Holy smokes! As digital marketers, we know the internet moves fast and keeping up is key, but this year is proving that deciphering the intricacies of Google's search algorithms and the impacts of their decisions holds unparalleled significance. We covered the abundance of algorithm updates in the fall of 2023, and it seems like we’re in for another ride this year, too!
With all the chatter in the SEO industry right at the start of the new year, we felt it would help everyone out if we rounded up a bit of what we’re hearing when it comes to the latest Google updates. We’ll see where things go from here, but paying attention to Google algorithm updates and SGE and their impacts on SEO, paid media, and marketing analytics appear to be turning into a key priority in 2024. So, without further ado…
Google's Decision to Terminate Google Business Profile Sites by March 2024
Google has thrown a curveball to website owners utilizing Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). A significant announcement has been made that comes with a deadline – Google Business Profile websites will be switched off in March 2024.
The redirection to the Business Profile will be in effect until June 10th, 2024, after which, the redirects will stop working. This move raises questions about the impact on businesses and their online visibility strategies.
What You Can Do: Before March 2024, Google Business website managers should check their online presence to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing visibility.
Google's Local Ranking Algorithm Evolution
Adding to the uncertainty is a potential local ranking algorithm update that might have occurred on Thursday, January 4th. BrightLocal's Local RankFlux tool recorded a notable 5.92 Flux score. Great Scott!
What’s a Flux score, you ask? No, it’s not a ranking based on Back to the Future references on your website - this score signifies considerable shifts in rankings across the local landscape.
What You Can Do: Businesses should closely monitor their rankings during this uncertain update to understand its potential impact.
Rich Snippets Versus Structured Data & Meta Descriptions
In another twist, Google has clarified aspects of its documentation related to Search Engine Results Page (SERP) snippets.
Contrary to common belief, structured data and meta descriptions are not the primary sources for generating these snippets. Instead, it is the content on the page itself that plays a pivotal role.
This discovery changes how we think about SEO tactics, which are continually evolving. It emphasizes something we know to be very, very true, though: the importance of creating engaging and relevant webpage content. This will help improve the display of snippets.
What You Can Do: Improve the display of snippets by prioritizing engaging and relevant content for your website.
Disappearance of FAQ and HowTo Snippets... Again!
In the realm of snippets, the disappearance of FAQ rich snippets and HowTo snippets has raised eyebrows once again. After a brief reinstatement by Google, FAQ and HowTo snippets have vanished without an official statement (this is why having a trusted marketing partner with eyes on this information can be so important to your business online).
What You Can Do: Website admins should regularly check Google Search Console (GSC) to spot any impact on their site's Search Appearance. Even though FAQ rich snippets aren't currently available we still find that FAQ pages and FAQ content are valuable to users and SEO.
Bid Farewell to the Google Crawl Rate Limiter
Speaking of GSC, a notable change is the removal of the Crawl Rate Limiter (we felt you cringe and brace). Google asserts that improvements to crawling logic and other tools have rendered the limiter obsolete.
What You Can Do: Webmasters encountering the absence of Crawl Rate Limiter need not fret – it's a deliberate removal, Google announced.
Meanwhile, the introduction of Schema Markup v24.0 brings with it subtypes of Physicians - IndividualPhysician and PhysiciansOffice. Additionally, Google has added support for the suggestedAge property, offering an alternative to suggestedMaxAge and suggestedMinAge.
These updates aim to enhance the precision and relevance of search results, particularly in the healthcare sector.
What You Can Do: If you’re a business in the healthcare industry, take note of this and find ways to incorporate it into your marketing strategy this year. If you need some help, we’re always happy to chat!
Addressing the Vulnerability of the WordPress AMP Plugin
The popular WordPress AMP Plugin, found on 100,000+ websites, has a security issue called XSS vulnerability. This vulnerability could potentially allow attackers to inject malicious scripts.
What You Can Do: It is highly recommended for website administrators to update to version 2.5.1 or higher to reduce this threat and guarantee the safety of their websites.
Google Ranking Bug?
In the SEO community, a murmuring speculation has emerged regarding a possible Google ranking bug. Some SEO experts believe that a Google search bug is causing websites to disappear from search engine results. However, these websites reappear after a few days and the cycle continues.
The cyclical nature of these fluctuations has raised concerns and demands a closer look into potential algorithmic irregularities
What You Can Do: Again, this is why it’s so important to have someone keeping an eye on these changes for your business, especially as many are not officially announced.
Update as of January 22, 2024: Google has confirmed there was indeed a search ranking bug or a specific issue leading to temporary fluctuations in search results for a limited number of websites.
According to Google, "We're aware of a very narrow issue that caused temporary fluctuations in search results for a small number of websites. The issue has since been resolved, and the sites should no longer be experiencing its effects."
The year 2024 has kicked off with a whirlwind of changes in the digital realm, from Google Business Profile website switches to algorithm updates and security vulnerabilities. It's crucial for businesses to stay in the know and adjust their strategies accordingly to successfully navigate these ever-evolving shifts.
Contact Be Found Online today to unlock the fullest potential of your business’ digital marketing. Your success is just a click away (even if Google doesn’t want you clicking around SERPs anymore).
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on January 19th, 2024 and was updated on January 30th, 2024 with new information after Google confirmed a ranking bug.
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Jonathon is a Senior SEO Account Manager at BFO. He’s a reliable and consistent member of our team and is very detail-oriented and client-focused.
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