KRAWL | SEO News | September 2022
Post updated: 4th October 2022
Welcome to another edition of KRAWL (Keywords, Rankings, Algorithms, Websites & Links). The newsletter for all things SEO, including core updates, small shifts, and breaking news.
So, what’s been happening in September? Let’s dive in…
Helpful Content is a Must!
What is ‘Helpful Content’?
The Helpful Content Update has begun rolling out.
As the name suggests, the main objective is to ensure that real people are being shown quality results – not just information tailored to search engines.
This algorithm update will impact your site as a whole. That means, if this update determines that a lot of the content across your website is not useful to real users – your rankings will be impacted sitewide, not page by page.
The update launched August 25th with 2 weeks to roll out. If you see shifts happening during this time, it could be due to this update, and it is important to make notes.
The best advice to take today is to simply wait and see if your site has been affected once the rollout has been completed.
I’ve been impacted – now what?
If your content has been deemed as “not helpful”, i.e., there are a lot of pages with high bounce rates, keyword stuffing, or just an overall poor experience – you should remove it from your site or rewrite/redesign the page into a way that makes it truly helpful for the user.
Google has said that you can also “noindex” if need be, but this would not be the best strategy.
They will also not be showing you what pages have been identified – you will need to figure that one out on your own.
If you have been affected by this update, it is important to note that Google has explicitly said – if you fix your content today, your site will not recover tomorrow.
The update includes a validation period for Google to trust that you really are committed to updating your content and not just updating it today.
Changes for helpful content will take several months to prove that the changes are user focused and real.
How do we work with this update?
So, how do you incorporate this latest update in your content and SEO work? Here are a few of our top tips:
- Focus on content that your users will engage with – not just the keywords with the highest search volume.
- Be action based! Most people are searching for questions and looking for answers.
- Keep your content original! Don’t write the same thing that has been said a million times across the web. Share new insights, quotes, and ideas to set you apart from the competition.
- Don’t focus on word count. Just give the people what they’re looking for!
All Pros and No Cons? Google’s Latest Snippet Feature
Product reviews are invaluable when it comes to making online purchases.
But trawling through in-depth blogs about someone’s deepest feelings towards an air-fryer or vacuum cleaner can be time-consuming. Google’s latest addition to the product review snippet is here to change all that!
Google now want to helpfully include a brief pros and cons list just below the meta description in the product review panel. Letting you see at a glance if that product is likely to meet your needs. Whether or not this will truncate your beautifully crafted metadata is yet to be seen, but it seems likely.
You can let Google know your review page contains pros and cons by supplying specific pros and cons structured data. Their Rich Results Test tool has recently been extended to include this so you can check what you’ve added is valid for Google Search.
Even if you don’t provide this structured data, Google might still try to automatically identify and pull pros and cons from your review page.
This could lead to interesting results as Google potentially tries to take this information from body copy rather than a pre-determined list.
However, they have stated that they will prioritise structured data, so it’s worth including it if you can. This should also give you some control over what is featured in this snippet.
As it stands, only editorial product review pages qualify for the addition of pros and cons, excluding customer reviews and merchant product pages.
This is likely due to Google being unable to determine whether these pages contain helpful content or not. It would be good to see customer reviews included in future rollouts, as editorial reviews are not always unbiased.
What does it mean for SEO?
Truncation of meta description aside, this is just another great opportunity for you to optimise content.
Including a pros and cons list with the appropriate structured data in editorial reviews, gives you a better chance of winning the all-important featured snippet.
Tik Tok Goes the Clock Google…
While Google is very much still the king of search, there is a new kid on the block, that is giving Google a run for their money, even Google’s SVP, Prabhakar Raghavan said about TikTok, “competition comes out of nowhere”.
The technological advancement of features such as voice search, image search and video content exploding at a rate never seen before has me thinking, is TikTok taking more than just the market share from Google than Gen Z?
Is it changing the content as we know it? And how does this play into SEO?
