Authors: Carolyn Wilborn, Kelsey Burnham, Robyn Riley, Sadie Andersen
In our January 2022 SEO News Recap, explore the most recent news and updates from ROI’s SEO experts on search engine optimization, including insights into how Google ranks fluff content, SEO for Shopify, a new Google Shops section in organic search results, and more.
Organic Ranking Volatility Update: December Tops 2021
Semrush says that December was the most volatile month of the volatile year.
The combination of the November core algorithm update ending on November 30th, the December product reviews update, a local search update, plus other daily algo updates resulted in an unusually active month.
Low-Quality Site Translations Drag Down Organic Search Rankings for Multilingual Sites
This news comes to us directly from John Mueller, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst. A bad translation of a website is a lower-quality element that could make Google think your entire site is less trustworthy.
If some translations on your site are worse than others, it may be time to focus on improving this content. After all, all elements in your site are interconnected in the eyes of Google. If there is one low-quality element on your site, such as a botched translation, it may potentially harm the SEO ranking of the entire site.
Sometimes, it’s better to not expand to multiple site translations unless you can be certain that the resulting copy is going to be very high-quality. For instance, if you have an amazing French translation but a questionable German one, your entire site’s Google organic search ranking in all languages could be impacted.
John Mueller later clarified his answer to how bad translations can affect the overall SEO for the main language site to say that it’s more about low-quality sections of a site rather than the poor-quality translation. He states that Google does not acknowledge why a section of a site is poor, just that it is lower-quality than the rest of the site. This can indicate that the site as a whole is not as quality as previously understood.
He explains further that many pieces of a site work together to create the overall impression of quality, and it takes time for Google to understand the overall quality of a website. This is why we rarely see drastic improvement in the organic space, and why thinking about the site quality as a whole is so important.
Google: Fluff Content Hard for Search Engines to Understand & Rank
Google’s John Mueller recommended reducing content fluff when possible in a recent tweet where he says:
“If you make it hard for search engines to figure out what you’re trying to say, it’s no wonder they don’t recommend your pages…”
Google does rank fluffy pages currently (looking at you, recipe posts), but it may have a tough time discerning what your post is about and which keywords are most relevant for it.
Google: Number of Links to Your Site Not a Useful Metric
In another example of quality over quantity, Google’s John Mueller responded to a question on Twitter about which was more accurate: the number of external links reported in Google Search Console, or the number of links included in a download from that same report.
John says that it doesn’t really matter. There’s no accurate way to measure the absolute number of links to any site since that number is always fluctuating. While John didn’t say so specifically in this exchange, Google has said that they value the relevance and quality of the links over the total number.
This is important to remember when setting goals. Getting 3,000 backlinks to the site is a less worthwhile goal than earning 5 to 10 backlinks from highly relevant and highly authoritative sites.
Yoast SEO Is Coming to Shopify!
Yoast, the popular WordPress plugin that has helped more than 12 million users improve their SEO, announced that as of January 18, 2022, a new Yoast SEO Shopify app is available.
This opens the door for millions of additional users to optimize their posts and pages to be more search engine-friendly. A more SEO-friendly site means higher rankings, more views to your pages, and more sales.
One thing to note: Yoast for WordPress has always been a free plugin. On Shopify, this will be a paid app at $29 per 30 days with a 14-day free trial.
Google Launches Shops Section in Mobile Search Results
To continue expanding the usefulness of search results for both users and merchants, Google has launched the Shops section of SERPs for mobile devices (US-English only).
This list displays three retailers at a time based on their site’s organic search rankings. Users can expand the list by clicking “More Shops” to see up to 10 listings at a time.
This feature may not be available for every relevant mobile search yet.
DuckDuckGo to Launch a Desktop Browser
DuckDuckGo, the search engine with privacy at its core, plans to release a desktop browser in the future. This search engine averages more than 100 million searches per day and, in many markets, is the most downloaded browsing app on Android.
One highlight of DuckDuckGo is the “Fire” button, which erases all browsing history, data, and tabs in the mobile app. DuckDuckGo says they plan to bring this feature to desktop, too.
Search Incrementality: How Paid & Organic Work Together for Better Performance
In a presentation at SMX Next, Jonathan Kagan shared findings from a case study showing the relationship between organic and paid traffic. In the case study, paid ads were paused and organic traffic never fully absorbed the loss of paid traffic. But when paid ads were reactivated, the data rebounded to pre-test levels.
He concludes that organic traffic alone rarely rises to the levels of traffic achieved through paid plus organic efforts, and SEO + SEM really is a 1+1=3 relationship.
Few brands that are household names can rely only on organic traffic to reach their full traffic potential.
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Google: Links Have to Be on Indexed Pages to Be Counted & Not All Indexed Links Are Counted
John Mueller confirmed that links from pages that are not indexed do not pass link equity. Therefore, links from pages that are not indexed – whether they are toxic or valuable – do not hurt or help websites or pages from a link equity passing perspective. They can still, of course, drive users to the site and help user experience.
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- Search Engine Roundtable. Semrush: December The Most Volatile Month For Google Search Of 2021.
- Search Engine Roundtable. Google: Quality Of Your Languages On Your Multilingual Site Can Impact Each Other.
- Search Engine Journal. Google: One Part Of Site Can Hurt Entire Site Quality.
- Search Engine Roundtable. Google: Fluff Content Hard For Search Engines To Understand & Maybe Rank.
- Search Engine Roundtable. Google: The Number Of Links Is Not A Useful Metric.
- Yoast SEO Blog. We have big news: Yoast SEO is coming to Shopify!
- Search Engine Land. Google launches ‘Shops’ section in mobile search results.
- Search Engine Land. DuckDuckGo to launch a desktop browser.
- Search Engine Land. Search incrementality: How paid and organic work together for better performance.
- Search Engine Roundtable. Google: Links Have To Be On Indexed Pages To Be Counted & Not All Indexed Links Are Counted.