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Google Changes Helpful Content Guidance, Adds Pages Experience & More

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Woman Writing Sofa Google Logo

Yesterday, Google announced it made some changes to its guidance around what makes content considered helpful, including adding in good page experience to the equation. Google also made some other changes to this document, which I will detail below.

Google’s creating helpful content guide added a new section for page experience and wrote:

“Provide a great page experience: Google’s core ranking systems look to reward content that provides a good page experience. Site owners seeking to be successful with our systems should not focus on only one or two aspects of page experience. Instead, check if you’re providing an overall great page experience across many aspects. For more advice, see our page, Understanding page experience in Google Search results.”

That is the big change and in that Understanding page experience in Google Search results Google added mentions of helpful content.

Google also added more on E-E-A-T to helpful content to that page, they include:

“While E-E-A-T itself isn’t a specific ranking factor, using a mix of factors that can identify content with good E-E-A-T is useful. For example, our systems give even more weight to content that aligns with strong E-E-A-T for topics that could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society. We call these “Your Money or Your Life” topics, or YMYL for short.”

Glenn Gabe asked Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liason for some clarification on the timing of this announcement. No, this help content update has nothing to do with a new helpful content update rolling out or any update rolling out.

And to be clear, good page experience is NOT a requirement for having helpful content or ranking in Google Search, it is just one of the many signals Google uses.

Meanwhile, the Understanding page experience in Google Search results was vastly updated, the best way to see the changes is to put the live page side by side with the archived page. Here are some of the FAQs from the page I wanted to call out and also archive here:

Is there a single “page experience signal” that Google Search uses for ranking?
There is no single signal. Our core ranking systems look at a variety of signals that align with overall page experience.

What aspects of page experience are used in rankings?
There are many aspects to page experience, including some listed on this page. While not all aspects may be directly used to inform ranking, they do generally align with success in search ranking and are worth attention.

Are Core Web Vitals important?
We highly recommend site owners achieve good Core Web Vitals for success with Search and to ensure a great user experience generally. However, great page experience involves more than Core Web Vitals. Good stats within the Core Web Vitals report in Search Console or third-party Core Web Vitals reports don’t guarantee good rankings.

Is page experience evaluated on a site-wide or page-specific basis?
Our core ranking systems generally evaluate content on a page-specific basis, including when understanding aspects related to page experience. However, we do have some site-wide assessments.

How important is page experience to ranking success?
Google Search always seeks to show the most relevant content, even if the page experience is sub-par. But for many queries, there is lots of helpful content available. Having a great page experience can contribute to success in Search, in such cases.

Then, as you see in my earlier story, Google is removing the page experience report in Google Search Console, dropping the mobile usability report and deprecating the mobile-friendly test but keeping the core web vitals and HTTPS report. I wonder if these changes are due to the layoffs and not having the resources to manage those reports.

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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Google Search Ranking Volatility Over The Memorial Day Weekend

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Google Logo Explode

While I highly doubt Google pushed an algorithmic change over Memorial Day, there was a significant spike in chatter in the SEO community and the third-party Google Search tracking tools are showing volatility. Yes, traffic can be weird and lower on Memorial Day – I get that – but there seems to be more movement than normal.

So, was there a Google Search ranking update over Memorial Day weekend? Let me share what I am seeing but before I do.

Just a reminder that we saw Google ranking volatility around May 22nd, May 16th, May 9th, May 3rd and April 25th. Before that the March 2024 core update started on March 5th and ended on April 19th, 45 days later. It has been a busy month.

SEO Chatter

I began seeing chatter at WebmasterWorld on Sunday, May 26th and the chatter continued on through yesterday. Here is some of what was said in the forums:

Wow, I am seeing a 70% drop in traffic to my site’s homepage this weekend. Now a drop is normal on holiday weekends, but certainly not 70%….what’s up with that?

Very poor weekend for my global site at 60% yesterday and so far today after 20 hours at 40%. I expect tomorrow to be equally low.

UK hotel site ended up yesterday after a very slow start and has been extremely busy today as hoped for with food and live music.

What a strange weekend. Saturday traffic from Google collapsed, Sunday a strong increase, today so far 1 hour a lot of traffic, one hour as good as nothing, this has been going on since 6 am. I give up trying to understand that.

For me too, a little bit down again at the weekend. It goes down, down and down. Nobody knows why or why. I’m slowly but surely coming to terms with the fact that this topic no longer has a future. 🙁

Oh wow, there is life after Google. My traffic overnight is +140%. Bringing me back to, almost, where I was. I think a few new articles went viral but Google, was -20%. So none of this increased traffic was sent from them. Nice! After months and weeks of solid decline I now see an increase. Now to try and maintain it.

