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Search Engine Roundtable’s 19th Anniversary



Search Engine Roundtable 19th Anniversary

It has now been 19 years that I’ve been writing on this site, covering what you – the search marketers are talking about from within the search community. Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable. I’ve been writing about search for over 45% of my life – which is insane – it is like almost half of me. More importantly, I’ve been doing it consistently every workday, several times per day, no matter how I feel, for 19 years straight. And as I say every year and think almost every day, it is hard for me to fathom that I still can find several new things to write about every single day on this niche topic of SEO, PPC and search marketing.

19 Years Of Passion:

19 years ago today, I started this site as a way to kind of keep notes on what the search marketing community was talking about. A roundtable of discussions between the smartest search marketing minds, if you will. That passion and that mission have not changed – I still try to cover what the search marketing community is buzzing about, what the community cares about, and what the community is saying about those changes in our space. It is fewer stories pointing to the forums these days, as sadly most of the old fashion online forums have slowed down, but social media platforms have picked up in their place and hey, who knows what will happen with Twitter (at least we got Mastodon…). But the community is chatting and discussing and I try my hardest to find that discussion, no matter where it is (public only) and highlight it here for you all.

I still continue to publish several stories here a day and on Search Engine Land. I still produce my weekly video recaps, which I think has been improving a lot lately (make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel). I also continued to do the search vlog where I try to bring more attention to new and maybe old individuals in our community, this has still been a challenge since COVID hit, but things seem to be getting better. I also now publish these videos on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player. Don’t forget about the fun daily photos and big monthly Google webmaster reports. These are all aimed to save you time while catching you up on new topics and making you smile at the same time.

It is nice to see some things get back to normal but now that we are in this recession, it is also sad to see friends lose jobs, struggle and deal with financial issues. That being said, we’ve been through this and we will be through more – we are a strong community and we will get through this, as we did the pandemic and previous recessions.

If you want, you can read last year’s recap – the 18th year anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable as well.

Our Growth & Analytics:

While in 2020 we saw a 13% decline in traffic, this year we saw a 6% increase in traffic from the previous year. Search traffic increased 11% year over year when we saw it decline over 30% last year. Our direct traffic was also up about 6%, last year it was up a whopping up 22%, email traffic was up 65%, and social was pretty level from the previous year.

Mobile traffic share is 43%, which is down from 47% last year – I am not sure why. I guess people in SEO still love to use their desktop browsers. 70% are on Chrome, then 17% on Safari, and the rest are under 4% share each. US traffic is 30%, then India at 12%, and the UK at 7%, so those are the top countries. 65% of the readers are male according to Google Analytics and about 30% are the age of 25 to 34.

There are now about 34,500 stories on this site, I wrote over 31,550 of them – about 92% of them. I posted about 2,000 stories this year alone! We also had about 9,000 approved comments posted this year on the stories, so thank you for all who comment – I do read them all!

With YouTube, my channel – please subscribe has over 2,200 new subscribers (now at ~15,100 subscribers). I’ve been obviously making an effort to grow that channel, but it is going slowly. I have over 6.5 million views on those videos, with over 60,000 hours of watch time. Oh, and I made just under $1,500 in YouTube ad revenue in the past year, which is $100 less than last year’s revenue. Although, if you watch, you will see I have video sponsors now – thank you sponsors!

Most Important Stories In Past 12 Months:

The story this year was told in the incredible number of both confirmed and unconfirmed search ranking algorithm updates. From the May 2022 and September 2022 broad core updates, to the product reviews updates, page experience update, spam updates and then the new helpful content update – Google is working like crazy to show more relevant and useful content in its search results. We had other updates, all of them are listed below, it might be too much to even scan through. We had a ton of local search updates too. At least we learned that Panda evolved into Coati before it was assimilated into the core updates.

Google replaced Google Webmaster Guidelines with Search Essentials, pushed out an updated search quality raters guidelines, spoke a ton about E-A-T, released some spam updates/guidelines and much more. Search Console and Merchant Center had tons of upgrades this year as well.

Google rolled out tons and tons of features, a lot focused on products and shopping and visual search. We also got the new ad label and new favicons and sitenames in the search results.

Google had far fewer crawling and indexing issues this year than last, so that is a good thing. Google Ads on the other had seemed to have way more lag and issues this year than previous. FLoC to no one’s surprise turned out to be a flop. And Google launched a more acceptable Google Partners program.

Bing continued to push IndexNow and at the same time, pushed the new BingBot.

Oh and of course, the Google Analytics 4 news.

There was a lot that I wrote, like I said above, but here is what I think are the most important stories over the past 12- months or so (if I missed any, let me know in the comments):

Google Broad Core Updates:

Google Helpful Content Updates:
Google Spam Updates:
Google Product Reviews Updates:
Google Page Experience Updates:
Misc Google Search Algorithm Related:
Unconfirmed Google Search Algorithm Updates:
Crawling & Indexing:
Google Search Console / Merchant Center:
Search Features:
Search Ads:
Local Search:
Google Analytics:

Most Viewed Stories In Past 12 Months:

Here are the most viewed stories in the past 12 months of 2022 based on Google Analytics. I should note that my analytics does not combine AMP URLs with the canonical non AMP URL, so this might not be in exact order of popularity:

Looking Forward To 2023:

Last year I said it I would expect a ton of announcements from Google around MUM and more AI/machine learning efforts in search in 2022. You will see more with local search, you will see more with multimedia and that. So I was kind of wrong but Google did tout a ton of AI things this past year, just that MUM didn’t go as wide as I thought (at least Google didn’t communicate that). I also said Google would do “a big revamp in quality algorithms.” I think that is dead on with the updates listed above between the core updates, product reviews update, spam updates and the new helpful content update.

