The Featured Snippet: October 2019

The Featured Snippet is the official SEO newsletter of Performics and is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date with the latest SEO industry news, trends, and events—all in an easy-to-read, summed up format. See below for the latest version of The Featured Snippet:

In the October 2019 issue of The Featured Snippet: 

  • Google BERT Update (October 25, 2019)
  • Google to Block HTTP Resources on HTTPS Pages 
  • Google Search Console Updates: 
    • Change of Address Tool
    • Site Speed Report 
    • Video Performance & Enhancement Reports
  • Google to No Longer Support Flash Content
  • Screaming Frog Updates to Version 12.0 
  • Google Launches WordPress Plug-in
  • Bingbot to Become Evergreen
  • Google Launches Search for Beginners
  • Google Limits French Publishers Search Results

Google BERT Algorithm Update (October 25, 2019)

On Friday, October 25, 2019, Google released the BERT algorithm update. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers and focuses on improving the natural language processing of search queries, particularly focusing on long-tail and complicated user queries. This algorithm, which is estimated to impact nearly 10% of all queries, is designed to better meet a searcher’s intent by helping the algorithm understand words within a query contextually.

With the exception of the New York Times, few SEOs have yet to report a large impact in rankings or traffic following this algorithm update, likely due to the nature of the algorithm. This algorithm is leading to changes on the SERP for low-search and longtail phrases rather than the higher search volume keywords many brands focus on.

For more information on BERT and how Performics can help, check out our blog post, Google’s New BERT Algorithm: Considerations for Brands.


Google to Block HTTP Resources on HTTPS Pages

Google announced that Chrome will start to block mixed content or when HTTPS (secured) pages have HTTP (unsecured) subresources. This means that if subresources, such as videos, audio, and images, use HTTP on HTTPS pages, Chrome will begin to block them by default starting December 2019. Google stated that change will improve user privacy and security on the web and present a clearer browser security UX to users.


Google Search Console Updates 

Change of Address Tool 

Google announced that they have added a change of address tool to the new Google Search Console platform. This tool should be used if a website is moving from one domain or subdomain to another. If a website is going through a migration, this tool is especially useful, as websites are able to communicate to Google about the change from one website to another. 

Site Speed Report 

Google has provided another resource for monitoring page speed on sites by officially rolling out a site speed report within Google Search Console. The report uses data from the Chrome User Experience Report and automatically categorizes URLs as “Fast,” “Moderate,” or “Slow.” Google continues to push sites to improve its page speed, and in edition to this new report, Google also created an entire #AskGoogleWebmasters series video on page speed

Video Performance & Enhancement Reports 

Google also implemented a new way for sites to monitor how videos are performing with the Video Performance Report and Video Enhancement Report. The Video Enhancement Report allows for monitoring the implementation of video structured data and any errors that may exist, and the Video Performance Report allows for monitoring how pages with videos are performing in Google Search. 


Google to No Longer Support Flash Content 

Google announced that Flash will be disabled by default starting with Chrome 76 and will not index Flash content in Google Search. The change will go into effect later this year. Introduced in 1996 by Adobe, Flash was a way of producing richer content on the web, but as time went on, fewer browsers continued to support Flash. Google stated that “most users and websites won’t see any impact from this change,” but if a site uses Flash, it is worthwhile to update it and not use Flash moving forward. 


Screaming Frog Updates to Version 12.0

Screaming Frog, a popular site-crawling tool, updated its tool to version 12.0, which has brought a variety of new features. Here are some of the highlights of the new Screaming Frog version: 

  • PageSpeed Insights integration: This new report uses Chrome User Experience and Lighthouse data to better understand how pages are performing and how to improve them. 
  • New storage options: Screaming Frog now allows for saving data on hard drives instead of storing in RAM and now features automatic saving. This allows for users to resume crawls that may have stopped due to a computer crash or restart. 
  • Customizable tabs & page elements: Screaming Frog’s tabs and page elements are now customizable, which allows users to move or remove these features from the user interface. 


Google Launches Site Kit WordPress Plug-in

Google announced that Site Kit, a WordPress analytics plug-in, is officially available globally on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Site Kit is a plug-in that allows WordPress accounts to integrate a dashboard into their current set-up, providing insights for a variety of Google products. Allowing for both a high-level dashboard and page-level insights, this plug-in uses insights from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, AdSense and more.


Bingbot to Become Evergreen

Over the next few months, Bing will begin rolling out a Chromium-based Edge browser that will be able to render Javascript pages. This update, announced on October 9, 2019, is good news to SEOs and developers. The new Bingbot is based on the same platform that Googlebot uses, meaning that SEOs will now be able to easily troubleshoot issues for both crawlers at once. This user agent may change on some sites.


Google Launches Search for Beginners

Starting on October 23, 2019, Google will begin to release a new SEO for Beginners video every other week. This video series aims to help new and inexperienced SEOs better understand how search engines work. This series aims to help people who are “learning the basics of creating an online presence and the right Google Search tools to help customers find their website”. Future videos will cover topics such as how search works, FAQs on search, optimizing for snippets, setting goals for a website as well as tips for hiring developers and SEO professionals to help.