As Eminem said “the FCC don’t bother me”, this does not seem to be the case for TikTok at the moment, with Brendan Carr from the FCC recently tweeting about TikTok and calling on officials from Google and Apple to remove the video sharing app from their platforms.
With TikTok creeping in and taking a share of the search pie, will Google, as the king of search (holding 92.47% in 2021), harness the descending power from the FCC and remove TikTok from their platform?
Despite Google not displaying content and putting up roadblocks, it seems as though TikTok is genuinely reading the Google playbook and making its content is irresistible to crawlers and users alike with its impressive and meteoric rise.
SVP of Google, Prabhakar Raghavan, at the 2022 Tech Crunch event, referred to data that was collected internally on the demographics 18-24 by Google that noted that:
“Almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search, they go to TikTok or Instagram.”, later touching on the fact that in some countries, voice search now drives 30% of all queries.
Will Google remove TikTok from their platform?
The recent FCC callouts and the action off the back of this are very much one to watch since Google’s plans and movements over the past year have been to keep the search engine relevant by incorporating the masses of video content into their ever-growing index of information, now, TikTok videos aren’t appearing simply by, for example, typing in ‘funny zoom fails’.
Is TikTok reading the Google Playbook to beat them at their own game?
TikTok is on Google’s heels, despite the abundance of roadblocks, visibility restrictions, and 20 years at the top, TikTok’s SEO strategy has seen them catapult to the top.
TikTok videos are notoriously easy to share and the way in which they are presented makes them easy for users (I mean, it is so easy to fall into a 2-hour scroll without realising) and crawlers, but does this mean that from the digestible short videos taking over that long-form written content is on the way out?
TikTok’s Strategy Broken Down:
TikTok’s backlink profile has scaled at a colossal rate through their embeddable widget.
This is justification in itself; just how powerful shareable and digestible content really is in backlink building and gives food for thought on how TikTok will play into the future of the digital PR landscape.
URLs Optimised for Crawlers
Again, seemingly listening to the instruction of Google, TikTok has hit the nail on the head.
For every URL, there are 15+ hreflang language variations.
So, if the content is preferred by users, with TikTok expected to exceed YouTube ad spend by 2024, how long will YouTube results appear in the SERPs before TikToks?
Google always says that the content needs to be relevant and that as SEOs, we need to adapt and change to our environment. With TikTok following the playbook ‘tik for tok’, Google will need to continue adding TikTok videos to the index before it’s more than just Gen Z making the switch for searching.
Google September 2022 Core Update
Just 3 days after the Useful Content Update, Google announced their new Core Update on 12th September: the September 2022 Core Update.
As usual, Google reports it will take 2 weeks for the rollout to be completed, resulting in possible SERP fluctuations.
Will this Core Update help spread the Helpful Content Update?
There was an expectation that this update would have a big impact on the SERPs, but it didn’t.
Because of this, Danny Sullivan, Google’s spokesperson for Search, made a series of tweets last week.
According to him, “maybe” just the Useful Content Update wasn’t enough to make an impact, but with the next Core Updates, this could be more significant. However, it’s hard to predict anything since Google itself has not commented on the details of the September Core update other than the announcement that it is rolling.
It is also worth remembering that, initially, the Useful Content Update affects only sites in English. But it should only be a matter of time before it hits other language sites.
What to do if my website is impacted by the September 2022 Core Update?
The first thing to do when experiencing a loss of traffic after the September 2022 Core Update, or any other update, is not to despair.
Google’s guidance is to investigate pages that have lost positions and try to understand the reason. At this point, you should analyse the quality of your content by asking questions like:
- Does the content provide relevant information about the topic and was it written for people other than search engines?
- When compared to competitors, does yours stand out?
- Does a page work well on mobile devices?
In addition, evaluating issues related to EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) are essential, especially if your website is in the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) category.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for joining us for another edition of KRAWL. We look forward to sharing ground-breaking news, incredible insights, and top tips.
Catch you later!
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