Over the years, it seems that Google release a lot of updates and features early November. Rumour is that dev teams are encouraged to set deadlines before Thanksgiving to take into account the reduced availability of software engineers from then until the New Year.
Same again in 2019, but major updates are continuing thru into December too. We thought it would be interesting to go over recent Google search news and see what importance they have for traffic to your WordPress blog.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin leave Google
Talking about vacations: Googles’ founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced they were stepping down from their active roles at Google and Alphabet early December.
Both had been working at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, since its creation in 2015. Larry Page and Sergey Brin effectively left Google then, concentrating on new products like driverless cars.
It is unlikely that their departure is linked to or will herald any major changes to the search engine which is now 21 years-old.
November algo updates
Canadian SEO, Marie Haynes did a great job of breaking down lots of SERP changes early November. She thinks that the changes were 3 separate updates:
November 4 – an update of Google Map search results (which has become known the Bedlam update). If your website is about a type of local business that users search for (a restaurant, for example), You may have lost or gained visibility in both Google Maps and Google search results. If this is important to you, it’s recommended that you add LocalBusiness schema to your site and create a Google My Business account. Make sure that the information you supply is consistent and accurate.
November 8 –an update to link quality that saw a lot of cooking and travel blogs lose traffic from Google. Marie has recently concluded that Google may have been targeting bloggers who shared links on a regular basis. Links are an important factor in ranking pages on Google. It is likely that since this update, Google ignores links between blogs that seem to be part of a link-sharing scheme.
November 11 – an update related to Trustfulness as Google describes it in their quality-rater guidelines. For certain types of content, Google only wants to show sites that it can trust because the company or author is known elsewhere. One piece of advice for WordPress users since this update has been to make sure that you are fully identifying authors of blog posts and providing links to an Author bio page.
Follow Google algo updates and more from Marie Haynes here.
Google Site Kit for WordPress
Announced late-2018, the Google Site Kit for WordPress plugin launched October 31st
A lot of webmasters incorrectly assumed that this plugin would allow them to perform SEO tasks Google suggest, such as customizing TITLE tags or add structured data schema, but this is not the case. The Google Site Kit is more about adding dashboard data from Google products to the WordPress admin panel. Products supported are Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights, Tag Manager and Optimizer.
SEOPress PRO also adds Google Analytics and Google PageSpeed features to the WordPress admin. You can safely use both.
BERT was applied to Google Search results in the US on October 25, and to 30 new languages early December. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. In short, it helps Google understand complex queries – “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa” being an example of one such query.
Google are really proud of BERT, claiming it was “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”
Rather than be impressed, users may be more shocked to learn that Google didn’t understand this type of query before BERT. Overall, it’s a good thing that search results improve and it should see increased traffic to good blogs.
There is some debate as to whether BERT is also being used to understand the content of pages – there may be an attempt to detect machine generated content. Again, there should be little to worry about – unless you are using machine generated content.
Some of the recent updates seem important and have had a real impact on the traffic of some blogs.
Latest updates suggest that it is important to add LocalBusiness schema to your site, create a Google My Business Page and identify authors on posts and be careful who you give links to.
We think that through updates, Google is telling us not to manipulate their ranking through link schemes, anonymous or unnatural content… And they are very proud of its AI (Artificial Intelligence).
Machines may be taking over Google, but they still seem to prefer natural links and human produced blogs!