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SEO & Marketing News October 2021

SEO-Spooky

Not a month has gone by without some radical changes happening in the SEO world. It moves so fast it sometimes makes your head spin. This is why it is ever more important to keep up to date with what’s going on. Miss a month and you could feel like you’ve missed a year. That’s how fast things move.

To remain relevant is the key with SEO. And what you knew last month may already be obsolete.

So don’t let Google trick you. Gobble up our news treats and ensure your October was spooktastic.

SEO

Myths are being busted, new software is arriving, and content continues to be king.

There are some seriously juicy nuggets in October’s SEO news, as things are getting interesting thanks to insights from Google’s John Mueller, and as always the SEO experts are discovering the changes Google doesn’t want us to see.

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Microsoft Launches IndexNow

It’s rare that Microsoft is ahead of changes to search. We’re usually seeing Google take all the glory. But in October we were excited to see Microsoft launching an exciting new evolution that will radically change the way all search engines index content.

IndexNow is an open-source system between Microsoft Bing and Yandex which notifies all search engines of when content is published or updated. Dramatically reducing the time it takes for content to be indexed.

Why does this matter?

In a time before IndexNow you would have to wait for your website to be crawled by a search engine before it noticed that you had updated on published content. Meaning it could take days or even weeks for a fresh new article or page to gain rankings.

Now, thanks to IndexNow the time it takes for content to be indexed will be much quicker.

The rollout of this new system officially commences in November 2021, with a limit of 10,000 URLs checked per day.

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Podcast Knowledge Panels Are Live in Google

Google has been continuously playing around with how to rank podcasts as they’ve surged in popularity as a form of content over the past five years.

Now almost every man and his dog have a podcast. If you haven’t got one yet, you should check out our blog on how to start your own podcast on zero budget.

In October, it was discovered that Google now seems to be rolling out podcast-based knowledge panels in Google search.

When you search for your favourite podcast, you might see a new knowledge panel pop up in the search results.

If you don’t see your podcast pop-up don’t panic. This appears to be taking some time, and Google hasn’t officially offered any guidance to publishers on how to claim their knowledge panel. So this is one to keep your eyes on over the next coming months.

Google Reveals Content is Key with Core Updates

2021 has seen some major core algorithm updates from Google, which means your website may have experienced fluctuations and drops in rankings. 

If this sounds like you, Google has some news to share. 

In an Office Hours Hangout, Google’s John Mueller revealed that for any site owners who have seen drops, it’s best for them to focus on content rather than technical fixes. 

Mueller explained that in Google’s estimation, a ranking drop following a core update indicates your site is losing relevance for the queries it’s targeting. 

As Mueller said in that hangout, “With the core updates we don’t focus so much on just individual issues, but rather the relevance of the website overall.

And that can include things like the usability, and the ads on a page, but it’s essentially the website overall.

And usually, that also means some kind of the focus of the content, the way you’re presenting things, the way you’re making it clear to users what’s behind the content. Like what the sources are, all of these things. All of that kind of plays in.”

To hear more of what Mueller had to say on this subject, watch the video clip below

 

Google to Ban Climate Deniers 

We would like to all think that we’re well aware of climate change and its real impact on our world. But there are those who just don’t believe it. And Google has had enough of these naysayers.


Commencing in December 2021, Google has revealed that it will ban and prohibit climate deniers from advertising and publishing content on the network.


In a statement issued in October Google said that it consults with “authoritative sources” on climate science and has experts from the UN intergovernmental panel assessing the reports involved.
From December enforcement will begin on advertisers and publishers across the Google and YouTube platforms.

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Google Tests Short Videos on Desktop

We’ve all known for a while that video is fast becoming our favoured form of content. You only need to look at the rise of TikTok, Instagram Stories, and the growth of YouTube to see that we’re all a sucker for a video.


And now it appears that Google is taking the hint by testing short videos in desktop search results.


In October a few SEO experts discovered that short video clips were popping up in search results. Many are yet to be able to replicate the search, so there are rumours that this is a test on Google’s part, and we could soon see more videos in the search results.


Here’s one screenshot from a fellow SEO expert on Twitter.
Either way now could be the time to start playing with video content if you’ve not already included this in your content strategy.

Google Alerts Stopped Working

Google Alerts is an incredible tool from Google that enables you to get notified about news or brand mentions emailed directly to you as soon as they happen. It’s a particularly useful tool if you’re trying to monitor how much online exposure your business is getting, or just to keep on top of industry news.


However, in October, Google revealed that Alerts was down and they were quickly trying to resolve the issue.


Many people took to Twitter to make complaints to Google as it appeared Alerts was down for much longer than predicted.


Nobody yet knows why it was down, or what this could mean. But the SEO’s are certainly keeping tabs on it.

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Google Tests More Features in Google My Business

Google My Business is one Google product that just keeps getting better. In fact, we talk ALOT about Google My Business because it is such a useful tool. Especially if you’re a small localised business.

In fact, if you haven’t set yours up yet, what are you waiting for? Read our blog on how to create your profile.


One of the best things about Google My Business is that Google invests a lot of time into making it better.

Across 2021 there have been numerous feature additions to help businesses make the most of their profile, and yet again in October Google revealed even more.


The first update which hasn’t been confirmed by Google is the use of a Purple Heart on a business profile indicating that it is a ‘female-owned business. Google did something similar last year to support black-owned businesses.


As we’ve said, Google is yet to confirm this, but back in 2018 it did have a label of “women-owned”, so many believe this may just be an update.


The other exciting change to Google My Business is the App which now includes Welcome Messages and Response Time.

