This Week In SEO 12
Newsworthy Update, Bing Encrypts Search, Google AI, and More

Here are all the updates you should be paying attention to in the world of SEO.

But first!  This week’s Quick SEO Tip video: using tools to monitor algorithm changes.


New Google Algorithm: the “Newsworthy Update.”

Last week saw a new Google update, not related to any of their recurring algorithm updates.  This update, being unofficially called the “Newsworthy Update,” boosted SERP visibility for many sites that cover fresh, news-related content.

news serps

Check out Search Engine Land for the full story.

Bing to Encrypt Search Traffic By Default


Bing announced this week it would encrypt (a.k.a. “not provided”) future search queries.  Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager, said it’s for the searchers own good.

With the move to encrypted search by default we will continue to pass along a referrer string so that marketers and webmasters will be able to identify traffic as coming from Bing. However, to further protect our users’ privacy, we will not include the used query terms.  We will still provide some limited query term data available without compromising the security of customer data through our various webmaster and advertiser tools

With Bing having only a 20% search engine market share, you probably don’t care yet.  Still, it’s good to keep an eye on things, so that when it matters, you’re well prepared.

Google Working on a New Algorithm Called “Thought Vectors”

If you thought Google’s complex search algorithm was a pain in the ass before, just wait until they integrate it with their upcoming Google Translate and General AI work currently being developed.  It’s called “Thought Vectors.”

The researcher told the Guardian said that Google is working on a new type of algorithm designed to encode thoughts as sequences of numbers – something he described as “thought vectors”.

Although the work is at an early stage, he said there is a plausible path from the current software to a more sophisticated version that would have something approaching human-like capacity for reasoning and logic. “Basically, they’ll have common sense.”


Google Will Kill Emoji in Search Results

Google’s John Mueller said in a recent video hangout to not put too much energy into those emoji-laden meta titles/descriptions, as Google will be removing them from the SERPs very soon.


 Google will drop Emoji symbols from being displayed in the search results. It does not mean your web pages with emojis will be penalized, it does mean Google will simply stop showing the Emojis in the search results.


Watching the SERPs: An Off-the-charts Day

Dr. Pete, from Moz, noticed that the MozCast Temperature (a proprietary collection of data that illustrates “turbulence in the Google algorithm over the previous day) shot up on June 16th.  Here’s the chart:
mozcast chart

Here’s a long excerpt that gets to the heart of the matter, but it’s a great post and you should go read the whole thing:

Anecdotally, I noticed that some Wikipedia URLs seemed to be flipping from HTTP to HTTPS. I ran a quick count, and this wasn’t just a fluke. It turns out that Wikipedia started switching their entire site to HTTPS around June 12 (hat tip to Jan Dunlop). This change is expected to take a couple of weeks.

It’s just one site, though, right? Well, historically, this one site is the #1 largest land-holder across the SERP real-estate we track, with over 5% of the total page-1 URLs in our tracking data (5.19% as of June 17). Wikipedia is a giant, and its movements can shake the entire web.

So what’s the reason for this crazy shake-up in the SERPs?  Is it a crazy new algorithm, or  a rash of manual penalties?  Neither, probably.  Dr. Pete dug into the data and came up with a pretty interesting explanation:

Is it possible that Wikipedia moving to HTTPS also made the site eligible for a rankings boost from previous algorithm updates, thus disrupting page 1 without any code changes on Google’s end? Yes, it is possible – even a relatively small rankings boost for Wikipedia from the original HTTPS algorithm update could have a broad impact.

Google Switching to .Google and .Youtube by the End of the Year?


Maybe.  It would definitely give the whole new gTLD movement a bit of momentum to have a giant like Google throw their weight behind it.

But there are some interesting whispers from the media and entertainment industry too: Google is rumoured to be considering switching over to .google in Q4 this year, and its YouTube brand is considering the same, with the launch of celebrity anchor sites (e.g. to help communicate the transition to consumers.

Just rumors at this point, but I’ll be paying attention to how the new gTLD space pans out, especially as it relates to Google.

Have you picked up one of the new gTLDs yet?  If so, have you made it your main URL?

TWS13: Google Manipulates SERPs, SCHEMA Penalties, & More
TWS11: Google Helping Google, The End of WHOIS, and More

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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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