With only two months of 2020 under our belts we’ve already seen quite a bit of changes on the SEO front as Google has released and taken back several updates both affecting the way the algorithms evaluate pages and the way the ranked results are displayed to users. Although Google maintains that they have not released any core updates following the January core update, reports suggest that smaller updates have been rolled out and tweaked on an ongoing basis- an approach Google confirmed we will see continue via Twitter:
“Some have asked if we had an update to Google Search last week [in November]. We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis.” – Google comments following the November Update.
With many websites throughout the internet feeling the impact of the updates released so far this year, we at Strategic Marketing are stepping back to review the past two months of changes, big and small, in order to adjust our strategies as these small updates shed light on what types of website formatting and content Google shifts are assigning value to.
Shifts:January 13th and Beyond
Following Google’s twitter announcement, there was the usual commotion in the SEO community with experts reporting large swings in traffic. Although there was no consensus on exactly the impact of the update, the fluctuations were observed in the health sectors and on dictionary websites.
January 13th also marked the roll out of the new Search Engine Results Page (SERP) layout which included each website’s favicon and replaced the URL with the page’s breadcrumb.
So two things to note here:
1- Don’t forget to upload a custom favicon
2- Keep your website’s content organized in a way that makes it easy for users, and search engines, to understand.
An obvious tell of a lazy developer is that standard wordpress favicon. You know what I’m talking about. That grey globe-looking thing at the top of your website’s browser tab. Hopefully you didn’t hire one of those lazy developers or your QA process was detailed enough to catch that missed opportunity.
Not to worry lazy developers, on January 24th, Google rolled back the favicon and stated that they are testing different favicon layouts. Although today the SERPs are sans favicon, I suspect the icon will make an appearance and advise that you shouldn’t overlook yours.
As far as the URL being replaced by the breadcrumb, this was long overdue. For years Google has been deenfisizing the use of keywords within the url and placing value on a logical, well organized website taxonomy. If you have been following best practices in this area all along, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have not put effort into organizing your blog posts and landing pages, well, you better start.
Concurrent to the changes in the organic section, Google tweaked how the paid ads appear by placing a bold “Ad” in front for the web address. Based on feedback from AdWords advertisers, they have since changed this back to the green box with Ad in the middle and are still experimenting with different design variations to delineate these snippets as paid placements.
E-A-T Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthines
No matter the google shifts that occur, following SEO best practices will always work out in the long run. We know mobile usability and page speed are critical but above all, the Google Algorithms seek to reward websites offering the best content possible. Does your content display expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness? If your website experiences a downward shift in traffic, reevaluate the content of your site. A great place to start is Google’s blog on the topic: What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates which offers a list of questions designed to advise you on what exactly quality content means to them.