Roundup of Google updates from September 2019

Learn all the changes Google made in September 2019

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Alexis Pratsides


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As ever, September was an incredibly busy month for Google’s Webmasters, with a whole host of tweaks being made across the past 4 weeks, culminating in the core update on 25th September.

timeline google news september 2019

9 Sept – R.I.P ‘old’ Google Search Console

It took a full 2 years since the release of the new version of Search Console, but finally, on 9th September 2019, Google announced that it had shut down the old version.Google will be redirecting any attempts made to visit the old homepage or dashboard to the relevant pages on the new version of Google Search Console. A few reports remain accessible on the old interface, but not for much longer! Check the Legacy tools and reports in the Help Centre (as pictured below).

Google search console legacy tools and reports

10 Sept – nofollow” links move to a ‘hint model

While Google has used the “nofollow” attribute for almost 15 years, little had been done to bring it in line with the web as it is today. This was until 10th September 2019, when Google announced that two new link attributes were being introduced which more accurately identified the nature of a given link.These were described as:

  • Rel=”sponsored”: This is used to identify links that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.
  • Rel=”ugc”: This value is used to identify links within user-generated content (ugc), such as comments or forum posts.
  • Rel=”nofollow”: This attribute has not been replaced and is still used by Google. It is used when you want to link to a page, but you don’t want to provide any kind of endorsement, including passing ‘ranking credit’.

This new expansion of various ‘hints’ allows Google to more accurately analyse links, where previously all attributes would have been ignored. Google state that the benefit of shifting to a hint model will ‘allow site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.’ The chart below from MOZ illustrates these changes clearly:

How Google's Nofollow, sponsered and UGC link attributes impact SEO

16 Sept – Google updates rich snippet reviews

On 16th September, Google announced that it would be updating the review rich snippets in order to make them more useful for users. The major change was to eliminate ‘self-serving’ reviews – i.e. reviews that are controlled by the webmaster – be it in the markup or via an embedded third party widget.This directly impacts the LocalBusiness and Organization schemas, alongside their subtypes.This does not apply across all schema types, however, the following types will still see their reviews displayed:

19 Sept – Google Search Console introduces new breadcrumb structured data reports

Google Search Console released its new breadcrumb structured data reports on Thursday 19th September. This new report sits under the Enhancements section, as shown below. Furthermore, webmasters will receive email warnings if their sites are being impacted by breadcrumb structured data problems.

Google search console new breadcrumbs

23 Sept – Fresh, same-day data available in Google Search Console reports

Having previously had to wait several days in order to access data in Google Search Console, an announcement from Google confirmed that same-day data would now be available. This comes after the number one feature request from Google Search Console users was revealed as ‘improved data freshness’. But what does this mean for us as user:

  • Review your site’s weekend performance on Monday morning, rather than waiting until Wednesday.
  • Review data during important days such as global events and holidays.
  • Check whether traffic is rebounded after technical fixes.

 One important note here is that fresh data points will be replaced final data points a few days later, meaning that fresh data may well change somewhat before a final number is reached. 

24 Sept – New snippet settings from Google allow more control over SERP display

Google has released details of new settings that allow webmasters much greater control over how their results are displayed on the Google Search listings. These can be implemented through either robot meta tags or HTML attributes. The four meta tags (that can be used in combination) can be added to an HTML page are as follows:

  • “nosnippet” – this is an existing option that removes textual snippets from the SERP.
  • “max-snippet:[number]” – Allows you to specify the maximum text length, in characters, of the snippet for this page.
  • “max-video-preview:[number]” – This meta tag specifies a maximum duration, in seconds, of an animated video preview.
  • “max-image-preview:[setting]” – Specify the maximum size of an image preview to be shown, between “none”, “standard” or “large”.

 These can also be implemented as HTML attributes rather than meta tags. This is useful if you want to prevent a certain part of the page from being displayed, for example:

<p><span data-nosnippet>MintTwist</span> is a full service digital agency.</p>

 There is currently no way to preview what these snippets will look like until Google actually starts displaying them. They have stated that these changes will be pushed live in mid-to-late October and may take a week to fully roll out.  One notable point to consider is that these new settings may well negatively impact your ability to show up for featured snippets, as these often require a certain minimum number of characters to be displayed, which may be prevented through the implementation of the above settings. 

25 Sept – Google Core Update – September 2019

Google began to slowly (as usual!) roll out the September core update towards the end of the month. The first changes started to appear on 24th September and many more have been experiencing these changes (both good and bad) in the days since.  Tweet us @Minnttwist and let us know about your experiences. 

26 Sept – CONFIRMED: Embedded & Hotlinked images are not regarded as links

After a degree of confusion around embedded images as links (or hotlinks), Google’s John Mueller has shed some light on the issue. 

Just to be really clear, there’s no need to disavow if a site embeds images from your site. We don’t see those as links to a site. (Sometimes people embed images AND link to your site, in that case, links are links, do whether or not you disavow … it depends)

— ???? John ???? (@JohnMu) September 26, 2019

It is now very straightforward: if someone embeds an image from your site, using your image URL as the source, then the image would not be considered a link to your site – no need to disavow! 

26 Sept – Google Search News – new YouTube series

Google Search News is the name of Google’s new YouTube series, which has been created to help SEOs, publishers, developers, and webmasters keep up to date with the latest tools and features related to Google Search.  The first episode, which can be found below, covers recent updates to Google Search Console, changes in review rich results, advances for rel=nofollow and related attributes, among many other interesting snippets of news.

Created by

Alexis Pratsides

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