Traffic back to normal for me today which surprised me a little.

It is a holiday weekend in the UK therefore I went out for a few beers last night and it really did shock me. Several pubs were already closed and the normally really busy pubs were all absolutely dead … Were all the supposed 20 million car journeys happening last night?

I also saw some chatter on this site:

I thought Google would leave it alone on memorial day but seems there is now shuffling in my niche anyway. It was actually awfully quiet for a few days with pretty much no changes in the rankings. But it’s starting again. It’s just sick. I don’t get why the rankings shuffle so much day to day. I have read the theories here and they seem correct. Could be A/B testing. Who even knows.

Someone is feeling a difference during this weekend?

Glenn Gabe also spotted changes, he wrote, “Well, add 5/26 to the list. I’m seeing some confirmed surges in rankings across sites I have access to. And these are sites also impacted by the March core update.”

And more:

Google Tracking Tools

As you can see, most of these tools have been super heated and showing a lot of Google ranking volatility over the past week.

Semrush:

Semrush

SimilarWeb:

Similarweb

Advanced Web Rankings:

Advancedwebranking

Mozcast:

Mozcast

SERPmetrics:

Serpmetrics

Accuranker:

Accuranker

Mangools:

Mangools

Wincher:

Wincher

SERPstat:

Serpstat

Cognitive SEO:

Cognitiveseo

Algoroo:

Algoroo

What did you all see this weekend?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.



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Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy Is Not Algorithmic Yet

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Google Robot Police

Google has once again said that its enforcement of the site reputation abuse policy is still only being done through manual actions and not algorithmically. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liasion, said this on X yesterday, “We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse.”

Sullivan added that “when we do, we’ll be very clear about that.” Meaning, when Google starts to enforce the site reputation abuse policy through algorithmic means, Google will announce it somewhere. Likely on the its search status page.

As a reminder, Sullivan said this on May 6th on X, as we covered back then. He wrote then, “we’re only doing manual actions right now. The algorithmic component will indeed come, as we’ve said, but that’s not live yet.” So the algorithmic component 18 days later is still not live.

Sullivan added:

Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons. The actions currently only also impact the content being actions, not the entire site, as the action notices I believe make clear.

This was in response to some SEOs saying that the site reputation abuse policy is algorithmic now. Google is saying no, it is not.

Here is that post:

Google did say the site reputation abuse policy would be enforced both algorithmically and through manual actions but when it first went live, it was only enforced using manual actions.

As a reminder, site reputation abuse “is when third-party pages are published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate Search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals,” Chris Nelson from the Google Search Quality team wrote. This includes sponsored, advertising, partner, or other third-party pages that are typically independent of a host site’s main purpose or produced without close oversight or involvement of the host site, and provide little to no value to users, he explained.

Here is more commentary on this topic from yesterday:

I should add, there is a lot of confusion around a lof of the ranking volatility over the past few weeks. There was a lot of unconfirmed Google updates in the past few weeks that really shuffled things around in the Google search results.

Forum discussion at X.



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Google Ranking Volatility, Ads In Google AI Overviews, Sundar Pichai Interview, Heartfelt Helpful Content & More Ad News

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Google Ranking Volatility, Ads In Google AI Overviews, Sundar Pichai Interview, Heartfelt Helpful Content & More Ad News

We had more Google search ranking volatility in the middle of the week after some calming for a few days. Google Ads will soon show within the Google AI Overview, plus we covered a lot more ad news. Sundar Pichai was interviewed, and we broke it down. Bing lets you turn off its AI Copilot answers in the search results, but Google still does not. There are many poor-quality AI Overviews, and now there is a way to find a lot of them. Google said it is working on surfacing more heartfelt, helpful content in Search. Google is testing a special snippet treatment for Reddit. Google Search Console is showing a weird surge in the search performance reports for product snippets. Google and Bing recommend you upgrade to WordPress 6.5 because it supports lastmod dates in sitemaps. Google’s site reputation abuse policy enforcement is still not algorithmic. Google Lens now shows richer and links to sites. Google added more visual knowledge panel source information. Google can now index epub formats. Bing went down this week, taking down ChatGPT search, DuckDuckGo, Copilot, and more services. Bing is testing tags filters in its search results. Apple Maps can permanently close a business if the hours and address are missing or don’t match. GA4 real-time reports now show users in the last 5 minutes. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

SPONSOR: This week’s video recap is sponsored by Duda, the Professional Website Builder You Can Call Your Own.

Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed For the original iTunes version, click here.

Search Topics of Discussion:

Please do subscribe on YouTube or subscribe via iTunes or on your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to comment below with the right answer and good luck!

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