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10 min read

August 2022 Google algorithm and search industry updates

This article was updated on: 21.09.2022

In August 2022, we got to see further developments to Google’s algorithm updates. Notably, the Helpful content algorithm update.

There were also updates related to Google now utilising MUM in selected featured snippets, also we discovered the extent of the Product review update. Google has stepped up the reporting available in Search Console with URL level data, we are also seeing testing for ‘Quick read’ which displays the estimated reading time for pages in SERPs as Google continually aims to serve relevant information as quickly as possible.

 In this post, we’ll explore: 

The usual traffic light system is in place to differentiate the updates that need immediate attention from those that are less pressing. 

  • Red light updates are major changes that should be factored in straight away. 
  • Amber is for updates that you should take note of, but won’t need urgent action. 
  • Green updates are still worth knowing about, yet less critical than the others.

Keen to know more about any of these changes and what they mean for your SEO? Get in touch or visit our SEO agency page to find out how we can help.

On the 18th of August 2022, only three months since the May 2022 Core Update, Google announced it was rolling out the second large update of the year – the Helpful Content update. 

The Helpful Content update is currently ongoing. It started rolling out on the 25th of August, and is likely to complete in the next week or two. 

What is the Helpful Content Update?

This Google algorithm update is a part of a larger effort to serve people “more original, helpful content written by people, for people.” One of the key parts of this update is that it’s a sitewide signal, targeting sites that have a high proportion of unhelpful, unsatisfying content. 

As of late, Google has found that searchers are frustrated by high ranking content that in the end, doesn’t help them. Therefore the Helpful Content Update is the next logical step in removing unhelpful content, and rewarding those that are providing content for humans rather than search engines.  

How will this affect me?

As the Helpful Content update is still rolling out, it’s difficult to quantify what the final impact of the update will be. However, across the past week of the update rolling out, there’s been little impact on websites so far. 

Search Engine Journal have written an article highlighting the quietness of this update (so far), with a quote from Danny Sullivan stating that this is a part of an ongoing effort to refine rankings:

Although the update is still rolling out, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re out of the woods yet. It’s important to remember that we’re creating content for people first, not search engines; Google has highlighted that in their update, giving us plenty of questions to consider when we’re creating content. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarising what others have to say without adding much value?

We’ll be taking a closer look into the impact of the Helpful Content update in our next algorithm update blog. If your site has been negatively affected, you could take a look at our guide to recovering from an algorithm update for a step-by-step place on action.

Google’s July 2022 Product Reviews Update had very little ranking volatility, say data providers. The update, which was first announced on July 27th (and took six days to fully roll out) is designed to improve the quality of product reviews in Google search results.

According to data from MozCast, RankRanger / Similarweb, and SEMRush, the update caused very little ranking volatility. In fact, all three data providers reported that the update had no significant impact on the Google search results.

This is in contrast to the last major Google update, the June 2021 Core Update, which caused a great deal of ranking volatility. The July 2022 Product Reviews Update appears to be a much smaller update that is solely focused specifically on product reviews.

What do I do if I’m negatively impacted by the July update?

Besides from providing other multi-media evidence such as video, audio to reinforce your expertise and including links to various merchants you should also: 

  • Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what’s provided by the manufacturer 
  • Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance 
  • Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors 
  • Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances 
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it 
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision 
  • Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas. For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas. 
  • Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says

Featured snippet callouts will now use MUM, which hasn’t been used in a large amount of applications as of the time of writing (August 2022). Google has stated that “systems can now understand the notion by consensus” now utilising MUM, Google will understand if there’s a consensus across the web to highlight relevant portions of featured snippets. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that will only show facts but it will help to the overall quality of featured snippet callouts.

Here’s an example of this in action.

In August Google updated Google Search Console to include URL level data in their Core Web Vitals report. We’ll now be able to see data for individual URLs, rather than just aggregate data for the entire site. Below is an example screenshot of the report:

This change will allow site owners to more easily identify which URLs are performing well, as well as which need improvement. In June, we saw improvements to the classifications of Search Consoles reports; now with this update too, site owners and SEOs are able to get more intricate detail on how their website is performing.  

Google is testing labels to its search results in order to help users outline whether it can be read in five minutes or less. The labels are:  

  • Quick Read:
  • 5 Minute Read:

These labels will be added to the bottom of each search result, will indicate whether the result is an article, a video, an image, or something else.

This change is designed to help users quickly identify the type of content they are looking for, and to prevent them from accidentally clicking on something that is not relevant to their needs.

Other updates and tests to search features and functionality

There are further tweaks being made to Google’s SERP, this is by the use of quotes and including multiple featured snippets instead of one. 

Google is now using quoted searches, which is particularly helpful if you need to find a particular word or phrase on a webpage. The difference between the current process and the improved version of quoted searches, is that they will contain a snippet of where the quoted word appears. As well as, boldening the text of the quoted material if you are browsing on desktop. 

Google wants users to be aware of when carrying out quoted searches that: 

  • Punctuation is sometimes seeen as spaces which can impact the quoted search. 
  • Pages may have changed since your last visit.
  • Quoted searches may appear in title links and URLs.

Another update that is Google is testing is a new search box named “Perspectives” that will feature many results for featured snippets for a query. Here is the layout of “Perspectives”:

On the 26th July 2022, Google had a data logging error that impacted the performance report in Google Search Console, this likely resulted in a drop of number of clicks and impressions that Google logged. It’s important to note that this didn’t have an actual effect on these metrics just the reporting of them. This has been marked in GSC as you can see in the image below. 

There doesn’t seem to be a fix coming but fortunately it only lasted around a day so will have a relatively limited impact on longer term reporting but important to be aware of when tracking results for the month.

For any further insights into what has been covered in this blog – or to learn how we can support your SEO – get in touch today.