In this months SEO monthly roundup, we explore Google’s new requirements for events structured data, Google's passage ranking going live for US English queries, changes to Core Web Vitals reporting in Google Search Console and Google’s John Mueller confirming that duplicate content is not a negative ranking factor.
Google updates event structured data requirements
Google has changed the requirements for Event Structured Data to enable events to be discovered in search results and Google Maps.However, to be eligible for Google Events, all the required structured data must now be presented to Google in JSON-LD. Failure to use all the required structured data will mean your site is ineligible for the event experience in Google search.
All core web vitals must be met for ranking boost.
Google have stated that all three core web vitals must return a score of “good” to benefit from the ranking boost which rolls out in May. Core Web Vitals are Google’s new standards for evaluating the user experience of a page and include:
- Largest Contentful Pain (LCP) - which measures the speed at which a pages main content is loaded. This should occur within 2.5 seconds of landing on a page.
- First Input Delay (FID) – which measures the speed at which users can interact with a page after landing on it. This should occur within 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – which measures how often users experience unexpected layout shifts. Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
A new report has identified the top threats to WordPress sites
WordPress sites are increasingly being hit from a range of different threats and attacks. A report from Wordfence has placed the major threats in three main categories:
- Malware from pirate themes and plugins – Wordfence detected over 70 million malicious files on 1.2million WordPress sites. To avoid this, purchase plugins and themes from legitimate sources and keep them updated.
- Malicious login attempts – over 90 billion malicious login attempts have been detected and blocked. WordPress site owners can protect this by setting up multi-factor authentication.
- Vulnerability exploits – there have been over 4.3 billion attempts to exploit vulnerabilities. WordPress site owners can use a firewall to prevent this.
Duplicate content is not a negative ranking factor
Google’s John Mueller has confirmed that duplicate content does not count negatively against a site when it comes to search rankings. He explained that “it’s normal for sites to have a certain amount of duplicate content”, and that “the algorithms are built to handle it”. It is not however, recommended that you have an entire piece of content which is duplicated, as Google will choose to rank the original content.
Google provides an update on backlinks
Mueller has also confirmed that the number of links and linking domains doesn’t matter to Google. Instead, what matters is that the backlinks are of high quality and relevant to the target site. Mueller is aware that links don’t just happen on their own, and so he recommends that sites focus on building a strong site with a unique product offer which then uses self-promotion to acquire links.
Changes for Core Web Vitals reporting in Google Search Console
Google has made a small change to the boundaries of Core Web Vitals scores. Previously, all boundaries of CWV metrics were defined as less than, or “<”. Whereas now, they are defined as being less than or equal to, or “<=”. This is important as previously your score may have been classified as not meeting the “good” requirement, whereas now it may be considered “good”.
Google launches ‘about this result’ feature
Google has announced a new feature that has been tested but is within BETA. This feature will communicate to users before they click on a search result, giving them more information about that search results snippet. It has been named the ‘about this result’ box which can be triggered if a user taps on the three dots in the top right corner. If the feature is used a lot, it may become more important for sites to have a Wikipedia listing and ensure that the information within the box is up to date
Google passage ranking is now live in US English search results
Google has confirmed that passage ranking went live on February 10th for English queries in the US. Passing rankings means Google are not just able to index web pages, but they can now index individual passages from the pages. Google has said this will have around a 7% impact on search queries, so if your rankings changed around this time then that may be why but, reiterated that there is nothing SEOs need to change for passage ranking.
Google test a dark theme mode for search
Google has been testing a dark theme mode for Google Search, beginning back in December 2020 which makes it much harder to see the ‘ad’ label. With a change in the design of the search results page, it could impact click-through rate, so it is worth being aware of as Google rolls it out to more searchers.
Google reduces duplicate image results in image search
Google has released an update to Google Image Search which reduces duplicate images in the SERPs. The update went live in November 2020, but Google has only just announced the change. The images displayed will now be more visually distinct, providing a more diverse set of images for your query. For sites which get a large amount of traffic from image search, you may have noticed a change in traffic back in November.