As if 2020 wasn’t challenging enough, Google hasn’t made the end of the year any easier on us. The impact of the December 2020 Core Update has left some marketers rejoicing and others reeling, with more changes still to come. Luckily, with next year’s mobile-first indexing and Page Experience updates both scheduled for firm launch dates (and Google’s early announcement of each), we should all be a bit more prepared than we were for this latest core update.
Google’s John Mueller provided even more insights at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) on Dec 8. In a talk titled “Google Search #2020: What’s New That Matters to SEOs,” Mueller gave an overview of everything that changed in Google Search in 2020 and shared more of what SEOs can expect in 2021.
The talk is an excellent round-up of the year that passed – and a reminder of what we have to look out for over the next few months. Mueller addressed hot topics like FAQ schema, the Page Experience update and diversity in SEO.
On the topic of FAQ schema, which was added in 2019, Mueller discussed Google’s tightening of the guidelines earlier this year. Because some marketers were taking advantage and adding it to everything, Google was forced to get pickier and scale back the sites that would show FAQ rich results in Search.
Request Indexing Tool
If you’re one of the web owners who’s been patiently waiting for the return of the Request Indexing tool in Google Search Console, you’ll be pleased to know Mueller has provided an update. The tool, which was suspended back in mid-October, was a beneficial one for SEOs, and many have been growing frustrated with the long wait. Mueller revealed the feature has still not been fixed but that he has personally been pushing the team to find a solution.
Page Experience Update
A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that the Page Experience ranking factor, set to roll out in May 2021, will only affect mobile Search. Mueller provided further clarification, specifying that Core Web Vitals metrics would be mobile-only ranking signals. The other existing Google Search ranking factors, like HTTPS and safe browsing, will remain for desktop and mobile.
Another issue Mueller addressed was the topic of diversity in SEO. He encouraged proactivity and suggested that including new perspectives can help sites rank better but, above all, is the right thing to do.
While these insights were some of the most useful, the full SMX talk has a lot more where these came from. If you want to hear more, you can watch this talk and others on demand at SMX Virtual. With a host of updates mere months away, any extra information could be the difference between rising in the rankings or taking a nosedive.
More SEO News You Can Use
Over 80 Percent of Videos in Search Carousels Come From YouTube: In news that should surprise no one, a study by Perficient shows the true extent of YouTube’s video rankings dominance. There’s a long-held perception that Google favors YouTube content above other video sites, which Google has repeatedly denied. Perficient’s study was able to prove that Google and YouTube ranking algorithms are “fundamentally different,” and YouTube results don’t necessarily correspond to Google rankings. Aside from these findings, the report includes an extremely helpful list of video optimization recommendations for both Google and YouTube that could make a massive difference to marketers hoping to hop on the video bandwagon in 2021.
Noindexed Pages Can Affect a Website’s Core Web Vitals: During a Google Search Central live stream, Google’s John Mueller affirmed that noindexed pages could impact Core Web Vitals, which are set to become ranking factors next year. The news is worrisome because it means that even pages deliberately removed from Google’s search index – slow pages, for example – can affect rankings. As for whether there’s any way to exclude a page from being evaluated for Core Web Vitals, Mueller could offer no insights. What he could state, definitively, is that there will never be a way to choose which pages Google should use to calculate Core Web Vitals. Now might be a good time to reevaluate your noindexed pages and make sure they won’t bring down your Core Web Vitals score.
Yet Another New Search Engine Wants to Take On Google: Former Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher has big plans for the future of search. Last week, he announced his new project, you.com, a search engine focused on “more click trust and less clickbait” and built on the foundation of “trust, kindness and facts.” With Google’s ongoing antitrust lawsuit and issues with privacy, you.com hopes to fill the gap for a consumer-focused search engine that does not rely on advertising and user data – a smart model in the current digital climate. Little more is known about the project at this time, but we’ll certainly be watching this space.
Misspelling Keywords is No Longer a Viable SEO Strategy: SEO has come a long way since the days of keyword stuffing and metatag abuse, but what about deliberately misspelling search terms? Search Engine Journal’s (SEJ) Ryan Jones explains that search engine algorithms have become a lot more advanced and are smart enough to recognize a misspelled word and immediately offer up results for the correct version. Perhaps most interestingly of all, Jones says there’s reason to believe misspellings could be seen as a low-quality signal that can hurt your site. The argument is a convincing one – read the full response and make up your own mind.
Here’s All the Information You’ll Ever Need About XML Sitemap Optimization: SEO expert Aleh Barysevich has done a deep-dive into XML sitemap optimization for SEJ, and it’s been met with rave reviews in the SEO community. It’s not difficult to see why: The 13 tips offer an easy-to-follow, step-by-step breakdown of XML sitemap best practices, an often overlooked aspect of SEO that, when optimized correctly, can bring excellent results. No matter your level of SEO knowledge, you should be able to find something of value in the article. Read it in full and set up your XML sitemap for SEO success in 2021.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.