Algorithm Shifts 2018: Will Organic Search Results Continue to Decline? | RankWatch Blog

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Algorithm Shifts 2018: Will Organic Search Results Continue to Decline?

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algorithm shift

Every time algorithm changes roll in, huge shockwaves are sent across the cyber universe. Everyone starts predicting how the SEO landscape is going to change. That is the way the cookie crumbles, but is there anything we can do to mitigate the negative effects and maximize opportunities? Well, we cannot alter the fact that rules of the game constantly change, for better or worse.

Still, it is definitely possible to prosper in this tumultuous internet era. Google is not crazy enough to lay waste to the very ecosystem that breeds a good share of its profit. Besides, doing your homework and keeping close tabs on what is brewing can go a long way towards increasing your ranking and driving organic traffic your way.

The only constant thing is the change

Google routinely fine-tunes the fine working of its algorithm throughout the year. There is nothing unusual there. Some algorithm updates represent specific tweaks, while others come in the form of broader, core overhauls. They tend to bring ranking gains or pains to websites across the board. The only problem is that in recent years, the climate is becoming somewhat less favorable.

algorithm shift

Stricter algorithms are not good news and they negatively affect both the small businesses and established corporations. That being said, entering a panic mode is not the way to go. Take a deep breath and develop a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of SEO. Bear in mind that anticipating the impact of changes holds the key to rising above.

Ad invasion

One of the most worrisome trends as of lately is the shrinking of organic results. We are talking about their physical size on the front page. Ads are the culprit behind this tendency. They are stealing the space that used to be reserved for results, as well occupying sidebar and the new Knowledge Box (Featured Snippet).

It is hard to assess how intentional this is, but organic results are slowly slipping down on the list of Google’s priorities. This makes numerous pages less visible and profitable. In the meantime, search engine officials are rubbing their hands counting the increased ad profit. Their net ad revenue already accounts for 32.4% of total corporate income. This number is only poised to grow further.

Royal cunningness

So, is Google chopping the branch it is sitting on? I would say that if the trend continues, it is going to be a rough landing for sure. After all, people do not want to be bombarded by a barrage of ads every time they use search engines. They seek a smooth sailing experience, a content that matches their intent.

It is also worth mentioning that although Google is still the king, it is also not the only search engine in the world. In fact, some competitors like Bing are gaining traction. Hence, we deem it extremely unlikely that Google will crack down on search results. The tactics will be more subtle and gradual and revolve around encouraging users to click on ads more.

Down by law

We can say with certainty that low-quality content and websites that feature it will inevitably wither away. They have been getting on Google’s nerves for quite some time. In other words, tightening the algorithm game has one chief purpose: to separate the wheat from the chaff and provide users only with the former.

algorithm shift

This brings us to the point: knowing what practices to stop following is just as important is using the right SEO tactics. The judge and the jury come in the form of Rank Brain, cutting-edge AI capable of understanding what people want to achieve with their searches. Moreover, it is designed to constantly learn and fine-tune the algorithm matrix.

The gap widens

What does this imply for those who uphold quality standard? It is clear that higher-quality pages that involve accurate, relevant, and useful information will be given even more prominence. Panda, Fred, and Penguin updates have paved the way for them to move to the forefront of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). More organic traffic will come their way and their profits will rise.

Thus, they will capitalize on their distinguished position and the fact that they enjoy the trust of the almighty internet deity Google. All of this is expected to widen the gap between a small fraction of large websites and swarms of smaller ones. Also, as Google argues, previously under-rewarded sites should experience most benefits.  

Fate is sealed

Google’s Core Update from March this year leaves no doubt about the direction in which things are heading. It has caused upheaval in some SEO circles and affected the ranking of numerous websites. Most notably, we see that content with lower word count suffers. Moreover, articles that are not info-rich, as well as those that are of poor quality have undergone a drop in ranking.

Weak on-page SEO can also be a detriment, meaning that lack of H1 heading, internal linking, and keyword optimization can seriously hurt you. Finally, Google seems determined to demote content that does not answer queries, the one that is not strongly targeted to any keywords.

Quality matters the most

What we are facing is not a complete annihilation, but a cleanup process. In other words, Google is not going to use heavy artillery, but a fine-tooth digital comb. It wants to push higher-quality content to the top of SERPs. Therefore, producing a constant stream of low-quality content does not cut it. Copying and re-writing existing articles does not help either.

There is no way around it: getting ahead of the pack requires you to invest quite a bit of hard work. Like it or not, you need to ramp up the overall quality of the website and the content. Create something unique that is worth indexing. Remember that this is also a way to attract high-quality backlinks and thus elevate your ranking further.

Appeasing the gods

Along the similar lines, try to identify any UX pain points and issues. Deal with any clutter in the form of irrelevant content, aggressive ads, pop-ups, and shabby internal linking. Use an SEO audit tool to find technical errors.  Try to determine whether the changes in your ranking are the result of Google Updates, your shortcoming, or your competition gaining the edge.

algorithm shift

Always analyze what type of content and what keywords are affected the most. Keep an eye on prominent trends and get on top of them. On the other hand, know that clinging on to the tools and tactics of the yesterday is a surefire way to go under and disappear. Cover all your bases and you should be able to survive the time of the reckoning.

Conclusion

Algorithm shifts are making huge waves in the digital world, but are they going to lift or sink the boats on the surface? Well, the situation is likely to get slightly worse for businesses. Ads are getting more space while organic results decline. Low-quality websites could get eradiated, but that is not such a bad thing.

Google wants to connect users with high-quality results, not just overwhelm them with ads. So, if you mean business, step up and religiously follow the guidelines. Create value for users and give them exactly what they want. Do not let your competitors gain an upper hand. Superior content is the name of the game, one that you have to play fair and square and for the long-term.

Sean Lockwood on Twitter
Sean Lockwood
Sean Lockwood is an IT expert with years of experience. He covers all aspects of IT like programming, photoshopping and other effects. He has spent some time in the field of security and is still helping other companies with the same. In his free time, he loves to enjoy his extreme sports lab blog and his German Shepherd dog.
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