Interested in staying up-to-date with the latest SEO news? In July’s round-up, I’ll discuss the latest happenings that have occurred in the world of SEO over the last month.

Table of contents

1. Confirmed Algorithm Update

2. Is TikTok finally evolving into a search engine?

3. Google dropping continuous scroll in search results?

4. 2024 Zero-Click Search Study by Rand Fishkin

1. Confirmed Algorithm Update

After a quiet May, we were treated to the June 2024 spam update which began rolling out on the 20th of June and concluded on the 27th, seven days later. Volatility was low throughout this update; however, spikes were seen a day or two after conclusion.

Although the SERPs were less volatile, there is still a chance your site may have been impacted. If your data shows a drop off in traffic since the 20th of June, it’s possible you may have been affected.

Update info:

June 2024 Google Spam Update

This rollout occurred on the 20th of June and concluded on the 27th.

Quick Facts (pulled-in from from seoroundtable):

  • Name: Google June 2024 Spam Update
  • Launched: June 20, 2024 at about 11:15 am ET
  • Rollout: June 27, 2024 at about 12:10 pm ET
  • Does Not Target: This update does not target link spam, it does not target the site reputation abuse policy and some other policies.
  • Penalty: It penalizes some of spam techniques that are against Google's spam policies.
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions and languages.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, Google said you should review its spam policies to ensure they are complying with those.
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to the spam update. It can take many months to recover, Google said.

SERP volatility sensor

Background

Google’s ongoing fight against webspam has been obvious in recent years, with many algorithm updates targeting exactly that. Below I go into detail explaining what webspam is, Google’s approach to it and what this means for businesses.

What is ‘Webspam’?

Webspam refers to the online content produced with the intention to deceive or manipulate search engines in order to gain more organic traffic. Webspam often violates search engine guidelines and impacts user experience by providing low-quality or thin content.

Too much webspam on a search engine could deter users from returning and therefore it is important for search engines such as Google to be able to control the content that ranks.

Google’s approach to Webspam

Google is aware that there are users out there that will do whatever it takes to gain traffic on the platform. Whilst Google does have strict policies to adhere to, these are often ignored. Users may also be going against the policies without knowledge and this has led to many sites being penalised in the past. One recent example is the rise of mass-produced AI content. Google soon found out that AI content was being uploaded to gain traffic and this wasn’t necessarily helpful content. This is why in recent algorithm updates, these websites have been penalised.

There are continuously new methods and approaches to ‘game’ the system and Google will sooner or later respond and adjust their core ranking systems to penalise these websites. So whilst black-hat techniques may help in the short term, it is more likely to be one more nail in the coffin.

Below I have put together a list of the milestones in the evolving fight against webspam.


Googles fight against spam infographic image

Summary

From the very early days, Google has worked to reduce webspam on their search engine. One effective way they have done this in the past is the improvement of their search algorithms. Some of these updates are specifically aimed at improving how they identify spammy content and penalising the websites using tactics that go against their guidelines.

Businesses looking to avoid penalties in the future should pay attention to the Webmaster Guidelines. This is where Google provides clear guidelines for webmasters on what constitutes webspam and how to avoid it.

2. Is TikTok finally evolving into a search engine?

Frequent TikTok users may have recently seen the platform deliver results other than videos when searching for a query. For example, when searching for 'Angela Rayner' in the UK, you may see the below search results page:


As you can see above, a knowledge panel is being pulled in from Wikipedia, meaning users no longer need to leave the platform to learn more about a high-profile individual.

What does this mean for businesses?

Whilst this SERP is limited to a selection of videos in addition to something that resembles a Google knowledge panel, this does show that TikTok is looking to answer users' queries in different formats.

In my opinion, as other platforms such as TikTok do answer more queries, it could be the case that some websites will receive fewer clicks from informational queries in the future. This however will be offset by more direct and branded clicks to the site as users find your brand on other platforms and resort to googling you for more information.

If you want to chat about what platforms your business should be using to increase brand presence, please get in touch.

Contact us

3. Google dropping continuous scroll in search results?

Google launched continuous scroll on desktop search in December 2022 and first in mobile search in October 2021. They have since confirmed that they are planning to revert this change.

According to Search Engine Land, Google said this change is to serve the search results faster on more searches, instead of automatically loading results that users haven’t explicitly requested. “Loading more results automatically didn’t lead to significantly higher satisfaction with search”.

What does this mean for businesses?

The biggest difference will be felt by those who now fall onto page 2 of Google.

Websites ranking on page 2 will now likely receive fewer clicks than before; this is because users will need to request ‘next’ on desktop or ‘more results’ on mobile to see your listing.

4. 2024 Zero-Click Search Study by Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin has always been a big name in the SEO industry. From the creation of the SEOmoz blog, which over a decade became one of the most popular resources for search marketers, to growing Moz to a 200+ employee, $50M+ revenue company.

Today, through his company SparkToro, he carries out wide-scale reports analysing search engines, the search industry and more.

In the latest report, Rand looks at Google search behaviour in both America and in Europe.

SparkToro’s findings

Notes:

  • For every 1000 EU Google searches, only 374 go to the open web.
  • In total, 59.7% of searches result in 0 clicks, this is a higher percentage than America

US vs. EU Google Search Behaviour

Notes:

  • Search behaviour in both regions is quite similar with the exception of paid ads (EU mobile searchers are almost 50% more likely to click a Google paid search ad) and clicks to Google properties (where US searchers are considerably more likely to find themselves back in Google’s ecosystem after a query).
  • Almost half of mobile searches in both the US and EU end the browsing session entirely; more than 2X the percent of such searches on desktop devices.

US vs. EU Google Desktop Search Clicks

Notes:

Clicks from Google to the open web have decreased since 2022. So, even if search volume and ranking positions stayed the same overtime, a website is still statistically likely to receive 2% fewer clicks.

What does this mean for businesses?

Understanding why traffic has dropped is getting harder to analyse. From changes to search volume, SERP erosion, algorithm updates, a change to seasonality and more, there could be multiple reasons why a website is no longer performing at the same level. We recommend speaking to an SEO professional who can analyse the data and recommend changes to reverse the decline.

Back to blog
Meet the author ...

Jessica Sellers

SEO Manager

SEO is Jess’s passion. She has over six years of experience in digital marketing and has thoroughly enjoyed her journey in SEO so far. Working both in-house and agency side across a ...