In 2023, I think we will see a lot more for the helpful content update, in a very big way. The core updates, I think, may be lighter and less impactful. I do think we will see stronger spam updates in 2023 as well.

I hope MUM will expand more and be used more in more places in web search. I do think AI will become used more in SEO, for better or worse. And I do think we will continue to see a trend in more visual search interfaces, because of the TikTok effect.

And of course, on the ad side, more AI, more automation and Performance Max really taking over more than it has already (but everyone knows that).

Thank you:

As I said last year, I deeply appreciate and thank you all so much for reading every day, commenting (or ignoring the comments) and for sharing the stories here. Keep up the chatter and let’s build an even better search community this coming year. Everyone stay safe and healthy!

Thank you,

Barry Schwartz



Most SEOs Think Yahoo Won’t Be Able To Compete In Search



Yahoo 404 Baseball Sign

As you know, Yahoo is planning a come back to search with a new way of thinking about Yahoo Search. What that means, we don’t know yet, but we do know Yahoo is thinking hard about how they can compete. Greg Sterling ran a Twitter poll asking if Yahoo has a shot at it, and most say, nope – Yahoo Search is dead on arrival.

The poll on Twitter asked, “Yahoo is planning to “relaunch” search. Is there a chance to revive it?” It received a nice number of responses, 631 responses. The results were not too optimistic.

  • 43.7% said nope, dead on arrival
  • 26.6% said depends on the UI/UX
  • 29.6% said yes, now is the time

Here is that poll:

Personally, I think Yahoo has a good shot at it, better than most other companies. But time will tell and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Yahoo Search comes out with.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Google Clarifies JSON-LD, Microdata & RDFa Are All Supported For Structured Data



Google Schema

Google has clarified in its search developer documents that JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa are all fully supported forms for structured data and Google Search. Google wrote, “all three supported formats are equally fine for Google, as long as they are valid and implemented properly per the feature’s documentation.”

The old paragraph in the documentation read:

Google Search supports structured data in the following formats, unless documented otherwise:

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The new paragraph in the documentation now reads:

Google Search supports structured data in the following formats, unless documented otherwise. In general, we recommend using a format that’s easiest for you to implement and maintain (in most cases, that’s JSON-LD); all 3 formats are equally fine for Google, as long as the markup is valid and properly implemented per the feature’s documentation.

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This was updated because Google’s Ryan Levering spotted the embedded tweet below, that shows there is confusion on which Google may or may not prefer. Ryan said, “We might need to tweak the wording for Google’s main structured data page.”

He said that Google “primarily recommend JSON-LD because sites screw up Microdata a lot more than they do JSON-LD because it’s embedded. We don’t have some secret plans to remove support for Microdata. Particularly for schema that is either very annotation/text heavy or very simple (so you don’t need to do meta tag gymnastics), Microdata can make more sense.”

So Lizzi Sassman updated the docs to reflect this.

Forum discussion at Mastodon.

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February 4th Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update



Google Algorithm Update

There may have been another unconfirmed Google search ranking algorithm update – this one also on the weekend, around February 4th, maybe kicking off on February 3rd. I am seeing signs from both chatter within the SEO community, and also, some of the tools are showing big swings around February 4th.

The previous updates we reported about was an unconfirmed update around January 26th, then on January 18th, then January 14th – you can see the full list over here.

SEO Chatter

Let’s start by looking at some of the chatter within the SEO community. There is chatter both at WebmasterWorld and here in the comments areas:

Global site traffic continued firm all day Thursday for me and ended at 140.3%. Today has started ok for a Friday.

Seeing some sharp increase in traffic as well. Tech based sites are performing really well. Around 40% increase overall. Although a good share of Chinese bot like traffic is also present.

So, my site got a lovely boost a couple of weeks ago. Keywords I hadn’t ranked for in years plus some I had never ranked for particularly well were appearing. Two weeks later and google have yanked the rug out from under me again. A keywod I was on page 1 for is now bottom of page 4. Another that I was page 1 for – page 8 now.

I’m seeing ranking hold relatively steady, but traffic has been much worse this week. The previous two weeks were unusually high though. Yesterday search was down 17% and the day before that it was flat, but traffic to my home page has dropped considerably again. Most of the decline is USA traffic

Feels like Google released another update on Saturday 4th, no?

I noticed big changes on all my websites around 4 pm GMT onwards.

Massive volatility spotted. Seeing crazy fluctuations in rankings too.

Maybe a G Update is just around the corner?

Got hammered yesterday – almost as bad as any core update.

The fluctuation that started 24-36 hours ago is increasing gradually.

Traffic was up this morning, up until 6am UK time, then zero traffic for 4 hours. 4 hours?? How is that even possible if throttling isn’t the case?

All this chatter was between February 3rd and February 5th.

Google Tracking Tools

Here are what the tracking tool are showing:


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Cognitive SEO:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Have you seen any big swings in rankings or traffic with your site since the weekend?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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