Google changes the way its algorithm works and how users interact with SERPs (search engine results pages). Here is are some of the details of recent changes, updates and impacts to help you understand how to work important website features and elements into your website.
Confirmed Google May 2022 Core Update – 22/05/2022
Google have today confirmed that they are releasing a core algorithm update.
Google claim to release core updates several times each year with the aim of making search better for users.
Updates have historically caused fluctuations in search engine results with websites quickly gaining visibility and traffic or dropping rankings.
The May update will take around 1 – 2 weeks to fully roll out, so you may see some fluctuations in your ranking performance and website traffic from organic search over the next fortnight.
Possible Google Search Ranking Update – 01/05/2022
Ranking tracking tools and SEO specialists aligned over the May bank holiday weekend observing fluctuations in search engine results pages.
This meant a greater, more obvious shift in the rankings of particular websites for specific keywords was more obvious to spot than normal.
Fluctuations seemed to continue throughout the week with larger changes observable in news, arts & entertainment and computers and electronics.
Did your site gain or lose traffic?
Google Removes the URL Parameter Legacy Tool from Google Search Console – 26/04/2022
Today, 26th April 2022, Google has officially removed the Google Search Console URL parameters tool from search console. Previously accessible through Legacy tools and reports > URL parameters the report helped SEO’s and webmasters manage the indexability of URLs without robots.txt and without meta robots rules in the <head>.
If you load the URL parameters page and select your property, you’ll see the above message.
Like robots.txt that blocks crawling, URL parameters allowed you to block crawling of URLs with certain parameter values. i.e. you could make URLs that included the parameter ?products=low-to-high eligible for index (and target “cheapest teapot” terms) while excluding the ?products=high-to-low parameter selection from crawling and therefore the index.
If your site relies heavily on custom parameter options and gains organic traffic from some specific URL parameter configurations or were using the URL parameters tool to block pages then you may want to review traffic to pages on your site and translate your URL parameter rules into robots.txt equivalent rules.
Search Natural can help you understand and translate URL parameter rules into robots.txt rules with our technical SEO packages.
Here’s Google’s full explanation on why they’ve removed the URL parameters tool.
Google Confirms & Explains the Value of Alt Text in Images for SEO – 01/04/2022
Google has confirmed the continued importance of alt text on images in SEO. This means, you should still be using alt text where your use images on your website.
Google’s representative John Mueller suggested that there’s no word limit on alt text, the question suggested that 16 words was the limit.
John goes on to explain that both the intent and relevance of the image were important to deciding what kind of alt text you should use for images.
For example, if you’re adding alt text to an infographic embedded within an article that explains how the cost of living has increased food prices year over year, you could use “infographic with food prices costs from 1982 to 2022”.
Another example might be where you’re running a review website, you may take a picture of your breakfast at Hotel Sunshine and say; “my breakfast at Hotel Sunshine”. According to John, adding this type of context is important for Google helping to rank your images in relevant search results.
Check out the full Google SEO office-hours from 1st April for the full snippet.
Google Swapping Search Terms on “See More” Button – 21/03/2022
When searching via chrome on a desktop pc, Google can sometimes change the user inputted search query to a differing query.
In the example, searching for “best menopause supplements” then clicking the “see more” button at the foot of page 1 of the Google search results takes you to page 1 of a search for “foods that help with menopause naturally”
For anyone optimising content for the user inputted search query, this can drastically change the overall search impression count of the query.
This makes desktop search results different from mobile where clicking “see more” loads additional results relating to the same query. Replicating this on desktop is through selecting the pagination at the foot of Google pages.
Check out the video below for the full example.
How to Deal with Changing Search Queries
This is a difficult one as we do not know when this went live, whether it is an intentional change that will remain live or if it is a test.
We first noticed the change on 21/03/2022 when the video above was recorded.
For my clients, I’ve been comparing impression levels prior to this date with impression levels after this date where there have been only minor positional shifts to try to understand if this is impacting organic traffic performance of my client’s sites.
Focusing on desktop impression volumes, you should be able to isolate which of your page 2 or below ranking pages ae being impacted by the change and the specific queries.
With this information, you can optimise your pages to rank on page 1 of the related query that Google sends users to.
Google is Retiring Universal Google Analytics – 16/03/2022
Google has confirmed in a blog post, published on 16/03/2022 that they’ll be retiring Universal Google Analytics (GA) by July 1st 2023.
Universal analytics has been used by website managers to measure traffic, engagement since November 2005.
Google has replaced universal analytics with GA4, an updated version released back in October 2020.
Find out why Google is retiring Universal GA.
What you need to do
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to configure GA4 on your web properties and digital apps now, so that you can start collecting data ahead of the end of universal GA in July 2023.
If you’re not sure how to do this or where to start then contact us via email or whatsapp and we can help.