SEO News Round Up: February 2021
What happened in the world of SEO in February?
February was a calm month for SEO, with just a few changes announced. However, I suggest you keep an eye on results, as these announcements seek to continue Google’s aims of diversifying our search results.
Featured Snippets showed a decline in Feb
There was a decline in the percentage of queries including a Featured Snippet in the SERPs. Across all tools the decline starts from 18th February.
Broken down, similar declines have been recorded across desktop and mobile devices. It’s unclear whether this is permanent or Google will increase the percentage back up. Queries impacted are thought to be the shorter, more competitive terms and specific industry categories. Industry-wise, Health, Finance and YMYL were impacted most, though other industries have also seen notable change.
This is an important reminder that whilst Featured Snippets can be golden nuggets when you have one, they are a double-edged sword. You get a boost in visibility and traffic when you have them, but they aren’t permanent. They come and go; losing one can then lead to a reduction in visibility and traffic for that keyword.
It’s worth remembering that when you lose a Featured Snippet you don’t drop down to the next position as you do with regular rankings. You drop back to where you were originally ranking, which is typically further down the page (think positions 4-7). Your visibility, therefore, drops more dramatically than you expect.
Whilst Featured Snippets are unlikely to disappear completely, this is something to monitor. It’s likely Google updating their algorithms to closer match the intent behind search terms, so this is a percentage that could grow again. We’ll find out.
New Association feature on Search Console
Search Console has a new Associations feature available. This function allows you to link up your Search Console property with properties you have in other Google Services.
Associations can link up your Search Console with the following:
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- Play Console
- Action Console
- Chrome Web Store
Association is a function worth utilising, it’s a great way to link up your data and see more in one place. The effect of the association does depend on the properties you’re linking up. For instance, linking up your Search Console with your Analytics means you can see organic query data with the Analytics dashboard.
To access the Associations feature, go onto the Settings Menu on your Search Console property.
Metric Boundaries updated for Core Web Vitals
Google has made a minor change to the metrics used to measure Core Web Vitals. The boundaries previously only looked at ‘less than’ the given number. Now, the defined boundaries have been updated to be ‘less than or equal to’. A small change, but one that could make the targets for each metrics more achievable.
The new boundaries for each metric are as follows:
Passage Ranking has gone live in the US
Passage Ranking, first announced in October 2020, went live in US search on Wednesday 10th February. Expected to only affect 7% of searches initially, it’s a change to rankings that is likely to expand in the future- to affect more searches and more countries.
What is passage ranking?
Passage ranking is where Google indexes passages within your page. The aim is to help Google find information that might be buried in your content. By understanding specific passages within a page Google can then rank that page for more specific queries, thus improving the relevancy of search results and diversifying the results.
We look forward to seeing what the impact is to US search in the coming months.
Did we miss anything?
If there was anything else that happened in February that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.
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