SEO News Recap (Dec 19 – Jan 12): Waiting for a New Google Update

SEO News Recap (Dec 19 – Jan 12): Waiting for a New Google Update

There was not much tremor during the holiday season. Google hasn’t released a new update for 65 days now – the longest time in between updates since the summer of last year. But, according to Semrush Sensor, there has been a lot of chatter on SERPs over the last few days, which probably means a big new update will come soon. Our guess? End of the month!

Until we wait for a new update, there have been some news from the SEO industry you should be aware of. Namely, we have a development in New York Times lawsuit against OpenAI, Google gave their stance on the importance of homepages, keyword domain names and spammy links. Also, Raptive created a pretty cool new feature!

OpenAI responds to New York Times lawsuit

What happened? In December last year, the New York Times filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, saying that millions of articles published by the Times were used to train models that now compete with news outlets.

OpenAI finally responded to the Times’s lawsuit:

“We collaborate with news organizations and are creating new opportunities. Training is fair use, but we provide an opt-out because it’s the right thing to do.” The company added that “regurgitation,” or spitting out entire “memorized” parts of specific pieces of content or articles, “is a rare bug that we are working to drive to zero.”

How does this affect you? It will be super interesting to see how this one goes. Although it will probably take years in court to settle this lawsuit, it might just be the first big step in the battle against AI models training on publisher’s content for free.

Google on how important are the homepages

What happened? Gary Illyes stated that the homepage is the most important page for Google:

Usually I start with the homepage, because I can’t speak for other search engines, obviously, but from Google’s perspective, the homepage is the most important page on the site, …”

But what is even more important is what John Mueller said in 2020:

“…on a lot of websites the home page is the most important part of the website. So we re-crawl that fairly often and from there we try to find new and updated pages or other important pages.

So what will happen is, we’ll see the home page is really important, things linked from the home page are generally pretty important as well.

And then… as it moves away from the home page we’ll think probably this is less critical.

That pages linked directly from the home page are important is fairly well known but it’s worth repeating. In a well organized website the major category pages and any other important pages are going to be linked from the home page.”

How does this affect you? Saying that “homepage is the most important page” is a bit vague. But what we can get from this is the importance of having a good site structure. When Google’s crawler comes to the homepage, from there, it navigates to all your other pages. Having everything sorted up nicely in your menus on the homepage can make it easier for Google to crawl (and therefore index) your content.

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John Mueller on how important are keyword domain names

What happened? When creating a site about keto recipes, SEOs like to include that main keyword in the domain name (if possible) – for example, But does that help? John Mueller gave a direct and clear response to that:

A keyword domain name is not going to give you any recognizable SEO advantage on Google.

How does this affect you? If you are planning to start a new site, don’t worry about “keyword stuffing” the domain name. Think about how good it will sound once you try to make a brand out of it.

Google: You can ignore spammy links safely

What happened? Google (again) confirmed that you really shouldn’t waste time and resources on disavowing spammy links. A Reddit user asked:

Hi u/johnmu We have hundreds of thousands of backlinks from AI-generated blog posts hosted on different subdomains. These links point either to valid pages or non-existent 404 pages on our website. Should we disavow them?

If we disavow them, we will hit 100K domains limit of disavow file.

John Mueller replied:

They’re probably not even “AI”, just the usual junk that you can ignore.

How does this affect you? You really shouldn’t bother about your site being attacked by spammy links. If you go to Ahrefs’ profile of big sites, there are hundreds of thousands of spammy links. We are getting thousands of those daily. Safely, we can say that Google just knows how to ignore those.

Raptive introducing affiliate Link Monetizer

What happened? Raptive recently launched a new feature called Link Monetizer. Link Monetizer automatically turns product links on your site into affiliate links. As of November 2023, this feature will work with products links from these retailers:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Home Depot
  • Williams Sonoma
  • West Elm
  • Pottery Barn
  • PB Kids
  • PB Teen
  • Mark and Graham
  • Rejuvenation
  • GreenRow
  • Fuel Meals
  • Envato Placeit
  • Instacart
  • Best Buy
  • CB2

Namely, Raptive will install this for you and turn all your links from these retailers into affiliate links, bringing you a commission.

How does this affect you? This one is for Raptive users only. If you are on Raptive and running a site in cooking, gardening, home, or any other niche that features a product from the retailers above, this one is a super passive way to earn some extra money!

And with this, we come to the end of this edition of our “SEO News Recap.” What are your thoughts on these changes? Let us know in the comments below! 👇

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