October passed without any official updates from Google although SEOs were frightened that there would be one during Halloween weekend. Not necessarily because Google likes to scare us for this holiday, but because it has been a long time since any official update news. The last Core Update was July 1st and not counting changes to SERP layout, the last official update from Google was the July 26 Link Spam update.
The outlook remains that a big one is coming.
October 2nd – Huge unconfirmed update
SERP analytics tools showed a large change in ranking over the weekend from Saturday October 2nd and was noticed by some SEOs on Monday the 4th. Google has made no mention of any update to its algorithms on this date, but Barry Schwartz commented that the changes appeared to be as big, if not bigger than a Core Update.
The SEMRush Sensor results suggest that News and Sports sites were impacted the most.
As in September, results continued to be relatively volatile over the month of October with big changes noted on the 9th and 13th of the month. You can use SEOPress Insights to check if your ranking changed on these dates too.
Continuous scroll in mobile search results
The @searchliaison Twitter account announced the arrival of continuous scroll to Google Search results on mobile in the US on October 14. This led to many SEOs to joke that we were suddenly now all on the first page of Google! In fact, this new feature is not an infinite scroll. The equivalent of 4 pages will load automatically as users scroll down the results, but they will eventually hit a “See more” button.
This change is expected to give more visibility and traffic for pages that are currently ranked beyond the 10th place in Google. We can expect pages with visually attractive snippets (usually thanks to the correct use of structured data), will see more traffic.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) October 14, 2021
Quality Raters Guidelines updated
October 19, Google published a new article, An overview of our rater guidelines for Search, to explain how Google uses the Quality Raters Guidelines to verify the quality of search results to “make sure Search is returning relevant results from the most reliable sources available.”
The article coincided with the publication of a new edition of the guidelines (PDF). According to the article, this new version brings “clarifications of what constitutes lowest quality content, and refreshed and modernized guidance on researching the reputation of websites.” A list of changes is provided at the end of the document.
Read our article Optimizing WordPress sites for Google EAT, to learn more about what EAT is and how it may affect your ranking.
Don’t publish posts as “Admin” in WordPress
During the October 22 Google SEO Office Hours video, John Mueller was asked if using “Admin” as the author of posts was a good idea or whether we should always use a person’s name. Referring to the Quality Raters Guidelines, he says that sites that need to show EAT (like medical sites) should make sure that blog posts are written by a person who is an authority on the subject and that this person is clearly identified as the author. If for whatever reason you don’t want to identify people as the authors of articles, he recommended disactivating the author name rather than crediting the author Admin.
If you publish posts on WordPress using an Admin account, you can change the name displayed in posts for the Admin user through the Users menu and the Display name publicly as field. If you have entered a First Name and Last Name for the Admin user, the Display name publicly as drop down will offer the possibility of using either “Admin”, the First Name, the Last Name or a combination of both. If a person’s name is not appropriate, you can enter the name of the website as the Last Name and use this to publicly identify the site as the author of the posts.
Microsoft Bing and Yandex launched an instant indexing API called IndexNow on October 25th. The IndexNow.org website (looking very much like the Schema.org website) explains that “IndexNow is an easy way for websites owners to instantly inform search engines about latest content changes on their website.” It promises to remove the pain of having to wait days or weeks for search engines to find new content on websites by letting all websites ping chosen search engines when any URL is created or changed – with a limitation of 10,000 pings per day per site and per search engine. Bing and Yandex also argue that this is an eco-friendlier way for search engines to update their index as crawling the web consumes a lot of resources.
This is a major change to how search engines work, but it will need Google to join to make it a really popular initiative. Google have their own API, but this is only available for pages with specific schema linked to job posts or live events.
WordPress have the possibility of adding IndexNow automatically to all WordPress sites and there is a feature request open for this on WordPress.org. This suggested change imagines that WordPress would ping search engines whenever a new post is published or an existing post modified. Website owners would be able to decide which search engines they would like to ping.