This month delivered yet another round of updates in the organic search world. In this blog, explore SEO news from August 2022 so that you’re up-to-date with everything going on in SEO right now!

Authors: Robyn Riley, Nicole Moore, and Niki Morock

1. Google Updates the Search Quality Raters Guidelines

Google updated the Search Quality Rater Guidelines in late July, with the most significant overhauls related to Google’s definition of YMYL (Your Money, Your Life).

Previously, YMYL topics were broken down into categories including news, current events, government, law, finance, shopping, health, etc. In the recent update, Google completely removed these categories and now defines YMYL by its potential to cause harm:

“Some topics have a high risk of harm because content about these topics could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society. We call these topics ‘Your Money or Your Life’ or YMYL.”

YMYL is now assessed on a spectrum of whether a topic requires a high level of accuracy to “prevent harm.”

Google also expanded upon its definition and the role of E-A-T in determining what it means to be a low-quality page. For many topics, everyday expertise and personal experience is satisfactory, so content creators don’t need to provide information about themselves. However, if a page has information on YMYL topics that is mildly inaccurate, misleading, not trustworthy, or if that content is on a site that is not an authoritative source for the topic, this leads to low page quality ratings, even if they are on an authoritative website.

2. New Use for MUM: Reducing False Premise Results in Search

In addition to updating the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, Google also announced new ways to help searchers find high-quality information. Using the MUM natural language processing model to understand consensus among high-quality sources, Google can now serve featured snippets that reflect that consensus. With the goal of information literacy, Google is also reducing featured snippet callouts based on false premise information by up to 40%, as well as expanding its “About this result” data to alert users to cases where it’s less confident in the answers it shows for some queries.

To learn more about how Google is using natural language processing models to improve search (now and in the future), read our blog post about MUM and BERT.

3. July 2022 Google Product Reviews Quietly Completed Its Rollout

Although Google initially predicted the rollout to take two to three weeks, the latest product reviews update surprisingly completed in six days. Google quietly updated its Google Search ranking updates page, surprising SEOs and webmasters with the speed of the rollout.

Many believe the fourth version of product review updates has missed the mark in quality, leading to volatility in search results. The July update looks at product review content and is aimed at promoting or rewarding “insightful analysis and original research.” Google has also provided documentation on how to write high-quality product reviews to help guide the process.

4. World Notices When Google Search Goes Down Globally

On August 8, Google suffered a large outage that seemed to be caused by a Google data center fire in Iowa. The outage coincided with a software update issue which impacted Google search results, resulting in indexing issues and extreme volatility in rankings, as well as error pages showing in Google Search and Maps.

Although the issue was resolved quickly, sites that saw drops in organic traffic should keep in mind that their site may have been affected by the outage.

5. Google Search Shows Seller’s Return Period in Results Snippets

Toward the end of July, it was discovered that Google had begun displaying return information for some ecommerce sites via a small, gray “x-days returns” label in the SERPs. Google confirmed this is an experiment, meaning it may not be around forever, but could prove very beneficial during the Q4 shopping season if it sticks around.

How does your return information show up there? Google says it “sources from across the web and platforms like the Merchant Center.”

6. Google Now Supports Pros and Cons Structured Data for Reviews Pages

Google is now displaying pros and cons in SERPs when it comes to product review pages. To take advantage, Search Engine RoundTable says to “add positiveNotes and/or negativeNotes properties to your nested product review.” Note, this does not apply to reviews customers leave about your products; this is only for editorial product reviews (think, “10 Best Sunscreens for Kids” or “Top Products for a Good Night’s Rest”).

Instead of making Google guess which pros and cons to include, go ahead and tell them by adding the markup to your pages.

7. Google Clarifies Guidance on Title Tags

In the summer of 2021, Google made news by increasing the number of title tags it rewrote for search results. There was a backlash on social media, so Google explained replacing title tags with text that was more relevant to the query was standard practice.

Last month, Google updated its documentation on how to control title links in search results, removing some ambiguity and clarifying best practices. Our recommendations follow those guidelines and include making sure every page has a specified, unique title in the <title> element and avoiding keyword stuffing.

8. Google Search Console Validate Fix Works Again

On August 1, Search Console users started experiencing errors with the “validate fix” button. Many saw a notice stating:

“Limited functionality: We are making some minor updates in the next few days. During this period, you will not be able to issue new validation requests.”

By August 15, the feature was working again. The updates appeared to be paving the way for Google’s new, simplified page classification system.

9. Search Console CWV Report vs. PageSpeed Insights

Did you know Core Web Vitals and PageSpeed Insights are different sets of numbers? PageSpeed Insights gives a website a score from 0-100 based on estimates Google makes about the average user, the device they use, and their device’s connection.

Core Web Vitals in Search Console, on the other hand, assesses the website with three different metrics, based on speed, responsiveness, and interactivity. The numbers in Google Search Console reflect what actual site visitors experienced while PageSpeed Insights creates a simulation of what users might experience.

John Mueller said:

“Our recommendation is generally to use the field data, the data you would see in Search Console, as a way of understanding what is kind of the current situation for a website. And then to use the lab data (PageSpeed Insights) to optimize your website and try to improve things.”

John recommends using both tools to see examples of real-world performance (Search Console Core Web Vitals) and to determine problems and solutions (PageSpeed Insights).

10. Noindex Pages No Longer Affect Core Web Vitals Scores

When Core Web Vitals scoring was first rolled out in 2021, Google said pages on your site that are noindexed may be factored into its grade. In a recent update to its documentation, Google now states that any page that will not meet the discoverability requirements will not be included. That means pages that are noindexed or served with an HTTP X-Robots-Tag or the equivalent will not lower your score.

August 2022 SEO News: Tying It All Together

In this August 2022 SEO news recap, you uncovered the latest news about Google Search Console, experiments that might impact the holiday shopping season, how Google is leveraging AI for organic search, and more.

Everything in the digital marketing world is constantly shifting, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the SEO world, changes are always happening and new features are always popping up. It can be hard to keep track of it all! At ROI Revolution, our SEO team stays on the pulse of everything going on in the organic search landscape to provide brands with the most up-to-date and current SEO strategies. If you’re interested in starting a conversation about how we can help your brand grow profitably through SEO, reach out to our team of experts today!