August 2019 has been a very busy month in the world of SEO and digital marketing. Google struggled with some serious indexing issues, tested out some new features, released its very first batch of advice on how to deal with core updates, and even announced an algorithm change.
If you haven’t been able to keep up with the most important search industry news this month, don’t worry — we’ve created this bulletin to help you catch up. So, carry on reading to find out what you might have missed.
Google suffers from more indexing issues
Over the last few months, we’ve seen Google struggle with several indexing issues and, at the beginning of August, the search engine giant confirmed that another bug was “impacting some sites”. However, the problem did seem to be bigger than that — in fact, for a while, no fresh content was being pulled through to Google News, and some of the internet’s biggest publishers were affected.
At the same time, Google said that the URL Inspection tool within Google Search Console was having some trouble. This left webmasters unable to manually submit their URLs to Google’s index. Because there was a period when Google seemingly wasn’t indexing new pages, this hit sites that rely on publishing fresh content to drive traffic the hardest.
Fortunately, the issues have now been resolved, and Google published a blog post outlining what had happened and what they had learned from the experience to assure webmasters that this shouldn’t be repeated.
Google tests highlighting content based on the search result clicked
Google is testing a new feature that means searchers won’t just be taken to the most relevant page when they click on a search result — they’ll be transported to the most relevant piece of text, where the information they’re most likely looking for is highlighted. This is something the search engine has already offered on mobile through the AMP cache, but it’s now being tested on Chrome and other desktop browsers.
This currently only seems to work when a searcher clicks on a Featured Snippet and David Bokan, a Google Chromium engineer, has tweeted that this trial is currently only being run on 5% of Google’s search results. But, if it is found to improve user experience, it’s likely we could see it become more prevalent.
Google posts advice on how to deal with core updates
Google has long said that there’s nothing concrete site owners can do if they see rankings drop following a core search ranking algorithm update — something that typically happens every few months. But, at the beginning of August, they finally came out with some guidelines that can help.
The main point they make is that you need to ensure you’re offering the best content that you can. They also recommend revisiting Google’s guidance on building high-quality sites, as this gives details of how to self-assess your site and address any issues that might be affecting its rankings post-update.
Google launches algorithm to keep Featured Snippets timely
At the very beginning of the month, Pandu Nayak, Google’s Vice President of Search, announced that the company has introduced an algorithm update with the intention of keeping Featured Snippets fresh and timely wherever relevant: “As part of our ongoing efforts to make Search work better for you, a new algorithm update improves our systems’ understanding of what information remains useful over time and what becomes out-of-date more quickly. This is particularly helpful for featured snippets, a feature in Search that highlights pages that our systems determine are most likely to have the information you’re looking for. For queries where fresh information is important, our systems will try to find the most useful and up-to-date featured snippets.”
This means it’s well worth keeping the content on your website up to date (we have a blog post all about that if you need a hand) — if you’re lucky, this update could even help you to bag a Featured Snippet that was previously held by a site with old information.
Google tests carousel local results with ads
Google has been testing a new design for the local results box that shows up in area-specific search results. Instead of showing a list of businesses, this has a carousel design, and includes a spot for an Ad at the top.
This is much more interactive but, by default, only shows one result at a glance. To see the rest, a searcher needs to scroll through them. This means that, if the new design is rolled out, the number-one spot in the local results box will become more coveted than ever before. So, if you aren’t already making the most of your Google My Business listing, it’s about time you did.
You can now consider yourself up to date with the biggest SEO and digital marketing news from August 2019. Want more frequent updates? Make sure you also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, where we post about the latest industry news on a daily basis!