A Quick look back at November 2019 and related Google updates

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There were a number of articles delivered through November from many search engine news channels detailing a few areas that web masters should consider when looking towards maximising their online visibility. Of course, this was alongside one important algorithm update that was also delivered directly by Google.

There were a number of unconfirmed and semi-confirmed algorithmic updates and there was also a big Google local and maps update that seems to be about relevancy rather than proximity.

So, as updates go, it wasn’t a mad busy month, but we certainly needed to keep our ears to the ground and understand these so our service delivery will remain at the cutting edge of whats available!

So lets have a deeper look at what was spoken of;

As for unconfirmed activity then Friday November 8th saw chatter across the industry about a possible Google search algorithm update. Some were claiming massive changes in traffic and rankings but this was limited however, several hours later this chatter went ‘off the charts’ over the weekend of 9th / 10th.

When we say chatter, we are actually talking of the search community that discusses changes in their rankings and the delivery of traffic from Google organic search. This is therefore a really good indicator to show possible updates.

That said, in this case, all of the automated tracking tools showed virtually no update which is strange and therefore adds to speculation that this is related to the ‘BERT’ updated detailed a week ago.

What is important is that if this is an update then it seems to have hit all niches, industries and verticals.

Over the weekend of 16th / 17th November there was chatter and signals of yet another Google search ranking algorithm update. Google themselves did say that there was an update but that there was an update most weekends. This was obviously greying the water rather than saying something had meticulously been delivered.

As for confirmed updates then as was detailed above there was a huge amount of chatter around a possible ranking algorithm update starting November 7th / 8th and indeed over that weekend. There were mixed signals here as although the chatter was heavy Google did not pre-announce anything and again as we detailed, the automated tracking tools didn’t really pick up this movement.

That said, Google has now confirmed that there was indeed an update but they said it was a ‘normal’ update as they deliver several times a week. What Google said on Twitter;

“Some have asked if we had an update to Google Search last week. We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis.”

So, in Google’s mind, this was obviously a smaller update and one that they routinely deliver and therefore they found no reason to pre-announce this. Trouble is many search professionals noticed big swings in their site stats with some noticing 30-50% swings.

One thing to keep in mind was that Danny Sullivan did say that he believes Google would have announced any expansion to BERT and as they didn’t…

Looking at other areas that are important to consider then Google had a bug with new meta tags where in some cases pages would simply be removed from the search index altogether. The ‘recipe markup bug’ is still out there and potentially creating issues. It has also been detailed that Google may be ignoring the rel=canonical for syndication partners. Let’s also not forget that the Search Console was reported to have lost data once again.

Google has indeed had a busy month with a few areas that are worthy of detailing. The median time to render for GoogleBot was reduced to under 5 seconds which is impressive, they have also added a method to preview your recipes on smart displays like the Google Home Hub.  There were also product result filters added to the search console as well as updating the video structured data help documents.

That’s about it for now. Although it has not been too busy a month, as we are now all in full flight towards Christmas then any alteration to our online exposure is important! With this in mind then if you need any analyses completed or indeed help with your online traffic then please do shout!

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