Your April SEO Roundup

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What’s new in SEO? From lost data and noindex changes to Google algorithm updates, read more.

ClickThrough’s April SEO Roundup

In this article, I reveal the biggest stories from April in the world of SEO. From lost data and noindex changes to Google algorithm updates, read on to learn more.

1. Search Console Loses Data For 16 Days

Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz blogged about this loss of data, which occurred between April 9th and April 25th.

“Yep – the 16 day period is completely gone for all reports minus the Performance report. Gone” (Search Engine Roundtable, 2019).

What caused this loss of data? According to Schwartz, the blip is a result of Google Search Console bugs that were deemed responsible for indexing issues. After Google claimed these issues were resolved (excluding the backlink report), it became clear that every report except the Performance report was affected.

Google commented on the data anomalies page, stating:

“Search Console experienced a data outage that ceased on April 26. The outage affected all reports except the Performance report. All missing data from April 9-25 was replaced with the data from April 26, when data began to be available again."

What’s the impact of this?

For webmasters hoping to analyse the effects of the indexing bug on their site, the data they need isn’t fully available. With days of coverage missing, this analysis is near enough impossible to conduct.

2. Potential Changes To How NoIndex In Robots.txt Works

We all know Google doesn’t support using the noindex direction in robots.txt files. It’s been communicated to webmasters by Google on numerous occasions.

But some webmasters are still using it – something Google’s Gary Illyes is keen to put a stop to.

Here’s how the Twitter conversation went:

Mihai Aperghis – Apri 17, 2019

@JohnMu in the extreme case I need to use a robots.txt Noindex directive, would Google treat it as it does a noindex meta tag? Or more as a Disallow directive (ie don’t crawl)?

John Mueller – Apr 17, 2019

We don’t officially support it, so I wouldn’t rely on any particular effect.

Gary Illyes – Apr 18, 2019

This may go away. I’m cleaning up that part of the googlebot codebase nowadays and that thing sticks out like a nun in a mosh pit.

But why has Google has been telling webmasters to stop using noindex for robots.txt files? Essentially, robots.txt is for crawling a site, whereas meta tags are for indexing. During the indexing process, these would apply at the same time, meaning there’s no reason to use both.

A webmaster challenged Gary’s tweet, saying it’s a “handy feature when you’re dealing with external dev agencies…”. Gary Illyes replied stating he would run a study and take it from there.

3. More Images, Videos & Featured Snippets Appearing In SERPs

According to Barry Schwartz, Google is “showing more vertical search features in the core web search results – more often” (SEO Roundtable, 2019).

SEO platforms such as RankRanger, Moz and SEO Clarity have reported on the frequency for Images, Video and Featured Snippets showing up in SERPs. RankRanger reported a 32% increase in desktop video carousels being shown, while Mozcast reports a 29% increase in featured snippet occurrences.

So, what does this tell us? For now at least, as Barry concurs, “Google is always changing”.

4. Google Algorithm Update

It’s important to keep up to date with the latest algorithm changes. We know Google changes a lot, and we need to make sure our webmaster efforts aren’t left high and dry when a sudden change occurs.

Did you notice anything different around April 26th?

WebmasterWorld certainly did:

“Seeing huge SERPs changes for us yesterday like others on here too. Automotive UK.”

“Looks like an update is going on since yesterday (April 27th) at least in Google Europe.”

“Felt changes on the 19th and the 27th of this month for my sites.”

Barry Schwartz mentioned how difficult it is to track updates while there are indexing issues. Did you find this was the case?

Summary

If you have any thoughts or questions about April’s top SEO stories, get in touch with us. We’re always researching industry news and updates and would love to hear your take on the latest SEO news.

Also, keep an eye out on our social channels for details about my next webinar… coming soon!

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