The world of search is abuzz with talk about Google’s first core update of 2022. And you may have seen ranking fluctuations over the last three weeks. If you’re reeling from a drop in traffic, don’t worry. We’ll outline several practical steps you can take to remedy possible issues.
In other news, Google is showing rich video content on results pages, and has released guidance about using the correct data markup. The number of website-specific FAQs on SERPS also seems to have increased. Both of these developments present opportunities for traffic gains.
On a slightly more somber note, the CEO and founder of Yandex, Arkady Volozh, has resigned after the EU enforced personal sanctions as part of its response to the Russia-Ukraine war.
With all that in mind, here’s your roundup of the latest updates, feature releases, and industry stories from the last two weeks.
Google Rolls Out Core Update
The big news from the last two weeks is the rollout of Google’s first core update of 2022. If you’ve noticed any recent changes in your rankings, this is likely the reason. The update was announced on the Google Search Central blog on May 25th: “Today, we're releasing our May 2022 core update. It will take about 1-2 weeks to fully roll out.” On June 9th, the rollout was confirmed as complete.
So what do we know? All signs point to the fact that it was a large update. It applies globally to all regions and languages and targets the full range of content types.
A significant amount of volatility in relation to rankings has been reported, more so than the previous core update in November. It’s also been noted that changes were very quick to take effect. In particular, the real estate niche has reported sizable fluctuations. And sites hosting AI-generated content have taken a beating by most accounts.
If you feel you’ve been hit, your first step should be Google’s troubleshooting questions. Going through these may help you identify problems. If this doesn’t work, a content audit may be in order. Specifically, it’s worth reviewing the Google search quality rater guidelines, one of the most in-depth official resources available.
Google Displays Rich Video Results: Learning Video
Google has added new rich content—called “Learning Video”—that showcases education-related videos on search results pages. Google Search Central documentation has been updated as well, so check that out. The new features are available in all regions in English-language results.
If you publish video content or depend on media for acquiring visitors, rich video results are a prime opportunity for increased traffic. Familiarize yourself with both the Video Learning markup and the general video schema. You’ll also need to ensure that you meet technical guidelines for factors like media length and accessibility (outlined in the documentation).
Google Showing More FAQs in Search Results
Google is displaying FAQ snippets more frequently in search results. FAQ rich snippets are taken from a page’s frequently asked questions section and are shown under a specific search result. There is currently a cap of two FAQ snippets per result.
It is still somewhat premature to make definite statements as Google hasn’t officially acknowledged the change. That said, the third-party data seems to be reliable. If you publish FAQs on pages, ensure that you’re using the relevant schema markup to enhance your chances of better visibility. Rich snippets tend to drive comparatively more clicks than generic results, so it is advised to make your structured data as complete as possible.
Yandex CEO Resigns
The founder of Russia’s largest search engine Yandex, Arkady Volozh, has resigned from his position as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The European Union imposed personal sanctions on Volozh as part of its border package of measures against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Volozh gave his voting rights to the company’s board, and Yandex itself hasn’t been sanctioned.
If a large portion of your site’s traffic comes from the Russian search engine, you don’t need to worry. However, you should stay abreast of relevant developments that could impact your organic performance if you depend on them to reach audiences. The official announcement from Yandex reads, “We do not believe that these developments will affect the company’s operations, its financial position or its relations with partners.”
Google Clarifies Best Practices for Author Markup
If you attribute content to authors, an update to Google Search Central documentation regarding author markup will be of interest. If you don’t credit writers, you should consider doing so, as authorship is a possible ranking factor.
The guidance covers best practices for applying structured data markup to information about authors, thus helping Google “understand and represent” content creators. The best practices cover specifying multiple authors, which additional fields to include, using the author.name property correctly, and which types (Person, Organization, Thing) to use.
There’s very little to lose in applying author markup to your content, and it will likely lead to increased exposure for relevant searches. Moreover, this is not the first time that Google has tried to promote its authors. In 2013, Google Search Central published an article outlining the use of rel=”author”, and it includes several FAQs for improving author markup.
John Mueller Clarifies Role of CDNs in Rankings
Google Search Advocate John Mueller has clarified the role that CDNs play in rankings. In essence, he said that CDNs don’t provide any intrinsic value for sites that are already relatively fast.
CDNs improve site speed by storing cached web pages on a network of geographically diverse servers. When somebody visits your site, they are served from the nearest server.
In an SEO office-hours session, Mueller said, “...if users…are seeing a very slow result, because perhaps the connection to your country is not that great, then that’s something where you might have some opportunities to improve that.”
In summary, you should absolutely leverage a CDN, but don’t anticipate a huge boost in rankings and traffic unless your site speed is particularly slow—your primary gain will be through engagement on the site.
John Mueller Advises Against Use of Company Name as Default Image Alt Tag
To round off, here’s another quick piece of advice from John Mueller. Don’t set the default alt tag for your images as your business’ name. One admin wanted to set all of a website’s image tags to the company brand name as a supposed workaround of the long-winded job of filling the tags individually. Mueller’s response? Doing so would be a complete waste of time. You probably weren’t planning on this anyway. But, well, now you know.