The year is almost over so it’s time for a sum up. And there’s quite a lot to summarize as a lot has happened in the SEO industry in 2019. Google released 3 core updates and introduced many other updates that head towards voice search development. Let’s remind ourselves of all the changes in the SEO industry in 2019, so that we could know what to focus on in 2020 and what actions to perform in the upcoming year.
Google introduced many updates in 2019 but 3 of them are called ‘core algorithm updates’, which means that their impact on the rankings was significant.
The first core update in 2019 took place between the 12th and 15th of March. Google confirmed that it has rolled out a significant update with a worldwide impact. It became known as “Florida 2” within the SEO community because it coincided with the Pubcon SEO conference, just like the first Florida update released in November 2003. Despite this similarity, the algorithm updates aren’t related. The latest one is officially known as the March 2019 Core Update. How did it affect page rank?
Google did not rule out changes to the core algorithm that affects backlinks. And as many SEO experts speculate, you can improve search rankings by following the E-A-T (experience, authority, trust) principle. Discussions within the SEO community indicate that E-A-T-related sites have been hit harder, with many seeing recoveries. It’s possible that Google introduced a change in the way it treats backlinks. So links from sites with a higher E-A-T score are worth more and rank higher.
This update took place on the 3rd of June and was confirmed by Google immediately. Although Google admitted that this update is nothing special or particularly “big”, the SEO community started to divagate about its impact and further steps. It’s worth mentioning that Google also rolled out the Diversity Update on the 6th of June. The diversity update was intended to prevent websites from showing multiple results for a given search query. According to Moz, the impact of this update was minimal.
Most importantly, with Core Algorithm updates, Google says there is nothing you can do to fix your site. Core updates are mostly about how Google interprets your query, and how much this influences the information returned in the SERPs. If you noticed that your website was affected by this update, you can do several things.
You can continue to focus on writing high-quality content and updating the content you already have. But the best advice, which I can always give you, is to read the Google Raters Guidelines in its entirety. There are some excellent tips related to E-A-T and content quality in the guide, and the advice comes straight from Google.
The next Google update was announced on the 24th of September. They released a broad core algorithm, and as always provided general guidelines to follow if you see your websites drop in SERP. The SEO community established that this update hit mostly categories, like Food & Drink, Computers & Electronics, and Finance. We have measured it using our SEO tools, as this is the best way to analyze and optimize your SEO actions in such cases.
Although Google’s core updates are important, it’s not everything that has happened in the SEO industry in 2019. Let’s see what else was there.
On the 25th of October, Google introduced the BERT update, the aim of which is to improve page results for users who search with more natural speech, conversational queries. As Google stated on their blog “(..) when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.” This update is another step towards voice search development, as it focuses mostly on conversational queries. Because it was gradually released all over the world, Google states that this update will improve searching for users everywhere.
The algorithm learns from one language and is able to apply what it has learned to other languages. So, after the models have learned English, they will then apply their knowledge to languages like Spanish, Polish, French, German, etc. The BERT model will also improve featured snippets in countries where this option is available.
Another interesting thing is the introduction of the beta version of speakable schema.org. Its aim is to allow the identification of text fragments that Google Assistant could use as answers to specific user questions. Thanks to speakable, we can increase our chances of ranking high for voice search queries. Currently, the speakable property is available for users in the U.S. who have Google Home devices set to English, and publishers who create content in English. Google hopes to launch it in other countries and languages soon.
Most of the SEO changes introduced in 2019 aim to improve the voice search experience and the quality of search results. Voice search is extensively developing and customers use it even more frequently! Voice Assistants are becoming more and more popular, as well as the usage of voice search. This trend will be growing, so website owners and SEO experts have to take it into account while planning strategies for 2020!
A lot has changed in 2019 in the SEO industry, but there’s one thing that hasn’t. SEO activities have always been and will be focused on constant optimization. As someone once said: the only constant thing is change ;)
Hopefully, we’ll see a lot of positive changes in 2020, especially changes resulting in higher ranks for our clients! Happy New Year!