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Welcome to our June 2024 SEO News Recap! This month, we cover Google’s release of the June 2024 Spam Update, how GA4 changes will affect organic & paid search campaigns, ensuring your site is accessible on mobile, and more.

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

Google Releases the June 2024 Spam Update

On June 20th, Google announced the June 2024 Spam Update, which could affect search rankings for everyone. This update is not related to the new site reputation abuse policy or link spam, and it should take about one week to complete. Google said that it will let SEOs know when the algorithmic part of the site reputation abuse policy rolls out. For now, this is just a “normal” spam update focused on improving the quality of Google Search results.

Google Documents Leak Sparks Controversy

Memorial Day 2024 will be memorable for SEOs for years to come. That was the day Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro, published information provided by a then-anonymous source about the apparently accidental publication of code on GitHub from Google’s API Content Warehouse. The documents were uploaded on March 27, 2024, and removed on May 7, 2024. At that point, the damage to Google was done.

Erfan Azimi later allowed Fishkin to release his identity as the source of the leak. The documents he shared with Fishkin were confirmed by Google to be authentic, but Google warned against trying to glean too much information from them, saying they will not provide specifics on which pieces of code are used in the algorithms or how much weight they carry.

The leak sparked controversy as SEOs like Mike King, founder of iPullRank, dug in and voiced their opinions. King published his analysis of the data, which seemed to contradict many statements Google has made over the years about how Search works. Highlights include:

  • Google collects click data and user interaction to determine which pages are shown in query results. This theory is backed by information about Navboost that came out during the Department of Justice trial against Google.
  • Google appears to use Chrome data to track the clickstream of billions of internet users and determine the most popular pages on websites.
  • Google seems to have whitelists for websites that are authorities on travel, COVID-19, and politics.
  • Brand still matters, and the bigger brands still have the advantage.

Much more information is available in the linked articles if you really want to get in the weeds. You can rely on your ROI Revolution SEO team to stay on top of the information relating to this leak and use these learnings (and more!) to the advantage of our clients.

Make Sure Your Site Is Accessible on Mobile

Since we know that Google indexes sites based on the mobile experience first, it should come as no surprise that Google recently warned if sites cannot load on a mobile device, they will not be indexed. This is a friendly reminder to make sure your site is accessible and provides a good user experience across device types. Even if your site isn’t truly “mobile-friendly,” if something loads on Android, iPhone, and Google phones, it should be indexable (though we recommend making sure it is mobile friendly to avoid issues later on). Also, do not block mobile devices or your site may no longer appear in SERPs.

GA4 Changes Will Affect Organic & Paid Search Campaigns

If you see a drop in organic conversions in GA4, it could be due to Google updating attribution models to give more conversion credit to paid search campaigns. Google said that previously, GA4 would sometimes incorrectly attribute conversions to organic search instead of paid search. This is most common for SPAs (single-page applications) when the gclid parameter doesn’t persist across page views. The change in attribution began on June 13th and is expected to be complete on June 27th, 2024.

Return Policy Schema Markup Update

Google announced an update to return policy structured data markup. Instead of specifying your company’s return policy for each individual item, you can now set a sitewide specification in your Organization markup (via OnlineStore or LocalBusiness). This is especially helpful for companies without a Merchant Center account.

Volatility: Buzzword of the Year

If you’re on our SEO service, you’ve probably heard one of your team members use the word “volatility” at least once (if not 100+) times over the past year. The search results are extremely volatile these days, causing ranking fluctuations nearly every day. We know Google is continuously testing things and one thing we learned from a recent Search Off the Record podcast points to another explanation for that constant change and variation: conflicting search experiments. The Google Search team confirmed that sometimes Google has two experiments running simultaneously that conflict and require a rollback of search results, which causes more volatility.

Bing Search Goes Down and Takes Others with It

Many people may not realize just how many search engines are powered by Bing. On May 23rd, Bing Search and Bing’s APIs went down. This failure had a trickle-down effect on DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, ChatGPT Search, and Microsoft Copilot. The outage only lasted a few hours, and Bing was able to shift to other resources to help in recovery. We found the number of systems affected interesting. As they say, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s… down.

The Backlash to AI Overviews and Google’s Response

In the May edition of our SEO Newsletter, we covered the public response to Google’s release of AI Overviews in mid-May. Since then, we’ve continued to follow the backlash and how Google is responding to it. In an interview in which he was asked directly if AI Overviews will kill the web and the publishing industry, Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded that he is optimistic that AI Overviews will help, not hurt.

Many felt that his response was out of touch with reality, but days later, Google updated its help documentation to tell searchers how to show web-only results on the SERPs and provide feedback on the AI Overviews answers they see. By early June, Google had dramatically scaled back the number of AI Overviews shown for queries to 15% from 84%, but some of those answers came from Perplexity, an AI search engine, prompting concerns over how easy gaming the system could be. Google pretty quickly fixed the bug that allowed that to happen.

As Google continues to tweak AI Overviews, we expect to see continued volatility in the SERPs and public debate on social media about whether the system is helping or hurting publishers and businesses as a whole. We’ll keep you posted!

ICYMI: Recent SEO blog posts

Want to catch up with last month’s news? We shared the latest news on the end of the May, including an important update to how Google classifies video pages, Google’s enforcement of their site reputation abuse policy, and more. Check out May’s recap here.