It’s time once again for the monthly SEO roundup here at connective3!
So, let’s take a look at what happened in the world of SEO over the New Year and January.
Google’s December product review update is complete
To start, Google’s December 2021 product review update was finally completed on the 27th of December. This was the second product review update of 2021, following on from the previous update shakeup back in April.
However, this update proved to be much more aggressive, with users reporting significant SERP volatility and almost immediate ranking drops. And this isn’t an ideal situation, especially for e-commerce sites over the Christmas period.
Now that this final 2021 update has finished rolling out, hopefully, Google will give SEO teams some time to catch their breath after a year of seemingly constant updates to keep track of.
Roman Adamita’s huge log file analysis
Another highlight over the new year was a report published by Roman Adamita. He conducted a log file analysis containing over seven million log file events using the Screaming Frog log analyser tool.
A log file analysis is a technical SEO process that lets us see exactly how Googlebot, web crawlers, and end-users are interacting with a website. This process offers valuable information that can be used to determine an effective SEO strategy.
The following are some key takeaways from this report:
- A robots.txt file can be crawled up to 24,000 times in a 10-month period
- Googlebot will crawl a 404 page an unlimited amount of times
- Googlebot will crawl a 301 redirect for over nine months
- Product pages with zero listings will be crawled the same as other pages.
You can read Roman Adamita’s full report findings here.
Yoast SEO is making its way to Shopify
In other news, Yoast is finally bringing its acclaimed Yoast SEO Plug-in to Shopify in 2022. The plug-in has been incredibly popular on WordPress, with over five million active users. It includes many useful features, including SEO analysis, content readability analysis, automatic structured data implementation and much more.
As of the 18th of January, this popular plug-in will be making its way to Shopify as an app. The only catch is that the Shopify app is a subscription-based model, costing $29 per month. So, this removes the option to only use the free version, as is available with the WordPress version of Yoast SEO.
Google ranks second in Cloudflare’s most popular domains in the 2021 report
In December, Cloudflare reported that Google was no longer the most popular domain, losing the number one position to TikTok.
The list is a part of the Cloudflare Year in Review report that highlights which domains gained the most traffic over the year. According to Cloudflare’s findings, TikTok rose from seventh at the end of 2020 to first by the end of 2021, pushing Google.com down to second place!
The 10 most popular domains at the end of 2021 were:
The Cloudflare report also covered e-commerce and streaming sites, with e-commerce honours going to Amazon, followed by Taobao and eBay. To no one’s surprise, Netflix and YouTube reigned supreme as the top streaming services. Although interestingly, Twitch failed to break into the top 10 in 2021.
Unconfirmed January Google Search Algorithm Update
On January 11th it was reported that Google had released a search algorithm update. While this has not been confirmed by Google, data tracking software, such as SEMrush, Mozcast and SERP Metrics are showing ranking fluctuations that fall in line with an algorithm update. You can read a discussion about these fluctuations here.
Enhanced Autocomplete Feature
Google has begun beta testing on a new, enhanced autocomplete search box function within search results. This box will start to appear on the right side of a search result and will pull the top three “people also ask” queries, as well as the top three “people also search for” queries.
The enhanced autocomplete box doesn’t appear for all search queries yet, but it has been reported that this box appears above the coveted “rank 0” section in SERPs.
At a first glance, it seems that this is just another feature Google has introduced to make a user’s search experience a little easier. However, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this new feature to see if there are any other ways we can use it to our advantage, and generate more traffic for clients.
Google releases brand new .day generic top-level domains
A brand new .day top-level domain, or TLD to Google’s list of generic top-level domains. This list of GTLDs includes.com, .net, .org, .edu, and .gov, with .day now being added to this list.
As you can guess, marketers are clamouring for the most marketable of these domains, such as BlackFri.day, CyberMon.day and Valentine’s day. And these are expected to be bought up and off the market very quickly.
These domains will cost anywhere from $190 to $16,520 (for the premium domains). Google is also running a promotion on these new domains, with prices set to drop every day. And these will drop in price every day until the end of February.
A generic, top-level domain differs from a country top-level domain, such as .co.uk because Google uses the signal of the latter to determine which country that URL should rank for. Luckily, GTLDs are free from these restrictions and can rank in multiple countries.
New search console API
It has also been revealed that Google will be launching a new URL Inspection API tool within the search console. The API is a tool that provides instant access for analysts to view key data such as search analytics, sitemaps, and impressions.
An API – (Application Programming Interface), allows two software programs to communicate with each other, such as Screaming Frog and the Google Search Console. This results in more in-depth analysis and debugging.
We are very interested in seeing how we can use this new API at connective3 to potentially speed up the data gathering process, and automatically check our clients’ most important URLs on a daily, or weekly basis.
Google meta description experiments
It has been reported that Google has been conducting tests on Google search results without any meta descriptions. This was confirmed by Aishwarya Tapadar in a Google Web Search help thread, who also reported that the testing would be over soon.
While a screenshot was shared of how the SERP looked during the tests, Ms. Tapadar did not give any insight into what her reasoning was. She just said, “This is a small experiment that will be ending in the next day or so.”
Could Google be testing the power of meta descriptions and their effect on rankings and page priority? We will be keeping an eye on this one, here at connective3.
Untitled title tags in SERPS sending users to spam sites
Finally, in late January users have been reporting discovering ‘untitled’ title tags replacing regular SERP results, which when clicked on, send users to spam websites.
Google was quick to respond to this, stating that they were working on it while also reassuring users that this was not malware, but spam that somehow passed through their filters and into SERPs.
However, as of yet, we haven’t heard anything about this issue being resolved.
Thanks for reading!