Well maybe not quite as tumultuous as 2021 was, but we’re still seeing many fluctuations in rankings. Plus, Google continues to release a slew of new tools and updated integrations to help you with your overall rankings and website growth. Let’s jump right into our March 2022 SEO Update.
Rise of Zero Click Searches
SEO Expert Rand Fishkin published a survey in March saying that Zero-click searches rose to nearly 65% in 2020. This one has caused quite a stir in the SEO community. When the goal of SEO is to bring more traffic to your website and a zero click search result means no traffic, it might seem like a bad thing. But zero-click search results, the featured snippet, or a well-written and optimized meta description that gives a concise answer is actually huge for your brand. From a perspective of a good user experience, which is the point of many Google algorithm updates, zero clicks mean a user gets their information quickly and reliably. This has a very positive impact on your brand. Google wants to make sure users get what they came for, which does not necessarily mean driving traffic to your website. But as always, the higher your rank, with reliable information, means more people are likely to click thru.
Google API Inspection Tool
In February, Google released an API for the URL Inspection Tool, and it appeared to run into some bugs at the beginning of March. They acknowledged in a Tweet that both Search Console and the API were providing errors for some users and worked through the issue.
Desktop Page Experience Update
We’ve talked about it in the past few updates, but Google finished rolling out the Page Experience Update for Desktop in early March. The Page Experience Update, which rolled out for mobile results first last summer, means that Core Web Vitals metrics now apply to all search results. We didn’t see a ton of ranking fluctuations as a result of this update, but know that every SEO expert and webmaster needs to be aware of these items if they want their website to rank successfully in the future.
Confirmed and Unconfirmed Google Updates
In March, we saw some fluctuations due to several unconfirmed updates, but also due to the Product Reviews Update that came out on March 23rd. This update will continue to roll out over a few weeks. But they aim to show product reviews from people who have actually used it or visited a business. Right now this only affects English-language websites. The algorithm prioritizes in-depth and authentic content based on feedback and internal testing. This applies to all forms of review content from blogs and articles to user published feedback on platforms like Google Business Profile or other reviews websites.
As mentioned, we also believe Google released several unconfirmed updates throughout March. We noticed small volatility in rankings on March 4th, then several people mentioned volatility and extreme drops in search traffic between March 11th and March 14th. On March 18th-20th, we saw more movement. But Google’s Danny Sullivan refused to confirm a major update on Twitter saying that they make these “small” updates frequently.
SEO Best Practices
When you place redirects on your website, whether for a new domain, or to remove duplicate content, or whatever reason, it’s good practice to leave that redirect in place for at least a year. In a Tweet, Google’s John Mueller clarified that you need to leave redirects in place for a year or more in order for the algorithm to have the site moves stick. After responding to a question about having redirects in place for just 3 months, Mueller clarified that it wasn’t nearly long enough. Google can try old redirects for years to come, so try to keep your redirects up for at least a year.
Also from John Mueller, he reiterated the importance of internal linking. He said it’s one of the biggest things a site can do to tell Google which pages/content are the most important on the site. Your header and footer navigation is the “minimum” you should do and it’s important to have internal linking throughout your content. He then talked about the importance of breadcrumbs and structured data to help improve your internal navigation. Internal linking and pointing out your important pages is totally up to you. But creating hub pages, or pages that get linked to frequently, you can help Google understand that it is a key page on your website and is more likely to rank it. Breadcrumbs and structured data can help, but it shows the importance of link building that will not go away.
Check the Facts Feature
Google released some features to help us evaluate if a website, or the information we get from it, is actually trustworthy or worth further exploration. Google is trying to take on the constant inundation of misinformation constantly spreading around the internet. While they admit their platform is great to observe all kinds of different facts and perspectives, it can also make it hard to know what is credible and what is not. Google is investing $10 million to fight misinformation about the war in Ukraine. In addition, within the Search Feature, when news breaks or a topic trends, sometimes not all the information is available yet. Google will now show a notice in the results that means it can take time for sources to publish information or updated data on a topic. It has already created a new label for highly cited sources and original reporting that will roll out on mobile in the coming weeks, and globally over the next month. You can learn more about how Google is fighting misinformation here.
Google and Russia
Like most western companies, Google took action in Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. They said they will no longer accept new Google Cloud customers coming from Russia. And it suspended paid services on Youtube and the Google Play app. The actions mean Google and Youtube no longer sell online advertising in Russia. And it banned state-funded media from using any Google products or technology to buy or sell ads. They also withdrew all operations from Moscow.
Boostability are Your SEO Experts
Of course, Boostability closely monitors search rankings and fluctuations for our thousands of SEO clients. Any big news, you’ll read about here on our Boostability blog. And if you need help keeping track of it all, or just don’t have time, let us take care of your SEO needs. Learn more about our white label SEO program and the approach we take with providing our partners with data-driven campaigns for their clients.
Check back with us next month as we break down the latest search news and keep you up to date with the latest in SEO best practices.