Welcome back to our "What's New in SEO" monthly recap of search engine news.
From October 1st to November 1st, we saw the October Spam update impacting the SERPs for all languages, two major SEO events, and a number of interesting discussions around topics related to AI content and the future of search. Let's dive in.
BrightonSEO took place from October 5th-7th, starting with MeasureFest and then a two day SEO event. Thousands of people came together to learn, network, and discuss the newest happenings in the world of Search. The shared slides from the event can be accessed in this spreadsheet kindly put together by Lino Uruñuela.
The free ticket ballot for next April's conference opens on November 30th for 48 hours.
We also attended SearchLove London, an amazing two-day event with incredible talks and international speakers, organized by the Distilled team. Of interest, Neha Khanna, Technical Product Manager at Wayfair, presented about understanding the intent behind keywords and how SERPs change and react to this. Neha showed some brilliant examples of SERPs that include content for multiple intent types for just one keyword — and how creating content for your website that reflects this can help you serve your customers better.
Search Engine Toolkit
Jamie Indigo raised a very important question around multi-search. How is it being tracked? The answer so far seems to be: it's not. It is currently restricted to English language, and most features are US only, but not being able to track these would certainly be problematic for SEOs. In a recent search engine roundtable article, we can see Glenn Gabe's proposal of what new UI could look like for tracking multi-search in GSC. Unfortunately, for now, this is only a wish rather than confirmed information.
Google Business Profile is also rolling out a new way to update and improve business listings, within the SERPs. Some of these core actions include;
- Editing profile
- Reading a requesting reviews
- Looking at performance
- Edit products and services
- Adding updates
You would think that after an incredibly busy few months of updates Google would give SEOs a break, but you would be wrong. We've seen a Spam update rolling out in just under 3 days — according to the official update — in October. There has been interesting SERP activity throughout October according to some rank tracking tools, and they seem to show high volatility across dates different from the Spam update which is slightly unusual. Barry Shwartz raised the question on search engine roundtable: did Google publish other unofficial updates, unrelated to the Spam update, or did they announce the dates incorrectly? Google does release a number of unofficial updates that aren't announced, so it could be either of these options.
Google also recently refreshed their site owner's guidelines, which has a specific section on their spam policies, alongside technical requirements and key best practices. Whether you are new to SEO or have been working in it for a while, it is always worth it to read through these and check in with the foundations.
Food for Thought
There's been a lot of conversations around AI content: can it rank? Is it ok to use it? Do people trust it?
Mat Bennett covered these questions and more in his BrightonSEO presentation. It's not a surprise that people stay highly skeptical about AI content, especially in the age where tackling misinformation is already a huge problem. Being skeptical about it, however, doesn't mean we have to stop working and experimenting with it; it just means we need to keep our critical thinking and raise questions as we start working with it.
The general theme I'm seeing from people in the industry is that AI content could solve a lot of problems around current manual tasks for creating meta descriptions, alt attributes for images, TLDRs for articles, and it could be specifically interesting to help generate ideas. However, Google is certainly putting more and more emphasis on expertise, authority, and trust. This means that brands may need to elevate the expert voices within their business. The hope is that AI will help the ideation and the accessibility of content but that we will see a rise in author profiles and real humans behind articles.
That's all for our November 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: