Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates.

November 2021 Core Algorithm Update

On 17th November, Google announced the rollout of another core update, titled ‘November 2021 Core Update’. This came as a surprise to the wider SEO community, with the update rolling out across Black Friday weekend, one of the busiest online shopping periods of the year, eventually coming to completion on 30th November.

The following Google Search Central tweets confirmed those dates:

There are mixed reports regarding the severity of the update, however a Twitter poll by Marie Haynes provides some nice insight. With 48% of voters (632 total) not seeing much from the update on the sites that they handle:

Google Drops Mobile-First Indexing Deadline

In a Google Search Central blog post, John Mueller announced that Google is dropping the final deadline for sites moving over to mobile-first indexing. This comes from Google wanting to accommodate the timelines for sites facing unexpectedly difficult challenges.

The previous update claimed that mobile-first indexing would complete by the end of March 2021, and has since continued to be pushed back, with Google now saying:

After analyzing the sites that are not yet indexed mobile-first, we’ve determined that some of these sites are still not ready to be shifted over due to various, unexpected challenges that they’re facing. Because of these difficulties, we’ve decided to leave the timeline open for the last steps of mobile-first indexing.”

Page Experience Update Set for Desktop in February 2022

Back in May 2021, Google announced their plan to bring Page Experience ranking to desktop search results in the near future. A timeline has now been given for these changes – Page Experience ranking will begin rolling out across desktop in February 2022 and will complete by the end of March 2022.

This means that the same three Core Web Vitals metrics (LCP, FID & CLS), along with the other page experience signals such as HTTPS security and the absence of intrusive interstitials will now also apply to desktop pages. The one signal that will not be carried over is Mobile Friendliness, with it having no relevance to desktop ranking. A breakdown of all the Page Experience signals for mobile and desktop can be found below:

Updated Version of PageSpeed Insights Goes Live

As of 16th November, Google began to roll out a revamped version of PageSpeed Insights. This came with the following announcement:

While it is a critical element in our speed tooling suite, the PSI code base was ten years old, contained a lot of legacy code, and was due for a redesign. We used this as an opportunity to address interface-related issues in PSI which have sometimes made it difficult for users to navigate the report.”

The updated PSI tool has a host of new features, in short, these include:

  • Clear separation of field and lab data
  • Core Web Vitals assessment result now stands out as a separate subsection with a distinct icon.
  • Origin summary rehoused under new tab, labelled “Origin”
  • New “Expand view” feature that adds a drill-down function to the field data section
  • Page image and thumbnails now available in lab data section

A video posted by Addy Osmani visualises the changes to the PSI UI over time, whilst demonstrating some of those new features:

Google Say “A Mix of Positive and Negative Reviews Are More Trustworthy”

Google has updated the Google Business Profiles Get Reviews help document with a new line stating that a mix of positive and negative reviews can be more trustworthy, indicating that having some negative reviews rather than all positive may be beneficial to your site. Here’s the new addition to the best practice advice:

  • Value all reviews: Reviews are useful for potential customers when they’re honest and objective. Customers find a mix of positive and negative reviews more trustworthy. You can always respond to a review to show the customers that you care and provide additional context. If the review doesn’t follow our posting guidelines, you can request its removal.

Bolding Words or Paragraphs Does Help With SEO

In a Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on 12th November, John Mueller was once again asked about the SEO benefits of using bolded text. In short, the following was said: “Does bolding important points on a paragraph help the SEO? Yes it does.”.

To provide some more context around this topic, John went on to say that when trying to figure out what a page is actually expressing, besides the usual tagging such as headings on a page, Google also look at “things like what is actually bolded or emphasized within the text on the page. So to some extent that does have a little bit of extra value there, in that it’s a clear sign that actually you think this page or this paragraph is about this topic here.”

It goes without saying that random sentence bolding is not the takeaway from these comments. Making sure that page content is high-quality, useful, unique, and compelling should be a priority.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.