Chrome, GitHub and others support the free automated service “Let’s encrypt” to provide customers with the digital certificates that enable HTTPS for websites.
Mobile Friendly Approach Matters
Nowadays the use of mobile technology has become so common that more and more people use their mobile devices to surf and search the Internet. According to Statista, 52.4 % of worldwide web traffic in the third quarter of 2018 originated from mobile devices.
That’s why Google decided to change its ranking system and announced a new “mobile first indexing” approach.
Although Google is still in the beginning stages of implementing this method and only apply it to a limited number of sites, that share a similar content across their desktop and mobile versions, and claims that “mobile first indexing” is more about how content is gathered, it is still an important data to an experienced SEO specialist.
Google is famous for its striving to provide a great search experience for all users. So it's better to prepare for these changes in advance. Make sure that your mobile version loads fast and brings the same functionality your desktop version does. Be sure to create a mobile version if you still don’t have one.
Also, you should be aware that Google recommends using a technique called "adaptive design", rather than using responsive server-side page generation or a dedicated mobile version.
People eager to find answers to their questions as fast as possible! Though that is obvious, Google implicitly used the loading speed as a determining factor when it comes to a desktop search. Since the update of 2018 was released this element along with “mobile first indexing” was officially admitted as deciding criteria.
Since July 2018 Google announced a so-called “Speed Update” which means this becomes a significant factor in mobile search too. Even though it will mostly affect the slowest pages rankings and it won’t be a determining ranking factor. Under the same conditions the faster the site loads the higher it is ranked.
It’s reasonable to assume that the search engine technologies will continue to develop in this direction, therefore preparing your site to the indexing takes a back seat, and user experience with high functionality comes to the front.
Actual Tools Matter
In essence, we are talking about speed again. Google announced the renewed Page Speed Insight (released in November 2018) and reported that it now uses this metric in a new analysis engine Lighthouse and real field data from Chrome User Experience Report. That is good news to any SEO specialist because now it doesn’t only point to what can be done to improve the site, but also indicates how it actually works.
Lighthouse engine simulates how cell phones and other mobile devices load a certain page, and then ranks that from 0 to 100 based on a set of different performance quality time metrics.
Chrome User Experience Report supplies Page Speed Insight with data based on real user behavior.
Finally, Page Speed Insight generates suggestions on metrics improving and additional tips on how the page can meet best web development practices.
This tool allows evaluating the real user experience of the site (if this information is contained in Chrome User Experience Report) and predicting the bounce rate, which affects the SERP ranking factors and the site potential comparable to its competitors.
Only when the problem with the operating speed of the website is solved, marketing components are worth to be focused on.
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Digital agencies and website owners have to be prepared to all these changes and use modern tools to stay on the top of the their game in 2019. The trends of today are likely to become a common practice tomorrow.