Updated 2. March 2022 by Peter Ottendahl Anberg

Google News February 2022

Google News February 2022

I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems like the first quarter of 2022 is just zooming by. And with the passing of yet another month, it’s of course time for a collection of important news in the world of SEO.

As the algorithm changes and new information comes to light, so must our processes and workflows within search engine optimization. So, read on and find out how to move headfirst into 2022. 

Page Experience for desktop rolling out

It has been announced that the update will finish rolling out in March 2022. This is in line with Google’s commitment to only showcasing the results that provide the very best user experience. This means that where in the past only the mobile experience counted, now the desktop will as well.

How to react:

  • Check out the new Page Experience report in Search Console and assess the results you are getting there.
  • However, if you already have decent mobile scores you very likely will skate through this update unchanged.
  • You can check out our guide on investigating and optimizing your Core Web Vitals score. 

Pages can be un-indexed forever

In a recent Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller stated that the “Discovered – currently not indexed” can last forever.

“​​That can be forever. It’s something where we just don’t crawl and index all pages. And it’s completely normal for any website that we don’t have everything indexed.

And, especially with a newer website if you have a lot of content, then I would assume it’s expected that a lot of the new content for a while will be discovered and not indexed.

And then over time usually it kind of shifts over, like well it’s actually crawled, or it’s actually indexed, when we see that there’s actually value in focusing more on the website itself. But it’s not guaranteed.”

The issues with indexation are not new, and any consistent reader of our Google News updates will know this. In fact, I think anybody working with SEO will know this. 

How to react:

  • Remember that it is not a fundamental right to have your content indexed.
  • Don’t just wait for things to turn around – it might just be time that’s a factor but that’s a risky bet.
  • Instead, just focus on consistently improving the quality of your website and your posts. 
  • If the indexing issues are very grave, consider whether to stop publishing new content and to fix the current content by improving quality and increasing the amount of inbound internal and external links.

How Google understands infinite scrolling

We recently got a confirmation that in fact, Google is probably able to deal with infinite scroll – but it depends on the implementation. 

Since Google renders pages at a very big viewport, if infinite scrolls are automatically triggered by screen size, Google should be able to see most of the content under infinite scroll.

However, as always with Javascript SEO and other technical elements, it all comes down to how it works in reality. Indexing Javascript is finicky at best and frustrating at worst. Remember that Google rarely pushes buttons or interacts with the page in any way.

How to react:

  • You need to make sure Google understands how your page works.
  • Investigate by checking the HTML source code and trying to use your own website with Javascript disabled.
  • You can also use the inspection tool in Search Console or the Mobile-Friendliness Tool to check out how Google renders the page and what HTML it sees when it does so.
  • Be on the lookout for how links are inserted. A link that Google understands is wrapped in a <a href> tag and includes the full URL of the page that is linked to.

Author expertise is a “fuzzy area”

Under the umbrella of E-A-T, author expertise is king. But what about the algorithm? 

In a recent Webmaster Hangout, the talk fell on E-A-T and author expertise. Here Mueller gave a pretty unclear answer: Google *likely* has indirect ways of measuring author expertise. 

Search Quality Rater Guidelines are guidelines for human beings, not instructions to the algorithm. But they still help inform and train the algorithms. Mueller “assumes” that there is indirect author expertise work being done behind the scenes.

How to react:

  • If your website content falls under the umbrella of YMYL (Your money, your life) in that it advises and guides on topics that directly impacts the health and financials of your target group, you should pay attention.
  • For content within this domain, having a high level of E-A-T is something that impresses the users and in our experience, heavily impacts the ranking. 

User comments provide additional context

If managed well, allowing users to leave comments can supercharge your SEO. While it might seem counterintuitive, commenters describe a given topic in their own words, adding context to Google. But it’s also a risky maneuver if you cannot adequately moderate it. 

The bottom line is this: Relevant, high-quality comments can improve your SEO. Irrelevant, spammy comments can harm it. 

How to react:

  • If you currently allow UGC (user-generated content) you should have clear moderation policies as well as anti-spam tools.
  • If you currently disallow it, consider what sort of value user comments could bring in terms of both SEO and conversion optimization.
  • Remember to implement the correct <rel=”ugc”> tags for any links left in comment fields.

No reward for keyword-heavy domain names

Mueller punctured an old SEO-myth: that having keywords in your domain helps you with SEO.

Contrary to a very popular belief, you won’t have any help by adding keywords to your domain name. And in fact – it will probably limit you down the line as you might look to expand.

The limitations are the following: if your domain seems centred on a single keyword, you could have issues expanding your offerings down the line as it no longer fits the brand.

How to react:

  • No reason to react if you currently use a keyword-heavy domain name.
  • Selecting domain names is an art, but do consider the longevity of the domain and try out with a strong brand name instead of a keyword.

Add dates to titles when it makes sense

There is no inherent SEO value in having dates in the title tag. We’ve all seen the “2022 Guide” lining the SERPs, but Mueller posits that there is no need to do this from their point of view.

According to him, they have other ways of figuring out the publication date. However, for some queries that are very time-sensitive, you can definitely consider adding dates to the title.

How to react:

  • Monitor current ranking and CTR performance for the posts and pages you have with a date in it.
  • Try experimenting and changing it and monitoring those changes.
  • Add a note on this in your content policies and SOPs for the future. 

Reciprocal linking can be totally natural

While we all fear falling into a link scheme, Mueller confirms that in a lot of cases, two pages linking to one another is perfectly natural. It’s when it’s done to manipulate rankings it becomes illicit.

In fact, there are a lot of common-sense situations where it makes sense. Consider a company linking to a news article about themselves to highlight the press attention.

Makes sense, right?

What about a hairdresser linking to a barber shop down the street with whom they collaborate? If that barber shop linked back, would that be unnatural?

Of course not.

How to react:

  • Don’t be afraid of reciprocal linking as long as it is natural
  • Do avoid falling into link schemes and trying to manipulate the rankings.