October 2019: SEO news and Google updates

5-MINUTE READ - 1st November 2019

Emily Park
Emily ParkSenior Content Executive

October 2019 has been a huge month in the world of SEO and digital marketing. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen Google roll out what it claims to be the most important update in five years. Plus, Moz has launched a new free tool, Screaming Frog released SEO Spider 12.0, and we saw Google announce a range of new and exciting features for a number of its platforms.

To ensure you’re up to date with everything and that you know how these developments are going to affect you and your business, we’re going to explain a bit more about them here.

Google rolls out the BERT update

On 25 October, Google published a blog post to say it would be rolling out its most important update since it introduced RankBrain nearly five years ago.

The search engine giant is calling the new algorithm BERT, which stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”. And, while the name sounds very complicated, in short, it’s been designed to help computers understand language in more of a similar fashion to humans.

Google has said that BERT will help the search engine to better comprehend the nuances and context of certain words that are used in queries to present the searcher with more relevant results.

One example Google gives is that, if someone had searched “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa” in the past, the search engine wouldn’t have understood how important the word “to” was. This meant it would return results about US citizens travelling to Brazil. But, through BERT, it has a better understanding of language searchers use, and will now give results that are much more appropriate, as you can see below.

In the past, Google has told SEOs that they can’t optimise their sites for RankBrain, and this is likely to be the same for BERT. As always, the most important things is that you create a site with your users in mind, and it’s likely it will appeal to Google as a result.

This is a huge update that’s set to affect 10% of all queries, so it’s very possible that you will see some fluctuations in your rankings. However, if you have clear, relevant, and informative content that appeals to your target audience, you shouldn’t have anything it worry about. In fact, BERT could well give you a boost!

Moz launches new Domain Analysis tool

On 9 October, Moz launched a free tool called Domain Analysis. This has been created to provide you with an overview of the SEO metrics for any domain.

As you might imagine, the tool doesn’t offer as much in-depth information as the paid-for versions of Moz’s tools, but it will give you some insight into your SEO metrics — or your competitors’. And, it’s not just the basics: you’ll get access to data such as “Top Featured Snippets” and “Top questions mined from People Also Ask boxes for relevant keywords”.

What’s particularly interesting that the Domain Analysis offers “experimental” metrics that aren’t actually available through Moz’s paid platforms. For example, you can get an estimate of how many clicks a keyword will drive to your website, which is determined by ranking position, search volume, and estimated click-through rate.

If you’re interested to learn more about your own website, or you want to see how you compare to your competitors, Moz’s new free tool could be a great place to start.

Google announces it will stop indexing Flash content

Google has announced that it will stop indexing Adobe Flash content by the end of 2019. As a result, the search engine will no longer process content in Flash SWF files, whether this is on websites that have been completely or partly designed in Flash.

Google has said that “most users and websites won’t see any impact from this change”, so it’s unlikely you have anything to worry about. In fact, multiple browsers, as well as Apple iPhones, haven’t supported Flash for quite some time, so it’s unsurprising that Google is finally taking this step.

This announcement means, if you rely on Google for search traffic and your website has been completely or partly designed using Flash, now is the time to update it. The search engine has said you should look toward HTML5 and other more modern forms of JavaScript.

Screaming Frog releases SEO Spider 12.0

On 22 October, Screaming Frog released version 12.0 of its incredibly popular SEO Spider tool. With this update, the company has added PageSpeed Insights integration, auto-saves for database storage mode, and more.

SEO Spider is a great tool that allows you to analyse sites, understand how search engine crawlers navigate certain pages, and conduct an audit so you can see where your SEO efforts would be best placed. So, any updates that make the tool more useful are always welcome.

Perhaps the most exciting addition is the new “PageSpeed” tab, which is integrated with Google’s PageSpeed Insights API. It allows you to see where you can decrease your load times, and the new “PageSpeed Opportunities Summary” makes it easy for webmasters to identify opportunities on a bigger scale.

Database storage mode, which allows you to save your data to your hard drives rather than in RAM, has also been updated with an automatic saving feature. This means you can re-open database files much quicker than previously. This also allows you to resume crawls that might have stopped suddenly due to unforeseen circumstances, like a computer crash.

This is great news for SEOs, as it’s set to make their work much easier and more efficient.

You can now consider yourself up to date with all of the latest SEO and digital marketing news from the last month. If you would like more frequent updates, make sure you also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn where we post about all of the latest industry news!