Welcome to the herd!

This is our very first SEO news roundup. Every month, we’re going to be scouring the interworld in search of SEO news that matters to your business.

Google is constantly updating its algorithm and September was no different. In general, it looks like organic search traffic is growing steadily compared to paid as Google leans heavily into their mission to supply users with the best and most relevant search options.

So without further ado, here are the four core SEO updates that unfolded in September 2019.

Organic search responsible for 53% of all site traffic, paid 15%

In a recent report by BrightEdge, it was shown that organic website traffic is still growing.

Over the five years they’ve been conducting their research, organic search grew from 51% to 53% of site traffic.

In comparison, paid traffic makes up around 15% and social media traffic has shown no growth, generally delivering less than 5% of website traffic. We should caveat that by pointing out that this was dependent on the market. Social media traffic makes up more than 8% in media and entertainment.

What this means, is that when it comes to gaining web traffic, especially the kind that sticks around and converts, the best way is still going to be organic traffic through top notch content and well executed SEO.

Google updates the way it deals with the nofollow link attribute

Huge news for all you PRs out there getting hammered by brands wanting you to chase down backlinks.

Google has announced it is changing the way the algorithm understand the nofollow link attribute.

Whereas before the link attribute rel=”nofollow” was understood to mean that the link should be ignored, it is now going to be dealt with as more of a hint.

Explainer

We’ve been predicting this one for a while.

Google uses the quantity and quality of links pointing to a website as a major ranking factor. Think of each one like a Facebook Like.

The rel=”nofollow” was a way of telling Google that, although you were linking to a website, you weren’t particularly keen to endorse whatever was on the other side.

The problems began when every major publisher began adding ‘nofollows’ to all their links as a matter of policy. Not for the first time, somone somewhere came up with a dumb idea and got everyone to buy into it. Like me, you must be shocked to find that the British newspaper industry is susceptible to supporting bad ideas, but there you go.

Anyway, Google’s taken back control.

In addition, Google is adding two more link attributes. Combined, these link attributes will supply more context to the content you’re linking to. The three will function in the following ways:

rel=”sponsored”: This new attribute is to be used on links on your site that were created as part of an advertisement, sponsorship other agreement set up as part of a compensation scheme.

rel=”ugc”: This attribute is to be used for links within user-generated content, for example, comments or forums.

rel=”nofollow”: As described above this attribute will no longer tell Google to ignore the link. It will act largely in the same way though and is to be used when you want to link to a page but you don’t want to imply any type of endorsement or pass on any ranking credit. The Google will decide whether to pay attention to you or not.

Google doesn’t think there will be significant changes to the search results because of this update coming into effect in March 2020.

Google won’t pay French Publishers Copyright Fees

In 2018 the European Parliament passed a new copyright directive. This was done, they claimed, in the spirit of fairness and in an attempt to modernize EU copyright law.

However, it was also done in an attempt to generate licensing revenue from big online publishers such as Google and Facebook.

In terms of Google, they intended to force Google to pay for any content displayed in its searches. Google had other ideas and after pointing out that their algorithms are intended to help users find the most relevant content as easily as possible, it has instead opted to simply remove the content that infringes on this new law.

What this means is they will display links and “very short” extracts.

This scenario has already played out in Germany and Spain and the inevitable result was for businesses’ website traffic drop off sharply.

It’s amazing that, despite the same scenario having already been played out, French lawmakers and publishers believe that Google would act any differently.

Google in this way will circumvent the law by requiring explicit permission to publish more content. Any publishers that don’t give permission can forget/will likely lose their traffic to those that are giving Google the ability to display more descriptive text.

Google September 2019 Core Update

In September Google rolled out a core update. This is always something one should pay attention to, as whenever it updates its search ranking algorithms a website may do better or worse in the search results.

It’s still early days on this one, but fortunately it looks relatively benign.

Updates usually impact specific sectors, such as finance or health, so it’s quite easy for a site that was doing well for years to suddenly find itself losing traffic.

Knowing when Google rolls out the update gives a point of reference if things change on your site.

This can be a really scary time for any business, but quite often the traffic is recoverable if you address the reasons why you fell foul of the update in the first place.

For more on recovering from an algo-update, read our recent case study.

Summary

Google is at the forefront of the evolution of SEO. The algorithms keep getting smarter and better at rewarding quality content. When it comes to gaining web traffic you need to appeal to the Google Gods. And to do this high-quality content and good technical SEO are the Lennon and McCartney of SEO.

We hope you enjoyed the SEO News Roundup and found it useful, enjoyable and easy to digest. If you did, feel free to give us a share below. Otherwise, see you back here in November for some more SEO storytelling.

Saludos!

Sources

https://searchengineland.com/google-september-2019-core-update-to-roll-out-later-today-322523
https://searchengineland.com/google-to-treat-nofollow-link-attribute-as-a-hint-after-march-1-2020-321664
https://searchengineland.com/google-wont-pay-french-publishers-copyright-fees-will-limit-content-in-search-results-instead-322633
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2019/08/core-updates.html