Google Algorithm Update October 2020

Google Algorithm Updates October 2020

While election officials may be having their battles being sure that they accurately count the vote, Google started October with a problem of their own.

Canonization and Mobile Indexing Issues

Google had to admit that canonization and mobile indexing issues caused some sites to drop in rank that should not have fallen and others not to appear at all. While the problem started about September 20, 2020, it continued well into October. While each issue affected only about 0.02% of websites, Google admits that with 1.2 billion webpages globally, you can easily see that this is a massive problem, especially if one of the impacted sites is yours. On October 15, Google disabled its tool allowing webmasters to ask that their sites be reindexed while they worked through the issue. That left many upset, but Google assures everyone that their robots are working correctly and finding pages and sites through normal means.

Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or BERT

Google rolled out BERT on almost all English websites, and they estimate that it will affect about 10% of all websites in the world. They call it the most significant change in how their platform works since they introduced RankBrain in 2015. The intent behind BERT is to allow the search engine to understand natural language better. While Google says that you cannot do anything to influence BERT, which is being used globally on all featured snippets. Google says that all you can do is create content for real users using language that they would naturally use.

Passage Indexing

Another considerable change coming out of Google in October was their announcement that they were indexing passages. The search engine has not changed how they are ranking pages, but they are changing what they do with indexed content. The company says that they expect the change to impact about 7% of sites worldwide. When this change happens before January 1, 2021, in-depth articles with lots of content should rank better than shorter ones. You must use header tags to let Google know what cover on each page. According to Google’s post on Twitter, they now can rank passages independently of the page content to be sure that they deliver the best content to their users. Danny Sullivan, with Google, says that this is different from Featured Snippets because superior passages are identified using unique systems and will affect all pages when it goes live.

Updates to Search Quality Raters Guidelines

While the Search Quality Raters Guidelines do not directly impact your site’s rankings, the information in this document lets you get a strong picture of where Google is putting their emphasis. The new guidelines have a specific focus on meeting user needs. Google is now asking raters if content in featured snippets meets users’ needs or if they must click through to the site to get a full answer. Overall, the document this year held no significant changes, except that it ignored COVID and the elections.

Google has already promised significant changes before the year is up, so do not go on vacation too soon. Let us know if we can assist you in any way.

Google Algorithm Updates August 2020

Google Algorithm Updates August 2020

In the world of SEO, August 2020 seems to fit the craziness of the rest of the world very well. Drastic changes occurred about August 10, but those were a bug in the system that allowed low-ranking pages to appear at the top of Google’s search engine result pages were reversed in about 48 hours. Google then released a significant algorithm update starting on August 16. Just because it is 2020, this update was released on Saturday night, sending many webmasters back to work a day early. This update undid the minor updates announced during the summer and returned everything to May 2020 levels. This update is good news for many sites that acted like they had COVID-19 throughout the summer. Nonetheless, there are several factors that you need to be concentrating on right now.

Negative Reviews

Google’s John Mueller says that a handful of negative reviews among many happy customers will not hurt a site. He says that it is expected in business, so you should expect it. He went on to say that if most of the reviews are negative, then that is something that Google may pick up on and consider.

Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Google’s Developer Advocate Martin Splitt says that meta descriptions and title tags give Google a high-level clue about a page’s content. This statement may indicate a change in how Google sees these elements, but Google’s John Mueller still insists that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor. It is time to step up your game on both parts if you want your site to rank well. Duplicate meta descriptions have long been a problem that you need to correct.

Heading Tags

While it does not seem to matter if you use H1 or H5 tags for your web pages, John Mueller sent out strong signals this month that using them is essential if you want your page to rank well. Google uses the headings when indexing, and if you do not have them, then they cannot figure out as well the purpose of your page’s content. Therefore, take the time to optimize your headings.

Unique Compelling Content

In August, Mueller also said that unique, compelling content would get sites ranked higher if the content is high quality. Making the statement in response to a question about the number of outbound links that would hurt a site, he said that assuming that the links are not pointing to a bad place that outbound links were not a ranking factor unless it hurt the quality of content on the page.

Frequently Asked Questions Markup

Frequently asked questions markups are being shown less often by Google in 2020 than in the past. According to Mueller, this is a natural progression as websites are doing a better job presenting content. He also points out that as more sites are using frequently-asked-question markups, they cannot show all of them while keeping about 10 results on the search engine result page.

Let us know if you need help implementing any of these changes. We would love to discuss the particulars of your situation with you.

May 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

May 2020 Algorithm Update

May 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

Google started rolling out the May 2020 core algorithm update on May 4, 2020, and it took about two weeks for it to roll out completely. This core Google algorithm update was one of the biggest in recent memory because it hit many different niche markets. Search engine result pages have not seen this much volatility since the Medic Google core algorithm update that came out almost exactly a year earlier. If you are one of the sites that took a hit with the May 2020 Google algorithm updates, there are several factors that you need to consider.

Thin Content

While Google has already released several updates related to thin content, May 2020 Google algorithm updates again hit websites hard that still had not corrected this problem. In particular, landing pages that have little or no content have taken the biggest hit. To fix this problem, ensure that you design every page on your website to meet user intent. Avoid creating pages for different geographical areas with the same content on them. Do not copy and paste content from one page to another without reworking it completely. Make sure that your site hierarchy is established so that your most essential pages naturally rise to the top. Use the number of words you need to convey an idea completely.

Search Result Pages with Multiple Intents

Google has rebalanced many pages where users may have different intents when entering a phrase into the search engine box. There is a simple experiment that you can do to determine if you are meeting Google’s expectations for your keywords. Open an incognito window to remove any personalization that Google has done for you. Then, enter your search term into the box. In some cases, you can figure out what Google thinks that users are looking for on that page by looking at their distinctive features. Now, look at the organic results on the first page. Make a list of what you think the intent of the page is and divide your list into different areas. For example, if you enter the term “buy car insurance,” then you will see a combination of informational and shopping sites. Try to make the content where you are hitting on that keyword match the percentages that Google has used.

Local Content

Another area that experienced a massive shakeup in the recent Google algorithm update is local content. This area may settle down a bit, but currently agitators and directories are winning against local websites. Therefore, be sure your site is listed with the correct contact information on the top sites in your category if you own or operate a small business.

SERP Features

If you have been relying on Google’s special features, like shopping carousels, image carousels, and snippet features to drive traffic to your site, you may have lost this traffic during the May 2020 Google algorithm updates. If you want to try to recapture this traffic or gain it for the first time, conduct a content gap analysis using your keywords to discover possibilities. Then, create content that you think will please Google, along with pleasing your target audience.

There is no doubt that the May 2020 Google update was a big one. If you took a hit, then follow the advice in this article to recover.