March 2021 was a busy month for SEO and the broader world of digital marketing. It saw as many as seven updates to the Google algorithm – all unconfirmed – as we wait for the next core algorithm update. It also saw several platforms like Yahoo Answers in Facebook Analytics announcing that they would be shutting down.
As Many as 7 Google Updates Happened in March
There were as many as seven unconfirmed updates to the Google algorithm that do not seem to target specific industries or characteristics of a site. However, one update in particular saw the return of several featured snippets for searches that had disappeared in mid-February. It’s unknown at this time if the featured snippets disappearing were a technical issue or perhaps a misstep on Google’s part.
The algorithm updates in March did not have a prevailing trait and remain unnamed at this time. This usually happens for small, wide-ranging updates to the algorithm rather than a major overhaul on how Google ranks and indexes specific niches or technical components of a site.
Yahoo Answers and Facebook Analytics are Shutting Down
Yahoo Answers announced that they will be shutting down the platform on May 4th and will not provide an archive of the site’s content. While it has been a long time since posting on the platform was a viable link building strategy, it still played a small role in many organizations’ content marketing. Users will no longer be able to post starting on April 20th and all content will redirect to the main Yahoo homepage starting May 4th. However, users can still access their own data until June 30th.
Similarly, Facebook Analytics announced they will be closing down the platform on June 30th. While this doesn’t affect SEO directly, it may impact your broader digital marketing strategy. Specifically, digital marketers will have less accurate conversion rate data to work with, which can be a helpful metric to gauging the success of a campaign or piece of content. Unlike Yahoo answers, there are a few alternatives to accessing similar data like Facebook’s Business Suite and Events Manager.
Mobile-first Indexing is Now Wrapping Up in April or May
On the more technical side of things, Google provided a statement and update on their move to mobile-first indexing. Originally, mobile-first indexing was going to wrap up in September of 2020 before being delayed to March 2021. Google has now confirmed that they’re working on the final batch of sites for mobile-first indexing with a slight delay to April or May 2021.
Google’s John Mueller clarified that the final batch of sites mostly consists of domains that didn’t immediately qualify for mobile-first indexing. While Google confirmed that moving to mobile-first indexing will not cause any site to disappear entirely, it is expected that this move can (and will) impact rankings for sites that are not yet responsive.
You Should be Using Descriptive Words in URLs
Finally, Google confirmed that using descriptive words in URLs is a minor ranking factor, in line with statements they have issued in the past on the matter. This time around, it was clarified that it is more important of a factor for new content rather than content that has already been indexed for a while, since descriptive words can help Google classify the content and better rank it for relevant searches.
Of course, URL optimization is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO. If you need assistance with improving your site’s presence in organic search results, contact us immediately.