Looking back at 2018 one thing rings true – it was a very busy year for Google. Big changes that were released throughout the year kept SEO pros on their toes and left lasting impacts on how everyone operated online from the general public to trained and experienced professionals.

At the start of a new year, it’s worth taking time to reflect on the previous twelve months and dig deep into some of the biggest algorithm updates, SEO changes and headlines that lit up the industry and kept everyone buzzing. Let’s get started:

Speed and Medic: Google’s Biggest Algorithm Updates

There were two main search algorithm updates from Google that are worth mentioning.

First of all, there was the Speed Update, which was released in early June, and as the name suggests, affected how websites are ranked relating to their site speed. Google claimed only the slowest sites were impacted.

In early August the commonly named, “Medic Update,” landed and seemingly affected websites in YMYL (Your Money Your Life) and health-related categories. Google was quick to classify this one as a “broad core algorithm update,” because it was much broader and more impactful than the Speed Update. This update was aimed at getting a better match for what the user intended to find with their search.

Moving Forward With Mobile-First Indexing

Just a few weeks ago in December Google claimed that more than half of their search results are indexed via mobile-first indexing.

As more and more people use their smartphones as opposed to ordinary desktops or laptops to search the Internet, having a mobile-first strategy is vital to companies like Google, as well as anyone working in the world of SEO.

The Importance of Structured Data

For Google, 2018 was the year of structured data and emphasis on schema. This is important as it allows for easier voice searches, changes to image searches, as well as changes to things like job postings, live streams and more. Pay close attention to this one moving forward as it continues to develop and grow in 2019.


Personal data is more important than ever as marketers use it to target custom audiences who are in the market to make purchases. There’s no doubt that it’s still having a big impact on Facebook, but it’s actually something Google claims to not use very much.

However, there are reports from competing websites that suggest this isn’t quite true, so currently, things remain murky in that department.

Google Local

Google Posts and Google My Business have both been improved and updated in 2018, and both enter the new year in far better shape than they were in previously. Business owners now have more control of their listings and are able to manage them far more easily than before. They can also learn more about their online presence with analytics and insights.

Voice Search and Mobile Assistants

With tech like Google Home now a big part of many people’s lives, voice searches are steadily increasing in volume as they become bigger than ever before.

It’s certainly having an impact on SEO because ranking on Google Home isn’t the same as ranking on Google. First and foremost, it’s about adjusting to spoken searches and how they differ from typed ones.

So Long Google+

After seven years, Google dropped a big announcement that Google+ will be shut down largely due to low usage and a security breach. RIP G+, you gave it your best shot.

What a Year!

As you can see, a lot happened and many changes shaped the SEO landscape in 2018. We know that these updates will continue to develop in the weeks and months ahead, and new trends will pop up as they do every year. Be on the lookout for changes and stay on top of any SEO developments that emerge.

Did any of these SEO updates or changes affect your business website in 2018? The SEO experts at Sprout Media Lab can help your business start 2019 off right with a free SEO website audit to see what’s affecting your ability to rank high in search engines results. Call us today at (800) 617-6975 to get started.