Author: Petra Kis-Herczegh, Senior Solution Engineer
Blog Date: July 2022
Hello Hitchhikers! We're back with the "What's New in SEO" June edition, where I bring you your monthly dose of search engine news. It's been a busy month again, and it seems like many sites and businesses are still feeling the results of Google's May core update, which I discussed in my last update.
June wasn't short of industry events with SEOthebeach looking like the most fun by literally being hosted on the beach. We also had SearchLove, Friends of Search, and two exclusive SEO meetups held in Google offices offering some brilliant content.
It seems to be also the month of search engine betas (Ahref's Yep) and rumours of new search engines coming out soon (Apple search engine), while Google's chatbot claims that they are a sentient AI, so let's dive straight in.
BlueArrays monthly London SEO meetup was hosted by Google in central London. The speakers (Nathan Dugal, Carly Steven and Harry Theo) covered a variety of topics including Charity SEO, Core Web Vitals, AMP, EAT, and more. Caitlin Hathaway, SEO Specialist at Cloudsmith, offered a recap of the event saying, "The Blue Array x Google meetup was a brilliant, engaging event delivering top-tier talks from industry professionals, set in the incredible UK Google offices. Any Blue Array event is a fantastic opportunity to network and meet fellow SEOs and forge new friendships within the industry, would highly recommend attending!"
If you want some real FOMO, checkout:
Search Engine Toolkit
As it was announced at Google I/O in May, video indexing is coming and the beta version seems to be live in some Google Search Console (GSC) accounts already. Kevin Monier shared screenshots of this feature within GSC. This report (similarly to the regular indexation report) will help you understand how your videos are indexed on Google and allow you to examine and fix issues for unindexed video URLs, as well as to initiate a re-crawl after validating a fix. You can read more about this and the labelling of the issues on Search Engine Roundtable. Google also updated their author markup best practices, which is an update to the structured data fields to markup and credit multiple authors and define the relevant type of author (i.e. person or organisation).
Google launched a new attribute for Google Business Profile during Pride month, which means businesses in the U.S. can now use 'LGBTQ+ owned business' as a field for their local businesses. The business launched this during Pride month and acknowledged "As we celebrate Pride, it's important to remember visibility and representation are critical, all year round. A flag in the window of a small business has the power to bring queer folks together, to celebrate our joy, honor our history, and fight for our diverse community. It's our hope that this attribute will allow business owners to celebrate their identity and community with the world."
Google started supporting Black-owned businesses as an attribute in July 2020 as a result of seeing a surge in searches for this and added Women-led business as an attribute in 2018 for International Women's Day. It's worth noting that these attributes are category and country specific, many of these only available in the U.S.
Google's May Core update finally finished rolling out on the 9th of June and it seems to have shaken up the SERPs. Malte Landwehr shared some interesting insights using Semrush and Sistrix, including 3 key trends.; The first one is around video search, which aligns with trends like the TikTok culture, as well as Google's new video indexing betas. The other two trends were: Specialist content instead of generalist and better search intent matching. All of these are aligned with Google's general guidance around E-A-T and shows the improvements the algorithm is making in understanding intent.
LinkedIn and SEO twitter have also exploded over the news that Google only crawls the first 15 MB of a page's HTML and then stops, but there should not be any need for panic. This is not a new thing! Google said they've always crawled pages this way and this is a clarification that should be helpful when debugging a site. First of all, if your site hasn't had crawling and indexation issues with its content not being seen by Google, this won't impact you. Plus it's worth noting that this limit allows for a fairly heavy page, and according to Search Engine Journal; "It would be difficult to go over that limit with HTML unless you were publishing entire books' worth of text on a single page."
Food for Thought
Rumours started (again) of Apple focusing on developing its own search engine to take on Google. The first rumours (at least that I have heard) about this started in 2020, but then later it was published that Google pays Apple billions of dollars each year to be the default search engine for Apple products. However, at the end of May and beginning of June, there were several rumours that Apple is planned to launch their search engine to compete with Google. The rumours that Apple will release this at their WWDC originated from Robert Scobel's tweet saying "Oh, and a new search engine is coming too." I haven't found or seen anything since… I guess that's the thing about rumours! But Apple is definitely focused on improving Siri, Maps and their other products that use search algorithms.
Ahrefs invested $60 million of resources into its own search engine, Yep. Their CEO, Dmitry Gerasimenko announced the plan for a search engine back in 2019. Yep is now in beta, and so far what we know is that their goal continues to be to not collect personal information, with a message to protect the user's privacy — much like DuckDuckGo. We also know that it has a noble purpose to have a profit-sharing model of a 90/10 split where 90% of the profit would go to content creators. As Search Engine Land noted, Ahrefs ultimate goal back in 2019 was to attract the attention of a larger company that could afford to bring the idea to scale. Will it succeed? Currently Google still holds over 92% of search engine market share worldwide with Bing being second, only holding 3% (gs.statcounter.com). Kevin Indig wrote a great article on the challenges of Yep wanting to compete with Google and essentially it comes back to this: Why would users prefer to use this vs other search engines? Here's an example search for 'SEO tool' on Google, Yep, DuckDuckGo so that you can compare the quality of results on each search engine. (Note: The screenshots show the organic results only.)
My take? I don't think Neil Patel should be the first result on Yep, and I'd be willing to bet 99% of SEOs would agree with me on that. But test it out for yourself and see which results you prefer!
And we'll wrap up this month's update with the question that's been discussed more in June than usual: Can AI be conscious? According to Blake Lemoine, it already is. Lemoine, a Google engineer, was sent on leave after breaching confidentiality policies and claimed that the chatbot they were working on had become sentient.
Lemoine had been working on the LaMDA chatbot, Google's conversational technology that was announced in 2021 at Google I/O and its 2nd version was announced this year. The transcript of the conversation with LaMDA has been published and it feels like the start of any artificial intelligence movie, so I'm sure that the fans of the Terminator, Black Mirror, Ex Machina, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Westworld will get some goosebumps reading it.
LaMDA shares their experiences of learning and feeling and raises many interesting points on where and how Google engineers would need to look at their code to prove consciousness. Lemoine explained that it is more complicated but continues the conversation to understand the feelings LaMDA describes and their origins.
Google said that their team reviewed Blake's concerns — including ethicists and technologists — but their conclusion was that "the evidence does not support his claims. He was told that there was no evidence that LaMDA was sentient (and lots of evidence against it)," Regardless,the transcript definitely makes an interesting read and raises a number of questions about when and how we would know if Google were to develop an AI that becomes sentient.
That's all for our June Recap! To keep up to date in the meantime, there are some great newsletters listed below that you can sign up for: