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October 2019 SEO Updates – HTML Sitemaps not worthwhile for SEO?

By vivian on October 4, 2019


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October 2019 SEO Updates

It’s October but in this SEO update, we will be diving into the changes seen with the release of September Core Update last Tuesday, other Google announcements, and provide you with the usual awesome SEO tips.

So let’s begin!

  1. Algorithm Updates
  2. Google Announcements
  3. SERP Updates

Algorithm Updates

04/10/2019 – 10 Days After Google Core Quality Update

Google announced a core quality update which started to roll out on September 24, 2019. Here’s the announcement.

Now it’s been 10 days and according to Marie Haynes, this appears to be a fairly significant update, affecting many verticals but in particular eCommerce, health, and legal websites.

Among her clients, the sites which had show improvement were those that made changes related to improving their trustworthiness (T in E-A-T), improving technical aspects on their site, and trimming out thin content.

This seems to be aligned with the blog that Google has linked to, regarding “What Webmasters should know about Google’s core updates”.

But if you are short on time, here are the main points:

Google Announcments

01/10/2019 – John Mueller strongly advice against using M-dot sites

Although Google has always strongly recommended sites to use responsive designed but John Mueller has recently adviced staying away from m-dots websites as a strong recommendation. Here’s the Tweet.


In the tweet, Mueller had only said that this will make things easier, but to further elaborate — mobile-dedicated websites are designed under a separate URL (eg m.site.com) and are completely distinct from the full site, which dispersed your website traffic and SEO, which is what makes responsive websites a better choice.

02/10/2019 – HTML Sitemaps not worthwhile for SEO?

Google’s John Mueller posted on Reddit that he agrees that HTML sitemaps are not worthwhile for SEO purposes.

Still Worth Making HTML Sitemap

HTML Sitemaps has always been seen as an important part of SEO, like almost forever since 2009 when Matt Cutts picked HTML Sitemaps over XML Sitemaps.

Then again, ten years have passed and like Mueller said if Google cannot crawl your website through normal navigation, then you might have bigger issues. Still, on a consensus from the team in SEOPressor, we think an HTML sitemap is still something better to have than not.

04/10/2019 – Google News Raise The Bar For Application Process

Last week, John Mueller shared on Google Webmasters Hangout (5:48 mark) that he believe Google News has made the application process much stricter.

If you want to increase your chances of getting into Google News, you will need to ensure you meet their content policies and technical index guidelines. Here are some of the items included in their policies and guidelines:

Content Policies:
1. Original Content – Content must be fresh and original.
2. Transparency – Sites should provide information like dates, bylines, and company or network behind it.

Technical Index Guidelines:
1. Article URL – Article URL must be unique and permanent.
2. Article format – Google’s crawler cannot crawl PDFs or other non-HTML formats.

04/10/2019 – Links Do Not Expire

In the video above, mark 49:43, Google’s John Mueller was asked if links expire. He immediately responded with a “No, they don’t expire”. But, links get less important over time, especially if it’s on a large website that is growing regularly.

John Mueller shared an example of this. If you have a link from CNN, then it is something that’s really important to them. However, after a year or two, it may end up in the archive, which isn’t something that Google thinks is important anymore.

Most webmasters will check their links from time to time, be it internal, external, or backlinks to ensure they all have value to the site. And you should too!

08/10/2019 – New Reports on Google Search Console

On 7th October 2019, Google announced that there are two new reports for video content.

i. Video Enhancement Report –

Webmasters users structured data to help the search engine understand when videos appear on a page. These structured data will cause rich visual treatment to be displayed, such as the video’s duration and previews.

The report allows you to debug your video content on your site. It also shows you any errors and warnings for markup implemented on your site. After fixing the issue, you may recrawl your affected pages to confirm if it was resolved.

ii. Video Performance Report –

Image source: Google Webmasters Central Blog

These reports tell you how well your videos are doing in Google Search and Google Discover. Your content may be in ‘Videos’ appearance if your page uses VideoObject structured data, of if Google detects that there is a video on a page.

Google has shared best practices for videos that they recommend all webmasters to follow. Some of the points include adding a high-quality thumbnail image for the video and make sure each video lives in a publicly available page where users can watch the video. The page should not require a login.

10/10/2019 – New Link Attributes

Early last month, Google shared that nofollow attribute on links will be used as “hints” for ranking purposes. On top of that, Google introduced two new link attributes which are rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”.

Today, Gary Illyes from Google talked a little more about the two new link attributes. He said that it is not compulsory to be implemented but the attributes are introduced to help Google understand the web better.

So, I have a question for you, would you implement the link attributes and why? Let me know in the comment section below.

SERP Updates

02/10/2019 – Google featured Snippet Image Carousel to show more Results

All this while, we have been Google testing different variations of SERP results, and this time Google is showing image carousels in the featured snippet position. We are not sure if it is entirely new, but for us it is and here’s the snap shot.

Featured Snippet Image Carousel

The image carousel is above the usual featured snippet of “Technical SEO Checklist”

We are not sure if Google is going to roll this out, but if they do — this will shift a great weightage to Image SEO.

That is it for this week’s SEO updates, remember to stay tuned next week as we bring you more weekly SEO news you should keep an eye out for.

Updated: 22 October 2019


About Vivian

Vivian is an anthropologist lost in the world of digital marketing. She has an interest in learning about the science of marketing and the creativity that businesses use to transform themselves into purple cows.

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