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Welcome to our February 2024 SEO News Recap! This month, we have the latest news on TikTok SEO, a new name for Google’s AI, residual impacts from last year’s Helpful Content Update, and more.

Jump to each February 2024 SEO News Recap news topic using the links below:

Want to catch up with last month’s news? We shared the latest on new Google Search capabilities, how breakthroughs in AI are changing organic search, what Google thinks about AI-generated imagery, and much more. Check out January’s recap here.

Your Rankings Are Not Affected by Toxic Link Reports

John Mueller reminded us in a recent Reddit thread that sites won’t regain lost rankings by disavowing links.

Our time is better spent optimizing our sites.

It doesn’t matter if backlinks are deemed “spammy” or “toxic” by a tool. There’s no value to spending time disavowing them, he says.

Tools like SEMrush can be helpful in identifying patterns and opportunities on a site, but its link toxicity score is something you can generally ignore.

INP Will Replace FID as a Core Web Vital on March 12th

Google has officially announced that Interaction to Next Paint (INP) will replace First Input Delay (FID) as a Core Web Vitals (CWV) metric on March 12, 2024. FID will be officially deprecated and removed from the program during this transition.

INP is a measurement of the latency of all interactions a user makes with a page. The new CWV metric is geared toward user experience.

Check out this Web Dev article explaining INP for an example of good vs. poor responsiveness.

INP reports are already available in Search Console. You can start taking steps to optimize for INP now if you haven’t already integrated these tactics into your technical SEO strategy!

Person watching TikTok on phone.

Is TikTok Really a Search Engine?

The jury’s still out on that one, but we do know that people do use TikTok to search for things – including 51% of Gen Z women who prefer it over Google!

This is helpful information to explain why Google is giving TikTok videos SERP real estate. From Featured Snippets and Search Generative Experience (SGE) to video carousels and more, TikTok results are surfacing more often in Google results.

If your business doesn’t yet have a TikTok presence, it might be time to consider whether the platform is a good fit.

Google Explains Why Sites Haven’t Recovered from the September ‘23 Helpful Content Update

Many website owners who were affected by the September 2023 Helpful Content Update are still waiting to see performance return to “normal.”

This update was arguably one of the most impactful content updates. We haven’t seen recovery as quickly as we would usually expect.

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan shed some light on why this might be, sharing the following via X:

“A natural question some will have is how long will it take for a site to do better, if it removes unhelpful content? Sites identified by this system may find the signal applied to them over a period of months. Our classifier runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content hasn’t returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.”

Essentially, the classifier is constantly checking and re-checking content, but it takes time to “prove” to Google that you’re in it for the long haul – creating people-first, helpful content, that is.

Robot hand typing on laptop.

Bard Gets a (Confusing) New Name & an Upgrade

On February 8, 2024, Google announced it would change its AI chatbot’s name from Bard to Gemini.

Gemini is also the name of Google’s most powerful family of large language models (LLMs), which is now incorporated into the chatbot formerly known as Bard. Chatbot Gemini can hold conversations in over 40 languages in 230 countries.

On the same day, Google also launched Gemini Advanced, a more powerful version of the chatbot that’s powered by Gemini Ultra 1.0. It’s available for a monthly subscription price of $19.99.

To make adopting Gemini easier, iOS users automatically have Gemini as an option in their Google app with the ability to toggle between Google Search and Gemini. Android users can download the Gemini app or opt in through Google Assistant.

Just a week after the big announcement, Google released Gemini 1.5, touting it as more efficient and able to hold long-context conversations. Its availability is more limited because it’s still being tested.

Google Terminates Contract With Appen

Appen is a major contractor for Google, providing the company with a large team of Search Quality Raters – until its contract ends on March 19. 2024.

Before the news broke in late January, it’s likely few SEOs had heard of Appen. The leak by an Appen quality rater spread across X quickly, though, and led to rampant speculation that AI would take over Search Quality Raters’ jobs.

Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz spoke with Google, and in an update to his original news story, explained that Google has been in the process of evaluating and adjusting partnerships across its parent company, Alphabet. Other contractors, who will continue working with Google, also provide Search Quality Raters.

Even Famous Googlers Get Link Request Emails

In an answer to a question from an X user, Google’s John Mueller let us know he gets the same emails many of us do, requesting a link exchange or selling links to websites with supposedly high domain authorities.

Occasionally, he even responds to them with questions from his corporate Google email account.

He also explained, he always marks them as spam and moves on, and we should, too.

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Tying It All Together: February 2024 SEO News Recap

The SEO landscape is in constant flux, and the amount of February 2024 SEO news isn’t out of the ordinary. If your business falls behind in organic listings, you sacrifice earning awareness and new customers.

The good news is, you don’t have to keep up with everything by yourself. The organic search experts at ROI Revolution are dedicated to staying up to date with all the latest and greatest SEO news. Ready to discover the difference that comes with having an SEO guide you can trust? Book a meeting with our team today.