If you aren’t fully aware that search engine optimization changes every single month, then you are already at a very severe disadvantage online. Back in the day, SEO service providers had several cookie cutter packages to select from, with each containing a specific number of different link types and additional features, like Google +1’s and re-tweets. Ah, the good old days of SEO when you could rank a doorway page in a matter of 24-hours! 😀

Well, in an attempt to keep their organic search results as accurate and helpful as possible, Google releases algorithm updates on a regular basis. It used to be major news when an algorithm was released, and each had a very theme specific name to go along with it.

Now, the algorithm is so advanced that it is updating itself daily, thanks in part to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Imagine that — Google’s algorithm is teaching itself how to be better 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You simply cannot use spammy or low quality SEO tactics these days and expect fruitful results. It just doesn’t happen any longer. There are so many shady SEO providers that continue to sell pure garbage to small businesses and it not only fails to rank them, but it also ruins their domain to the point that they will never be able to recover.

When Google makes algorithm changes they are doing it to make their results more appealing to their users. They don’t care about marketers or businesses trying to gain in the SERPs. Their goal is to provide accurate and helpful information. Think about it from a user standpoint. If someone keeps receiving poor results or irrelevant results, they will jump ship to another search engine.

Google has continued to dominate the search engine space because its results are the best. They make billions of dollars because of that market ownership, and the more people using their search engine, the more paid ads get clicked. They are a business and their main focus is generating money, which they do by ensuring their SERP results are the best in terms of user experience. They don’t care about you or your business. They care about maintaining their dominant position miles ahead of Bing and Yahoo.

Understanding the algorithm and noticing changes is part of my job. Over the first half of the year there are five things that stand out in terms of what the algorithm is favoring and what SEOs need to implement in order to chase the top of the SERPs. If you are ignoring any of these then you are going to lose.

Use these 5 focus points in your SEO strategy this year..


1. Position “zero” is now a real thing and positions 1-10 will soon be an afterthought.

Up until now, everyone wanted to reach position number one in the Google SERPs. It was long the most coveted position, as it meant endless amounts of “free” traffic every minute of the day. Achieving a number one ranking position was the goal of every SEO campaign, and the reason why companies have been spending insane amounts of money on links and optimization.

Well, now position one isn’t nearly as valuable as it once was. First, paid ads dominate the top, and location based searches bring up local map results, pushing the first true number one position down at the bottom of the page.

But now there is an organic position that is better than number one, and it’s position zero. Yes, zero.

Have you ever performed a search and then saw a little blurb of information on the very top? This is position zero and it’s the information that Google deems to be the most accurate in terms of providing an answer to a search query.

While links and domain authority comes into play a little, it’s your content that is responsible for reaching the now top spot: ZERO. I have been preaching about long-form content for a long time, and those that took action back when Google started to favor it, are now experiencing position zero ranking.

You can’t just simply throw some low quality content up and optimize the title tags and have great on-page optimization. You need to have in=depth content that dives deep into the topic. Google’s AI is very good, and probably the most advanced in the tech industry. Write your content as in-depth as possible and write it for humans, because that’s the level that Google’s AI is “reading” contact at. In all honesty, their AI is probably far more intelligent than most humans that will read your content.



2. Content must not only be long-form, but on-topic as well.

Expanding on the previous topic, it’s important to understand why content marketing has evolved to the point we are at now. Before, content didn’t have to be human-level readable, because Google’s algorithm couldn’t read. It just identified keywords and ranked based on what it thought your pages were about.

This is why keyword stuffing was so effective back in the early days of SEO. The algorithm saw the same occurrence (and variations) show up over and over so it displayed spammy pages because they were gaming the system.

Now, the algorithm can not only identify stuffed low quality content, but also penalize it and prevent it from being shown in its results. Remember, Google only wants to expose its users to the highest quality content.

A few years ago long-form content became more popular, but all this really resulted in was standard articles with a lot of filler fluff surrounding them simply to hit a target content length. That will not work any longer either, as Google’s AI reads like a human, and it looks for content that goes into great detail and remains on-topic. Fluff won’t cut it any longer, which is why the large SEO firms are creating in-house content teams.

Outsourced content that reads poorly can get you penalized now, so brands are being forced to pay a premium for content that is well written and in-depth, expanding far beyond just the target keyword.

I see a lot of companies ordering large volumes of links, yet they are still throwing up $5 articles, and this will eventually catch up to them. It’s much smarter to slow down your campaigns and focus on quality content that provides value, than to just randomly throw up content. Resources like definitive guides and case studies that are data-packed are great ways to expand on certain topics and create URLs that Google will want to highlight in position zero.


3. Mobile user experience and speed is the main focus.

“You can’t ignore mobile when creating your desktop website. A lot of traffic is coming via mobile devices and smaller screens.”

