Today marks the 17th anniversary of starting this site, 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.
17 Years Of Passion:
17 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, 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 more so via social media channels – a new form of forum discussion. 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 started that new search vlog a bit over a year ago where I interview various search personalities in person (harder now with COVID) to bring more attention to new and maybe old individuals in our community. 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.
COVID has made some of these things a challenge and the truth is, a lot of what I wrote about after March was COVID related. Many new local features, many new search features, many new search ad features around COVID. I really hope and pray we all get through this and can return to normalcy in early 2021.
You can read last year’s recap – the sweet 16 of the Search Engine Roundtable as well.
Our Growth (I Mean Decline) & Analytics:
As you may remember, we got hit by that May core update and it took a toll on our traffic here. While last year we saw 25% growth in traffic, this year we saw a 18% decline in traffic. Search traffic declined over 20% and other channels suffered as well. The positive news on that front is that our DuckDuckGo traffic is up over 25%.
Mobile and desktop traffic are now about even, we are at 49% mobile and 49% desktop with the rest tablet – so that is a first where mobile is now even with desktop.
There are now over 30,000 stories on this site, I wrote close to 28,000 of them – 94% of them. I posted just about 1,900 stories this year alone, which is about the same as last year. We also had about 12,000 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 10,670 subscribers). I’ve been obviously making an effort to grow that channel. I have over 6.3 million views on those videos, with over 47,000 hours of watch time. Oh, and I made just under $1,400 in YouTube ad revenue in the past year, which is $400 more than last year’s revenue. Cha ching!
Most Important Stories In Past 12 Months:
Looking back at 2020, clearly COVID was the biggest impact on our industry for many reasons. It had both negative and positive impacts on many businesses, depending on the industries you focus on. It lead to new features in organic search, paid search, local search and so many areas of search.
We only had two core updates this year, one in January and one in May but to our surprise – we have not had another core update since but we had tons of unconfirmed Google algorithm updates.
BERT is now in 100% of queries, the mobile-first indexing deadline was pushed to March 2021, the page experience update was announced and will be live in May 2021, we await passage indexing (which is about rankings) and we had tons and tons of indexing issues in 2020.
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:
Most Viewed Stories In Past 12 Months:
Here are the most viewed stories in the past 12 months of 2020 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:
- Google Doodle: Thank You Coronavirus Helpers, Apr 6, 2020
- Big Google Search Update Rolling Out Now – August 10th, Aug 10, 2020
- Google January 2020 Core Update Is Live & It’s Big, Jan 14, 2020
- Big Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update – Currently Unconfirmed, Feb 9, 2020
- Google May 2020 Core Update Is Live – What We See So Far, May 5, 2020
- August 15th – Another Possible Big Google Search Algorithm & Ranking Update, Aug 15, 2020
- Sites Impacted By The Google May 2020 Core Update In A Big Way, May 6, 2020
- A Big Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update Happening Now?, Jun 23, 2020
- Google January 7th Search Ranking Algorithm Update Early Signals, Jan 7, 2020
- Early Signs Of A Google Search Algorithm Ranking Update On September 23rd, Sep 23, 2020
- Large Spike Google My Business Suspensions, Nov 23, 2020
Looking Forward To 2020:
Last year I said it was about voice search integration and IoT, multimedia in search and how search engines improve with understanding natural language queries. I think on all parts, those areas really exploded in 2020 with so much going on with IoT, crazy cool features in multimedia search and of course BERT and all the other things around natural language processing. I obviously did not predict the pandemic – sorry about that.
2021 will obviously 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.
But what is the thing I am missing in 2021? I think local is going to be way bigger than it is now.
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 let’s get through 2020 and have an amazing 2021!