For the past 18 years I’ve been writing on this site, covering what you – the search marketers are chattering about. Today marks the 18th anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable. I’ve been writing about search for over 40% of my life – which is weird to think about. And I’ve been doing it consistently every workday, several times per day, even through a pandemic, for 17 years. It is hard for me to fathom that I still can find several new things to write about every single day.
18 Years Of Passion:
18 years ago, 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 has 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 less in the forums these days, as sadly most of the old fashion online forums have slowed down, but social media platforms have picked up in its place – that is not to say all forums are done – they are not. But the community is chatting and discussing and I try my hardest to find that discussion 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 been a challenge during COVID with social distancing, issues with travel and the lack of in-person conferences. 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.
A year ago, we were at the verge of a vaccine and hope that life would go back to normal. Now we are talking about not just 3rd doses but 4th doses to keep us safe. We have two antiviral drugs about to be approved to fight COVID and it is my hope that by this time next year, we can start getting back to normal – but who knows, it is like trying to predict Google algorithm updates.
If you want, you can read last year’s recap – the 17th year anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable as well.
Our Growth (I Mean Decline) & Analytics:
While in 2019 year we saw 25% growth in traffic, this year we saw a 13% decline in traffic. Search traffic declined over 30% but our direct traffic is up 22%, email traffic is up 360%, and other channels are also up – so diversification is important with Google’s own properties eating up the SEO traffic (and kudos to them, I mean it).
Mobile and desktop traffic are now about even, we are at 47% mobile and 51% desktop with the rest tablet – which means more desktop traffic than mobile compared to the previous year.
There are now over 32,000 stories on this site, I wrote over 29,600 of them – about 93% of them. I posted about 2,000 stories this year alone, which is about a hundred more stories than last year. We also had about 12,000 approved comments posted this year on the stories, which is about the same as last year as well.
With YouTube, my channel – please subscribe has over 2,200 new subscribers (now at ~12,900 subscribers). I’ve been obviously making an effort to grow that channel. I have over 6.4 million views on those videos, with over 54 hours of watch time. Oh, and I made just under $1,600 in YouTube ad revenue in the past year, which is $200 more 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:
Looking back at 2021 it is clear that this was a year of many confirmed Google search algorithm and ranking updates. We had three core updates – June, July and November. We had a number of spam updates; including a November spam update, a two part spam update, a link spam update and the predator update. We had other updates like the page experience update, April product reviews update and December products reviews update, and title changes. We also had a number of AI/machine learning based algorithms like MUM, passage ranking, subtopic rankings and a couple from Bing like MEB and Speller100.
Indexing got interesting with IndexNow that even Google may try out. Google spent a tremendous amount of time and resources on its help documents and resources, no wonder they are ranking so well now. Search Console has a new design and also Search Console Insights launched officially. Google rolled out continuous scroll and non-AMP pages now show in the top stories section. Google Ads made tons of changes, including FLoC being a FLoP, see that section below. We got rid of Google My Business for Google Business profiles.
Plus we had tons of industry moves, IPOs, acquisitions and organizational changes. And it is also sad, but we lost several well respected and loved members of the industry.
