The SEO landscape finished out 2021 much like the start of the year. With some planned updates and continued search volatility, many SEOs were happy to see 2021 end. Although, it doesn’t appear that the new year will change when it comes to continued regular updates from Google and continued fluctuations in search rankings. 

 

Google Algorithm Updates

November 2021 Local Search Update

From the end of November through December 8th, Google confirmed they released a local search update. It involved what they called a “rebalancing” of ranking factors for local-specific results. Those ranking factors include relevance, distance, and prominence, or how well known a business is within the area. We don’t know the exact weight of each of these ranking factors because Google doesn’t give that close of a look into how the algorithm works. But they have provided factors to improve your local visibility.

Local Search improvements include things like creating and updating your Google my Business or Google Business Profile regularly. So you need to verify location, manage and respond to reviews, and add photos. Relevance, Distance, and Prominence is also impacted by regular SEO work. A local business may grow in digital prominence with strong ranking factors like link building, good content, and presence on search directories. 

Product Reviews Update

Another Product Reviews Update launched starting on December 2nd, wrapping on December 21st. This is the second product reviews update of the year, the first one coming in April. This update to the original review appears to impact more websites than just review-based websites. And it’s expanding to other languages besides the original English update. The update aims to reward product reviews with in depth content, rather than just a quick summary of information or products. 

Refresh your memory on what you need to keep in mind if you have reviews, products, or content talking about your product on your website. 

Additional Unconfirmed Volatility 

Throughout the month of December, we also observed some wild ranking fluctuations, likely due to the Local Search and Product Reviews updates. The BrightLocal tracking tool showed some volatility at the beginning of the month, spiking on the weekend of the 4th. Another unconfirmed update was likely released over the December 11th weekend. Tracking tools showed some extreme volatility with many SEOs reporting traffic and keyword fluctuations. Same thing for December 17th-19th, likely related to the Product Reviews Update finalizing. Also during the holiday break, some reported volatility of keywords on December 27th and 28th. This is industry speculation and Google never confirmed updates for any of these dates.

 

Industry News and Announcements

Now that the holidays are over and we’re into a new year mentality, there are several updates and planned Google changes to plan for in the coming year. While we can’t always plan for algorithm updates 

Google Search Terms Report Changes

Starting on February 1, 2022, Google Ads will remove historical query data collected before September 1, 2020 that no longer meets its privacy threshold. And while this is on the Ads platform, many use the tool to help track keywords and do keyword research to implement in SEO practices. Google says they’re “still only providing reporting for terms that a significant number of users have searched”, and that “as a result you may see fewer terms in your report going forward.” 

Google says that most advertisers will continue to see most queries. And that they’re only removing historical queries that don’t meet the new privacy thresholds for consistency across all their platforms. But this warning means you can still prepare and export all your data ever collected before September 2020. So even though it won’t be on the platform, you can still use it in planning any campaigns and content strategies for search volume that never got clicks. 

Page Experience Update Coming to Desktop

Remember the big rollout and preparation that went into the Google Page Experience Update in June of 2021? The rollout first started with mobile versions, and starting in February, the Update will begin to apply to desktop searches as well. This large of an update and experience will take time, and it will finish rolling out by the end of March 2022, according to Google. This update includes all current signals that apply to the Mobile Page Experience Update including Core Web Vitals, Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines, HTTPS, as well as the best practices for how to improve like E-A-T, Content Creation, Relevancy, etc. 

To help you prepare for this update, Google will update the Search Console tools and reports. It’s overall designed to improve the user experience on any given website page. Plus it rewards those websites who emphasize the user experience. Google also said to not expect drastic changes with the rollout of this update. And honestly, the search landscape didn’t shift dramatically when it rolled out for mobile a year ago. This update rewards those who prepare. And they gave enough warning that it shouldn’t impact too many websites in a dramatic way. 

 

Our SEO Experts Can Help Your Business & Clients

2022 is shaping up to be very similar to 2021 in terms of volatility and uncertainty in the search landscape. The overall focus is improving user experience, having quality content, and improving the E-A-T of your website.  

But instead of needing to figure out everything that needs to happen for your website in order to weather these many algorithm updates, get help from SEO professionals like Boostability. It’s literally our entire job to watch algorithm updates and understand how to tweak strategies to generate positive results. We have over a decade of experience in delivering successful SEO campaigns to clients world-wide. And we’re confident that we can help you as well! Learn more about our white label SEO program and the approach we take with providing our partners with data-driven campaigns for their clients.

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Kristine is the Director of Content with Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.