SEO news in August 2021: Google’s new title tag update, a new button on Twitter and more


Google has made changes to the way they show page titles in the organic search results and the SEO community is up in arms. But that’s not all that happened this month. There was lots of SEO news in August 2021 and as usual, our resident experts Joost and Jono discussed all of it in our monthly webinar. Want to know what they talked about? In this post, we’ll go over the highlights of this month’s webinar.

Watch the August 2021 SEO news webinar

In this blog post, you can find the highlights of our August 2021 edition of the SEO news webinar. If you’d rather (re)watch the webinar, you can find the video below.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to register for our next SEO news webinar on the 28th of September, 2021. We hope to see you there!

The latest Google news

Google is rewriting page titles in the search results

For years now, Google has been changing up meta descriptions to match them with specific search queries. The idea is that they understand the user’s intent and want to make sure that the meta description aligns with that. Now, they’ve started doing the same thing with title tags by rewriting and showing different titles in the organic search results. However, it seems that in some cases this isn’t going as flawlessly as they hoped.

A page on whitehouse.gov with a title that now says ‘Vice President Joe Biden’

Google is changing the wording and in some cases, this isn’t for the better. As the example above makes clear, these rewritten titles can lead to some weird results and even wrong information. This is a massive issue when it comes to reliability, reputation and even legal aspects. Which, logically, led to quite some commotion around this in the SEO world.

To give some perspective, the reason Google is rewriting these title tags is that there are still a lot of pages out there without proper title tags. Homepages that show up with the title ‘Home’ in the search results, or page titles that are stuffed with keywords in the hope that they will rank better. With this new update, Google wants to make sure that page titles describe what the page is about and give enough context.

Now, keep in mind that in many cases this isn’t going wrong. Your page titles might be exactly the same or might have even changed for the better. But to be sure, we advise you to keep an eye on your key pages. Make sure to provide your pages with great page titles that are specific and not stuffed with keywords. And monitor your pages by checking out how they are showing up in Google and by looking for possible places where your CTR might have dropped (or your bounce rate might have increased). If you are noticing any wrong titles, Google has a thread where you can give feedback.

Google announces new ways to find deals and shop

Google is launching new sections and tools to showcase deals in their search results and in Google Merchant Center. Now, promotions and deals uploaded in the Merchant Center will be automatically surfaced to Shopping users. Google is investing a lot of time into these new ways to find deals and shop online.

We’ve talked about Google Merchant Center quite a bit these past few webinars and that’s not without reason. If you are selling something online you should really look into getting your products on there. You can simply add all of your product information and they will become eligible for Google’s services (Images, Search, Discover and YouTube). Even if you’re not running any paid advertising. More and more, the lines between organic results and Google’s Merchant Center are blurring and you want to make sure that you’re part of this ecosystem.

Google adds author URL property to identify authors

Google has been trying to identify authors of online articles for quite a while now. Which they are now able to do, by adding a recommended author URL property. To elaborate, this author.url property is a link to a page that identifies the author of an article. This can be an author’s social media page, about me page or any other page that helps identify them.

Our Yoast SEO plugin has actually been doing this for quite a while. If you’re a user of Yoast SEO, do make sure that you have links to your social media pages on your WordPress author profile page. That way Yoast SEO can output the necessary information on your authors. This news is also validation that we’re using the right approach when it comes to Schema in Yoast SEO. When you use our plugin, it will output lots (and we do mean lots) of structured data that makes it easier for Google to understand your pages and show them as relevant results.

Larger images in Discover improve click-through rate

This is a bit of fun, but probably not shocking, news. Google did a case study and found out that using larger images in Discover positively impacts the click-through rate. It’s great to see that both examples highlighted in the case study are running Yoast SEO. This came out of a change they made in 2020 when they introduced a meta tag that allowed them to feature publishers’ images in larger formats.

Difference between small and large image in Google Discover

This change has led to publishers reporting greater visibility of their content, including increased traffic to their site and improved click-through rates. So if you have large images on your website, make sure to add the max-image-preview:large meta tag to your pages to benefit from this. Both WordPress and Yoast SEO can actually do this for you by default.

The latest internet news

YouTube is overhauling its search results

If you’re not doing anything with video right now, this might be the moment to get started. YouTube is making a few changes that can be very interesting in regards to marketing and SEO. One of the things they’re doing is making more content available to users by using automatic translations. This means that when you search for something on YouTube and there aren’t any fitting results in your own language, it will now return results in other languages by translating them automatically.