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):
Search Algorithm Related:
- Google November 2021 Core Update Is Live – What We Are Seeing Now
- Google November 2021 Core Update Tremors On Thanksgiving
- Google: The November 2021 Core Update Done Rolling Out
- Google July 2021 Core Update “Effectively Complete” On July 12th
- Google June 2021 Core Update Finished Rolling Out On Saturday, June 12th
- Google December 2020 Core Update Is Complete
- Google November 2021 Spam Update Rolling Out
- Google Link Spam Update Took A Full Month To Roll Out
- Confirmed Google Search Spam Algorithm Update On June 23rd
- Google Search Spam Algorithm Update Part Two On June 28th
- Google Predator Algorithms Target Exploitative & Slanderous Sites
- Google Page Experience Update Rolling Out Between June 15 & End Of August
- Google Page Experience Update Fully Live In Search & Top Stories
- Official: Google Desktop Page Experience Update Coming In February 2022
- Google Product Reviews Update: A New Search Algorithm Update Hits The Shelves
- December 2021 Google Product Reviews Update Rolling Out
- Google Hears Title Snippet Feedback, Hopes To Improve Results & Maybe Add Search Console Tools
- Google Announces Multitask Unified Model – MUM
- Google Search On: MUM, Things To Know, Shoppable, About This Result & More
- Google Passage Ranking Is Live In The US English Results
- Google Confirmed Launching Subtopics Ranking In Mid-November 2020
- Google Image Search Update Reduces Duplicate Images (November 2020)
- Microsoft Bing Announces Make Every Feature Binary (MEB)
- Microsoft Bing: 15% Of Searches Are Misspelled So Speller100 To The Rescue
Crawling & Indexing:
- IndexNow – Ping Some Search Engines With URLs For Instant Indexing
- Google May Use IndexNow Protocol For Instant Indexing
- SEOs Noticing Google Search Console Crawled, Not Indexed Errors Even When Indexed
- Google Responds To Crawled, Not Indexed Errors Saying It Is Just A Delay
- SiteGround Sites Begin To Return To Google Search After Crawling Bug
- Google Confirmed Crawling Bug But Said There Were No Negative Effects
- Google Made 12.5 Changes To Search Each Day In 2020
- Google Updates Search Quality Raters Guidelines On October 19th
- Google: 200+ Ranking Signals Figure Is Misleading
- On The Edge Of Google’s Quality Threshold – Pages Disappear & Return After Submission
- Google Video Key Moments Clip & Seek Markup
- Google To Stop Supporting Data-Vocabulary.org In Search This Weekend
- Google Search Indexing Tiers
- Google Talks About Its Serving Index & Index Shards
- Google Webspam Report 2020: More Spam, More Blocking, More Of The Same
- Google Sent 2.9 Million Manual Webspam Actions In 2020; Less Than Previous Years
Google Search Console:
- Google Search Console New Design Interface Now Live
- Google Launches Search Console Insights After A Year Of Testing
- New: Google News & Discover Manual Actions In Search Console
- SEOs Rejoice: Google Search Console Gains Regular Expressions & More Data Filters
- Google Search Console Regular Expressions Gets Exclusions Support
- Google Search Console Google News Performance Report
- Google Gains New Page Experience Report In Search Console
- Schema.org Markup Validator Is Now Live
- Google Search Console API Gets Fresher Data, News Filter & More
- Google Request Indexing Tool Back After 69 Day Outage
Bing Webmaster Tools:
- Bing Content Submission API Now Available To All
- Bing Webmaster Tools Performance Report Adds Crawl & Index Data
- Bing Webmaster Tools Begins Microsoft Clarity Integration
- Google Rolling Out Continuous Scroll On Mobile Search Results
- Google Begins Showing Non AMP Pages In Top Stories Carousel
- Google Launched The About This Result Snippet Feature
- Google Shows Which Ranking Factors Resulted In A Page Ranking
- Microsoft Bing Search More Visual Updates
- Google Continues Injecting Links Into Featured Snippets
- Google Question Hub Is Open & It’s A Great Way To Find Content Ideas
- Google’s New Free Hotel Listings Option
- Google Short Videos Carousel Displays TikTok & Instagram Videos
- Google Search Results Show Practice Problems For Studying
- Q&A On Google Officially Going Away But Question Hub Not Impacted
- Microsoft Bing Search Let’s Chat Feature
- Bing Finally Launches Page Insights Lightbulb Search Results Feature
