12th August 2021
August 2021: Organic Search update.
After a couple of hectic months of Google updates, I’m pleased to announce that July was definitely a quieter month in the world of SEO. There were no major updates after the July Core Update which arrived on July 1. Phew! We go into more detail on that in our last SEO update, catch up here.
You may have experienced some ranking fluctuations over the past few weeks, which is totally normal after all the major algorithm updates Google has rolled out in June and the start of July. This SERP volatility should calm down in the coming weeks, so don’t worry if your rankings have dipped recently.
Even though the past month has been quieter than June was, we have a few updates we want to make you aware of.
Google link spam algorithm landed on July 26.
For any SEO newbies, links are one of the ways Google discovers new content on the web, and through these links, Google can understand what content may be helpful to searchers. Relevant links from high authority sites can be beneficial for sites to receive, as they show Google which sites are most trusted online. Google’s algorithm values links which are ‘natural’, meaning they are earned rather than falsely created.
Google has been cracking down on low-quality links (links from sites built just to manipulate Google’s quality guidelines) for years now, meaning low-quality links are not effective in improving organic search rankings. Google has been working on improving their link spam algorithm because there are still sites who intentionally build spammy links with the intent of manipulating ranking, often in deceptive ways.
In their continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, Google launched a new link spam-fighting change at the end of July, called the ‘link spam update.’ This algorithm update rolled out over a two week period and will be even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly. The update is said to be across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in organic search rankings as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.
We believe this announcement suggests a particular emphasis on targeting links from sponsored, guest, and affiliate content. A reminder of Google best practices can be found here.
The July 2021 core update finished rolling out.
The July 2021 core update rollout is now effectively complete. July 2021 core update. Google started the July 2021 core update on July 1, 2021. The update took a full twelve days to roll out, whereas the previous update, the June 2021 core update, took only ten days to fully roll out.
The July update is definitely smaller than the June one, meaning it had less impact on rankings. If you are still experiencing a decline in your rankings after the July update, take a look at Google’s advice on what to do if your site has been hit.
Google expands ‘About this result’ with info on ranking factors.
At the end of the month, Google expanded the ‘About this Result’ feature in SERPs. For anyone who may have missed this handy feature, it is where Google shows the user more information in SERPs on why a page is ranking for any given result. You can see the ‘About this result’ box by clicking the triple dots at the corner of a search result. Take a look at an example of this feature below:
The reasons listed can be anything from a page matching the language of the user’s search query, to having matching terms included in the on-page content. This feature from Google is a really transparent move from them, to help build trust between the user and them.
Helping users to trust the websites listed in Google, but not only that, it’s handy for anyone working in SEO, to get further insight into what Google equates to as an important ranking factor. If anything, it’s a convenient confirmation to see Google is in fact showing predominantly secure sites on page one, and is showing results which have related terms in the on-page copy too.
All of this highlights the importance of both technical SEO and solid on-page optimisation, where you not only include your target keyword but semantically relevant terms too. Google believes that this feature is helpful because it:
“show(s) you tips for how you can get to what you really wanted. For example, you can put quotes around a word or phrase to get results that mention those words exactly, or use a minus sign to exclude certain words from your search.”
So there you have it! A short and sweet update for you this month. Hopefully, this will give you some much-needed time to catch your breath and work on rebuilding any of your lost rankings. As always, if you have any SEO related questions, or any concerns about your rankings, do not hesitate to get in touch.