Updated 2. December 2021 by Peter Ottendahl Anberg

Google News November 2021

Google News November 2021

Another month has passed and Christmas is coming soon. We can’t wait. This month, Google brought the world of SEO an early present in the form of a core update, they clarified some commonly asked questions and tried to quell the debate about indexing.

Read on to find what happened to the world’s biggest search machine in the month of November

Don’t use republished ratings and reviews

We all want SERP listings that look like this, right?

The easiest way to get them is to implement structured data markup with review data. However, the way many SEOs go about it is actually directly contrary to the official guidelines.

And recently, Google confirmed that even with correct schema markup, if your ratings or reviews are republished from a third party, they’re not going to be used for rich results

So you can’t just republish GMB or Trustpilot reviews and make that work

Instead, you should implement a mechanism whereby visitors can rate products directly on your page.

Is that more bothersome? Sure.

Is it more fair and transparent? Very much.

Is Google getting slow with old age?

Independent publishers and large sites all share the same data: that Google has heavily decreased indexing and crawls since early November.

A lot of theories are offered online as to why, some including cookie banners and 304 requests, but John Mueller claims all is well:

“I don’t see anything broken in the way Google indexes stuff at the moment. I do see us being critical about what we pick up for indexing though, as any search engine should.”

John Mueller

It would seem that Google is perhaps not getting slower with old age, but a lot more distinguishing. And we have a section now detailing what Google means about “being critical” about what they pick up for indexing.

Sites need to be “worthwhile” to be indexed

Are you getting frustrated by countless “Discovered – currently not indexed” errors in your Search Console?

Well, here’s one of the reasons why it’s happening:

Google hits up a lot of pages every day. A tremendous amount, even.

And they recently came out with a rough message: if you have indexing problems, they feel bad for you, son it’s possibly because your pages aren’t worth indexing.

Harsh, right? Well, it kinda makes sense from their point of view:

“Since we don’t have an understanding of the URL (it’s not indexed), we have to pull in the rest of the site to better understand its potential context within the site, and within the rest of the web. Is it something the web has been waiting for? Or is it just another red widget?”

John Mueller

He offered even more advice about the error type on Twitter:

So, if you want to get rid of these errors, the solution is deceptively simple:

Convince Google of your website by making it more awesome.

Bolding text is a ranking factor

While it might seem like SEO advice from the previous decade, John Mueller recently confirmed that they do look at semantic HTML factors like the <em> and <strong> tag to help understand what pages are about.

  • Include bolded text in all texts
  • Consider emphasized as well (known as fancy italics around the office)
  • Also helps with accessibility and user-friendliness
  • Likely a small, less significant ranking factor

But, just to underscore something important: That doesn’t mean you should just bold all your text and call it a day. To paraphrase a certain antagonist from a popular children’s movie: If everything is bold, nothing is. (notice what I did there?)

Choose the sentences, words and phrases that users will find relevant and that will help Google understand the page’s focus.

New spam update out

Google released its fourth spam update in 2021. The fight against spam is one of Google’s most noteworthy and as part of that, they released yet another update this year.

Spam – in the eyes of the algorithm – are mostly low-quality sites intent on deceiving their users for malicious purposes. So the problem is not just quality but also the purpose of those pages

However, regular sites might be caught in the crossfire of spam updates as technical and other signals are (re-)evaluated across the internet.

But if you do SEO the right way for the right reasons, no need to worry. If you do experience issues after the two large updates this month, you can consult our guide on link spam.

New core update released!

And it hit hard and heavy, and then subsided.

There were lots of fluctuations afterwards and then things have mostly settled. That’s why we can probably surmise they are close to finishing up.

Some notes:

  • No specific focus
  • But introduced a lot of new players to the top
  • Core updates are generally broad and don’t focus on specific issues. Often they are just “cementing” what we already know works and making Google better at assessing that.