- Google Ads To Drop Expanded Text Ads For Responsive Search Ads In 2022
- Google Ads Phrase Match Expands To Cover Broad Match Modifier Traffic
- Google Ads Phrase & Broad Match Keyword Preferability & BERT
- Microsoft Advertising Also Expands Phrase Match To Cover Broad Match Modifier
- Google Ads Target CPA and Target ROAS Bundled With Maximize Conversions and Maximize Conversion Value
- Google Ads Responsive Search Ads The New Default Ad Type
- Google Ads Is Deprecating Broad Match Modifier (BMM) Keywords In Late July
- Google Ads Search Terms Report Stops Hiding All Searches
- New Google Ads Three Strikes And You’re Out Policy
- Microsoft Advertising Target Impression Share Bidding & More
- Google AdSense Link Units Going Away
- Google AdSense Matched Content Being Shut Down On March 1, 2022
- Google Blocked 3.1 Billion Ads, Restricted 6.4 Billion Ads & Suspended 1.7 Million Advertisers
- Google Delays Plans To Block Cookies Through 2023 & Pauses FLoC
- Goodbye Google My Business & Hello Google Business Profile
- Google My Business Begins Rolling Out New Performance Metrics / Insights
- Now Live: Google My Business Performance Report Direction Requests & Website Visits
- Google My Business Phone Support Returns
- Google My Business Call History Report Shows Answered & Missed Calls
- Apple Places: Manage Your Business Listings In Apple Maps
Business & Industry:
- Study Says 65% Of Google Searches Do Not Click On Results But Should They?
- Google Disputes Zero Click Study, Shares More Data, But It’s Not Enough
- Peter Norvig Scales Back From Google To Join Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute
- Ginny Marvin Joins Google As New Ads Product Liaison
- Frederic Dubut Leaves Microsoft After 8 Years Working On Bing
- Semrush (SEMR) To Go Public With $144M Revenue & 67K Customers
- Verizon To Sell Yahoo & AOL For $5 Billion After Buying Each For ~$5 Billion
- iContact Acquired Moz; Financial Details Not Disclosed But Promises Bright Future
- The Industry Mourns The Loss Of Hamlet Batista: A Special & Talented SEO Soul
- The Industry Mourns The Loss Of Russ Jones: Brilliant Friend To The Industry
- An Search Industry Tribute To Dan Bell
- The Industry Mourns The Loss Of Bob Gladstein – Intelligent & Humble SEO
- Industry Mourns The Loss Of Erik Stafford – A Brilliant Mind & Personality
- The Industry Mourns The Loss Of John Carcutt – Legendary SEO
Most Viewed Stories In Past 12 Months:
Here are the most viewed stories in the past 12 months of 2021 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:
- Google December 2020 Core Update Is Live – Here Is What We See Now
- May 22nd Google Algorithm Update Is Off The Charts
- Edward Snowden: Google Search Is Totally Unusable
- Creepy: Google Maps Street View Images For Service Area Home Businesses
- Huge Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update On October 2nd & 3rd
- Google March 2021 Search Ranking Algorithm Update
- Google June 2021 Core Update Impact Now Being Felt
- Google November 2021 Core Update Is Live – What We Are Seeing Now
- Google July 2021 Core Update Is Live – What We Are Seeing
- Google June 2021 Core Update Is Live – So Far, We Are Not Noticing Much
- Google November 2021 Core Update Rolling Out Later Today
- Google December 2020 Core Update Second Wave
Looking Forward To 2022:
Last year I said it was about IoT, search features in multimedia and of course BERT and all the other things around natural language processing. I also said 2021 will be a lot about health, safety “and I hope vaccines.” But natural language understanding will really be impressive – I mean, passage indexing should be fun. Mobile is here and done with mobile indexing being fully switched over in a few months. And it was a big year, we had MUM announced, although it was not used much in 2021 – the Search On event did show some applications of its use.
I 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.
But the big change for us SEOs, I really think there will be a really big revamp in quality algorithms. Like Panda and Penguin and Core updates big, but this one will be aimed at a lot of the criticism Google has taken over the past year about its search quality.
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!
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