2018 Google’s Algorithm Changes and Optimization Strategies

Optimizing for the New SERP Features

Google has gone and given itself a serious overhaul for 2018, and most are still wondering exactly how these changes will affect their business and its page ranking. SERP, or Search Engine Results Page, features refer to all the different formats Google now uses to return search results. Although the majority of these features will only apply to first page results, those with realistic aspirations of getting there need to understand how to optimize for them. Two of the most common features are “Top Stories” and “Ads”, but since the first is normally reserved for large news outlets and the latter is mostly decided by how much you pay, we’ll focus on the other main features.

Local Packs

These occur when the user searches for something for which multiple options can be provided within their geographic area.

Optimizing for this feature requires detailed location data on your site and profiles, plenty of user reviews on sites like Yelp, specific schema markups, and accurate information on Google My Business.

Site Links

This is when Google displays a full set of more specific links to pages within your site in addition to your home page. Achieving this feature puts your site in a commanding position, as it not only dominates the page but also makes it easy for the user to click directly to the page they want.

To optimize for a spot in site links your site must have a very organized, easily navigated structure with unique content on each relevant page. Internal links, keyword metadata, and submitting a site structure to Google Search Console will all increase your chances as well.

Related Questions

These come up when the algorithm isn’t entirely convinced you are asking for exactly what you want to know or they simply want to provide you with options. Either way, this is good for the user as they receive ideas to further improve their search, and it can be good for websites that provide a lot of related content that could be useful.

Optimization strategies for the related questions section include using similar keywords, subtle variations in wording, thorough content, and even including actual questions in your content (i.e. FAQ).

Featured Snippets

This useful feature involves providing another level of information about a site beyond simply a link and description. There are a variety of formats in which these appear—paragraphs, lists, charts, tables—and they tend to match the search very closely and are usually the top choice.

The best ways to earn featured snippets are to directly answer the question that is being asked, to provide extremely relevant and related results, and to offer it in the format most users are looking to find, in this case, a ranked list.

In all likelihood, it is impossible to optimize your site to match all the new SERP features, so choosing a couple of the most likely fits and focusing on them is usually the best strategy.

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