November 17, 2021 / Search Engine Optimization / by Kathy Alice

You never know what’s going to happen when it comes to SEO, but 2021 stands out. Compared to 2020, we had more than 6 confirmed Google Updates and even more unconfirmed updates. Google also made some refinements to rankings and to how the SERPs (search engine result pages) work.

This post was updated December 30, 2021 because even more Google Updates occurred after it was first published!

“Summer of Updates”

Not only did we have the two back to back Core Updates in June and July, we got several Spam Updates, the Product Review Update, and the Page Experience rollout for Mobile for a busy 2021 “Summer of Updates”.

Per SEMrush, desktop results for January 2021 through October 2021 had 68% more high volatility days than in 2020. Mobile was even tumultuous with 84% more volatile days.

Google Search keeps evolving

2021 also saw Passages Ranking, the final phase of Mobile Indexing, and a change in how Google generates web titles.

The latter caused consternation among SEOs and a flurry of tweets showing examples of crappy web titles in the Google SERPs snippets. Below is an example where Google got it wrong even for its own web site.

Example of Google's web title generation having confusing results
Google Ads page a victim of the web title change in August

Fortunately Google adjusted the system in September and it has been performing better.

Google 2021 Updates

So much happened in 2021, I found myself losing track. Accordingly, I created this post as a reference for myself and others.

(Literally as I am pushing the Publish button on this post on November 17th, there is another Core Update rolling out …)

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July 6, 2013 / Social Media / by Kathy Alice

Google+If you have a business, the short answer is yes. However a less clear decision is how much you should invest into a Google+ Business page. Businesses struggling with the demands of Twitter and Facebook, may not relish the idea of engaging with yet another social network. However Google+ has some clear SEO benefits that you shouldn’t ignore.

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January 26, 2013 / Search Engine Optimization / by Kathy Alice

Most people outside the industry think that Technical SEO is all about on page optimization, in other words; updating a page’s meta data and content to have the right keywords in it. However there is another aspect of Technical SEO that has nothing with keywords and can be very powerful for larger dynamic websites. This discipline makes sure the site is search engine crawler friendly by making sure the search bots can find all the pages and also that there are not multiple URLs for a single page, also known as duplicate content. Duplicate content within a site is more common that you might think and I have repeatedly seen significant traffic increases by eliminating it. This is a case study of how we addressed over-indexation of duplicate content by Google and increased traffic by more than 150% overall.

The site in question is a B2B eCommerce site which does a brisk business on weekdays but has much lower traffic during the weekends and holidays. The chart below tracks its weekly non branded organic search traffic for the last 9 months. Here “non branded” means that we exclude organic traffic that arrives via company and domain name keywords, however note we do include product keywords which is a significant part of their traffic.

non branded organic traffic
Non Branded Organic Traffic – Weekly

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January 14, 2013 / Search Engine Optimization, WordPress / by Kathy Alice

This post originally appeared on October 28, 2011, in January 2014, I made several changes to it to bring it up to date. On August 28, 2014, Google ended the Google Authorship program citing low participation and concern over how it was cluttering the search experience, especially for mobile users. Despite this, you may want to still implement it if you are active on Google+. Users who are logged into their Google account and that follow you on Google+ will see the the enhanced snippet. Otherwise it’s not worth the effort.

Ah the old days. The early days when all Google looked at was how many backlinks pointed to your page. These days, trust, creditability and authority signals are a big part of what Google looks for when deciding whether to rank your page in the top ten. In the summer of 2011, leveraging Google profiles, Google released another feature that helps it do just that. You can now tag your articles with rel="author" HTML markup to link your pages to your Google profile – which makes you more “real” in Google’s eyes. The nice thing about this is that then Google will put a pic of you next to the snippet of your article that shows up in the search results as Danny Sullivan appears below.

Danny Sullivan article
Danny's article with SEO advice to Bill Gates

Google’s desire to tie content to “real” people perhaps sheds some light on the 2011 mass removal of non user Google+ accounts.

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October 29, 2012 / Search Engine Optimization / by Kathy Alice

GoogleIt’s never boring in SEO land. Last week the SEOsphere was all abuzz with the October 16th release of the Google disavow links tool. This past summer I, like many other SEOs, have been quite busy doing “Penguin recoveries”. This name, although convenient, is actually misleading, most sites I’ve been helping aren’t recovering from Penguin itself, but rather from manual penalties imposed by Google. The difference? Penguin is an algorithmic change that that focuses on the quality of the backlinks to your site, and lowers your ranking if much of your backlink profile quality is low and spammy, while a manual penalty is an action taken by a human and usually accompanied by a “unnatural links warning” message in GWMT (google webmaster tools). With Penguin, if you clean up the problem, your site should recover in time, with a manual penalty you have to submit a reconsideration request to get your traffic back.

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May 7, 2012 / Search Engine Optimization / by Kathy Alice

SEO: Search Engine OptimizationGoogle changes have been coming fast and furious. Over the last few months:

  • Matt Cutts announced in March that a “over optimization” penalty was coming.
  • Soon after that, many sites received a “unnatural links have been detected ..” message in GWMT (Google Webmaster Tools).
  • A Google Panda update was released on April 19, 2012.
  • Google Penguin was released on April 24, 2012.
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