Another thing they’re working on is the integration of Google’s search results. When there’s not enough relevant video content to return, YouTube is experimenting with showing Google search results. For a while now, we’ve seen YouTube videos show up in the search results and now Google is looking into an integration that works both ways. The line between the two platforms seems to become less hard and the distinct difference in format mediums blurs with it. This calls for an evaluation of the mediums that we’re using to communicate content to our audience. Some searches or user intents might be much better served by a video than by text. Video is becoming more important and should be a structural part of your marketing efforts, instead of an extra. And you need to think about whether to host your videos on YouTube or your own website.

US Apple maps users get the ability to rate places

If you’re not familiar with it, Apple Maps is a web mapping service that works similarly to Google Maps. And now with their latest update, users are also able to rate places on Apple Maps. The difference with giving a review on Google Maps is that you’re not able to give a written review, but you can give a thumbs up or down on several aspects.

This update is another indication that Apple is becoming more involved in search. If you want to know more about this, Tom Anthony actually did an interesting talk on what an Apple search ecosystem might look like. He discusses how this would look different from Google’s search and how Apple would use data that they can collect through their own apps. This Maps update, for example, can have a profound effect on the discoverability of shops and restaurants, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Twitter is testing a newsletter subscription button

Twitter recently acquired Revue, a newsletter platform. Now they are testing a feature that will allow Revue users to add a newsletter subscribe button to their Twitter profile. If you are a Revue user and you’re not seeing this feature yet, don’t fret. Initially, the button is only being shown to a smaller test group but it will be available to everyone using Revue.

This feels like an elegant and subtle integration. It also feels like it’s part of a bigger trend that we’ve been seeing during the pandemic: the rise of a creator economy. We’re seeing more focus on the individual that writes and analyzes online. Journalists that aren’t just part of bigger companies, but that you can now also follow or subscribe to on social media or through a newsletter. This shows us that your company website isn’t the only way to reach people and that selling products isn’t the one and only way to monetize your business.

Having a content model that produces content that gets people interested, in exchange for their email address, opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It can help you get discovered, it’s great for branding, and establishing trust and a relationship with your audience. And if you have an ad-based website, which isn’t great for SEO, this also opens up new possibilities when it comes to your advertising model.

The latest Yoast news

Yoast was acquired by NewFold Digital

Perhaps you’ve already seen this news flying around somewhere, but we are joining NewFold Digital. NewFold Digital is a big company that has lots of brands that can help customers of all sizes build a digital presence that delivers results and brings value to businesses. There are already lots of fun conversations happening on what we achieve together. Our team is staying on, so it’s still the same people who are working on Yoast SEO and all of our other fun projects. And of course, we’ll continue to work towards our mission of SEO for everyone.

Newest releases of Yoast SEO

We’ve had a few releases of Yoast SEO during the last few weeks. With our 16.8 and 17.0 releases, we’ve added support for Slovak and Norwegian. This means we now support a total of 18 languages when it comes to readability! With our 16.9 release, we’ve introduced another SEO workout that helps you clean up your content. This is kind of cool as this workout walks you through your orphaned content (content that doesn’t have any links to it) and helps you figure out what to do with it. We’ll be adding more of these workouts to Yoast SEO Premium to help you improve your website, step by step. Where Yoast SEO is your gym, Yoast SEO Premium becomes your personal trainer.

If you are thinking of going Premium, it might be worth your while to rewatch this month’s webinar for a fun surprise. You can find the video at the top of this post!

Other events and fun stuff

In August of this year, we’ve held our very first Summer School. And it was a blast! We had four workshops on different topics and loved the interaction with everyone attending these virtual events! If you’re wondering what you’ve missed, make sure to read our recap of the best bits. But you can also rewatch all of the workshops (for free) in Yoast Academy.

Screenshot of Summer School workshop
Screenshot of the workshop How to use internal linking to rank higher with the right content

We also did two podcasts this month! The first one was with Cindy Krum and it was all about passage ranking, PWA, voice search, and the new MobileMoxie SEO tools. The second one was with Marcus Tandler and it’s on making the web carbon neutral and the importance of online user experience. Topics that are quite different from each other, but both podcasts are a lot of fun and give you interesting insights. Make sure to give them a listen when you have some spare time.

That’s it for our SEO news in August 2021

Those were the highlights of this month’s SEO news webinar. We hope you’ve enjoyed them! If you’re left wanting more, I would suggest watching the entire webinar as Joost and Jono discuss lots more in it. They also answer some interesting questions asked by the audience. And if you have a question that you would like to ask them, make sure to register for our next webinar on the 28th of September. Hope to see you there!

Read more: Register for our next SEO news webinar in September »

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