Google's recent SEO-related actions that are impacting search visibility of websites in 2019

Google keeps making improvements in its logic behind search in all the key areas - 
  • search relevance: mastering the science of judging the intent behind a search;
  • indexing of quality webpages so that the searcher gets results that serve his purpose; and
  • matching the search query with the indexed pages.

After carrying out algorithmic actions, Google checks their impact through human 'website raters'. Google kept on taking many actions throughout the last year, some with the potential to impact ranking and SERP position of webpages and websites. Google itself has revealed in a tweet last year: Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes.

Google also said that websites can keep experiencing changes in their SERP position and advised webmasters to remain focused on building great content.

The following are some of the major search-related actions taken in recent times by Google that will impact websites' SEO significantly:

1. Broad core algorithm updates in March and August 2018: While most of the routing updates were specific (e.g. improving a particular signal), these two changes were 'broad core', affecting many search parameters. 

The first change was mainly on relevance parameter while the second seems to have focused on quality of webpages.

Many websites reported having been impacted negatively. Search trackers have reported that health and e-commerce websites were the most affected. Google advised not to be bothered but to focus on quality of content.

Takeaway for 2019 from SEO perspective: Keep publishing content that is of high quality and that serves to inform visitors and solve their problems.

2. Page speed update: Though it was supposed to be a ranking signal from earlier days, in July2018, Google declared that it actually used page speed as a ranking factor. It however clarified that only those pages would be impacted that are definitively slow.

SEO takeaway for 2019: Improve your site's loading speed by  improving site structure, minifying resources, saying no to landing page redirects, compression, and removing render-blocking Javascript.

3. Video carousel: This is related to presentation of videos on desktop search result pages. Instead of giving thumbnails of videos, Google now serves video carousel similar to a slide show. There are a number of video thumbnails in the video bar, which can be seen by scrolling left and right in the slide show. 

This has a small but significant takeaway for 2019: Post more videos on your website or blog. Make them focused to likely queries on the selected keyword. 

videos on google search results

4. 'Mobile-first index' rollout: Google has been giving marks to websites for mobile friendliness. In March 2018, it declared that it was now having a separate index for use in mobile search. So, in this index, websites optimized for mobile viewing go high up as compared to others. 

Takeaway for 2019: You can have your website mobile-friendly in two ways: having a responsive design or to have two versions of the same website: one for desktop viewing and the other for mobile viewing. There is no excuse now to not have the website mobile-friendly.

5. Snippet length drop: In 2017, Google made the snippets that come after each item in its search results, bigger to accommodate more information. In 2018, it reduced the snippet size to about 160 characters for desktop-based search and 130 characters for mobiles. 

search snippets on Google

That means, you should write the best, most catchy, meta description for the webpage within the first 130 characters.