February 2019: SEO news and Google updates

4-MINUTE READ - 5th March 2019

Emily Park
Emily ParkSenior Content Executive

February 2019 has been another busy month in the world of SEO and digital marketing so, if you haven’t had time to keep track of the latest news over the last few weeks, you’ll have a lot to catch up on. For example, some of Google’s tools have been completely transformed, while the search engine giant released information that put some SEOs’ long-held suspicions to rest.

If you’re feeling slightly out of the loop, don’t worry — we’ve rounded up all of the biggest SEO news stories from the month so, once you’ve finished reading this bulletin, you’ll be back on track! Read on to find out what you might have missed in February 2019.

Google launches Search Console “domain properties”

Towards the end of February, Google launched “domain properties”, which means you can now see data from an entire domain at once within Google Search Console. Essentially, this will consolidate all of the http, https, www., non-www., and m-dot versions of your site into a single property, so you can get an overall view of how well your site is performing. It will also show you any errors or warnings in your single Google Search Console property.

This should generally be a positive move for most businesses, as it will make it much easier for you to keep track of anything in one place. And, if there are any errors or warnings you need to address, you’ll be far less likely to miss them.

Google updates its Test My Site mobile site speed tool

Google originally launched its site speed tool back in 2016 and, this February, it was completely revamped. The main difference SEOs have noticed is that it now offers more useful details about your mobile site’s speed, but here are some of the other features you can now benefit from:

  • Reports that show the speed of your entire site, as well as individual pages
  • Notices of whether your site or page speed is faster or slower than last month
  • Fast, Average, or Slow scores
  • Benchmark reports against your competitors’ sites
  • Information about the potential impact you site speed can have on your revenue

As we explained in our guide to Google’s mobile-first index, mobile site performance has a huge effect on rankings. It’s therefore important that you ensure it’s always offering the best possible user experience — and this includes how quickly it responds. So, we would highly recommend using the information in Google Search Console to ensure everything is working as well as possible.

Google Search Console starts sending alerts for ranking and traffic drops

Google Search Console has started to send out alerts and notifications if it detects that there’s been a substantial drop in how many clicks you’re receiving from Google’s SERPs. In order to do this, the platform looks at week-over-week data within your Performance report and, if it spots a cause for concern, it will let you know.

If you’re a business owner who’s making a real effort to increase or maintain your current level of traffic, this can be very helpful as you won’t necessarily have to monitor page views and the like as closely. You will be told when there’s been a drop, and then you can look to see what might have caused it.

According to Search Engine Land, the most common cause of a drop in clicks or impressions is if you were previously ranking well for a particularly query and no longer do. If you find this to be the case, you’ll want to look for the reason(s) why this might be. For example, is there a technical problem that needs to be addressed, or have you been affected by a recent algorithm update that means your content needs to be updated?

Google reveals it may use different ranking weights for YMYL queries

In February, Google published a 30-page white paper [PDF] that explains how the company is working to fight disinformation across all of its platforms. In this document, the search engine giant confirmed that certain ranking factors are given more weight depending on the type of query a searcher is making. A lot of SEO experts already believed this to be the case, and their suspicions have finally been validated.

“Your money, your life” (YMYL) queries are those that have the potential to have a real-world effect on your life, health, or happiness. And Google has explained that, for these kinds of searches, the pay more attention to factors around expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T). This is because these searchers are likely looking for information that could have a real — and potentially detrimental — effect on their lives. So, it’s important that they receive reliable advice. Check out our guide to what E-A-T ratings are and how you can improve yours.

And there you have it: four of the biggest SEO and digital marketing news stories from February 2019. If you would like more regular updates, you can find daily posts on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts.

If you would like an SEO, PPC, or affiliate marketing agency to help you boost your online visibility, you can also get in touch with us to discuss your needs today!