We’re well underway here in Q4 as 2022 continues full steam ahead to a busy end of year. After it feels like months and months and months of writing these updates chalk full of busy rumors, algorithm news, and discussion in the SEO community, October seemed to be a little quieter. But of course there’s always things to talk about. So I’ll get us covered with what you need to know in SEO for the last month or so.
Update to Google Webmaster Guidelines
Let’s start out with the Google Webmaster Guidelines. These have been industry standard guidelines around in the industry since 2002 (that’s 20 years). Google said at the time that they released this page to give an overview of best practices when building a website. It’s safe to say that we as a society and the nature of business itself has changed dramatically in that time. And to reflect those changes, Google launched new guidelines that seem to be a little simpler to understand.
In 2002 we launched a page with a set of guidelines for site owners that gave an overview of best practices when it came to building a site. A lot has changed since then, so today we’re launching a refreshed, simplified version of the Webmaster Guidelines:https://t.co/0xXAcwDHSI pic.twitter.com/QotRXJLieT
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) October 13, 2022
Now called Google Search Essentials, it’s part of the Google Search Central is one all encompassing set of guidelines, they’ve made the website easier to navigate by compartmentalizing the guidelines into “Technical requirements”, “Spam policies”, and “key best practices.”
Technical Requirements focuses on content. What are the types of content that can help a site rank. Plus the technical background that helps Google access the content.
Spam Policies really hits hard on a big problem Google is tackling. This section of the new Search Essentials talks about common forms of spam, and the behavior and actions that could get Google to mark a site as spam or not rank it at all. A lot of these come from the Quality Guidelines and other information posted around Search Central. (More on the latest Spam update below.)
The Key best practices section comes from what Google calls “a set of practices that we believe people really should consider when creating sites.” Meaning, if you listen and follow these kinds of practices, it’s more likely that your site is done well enough to rank on Google.
October 2022 Spam Update
On October 19th, Google released its latest Spam update. It rolled out quickly, in just 42 hours. Most updates take a week or more to roll out. Reports in the SEO industry show that it made a big impact on those affected, but it wasn’t widespread. For those who did see traffic drops or fluctuations, Google encouraged webmasters to review its spam policies to make sure the website complies with those.
Google didn’t provide specific information about the types of spam it’s removing or targeting. But refers back to its spam guidelines linked above. Google’s definition of spam primarily centers around low-quality sites. These sites trick users into providing personal information or installing malware to their computer. So while these spam updates can be pretty impactful, it’s not likely to affect most sites out there.
Site Names on Mobile Search
One more bit of news directly out of Google. The way websites appear in search results. On October 14th, Google said site names will show up on mobile search. This will make it easier to identify the specific website associated with the result, rather than just the title of the page. These results are showing up for English, French, Japanese, and German results. But this update will roll out to other languages in the near future.
Google suggests that if you don’t like how your website name shows up in mobile search, you need to use structured data on your homepage to better inform Google what the site name should be.
‘Link Juice’ Should be Avoided
Lastly, we want to talk about one of Google’s John Mueller’s conversations he has on Twitter with SEO experts and webmasters. He made a statement that made waves in the SEO community. Someone asked around “link juice” lost by giving outbound links and the contradictory nature of the practice. Mueller commented “Anything that talks about ‘link juice’ should be ignored. Go and make awesome websites with content that’s userful and inspirational to real people.”
Anything that talks about “link juice” should be ignored. Go and make awesome websites with content that’s useful & inspriational to real people.
— John Mueller is mostly not here 🐀 (@JohnMu) September 29, 2022
A very definitive quote there. It reflects the tone that Google is taking its search and the continued focus on good content. It also seems to reflect other discussions and trends seen recently. Google continues to move away from the importance of links and focuses on good content on a website to rank better. We don’t believe link building will ever completely go away from good SEO work and practices.