This was said five years ago, and now times have changed again, as mobile should really be the only focus when creating websites, calls-to-action, funnels, and conversion paths. Most traffic now is coming from mobile devices, and it needs to be your primary focus. Now, desktops are an afterthought, and if you build perfectly for mobile, your desktop experience will be pleasant as well.

Google gave businesses fair warning, as it began displaying “mobile-friendly” designations next to SERP result a couple years ago. Now it’s such a necessity that they don’t notate websites any longer. Instead, they just omit websites from the SERPs that aren’t mobile-friendly.

As the algorithm becomes smarter, thanks to machine learning, it is able to analyze several components of a website to determine what option a mobile user is more likely to enjoy.

Things like locations and sizes of buttons come into play, as well as navigation options. I say it all the time, but the less options for navigation the better. You want your visitors to hit your site and know where to go to accomplish their goal within seconds. If you overwhelm them with dozens of menu items you simply make it difficult.

Site speed has always been important, but now as everyone is mobile-focused, every little fraction of a second counts. Flat minimalistic designs with clean coding is the way to go. If your website is slow, hire a developer to clean up your code, and if you are running an out of the box theme, pay someone to remove code that you don’t utilize that could potentially be slowing your website down. Spending a few hundred dollars to lighten your server load can result in upward SERP movement.



4. You must switch to HTTPS right away (major change coming in July).

Google announced that a secure HTTPS connection improved a site’s position in the SERPs, yet many people argued that the impact was very minimal, as Google’s algorithm has over 200 ranking signals.

Well, starting in July, websites that are not HTTPS will have a huge red “NOT SECURE” warning in the user’s browser. Name one consumer that is going to submit his or her personal information on a website that is displaying this warning. Nobody will.

So, it’s safe to say that if you do not update to a secure connection and install an SSL certificate immediately your results will suffer. Not just in terms of ranking, but also in terms of conversions. It’s important to get this done now, because if someone lands on your website and sees that warning they are not going to return hoping that your site becomes secure in the future.

Most hosting providers have specials on SSL certificates, so make sure you search Google for coupon codes and special offers. If you really want to stand out, consider getting a validated SSL, which displays the green bar in the browser. While they cost a little more money, that confidence it can inspire pays for itself. With the new change coming into play, consumers are going to be looking for secure websites and more aware, so anything you can do to help stand out gives you an advantage.


5. Remember PageRank? It’s still a thing and Google made a HUGE move regarding it.

If you have been involved in SEO for some time, you should remember PageRank. It was the number that everyone went crazy for, similar to how Domain Authority is now. Well, PageRank was the best signal you could get as an SEO, because it was a metric that came directly from Google. There was no third party speculation or made up metrics. If you saw your PageRank increase, you knew, without a doubt, that your website authority was increasing.

Google began updating PageRank less frequently, and then eventually cut off access and it became an internal number that was no longer available to the public. Well, PageRank talk has resurfaced, because Google just made a major change to its patent on PageRank.

I’m not going to get all technical here, but it comes down to using relevance (content and links) to determine what pages show up at the top of the SERPs, and this is major news for the smaller fish in the sea.

Now, it is going to be possible to outrank the giants like Amazon and Walmart. The sheer number of links that these mega sites have makes it hard for anyone to compete, because they dominate every search result.

Now, quality goes out the window and relevance is the main factor.

Now, don’t think Google is trying to be nice to the little guys. This is a business move. If the big billion dollar companies fall out of the top spot what will they do? They will be forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on AdWords. I have long speculated this was coming, and this latest patent adjustment is a signal that the time has come.

So, focus on niche relevant links and make sure your content is laser focused and you will have the opportunity to outrank the big boys.




SEO is always changing and as an online marketer or someone who has an online business, you have two choices. You can complain and get frustrated, or you can be proactive and stay ahead of the curve.

The websites that take immediate action depending on what the algorithm dictates, are the ones that experience the larger traffic volumes and as a direct result of that, more sales and profits.

Everyone wants more organic traffic, and it’s the reason that SEO exists. As technology and consumer behavior changes (and it always will), it will require that your search engine optimization strategy adjust accordingly.

What works today isn’t necessarily going to work next month. This is one of the reasons I constantly publish new content for you guys. We work with so many businesses and companies that we notice changes in real time, before any of the SEO media reports. There is no doubt the points above will be a focus point in the coming months, as more blogs are published about this information.

Those that get started on this right now will have a leg up on the competition, and the faster you distance yourself, the more breathing room you can build.

If there are any other recent changes that you have noticed or heard people talking about, please post information in the comments below. I’d love to start some discussions regarding the latest algorithm changes that can benefit us all.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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