October 2021 SEO Trends

Lauren Keepers Author Headshot by Lauren Keepers

SEO News Roundup #1

The below SEO trends focus on the some of the biggest areas of opportunity to explore in 2022, whether that be through content, site structure, valuable CMS integrations, and the impacts of algo changes on reporting.

Google to Rollout Page Experience Ranking to Desktop Results in February 2022

Following the algorithm update in June and August of 2021 that prioritized page speed as an SEO ranking signal for mobile pages, Google plans to do the same for desktop page results starting February 2022—see timeline details. Expect the same page experience signals (metrics) to apply, including:

✔️ Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the point when a page’s main content blocks have loaded. The render time for image and text blocks should be less than 2.5 seconds for Google to consider it “good” or a useful page.

✔️ First Input Delay (FID) – this measures users ability to interact with a page after it loads. A user should be able to click into a link, tap a button within 100 milliseconds of clicking through to a webpage for Google to consider it a useful page.

✔️ Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – this is how many unexpected template layout shifts happen due to unstable elements after a page loads. This should be less than .1 for real users.

✔️ HTTPS – make sure the site is secure

✔️ No intrusive interstitials – is the visitor able to move through the page with ease even with a pop-up?

Bottom line — Google is continuing to forge an even bigger bond between UX and SEO and prioritize a visitor’s first-impression of a site’s on-page experience.

 

SERP Rank is More Volatile in 2021 than 2020

Semrush has published new data spanning all industry verticals that shows keywords on desktop are 68% more volatile than last year, while keywords on mobile are 84% more volatile.

Bottom line — keep this knowledge in the back of your mind as your auditing keyword performance. Seasonality, technical errors, and setting and forgetting content optimizations are still all likely culprits for major fluctuations in rankings.

 

Google to Release Spam Update within the First Two Weeks of November 2021

In order to continue to eliminate web clutter for its users, Google is rolling out its fourth spam update of 2021. With the two part spam fighting efforts in June 2021 targeting both web and image results globally and the link spam update in July 2021, the criteria for the November spam update is still unknown (links, content or other forms of spam).

Bottom line — 2021 is the year that Google is holding white hat SEO tactics more accountable than ever by continuing to purge ranking status of sites that violate webmaster guidelines.

 

Holiday SEO Tip for eCommerce Retailers: Lead with Evergreen Content

When strategizing over how to show up in the SERPs for prospective Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s consumers, first leverage existing quality, traffic-driving content that works year round in place of fleeting seasonal organic campaign pages. Instead make subtle tweaks to metadata and add relevant on-page keywords. After that, make sure your site structure is set up in a way that helps to categorize holiday products or services without page cannibalization—check out a lucrative seasonal online storefront space with Target’s digital Holiday Shop as an example.

Best practice — For gift buying guides, keyword additions to page titles or on-page such as a year modifier like “2021” and investigational intent keywords like “top or best” are a good place to start.

Bottom line — With holiday SEO, helpful content that is easy to access is something Google will favor.

 

In 2022, Videos Should Get Their Own Landing Pages

Google recently updated its Video Best Practices guide to highlight the importance of 1. providing videos with their own dedicated landing pages and 2. giving those videos primary placement on the page—the recommendations go as far as to illustrate placing the video above-the-fold, at the top of the page is important. See here.

Best practice — multiple placement of the same video is still okay. Don’t use video galleries unless you’re a streaming platform.

Bottom line — Google has its own search algorithm, and so does YouTube. Google takes YouTube’s algorithm best practices into account in combination with relevant queries that help close the gap for searchers looking for an answer to their question.

 

Inflated Mobile Numbers in Google Search Console Will Likely Skew Data Dating Back to June 29th, 2021

Google has recently added annotations to the Page Experience Report in Google Search Console indicating mobile experience data has been over-counted for the past four months. This miscounting could, but isn’t certain to, compromise the data used in the Performance report as well.

Bottom line — For some sites, November performance might result in a 1. a drop in “good URLs and 2. a decline in performance metrics altogether, depending.

 

Google Search Console Metrics that Will be Impacted by Google’s New Mobile Continuous Scrolling Feature

Launched on October 14th, 2021, Google’s new continuous scrolling feature on mobile, not to be confused with an infinite scrolling feature, allows mobile searchers to scroll up to positions 40 to 45 (page 4 of the SERPs for any given query) before ending at the bottom of the page with a clickable “see more” button. Not only does this provide an opportunity for searchers to experience a variety of rich results including, it also offers up a mixture of intent types if the user hasn’t included specific, purpose-based modifiers (transactional, informational, commercial, investigational, navigational and so on).

According to SeerInteractive, this could increase mobile impressions for pages ranking in positions 11 (page 2) up through page four positions. As a result, there might be a natural decrease in CTRs.

Best practice — Impressions should first and foremost always be looked at as a means to evaluate early indicators of any recent content or technical change. In Search Console, filter impressions and average position for the United States only if your site is a United States business. At the very most, annotate this change in Google Analytics and Google Search Console to be able to reference in the future.

Bottom line — It’s unknown whether or not this will affect some industry verticals over others, but getting creative with schema markup to produce rich, unique results from competitors will continue to be important.

 

How to Stay Ahead of Google Rewriting Title Tags

Did you know page titles have a mini algorithm of their own now? Check them out here. As of August 24th, 2021, Google began generating their own page titles for some, but not all, web pages. Here’s how Google decides when a page title should be updated:

❌ If a title tag is automatically generated using a boilerplate framework or text
❌ If a title tag doesn’t represent the content that’s on the page
❌ If a title tag is too long

To combat this, be deliberate in H1 creation. Incorporate desired primary, secondary and even tertiary keywords there, but in doing so, ensure the header title flows, represents the content, and is unique to competitors’.

Best practiceUse this tool to audit implemented page titles compared to actual SERP page titles. No CTR drop? No problem.

Bottom line — Page titles being rewritten isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and page titles will continue to be a ranking factor no matter what. H1s will start to play an even more prominent role in the future.

 

Google My Business Continues to Experiment with Different Displays of Reviews from Non-Google Sources

Google continues to test different iterations of how it displays third-party citation data. Namely, it’s showed up under the GMB review star section as “{{insert # of reviews}} reviews on independent sites.”

Best practice — Consistency across name, address, phone number (NAP) data remains as a basic pillar of excellent customer service whether that be on internally controlled listings or externally referenced citations.

Bottom line — Google continues to value third-party directory listing reviews of a website and will reference that data on trusted, public structured citations like Google My Business and Bing Places listings.

 

Fast Simon Integration with Shopify: It’s Worth it if You Remember these 3 Technical SEO Tips

Shopify is continuing to serve simple technical requirements of small businesses and larger, more complex technical requirements of large businesses. More dynamic Shopify stores are starting to leverage Fast Simon to improve SEO pillars specific to eCommerce such as: faceted navigation, category page personalization, and internal site search. Fast Simon is popularly integrated with WooCommerce, Big Commerce, and Magento too.

Best practice – When integrating Shopify with Fast Simon, avoid drops in rankings through these technical SEO actions:

✅ Enable pre-rendering of content in Fast Simon through Fast Simon support
✅ Update Shopify’s robots.txt file to block crawling of duplicate pages resulting from faceted navigation
✅ Update Shopify’s robots.txt file to allow paginated URLs to be crawled

 

Google My Business is Now Referred to as Google Business Profile

And with the new name change, brings a new way to access location listings—in fact, it’s so easy, owners can now claim, verify, access, and manage single listings directly from Google search results pages.

Bottom line — Be on the lookout for features in the old Google My Business interface to start showing up in the new one.

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