SEO: October Roundup

Search engine optimisation is one of the most mysterious and cryptic industries out there, so I thought it best I compile a round-up of all the news and updates that occurred in October. 

Google Webmaster Conference At The GooglePlex

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Google announced the event on its blog saying:

“Building on the success of these events so far, we’re hosting a product summit version of this event at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View on Monday, November 4th.”

Google: HTML Sitemaps Not Worthwhile For SEO Purposes

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John Mueller, of Google, posted on Reddit that he agrees, that HTML sitemaps are not worthwhile for SEO purposes. He said:

“I agree. When it comes to SEO … for small sites, your site should be crawlable anyway (and if you’re using a common CMS, it’ll almost always be fine) & for large sites, they’re not going to be useful anyway (use sitemaps, use normal cross-linking, check with a crawler of your choice).”

The bottom line is that if Google cannot crawl your small web site through your normal navigation, then you may have larger issues.

Multiple H1s won’t get in the way of your SEO, Google says

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Google still uses headings to understand the context of your pages, however, they have come out and said that multiple H1s will not get in the way of your SEO.

When asked exactly how Google uses headings, they’ve replied:

“We use headings to better understand the context of different parts of a page,” said Mueller. “Having clear, semantically understandable headings is useful in understanding any given page; however, we have to work with the web as we find it and a lot of it isn’t semantically structured at all.”

“For users, the difference is minimal — both kinds of pages can be extremely relevant to a question that they have. In turn, our systems aren’t too picky and we’ll try to work with the HTML as we find it, be it one H1 heading, multiple H1 headings or just styled pieces of text without semantic HTML at all.”

This is a really interesting update, and specifically one relevant for long-form content lovers and bloggers. So, for me, I will be taking this into consideration for my blog.

Google is Testing Search Results Without URLs

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Google seems to be testing the removal of URLs from search results.

The State of SEO 2019 – Infographic

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The survey revealed that there is still a lack of understanding around best practices for marketers to use. 25% of those surveyed called for clearer guidelines on best practice from Google Webmasters, revealing that there is, in fact, a knowledge and skills gap around SEO.

Screaming Frog releases SEO Spider version 12.0

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In short, the update adds page speed insights API integration and autosaves.

Screaming Frog has fully released version 12.0 of its popular SEO Spider tool, and I highly recommend you take a look!

Permalinks: What They Are & How to Structure Them for Max SEO Value

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Permalink is one of the least commonly thrown around technical terms in SEO, so this article is definitely worth taking a look at, because it included a ‘how-to’ section, too.

Google BERT Update – What it Means

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This is the big one – Google’s biggest algorithm change for a long, long time – or as Google said ‘the most important update in five years!’ But, what does it all mean, and how will it impact SEO?

According to Google, this update will affect complicated search queries that depend on context.

Google have said:

“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.

Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.”

Search Engine Journal asked search expert Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando on Twitter) what that meant for SEOs, and she said:

“BERT and family improve the state of the art on 11 natural language processing tasks. Even beating human understanding since linguists will argue for hours over the part of speech a single word is.

But what if the focus of a page is very weak? Even humans sometimes will be like “what’s your point?” when we hear something.

And pronouns have been very problematic historically but BERT helps with this quite a bit. Context is improved because of the bi-directional nature of BERT.

There will still be lots of work for us to do since we need to emphasise importance, utilise clear structures, help to turn unstructured data into semi structured data, utilise cues on content light pages (e.g. image heavy but not text heavy eCommerce pages) using such things as internal linking.”


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