Remember, remember, the SERPs of November, upheaval, shifting and change.
Thank you, I’ll take the Pulitzer prize now.
However, despite my somewhat tenacious attempt at poetry, November really was a month of serious change in the SERPs, and across the search industry. So, without further ado, here’s what November brought us in the SERPs.
Google’s November core update is (finally) complete
Longer than an advent calendar lasts, after 26 days, the Google November core algorithm update finished rolling out on November 28th. It’s one of the longest-recorded rollouts in recent times. It was a surprising update for many in the industry, as only two weeks prior the October core update finished! No rest for the wicked.
Barry Schwartz, one of the leading voices in SEO, noted that this update had been very volatile and intense from the get-go, notably more than previous core updates. Like a seismograph, SEOs track volatility in the SERP results by looking at how much change there has been compared to the baseline. These help us to understand how much moving and shaking the organic positions are showing.
November had a LOT of movement, and it was a lot of intense changes very early on. As we always say, don’t make changes in haste, instead, wait it out. During a core update, our SEO teams monitor performance intensely, seeing what’s happening but we don’t make any major changes while an update is ongoing[KB1] .
Google says major changes are coming and to ‘buckle up’
Nothing strikes fear more into the hearts of someone in SEO than the words “buckle up, change is coming.” Danny Sullivan, who is Search Liaison at Google, used this term at a talk in November, and to say it’s caused a stir is an understatement.
It’s like having a meeting put in your calendar for a week’s time with the description “quick catch-up” and nothing more than that. You know something is going to happen but what will happen, and what will Google change? No one knows!
We know nothing more than ‘major changes’, but as soon as we see these major changes, we’ll keep you updated!
Google applies for a patent for their Search Generative Experience
We’ve been harping on about Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) for months now, and more news has emerged that gives a peek behind the curtain into what SGE could actually look like when live.
Google has filed a patent under “Generative summaries for search results” which was issued on September 26th of this year, however, news of this patent only emerged at the very end of November.
The patent abstract states “At least selectively utilizing a large language model (LLM) in generating a natural language (NL) based summary to be rendered in response to a query. In some implementations, in generating the NL based summary additional content is processed using the LLM. The additional content is in addition to query content of the query itself and, in generating the NL based summary, can be processed using the LLM and along with the query content—or even independent of the query content. Processing the additional content can, for example, mitigate occurrences of the NL based summary including inaccuracies and/or can mitigate occurrences of the NL based summary being over-specified and/or under-specified.”
While this reads rather confusingly for those of us who aren’t professors in AI and Large Language Models (LLMs), it basically means that Google is going to use SGE as expected, to generate extended results based on the query.
As one of the images from the patent shows, Google looks to have decided on showing an AI-generated summary and then expanding the result by linking to sources.
Google expands Organization Schema
Within organization schema, businesses can now add:
- Business name
- Alternate business name
- Contact information
- Business description
- Legal business name
- sameAs URLs, such as social profiles or review sites
- Number of employees
- Founding date
- ISO 6523 number
- VAT ID
- Tax ID (must match country field in address)
The markup previously supported logo and URL structured data fields only, but now businesses can really verify themselves in Google. This helps you to combat potential copycat businesses, as well as showing Google what your business owns, and what it doesn’t.
Your search, your way; personalised search is in beta
Personalised search has always been Google’s aim, at least in our opinion. Google wants to serve you the best content, and it’s taking it a step further with their new update. While only in beta in the US, Google is now offering people the chance to ‘follow’ topics, as well as doing a ‘News for You’ section. This increasingly personalised search will also mean that Google will potentially be showing sites that you visit often higher up in the results.
For businesses, this ultimately means that your website needs to continue to produce user-first content that meets searcher needs. You should ultimately be writing content that users want to read and come back for more[KB2] .
User notes on search
X (previously called Twitter) released a feature called community notes where other users can add context to popular tweets, designed to help combat misinformation and exaggerated stories on X.
Google seems to be testing a similar function called “Notes”. While not necessarily designed to only combat misinformation, Notes allows users to add photos, links, and text to a note on a webpage. The example seen here uses a recipe site as an example, with people sharing hints, tips and results of how this certain recipe has worked out for them.
Once released fully, it will be interesting to see how this pans out for site owners, and how it works on a much larger scale, as for now, it’s only really been spotted by marketers, rather than the general public.
Hidden Gems ranking system is already live!?
In November, Google announced that its ‘hidden gems ranking system’ has been rolling out and has been live for months(!) This update aims to promote content that is deep in places like forum posts, on social media, and blogs that provides authentic content and personal experiences. Essentially – Google is giving more visibility to the smaller voices that in the past may have struggled to get visibility in the search results.
It’s worth noting that this ranking system is separate from the helpful content update – and it reaffirms Google’s increased interest for individual expert voices and independent experiences in the search results.
Want to keep on top of Google’s changes?
We’re embedded within Google’s changes on a daily basis and monitor performance for our clients to see how the changes Google makes affects them. Why not work with us in 2024 and feel the benefits? Get in touch today.