For the past 18 years I’ve been writing on this site, covering what you – the search marketers are chattering about. Today marks the 18th anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable. I’ve been writing about search for over 40% of my life – which is weird to think about. And I’ve been doing it consistently every workday, several times per day, even through a pandemic, for 17 years. It is hard for me to fathom that I still can find several new things to write about every single day.
18 Years Of Passion:
18 years ago, I started this site as a way to kind of keep notes on what the search marketing community was talking about. A roundtable of discussions between the smartest search marketing minds, if you will. That passion and that mission has not changed – I still try to cover what the search marketing community is buzzing about, what the community cares about and what the community is saying about those changes in our space. It is less in the forums these days, as sadly most of the old fashion online forums have slowed down, but social media platforms have picked up in its place – that is not to say all forums are done – they are not. But the community is chatting and discussing and I try my hardest to find that discussion and highlight it here for you all.
I still continue to publish several stories here a day and on Search Engine Land. I still produce my weekly video recaps, which I think has been improving a lot lately (make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel). I also continued to do the search vlog where I try to bring more attention to new and maybe old individuals in our community, this has been a challenge during COVID with social distancing, issues with travel and the lack of in-person conferences. I also now publish these videos on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player. Don’t forget about the fun daily photos and big monthly Google webmaster reports. These are all aimed to save you time, while catching you up on new topics and making you smile at the same time.
A year ago, we were at the verge of a vaccine and hope that life would go back to normal. Now we are talking about not just 3rd doses but 4th doses to keep us safe. We have two antiviral drugs about to be approved to fight COVID and it is my hope that by this time next year, we can start getting back to normal – but who knows, it is like trying to predict Google algorithm updates.
If you want, you can read last year’s recap – the 17th year anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable as well.
Our Growth (I Mean Decline) & Analytics:
While in 2019 year we saw 25% growth in traffic, this year we saw a 13% decline in traffic. Search traffic declined over 30% but our direct traffic is up 22%, email traffic is up 360%, and other channels are also up – so diversification is important with Google’s own properties eating up the SEO traffic (and kudos to them, I mean it).
Mobile and desktop traffic are now about even, we are at 47% mobile and 51% desktop with the rest tablet – which means more desktop traffic than mobile compared to the previous year.
There are now over 32,000 stories on this site, I wrote over 29,600 of them – about 93% of them. I posted about 2,000 stories this year alone, which is about a hundred more stories than last year. We also had about 12,000 approved comments posted this year on the stories, which is about the same as last year as well.
With YouTube, my channel – please subscribe has over 2,200 new subscribers (now at ~12,900 subscribers). I’ve been obviously making an effort to grow that channel. I have over 6.4 million views on those videos, with over 54 hours of watch time. Oh, and I made just under $1,600 in YouTube ad revenue in the past year, which is $200 more than last year’s revenue. Although, if you watch, you will see I have video sponsors now – thank you sponsors!
Most Important Stories In Past 12 Months:
Looking back at 2021 it is clear that this was a year of many confirmed Google search algorithm and ranking updates. We had three core updates – June, July and November. We had a number of spam updates; including a November spam update, a two part spam update, a link spam update and the predator update. We had other updates like the page experience update, April product reviews update and December products reviews update, and title changes. We also had a number of AI/machine learning based algorithms like MUM, passage ranking, subtopic rankings and a couple from Bing like MEB and Speller100.
Indexing got interesting with IndexNow that even Google may try out. Google spent a tremendous amount of time and resources on its help documents and resources, no wonder they are ranking so well now. Search Console has a new design and also Search Console Insights launched officially. Google rolled out continuous scroll and Google My Business for Google Business profiles.
Plus we had tons of industry moves, IPOs, acquisitions and organizational changes. And it is also sad, but we lost several well respected and loved members of the industry.
There was a lot that I wrote, like I said above, but here is what I think are the most important stories over the past 12- months or so (if I missed any, let me know in the comments):
Search Algorithm Related:
Crawling & Indexing:
Google Search Console:
Bing Webmaster Tools:
Business & Industry:
Most Viewed Stories In Past 12 Months:
Here are the most viewed stories in the past 12 months of 2021 based on Google Analytics. I should note that my analytics does not combine AMP URLs with the canonical non AMP URL, so this might not be in exact order of popularity:
Looking Forward To 2022:
Last year I said it was about IoT, search features in multimedia and of course BERT and all the other things around natural language processing. I also said 2021 will be a lot about health, safety “and I hope vaccines.” But natural language understanding will really be impressive – I mean, passage indexing should be fun. Mobile is here and done with mobile indexing being fully switched over in a few months. And it was a big year, we had MUM announced, although it was not used much in 2021 – the Search On event did show some applications of its use.
I expect a ton of announcements from Google around MUM and more AI/machine learning efforts in search in 2022. You will see more with local search, you will see more with multimedia and that.
But the big change for us SEOs, I really think there will be a really big revamp in quality algorithms. Like Panda and Penguin and Core updates big, but this one will be aimed at a lot of the criticism Google has taken over the past year about its search quality.
As I said last year, I deeply appreciate and thank you all so much for reading every day, commenting (or ignoring the comments) and for sharing the stories here. Keep up the chatter and let’s build an even better search community this coming year. Everyone stay safe and healthy!