Welcome back to the latest installment of "What's New in SEO," our recap of search engine news.
August was full of exciting updates, and it certainly gave SEOs a lot to talk about. Below, we'll cover all the news up to September 2022, including what we know of the Helpful Content Update — and what happened when Googlebot took a Summer vacation and the SERPs broke.
SEOnerd Switzerland had an in-person meetup at the Google offices in Zurich. Speakers included the awesome Ulrika Viberg and Veronika Kuchynskaya and a Q&A with our favorite Google Search relations team: John, Lizzie, Gary and Martin.
Search Engine Toolkit
In more technical news, Google completed its migration to consolidate the search console coverage report. The move is aimed at helping site owners focus on critical issues, as well as to provide more clarity around the visibility in Search.
After the URL parameters tool, we now also said goodbye to Search Console's legacy internationalization tool. Google will continue to support hreflang tags on your pages, but for the auditing of this tag, you will need to rely on other tools. (In case you need a good hreflang audit tool, checkout Dave Smart's list for help.)
Last month, we've also seen some new additions to product structured data around adding pros and cons. Considering the recent product review updates, advancing your product structured data could be a good way to improve the visibility of your pages.
Google launched a new attribute to support Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. This update builds on attributes released previously by Google, such as the Black-owned, Latino-owned, veteran-owned, women-owned and LGBTQ+ owned business attributes. They are hoping to help bring communities closer together as well as help support diversity. Yelp has actually had this attribute since May 2021.
Google power users might be interested in how Google is improving its results when there's a use of quotes in search queries. Quotes mean Google will look at exact terms and the improvement means that the results will be formed around where a quoted word or phrase occurs in a web document. Google recommends to always search for your query first, and use quotations if you need more specific results from the one already surfaced.
Google also released information on how they improve to find quality answers in search results. They confirmed to use their latest AI model, Multitask Unified Model (MUM) which according to them means that their systems can now understand the notion of consensus, which is when multiple high-quality sources on the web all agree on the same fact.
Have you heard of something called the Helpful Content Update (HCU)? (We know, we know — even if you spent all of August on vacation, you were probably still flooded with information on what it is, why SEOs love it, how to prepare for it, and future predictions.)
Even if you've been overwhelmed with suggestions and resources, it might be worth it to bookmark Marie Haynes' helpful article. Still, so far, it looks like this update could've had the title 'Much Ado About Nothing.'. The update finished rolling out on the 9th September.
Overall, the HCU guidance is anything but new, and the one core tip is really in the name: make your content helpful for your readers. Aleyda Solis updated her Quality and Helpfulness spreadsheet to include all the new HCU guidance when evaluating content.
So what to do if you've been impacted by the update? This tweet from Lyndon sums it all up.
July's Product review update finished rolling out on the 2nd of August. This was the fourth update of its kind, and it only took 6 days to complete compared to the 2-3 weeks expected. Google updated its ranking algorithms page to reflect this. Google also announced a fifth update coming soon, but it hasn't officially started rolling out yet.
Googlebot also seemed to take a vacation at the beginning of August and had a number of problems,from indexation issues to outages. By the 17th of August Google announced to fix a bug that was labelling non-indexed pages as indexed.
Google also updated its guidance around dynamic rendering to say that it is a workaround solution, and that they recommend other forms of rendering, such as server side rendering, static rendering, or hydration as a solution. Each has its own pros and cons, and things like server side rendering can have significant costs associated with them — so large sites with millions of URLs will likely stick to dynamic rendering for now. However, solutions such as headless CMS-es using static site generation could help scale rendering solutions in the future.
There is also a great lightning talk available on what structured data really is, how to get started and best practices.
In August, we participated in some great local events in London and Zurich. It's inspiring to see the return of regular face-to-face events, such as LondonSEOmeetup, where we talked about all things digital PR and SEO. Speakers included the brilliant Jodie Harris, Beth Nunnington, Jo Turnbull and Greta Munari.
That's all for our August Recap! To keep up to date on all things SEO in the meantime, there are some newsletters listed below that you can sign up for: