As we’re nearing the end of the year, November brought another series of updates and major announcements that caused significant changes within the industry. And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down moving into December! This past month has seen two large updates and 5 major announcements coming straight from the source, Google. Keep reading to see our breakdown and recap of November’s SEO updates, trends, and news!

Google Algorithm Updates

Search Spam Update

Google launched the Search Spam Update starting on November 2nd and it finished rolling out fully on November 12th. Not to confuse this with the Link Spam Update that was launched earlier in the year (July 26th), the November Spam Update broadly targets search spam which can encompass content, links, and other SEO practices. Following the launch of the update, Google’s recommendations were to follow Webmaster guidelines and best practices.

Industry expert, Glenn Gabe, believed the November Spam Update was targeting websites using content cloaking methods. Those websites were also found to have been inserting links within the cloaked content (see Twitter thread below). Have you noticed any changes to your website traffic and keyword rankings after the November Spam Update?

glenn gabe twitter thread screenshot of november spam update

screenshot of glenn gabe twitter thread on november spam update

After his initial findings on November 5th, Gabe posted more data to support his statement a few days after regarding a website that was cloaking content and links. As a result, their traffic makes a notable decline following the launch of this update (see below):

screenshot of glenn gabe twitter thread on november spam update


graph of traffic drop from november spam update


screenshot of website semrush organic research report


November 2021 Core Update

In addition to the Search Spam Update listed above, November experienced yet another update. However this time around it was a core update. The core update launched on November 17th and finished rolling out on November 30th. Throughout the roll out, there were major jumps in volatility and many industry experts felt the effects (both positive and negative), especially around Thanksgiving. Glenn Gabe saw notable keyword and traffic fluctuations for ecommerce and health-related websites.

As a reminder, webmasters most likely won’t see significant improvements to their campaigns until the following core update. But that doesn’t mean that incremental improvements won’t be made and that you shouldn’t be working to recover any traffic or keyword position losses if you’ve experienced that.

Refresh your memory on what webmasters should know about core updates and what questions your content should be answering to provide the best possible user experience!


Industry News and Announcements

Desktop Page Experience Update Set to Launch in February 2022

While the Page Experience Update has already applied to mobile sites, Google announced that it will be applying those factors and signals to desktops as well starting in February 2022. The plan is to finish the update by March 2022. However, delays can happen as we’ve seen with the Page Experience Update earlier this year. So what does this mean? All of the same factors and signals will be applied to the desktop environment (including guidelines for intrusive interstitial ads and pop-ups) with the exception of mobile-friendliness.

desktop page experience update checklist


Best practices dictate that you should create the best possible experience, trust, and authority for both mobile and desktop versions of a website. If you’ve been doing that, you’re on the right track to seeing positive results with this update!


Websites Can Be in Algorithm Penalty Limbo for Years After

In the Nov. 26th SEO Office Hours Hangout, John Mueller admitted that in rare situations, a website can be stuck in a penalty limbo for several years following an algorithm if Google stopped updating that specific algorithm (watch this at the 24:49 mark). The good news is that this is a rare occurrence. However, it’s still alarming news. This is an important reminder to take action following algorithm updates to rectify any penalties as fast as possible. It’s also important to always make improvements to your website that will enhance the user experience and E-A-T.


More Updates to Come in the Future

While this was announced on November 8th by Danny Sullivan, we thought it would be appropriate to conclude our recap of the November 2021 SEO Update with this news: Google will be releasing more algorithm, core, spam, and other updates in the future. So if you thought that things would be slowing down after the year is over, that’s unfortunately not the case. But the silver lining to this is that it’s all in the name of improving user experience and trust online, and holding webmasters to that standard. With all the digital marketing trends that are expected to take place in 2022, SEO isn’t dying and should always be on your priority list.


Our SEO Experts Can Help Your Business & Clients

As we’ve mentioned, November was a volatile month (basically all of 2021). And just as Google announced, it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. More updates and changes are set to be released, which means that we can expect keyword ranking and site traffic fluctuations.

Rather than trying to figure this out yourself (because this takes a lot of time, effort, and testing), get help from SEO professionals whose job is dedicated to deciphering algorithm updates and understanding what will generate positive results. With over a decade of experience in delivering successful SEO campaigns to clients world-wide, we are 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.


Maja is the former SEO Manager for the marketing team at Boostability. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in Marketing, her focus has been on expanding her knowledge and skill set in SEO. Prior to joining the corporate marketing team at Boostability, Maja gained experience working at several digital marketing agencies in Salt Lake City, focusing on SEO strategy development and fulfillment, as well as client account management. Working closely with clients ranging from small businesses to enterprise organizations, she has managed and executed SEO strategies for over 20 different company websites. Outside of work, Maja loves to go on hikes with her husband and dog, play volleyball, bake and cook, and try new restaurants throughout the city (she considers herself a fry-connoisseur).