In your Google My Business App, you now have a messaging feature, which enables you to interact with customers directly. This addition comes with a welcome message and shows your response time to your customers.


If you’ve noticed more people finding you via Google this is something we would highly recommend you take advantage of.

Google Launches Page Title Best Practices

A few months ago we reported that Google was playing around with page titles. It was truly the talk of the SEO world as people were scratching their heads about why this was happening and what was going on. 

As we mentioned in our August news feature Google confirmed that it was now changing page titles where there either was no relevant title or if there was no title at all. Google rolled out an update designed to replace titles with text that’s more “readable and accessible.” 

Google has now kindly published an updated best practices guide for writing page titles, which includes tips on how to prevent your titles from being changed in the search results. 

The guide also includes a list of the most common issues that lead to page titles being replaced by Google. 

Here are a few of Google’s words of wisdom;

  • Make sure every page on your site has its own title specified in the <title> element.
  • Create unique titles for each page and avoid boilerplate text.
  • Keep titles concise and avoid unnecessarily long text.
  • Write descriptive titles and avoid vague text such as “Home” for the home page.
  • Don’t repeat text in titles for the sake of adding more keywords.
  • Brand your titles when appropriate by appending the name of your site to the front of them. For example, the home page would be a good place to do this. It’s not necessary for every page.

 

Google Set to Reveal Breaking News

Google can easily curate breaking news from all around the world, and so it’s no surprise that in October Google revealed that it’s currently working on a ‘Big Moments’ feature in its search results that will break big news stories.

“Big Moments” as it’s being named, will highlight important information about breaking news events in real-time.

The development of “Big Moments” is a mixture of Google realising its shortcoming with news curation and internal frustration that its news is often lacking in timely information.

Google is often the platform people go to after an event has happened to gather more information. Whereas platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are where people go to see updates as the event is unfolding.


Google wants to change this.

At present, there is no confirmed date of when this will go live, and there is much discussion around whether this will be AI curated or human-curated.

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Google Reveals More About Outbound Links 

You may have heard that linking out to an authoritative website can help your own website perform better in the ranks. 

This piece of SEO practice comes from a paper published by Jon Kleinberg in 1998, and has since gone down in SEO history as something that is a “best practice.” 

But here’s the strange part, Google nor its team has ever said that this is a ranking factor. Until now. 

In an Office Hours Hangout with Google’s John Mueller, someone finally asked that question. 

“ Does giving a “do follow” link to a trusted authoritative site, is that good for SEO?”

Mueller went on to explain that this is a practice that began way in the beginning of SEO when spammy websites were built to gain links. 

I think this is something that people used to do, way in the beginning, where they would create a spammy website and on the bottom they’d have a link to Wikipedia and CNN and then hope that search engines look at that and say like, Oh, this must be a legitimate website.

But… as I said… people did it this way in the beginning and it was a really traditional spam technique, almost.

And I don’t know if this ever actually worked.

So from that point of view I would say no, this doesn’t make any sense.”

John Mueller did go on to confirm that linking out to a reference can be a good practice, especially if it adds context to your own content. 

Obviously, if you have good content within your website and part of that references existing other content then kind of that whole structure that makes a little bit more sense and means that your website overall is a good thing.

But just having a link to some authoritative page, that doesn’t change anything from our point of view.”

John Mueller stands firm that from an algorithmic point of view, outbound links don’t do anything for Google. The sole purpose of those links is really for the user. 

 

Google Changes Structured Data Requirements

Rich results, or featured snippets -whatever you like to call them, they are the Google real-estate everyone wants, and now Google has changed the rules.


In October Google updated the requirements for structured data, which means failure to follow Google’s data requirements can make a web page unavailable to be shown for a rich result in the search engine results.


If you’ve been working hard to secure yourself featured snippets, we would highly recommend you review the rules to ensure you don’t lose your space.

Google Search On 21 Event

Each year Google hosts Search On, an event that showcases the latest developments that Google is working on.


In October Search On revealed AI, search and other related technologies that Google have been working on behind the scenes.

Some of the developments presented will be in the search results soon, and others are tests they have revealed to keep us all intrigued.


Still, any insight into what Google’s working on is exciting, and we love nerding out to their latest advances.

You can watch Search On with this overview video.

Marketing

Social media is a total rollercoaster. One minute platforms are bringing out new updates we never thought were possible, and the next we’re in a social blackout. Never a dull moment! 

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Instagram Enables Desktop Publishing 

Is it just us who has found Instagram’s lack of desktop publishing the most frustrating thing about the platform?


Well, now we can all rejoice, as FINALLY, Instagram has announced that from October you will be able to publish images and videos from the desktop version.


We’re pretty sure social media managers around the world are celebrating this update, as for years we’ve all had to save images in a variety of ways and then send it to a phone to be uploaded. It’s a long way around the houses. Plus Instagram has been strict about third-party scheduling apps, so it’s been a frustrating process, to say the least.


Now from October, images and videos can be uploaded from a desktop. However, reels and stories will still remain in real-time only.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp Go Down

In October Facebook faced one of its longest outages in the company’s history, with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all going down for seven hours.


The glitch meant no one could access the three platforms all under Facebook’s control. But many took to Twitter. Which Twitter enjoyed very much.


The social blackout occurred due to a router at Facebooks data centre. Or that’s what Facebook publicly stated.

However, there were also whispers that it was to prevent more damage after a whistleblower accused the company of betraying democracy.


It’s all very dramatic and sounds like a Netflix documentary is brewing. But for now, everything is back online and we can all resume our scrolling.


However, it does just go to show that we have to always see these platforms as an addition and that they are simply not infallible.

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