The Google Helpful Content Update (HCU) rollout is still underway. However, as we reach the halfway mark of the proposed two-week timeframe, it seems that not much difference has been experienced as of yet.
Although search engine optimization (SEO) experts have reported minor volatility so far, Google responded by saying that the rollout is still a work in process. Danny Sullivan of Google Search responded to tweets saying it’s important to remember that if your website contains high-quality, useful content, you may not experience much of a shift.
John Mueller of Google reiterated this sentiment, responding to a query on how to analyze the Helpful Content Update saying that more time is needed.
The algorithm update aims to refine the signal over time, meaning it will most likely be tweaked every few months. Sullivan went on to say that updates also don’t necessarily mean that a substantial negative impact is imminent/looming. However, content creators and SEO professionals are still strongly advised to ensure that SEO best practices and Helpful Content guidelines are met to avoid a significant impact.
Sullivan added that if some volatility is experienced even though the rollout isn’t completed, it may be a sign to revise the content on your or your clients’ sites and rework or remove any content that doesn’t meet the HCU or SEO guidelines.
Although hyped to be as significant as major updates like Panda or Penguin, it is essential to remember that these updates were not announced. And because of the sudden negative impacts experienced, we’d more likely remember that chaos. In comparison, as Search Engine Land points out, other announced updates like Google’s Mobile Friendly Update, dubbed “mobilegeddon” by Chuck Price, and the Page Experience Update, received much less of an impact than originally expected.
For now, all we can do is keep monitoring the data and reviewing and aligning content with HCU guidelines as the update continues to roll out. The Google Search Ranking Updates page will be updated once the rollout is complete.
Google Search Central Podcast Discusses Indexing and Crawl Budget: Are you wondering why your content is or isn’t being indexed? Well, in its latest podcast, Google has released some valuable insights on crawl budget and aspects that affect indexing. Gary Islyes and Martin Splitt said that the origin of the concept of a crawl budget was derived from the search community. Because Google was working on various metrics at the time, the term ‘crawl budget’ had to be reverse-engineered to define it in a way that matched Google’s metrics. Islyes and Splitt said Google “defined it as the number of URLs Googlebot can and is willing or is instructed to crawl for a given site.” The idea is not to overload Chrome’s capacity, as there is limited space for content to be stored. It’s, therefore, important to make sure that resources are used resourcefully and “Where it matters most.” In other words, Google’s primary focus is not to index every page but rather to index pages that, as John Mueller put it, are “useful to users.”
Google Search Central Highlights Six SEO Tips For eCmmerce Websites: The latest Google Search Central youtube video, eCommerce Essentials with Alan Kent, highlights six search engine optimization (SEO) tips to help drive more traffic to your eCommerce website. Kent shares insights into how a combination of structured data and Google Merchant Center can help improve your site’s presence. Google Merchant Center is ideal as it lets you upload data using structured feeds, allowing for more efficient and reliable data extraction than Googlebot crawling your site. The first tip is to ensure that products are indexed using tools like XML sitemap and Google Merchant Center, as Googlebot can easily miss pages that aren’t linked to others. Next, checking that the correct product price data is displayed in search results is vital. Use structured data to ensure discounted, or net prices are reflected in search results. Then, avoid delays in price and availability data in search results by using Merchant Center to minimize consistencies and keep pages up to date regularly. The next tip is to use structured data, and the Merchant Center feed to maximize the chances that your products will qualify for rich results. Sharing local product inventory data using a tool like Pointy to indicate in-store sales can help. In addition, you’ll need to register your store location on your Google Business Profile and provide a local inventory feed via Google Merchant Center. Lastly, make sure that your products appear in Google’s shopping tab by providing the product data feed using Google Merchant Center and selecting ‘surfaces across Google.’
Google Tests Two New Search Results Labels: Quick Reads vs. 5 Min. Read: Google is experimenting with labels that indicate if a page’s content can be read in five minutes or less. For years, SEO professionals believed that lengthier content, like skyscrapers and 10x content, performed better in search engine results page (SERP) rankings. This can be justified when considering that most of the top-ranking content on page one of the SERPS has a 1,000-word count or higher. However, this is not the case. Google has never stated that word count is a ranking factor. In fact, John Mueller made this point two years back in a tweet asking, “Why would a search engine use word count as a metric?” Of course, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for long-form content. In fact, it does do well and is often much needed in specific sectors. It’s important to note that this is still in the testing phase, so there’s no need to rework strategies just yet. However, this may be one to watch as it could impact traffic and clicks for certain types of content should it be made a feature.
YouTube Gets Three Updates: New Podcast Explore, Metrics and Oversee Livestreams: YouTube creators can now manage live streams from one easy spot and track more stats in the main interface. On top of that, its Live Control Room is getting an upgrade too, allowing chats to be moderated in live streams. According to Search Engine Journal, if a creator started the mobile live stream from the main YouTube app, users weren’t able to alter or oversee mobile live streams in Live Control Room or YouTube Studio. Creators can now manage, schedule and edit their stream from one convenient location in the Live Control Room and the main Youtube app. Additional features include being able to moderate live chats and implement live chat features like pinned products and polls. In addition, YouTube creators may now explore fundamental metrics in various Android and iOS apps. Before, creators could only view data on short videos, standard videos and live streams via Studio Mobile. YouTube is giving the main app parity with this launch. These updates come shortly after the video platform added a new Podcast Explore page two weeks prior, making it easier for users to discover podcasts. The new Podcast Explore page is accessible via the main Explore page in the icon menu.
LinkedIn Enhances Its Search Results and Interface: LinkedIn has recently revamped its search system and user interface to make it quicker and easier for users to find relevant posts from various sources. Before the update, posts were indexed either as posts or articles. This made it incredibly complicated to build on or make improvements. According to Search Engine Journal, LinkedIn is now using “search machine learning techniques” based on “crowdsourced human annotation data” to ensure that the desired level of quality is met. LinkedIn’s new machine learning system aims to improve content in four ways. One, it allows for personalization by utilizing more in-depth and current signals for members’ intent, interests and affinities. Two, it decreases the repetition of similar content and boosts the chances of finding potentially viral content for trending searches. Three, when combined with other kinds of results, it uses post-related metadata obtained from the index to raise the post rankings. Four, its redesigned user interface enables users to look for posts by a particular author, posts that correspond to cited queries, recently seen posts and so on. LinkedIn plans to make further improvements by applying natural language processing, achieving more unique query results and broadening its capabilities to understand various types of multimedia.
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