With more than 90% of the search market share, Google is seen as the mecca of search.
If you are a website owner in today’s day and age, optimizing your website for Google search is the key. Higher rankings in the search engine will make your website more visible and help you reach the people you want to reach.
The ‘Keeping Up with Google’ series is an initiative from your friends at Scalenut. We want to help marketers stay updated with the latest happenings in the world of search. Through these blogs, we will help you find the most relevant information related to Google Updates and new features.
So let’s get started.
Google Algorithm Updates
The month of October saw Google release a major ranking update, the ‘October ‘22 Spam Update.’
October ‘22 Spam Update
This update was aimed at improving the safety and quality of information on Google SERPs by identifying spam content on websites and penalizing them. The update was officially announced by Google Search Central on October 19 via a Tweet.
Spam updates happen because Google is always working to improve SpamBrain, the automated system that looks for spam in Google search results. The goal of updates like these is to improve the quality of search results.
The October Spam update had a lot of website owners witness drastic changes in their web traffic. Most of the websites that saw a drop in their web traffic had a few things in common:
- Thin Content on the Website: Thin content is content that does not add value to the user’s search. This type of content is either an overview of a deep topic or lacks actionable information.
- Meta Tags: Many of the websites affected had duplicate meta tags; some meta tags were keyword-stuffed.
- Keyword Stuffing: Although this is an outdated practice, many websites are still using this trick, and that was caught by the spam update.
If your website has seen the same, it is a good time to go through the Google spam policies to ensure it follows the best search practices.
The update was a global one that affected websites in all languages. It was completed on October 21, 2022.
Apart from the spam update, there were a few documentation updates in October.
Other Google Updates
In October, Google made quite a few changes in the documentation that help website owners understand best practices.
October 7- New Examples of Product Review Pages for eCommerce Websites
Product reviews are the source of bread and butter for eCommerce websites. Any user looking for the ideal product relies on the quality of information contained in these reviews to make a purchase decision.
So, Google put out the "How to Write Product Reviews" guidelines to help website owners write and publish the best reviews.
On October 7, 2022, Google updated these guidelines with three new examples of an expert staff member of a merchant website, a blogger or affiliate, and an editorial staff member of a news or other publishing website.
If you haven’t already gone through these guidelines, read how to write product reviews here.
October 12: Added Image Credits Info in the Image Metadata Structured Data
Starting from October 12, 2022, website owners can add image credits to their image metadata structured data.
Over the last few years, Google has redefined the utility of Google Images from just a visual graphics search engine to rich snippets with more information about the publishing website's name, link, and other relevant information.
Before this update, only IPTC photo metadata could contain information about image credits. With this change, every website owner can now credit the people behind an image in its structured data.
If you run a website with many images, you can use them to enhance your web traffic by adding structured data. For more information on best practices, refer to these Google Image Metadata Structured Data guidelines.
October 13: Google Webmaster Guidelines Become Google Search Essentials
For over 20 years, website owners have referred to the Google Webmaster guidelines for information on creating a website that conforms to the best practices.
However, in 2022, it’s not just technical professionals developing websites. Today, creators from a wide variety of professional backgrounds are creating websites and want to follow the Google guidelines.
To help a wider audience identify with the purpose, Google has changed the Webmaster Guidelines to ‘Search Essentials,’ along with many other structural changes to the information on the website.
Although this change does not affect any website directly, if you are a website owner, you should stay updated with the latest terminology.
Here are the major changes with this documentation update:
- Name Change: Google Webmaster Guidelines become Google Search Essentials
- New Sections: The new search essentials content is categorized into three sections: technical requirements, spam policies, and key best practices.
- Spam Policies for Google Search: Covers all the topics previously covered in Quality Guidelines with new sections for misleading functionality, copyright-removal requests, online-harassment removals, scams, and fraud.
Most of the content in the Webmaster Guidelines has been rewritten and categorized into new sections for the better understanding of website owners.
October 14: Sitename Documentation
Google already has many ways of identifying the name of your website. However, there wasn’t a dedicated page for information on how to do so.
So, on October 14, 2022, Google put out a detailed sitemap documentation to fill this knowledge gap. The documentation offers website owners information on how site names are created and how you can add the necessary structured data.
You can find this detailed Google guideline in the document "Give Google Search the Name of a Site."
The buzz in October was largely due to the spam update. Many website owners saw a drastic drop in their traffic, while many did not see any major changes.
The SEO community is divided on the impact of the spam update, but the conclusion is that websites that followed the SEO guidelines did not see a major impact on their web traffic.
Another major update from Google is Search Central Live 2022. In 2019, Google organized a Webmaster Conference for site owners. This is a reboot of the same event, with the first one happening in Singapore on November 23 and 24. If you are not in a position to travel to Singapore, do not worry. Google plans to organize these events in every continent in the coming months.
If you want to attend the event, you can register for Search Central Live 2022 (Singapore) here.
One major event worth mentioning was the ‘Search on 22' in September, where many senior Google employees shared the latest happenings in Google search and their plans.
Here is an interesting Twitter thread from an attendee, Dr. Marie Haynes:
That was all for October! See you soon with the latest and most important Google updates for November. Until then, keep creating high-quality content and follow the Google guidelines for the best results.
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