2021 SEO Review: Google Algorithm changes, GMB becomes GBP and More

2021 SEO Review: Google Algorithm changes to GMB becomes GBP
2021 SEO Review: Google Algorithm changes to GMB becomes GBP

2021 SEO review: the most important SEO stories,  news, and changes from this year.

Confronting a plethora of changes, SEOs were faced with an uncertain future in the year 2021. Google introduced continuous scrolling while also rolling out new features such as the search results page highlights that could potentially harm their brands’ visibility on SERPs—all happening amongst the COVID pandemic two years running!

Google’s Algorithm Changes

Core Updates

Google released 3 large core updates and most businesses were affected by them in one way or another. There was one in June, July and again in November.

The first core update in June caused significant search volatility. The July update continued to show huge changes until it slowed down during the middle of July.

Google announced a third core update on November 17 just before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.  Many measurement tools showed that the volatility was even higher than in June and July.

Page Title Rewrites

There were many algorithm updates, but the page title rewrites were the most controversial. We started noticing changes to Titles in the Search engine results pages around August. 

Unfortunately, this resulted in a large decrease in quality and click-through rates. So, Google rolled back some of the updates in September.

Spam updates

There were several spam updates that Google rolled out during the year. One on June 23 and one on June 28, which didn’t cause much of an impact.

The final spam update came out in November, and Google didn’t give us much info on this one, but the search volatility skyrocketed.

Passage indexing

Passage indexing is an algorithm change that can rank a piece of content from a page in the Search Engine Results Pages. Google now displays these as featured snippets and links you to that specific area on the page.

2021 SEO Review and News

Bing launched Page Insights in November which has a lightbulb icon next to each search result that gives searchers more details.

Google also launched continuous scroll on mobile search in October.  This may encourage more clicks past page one. But we are still measuring the impact of this change on Click-Through Rates.

In October, Google refreshed its search quality guidelines to expand on the YMYL content and low-quality content. YMYL stands for “Your Money, Your Life”, which Google explains as content that could have a negative impact on the quality of people’s lives or finances.

Schema.org launches schema markup validator.

After Google deprecated their Google structured data testing tool, Schema.org launched its structured data markup validator. Google explained, “The main purpose of the tool is to check syntax and compliance of markup with schema.org standards.”

Analytics, Tools and Reporting

Google Search Console (GSC)

Search console rolled out a tool that allowed users to report indexing issues. To improve accessibility and user experience, they introduced a new design in November. In December, the review snippets rich results were updated to reduce the number of objects that are reviewed and condensed it down to the top-level schema.org/rating objects.

New Page Experience Report that included metrics with URLs with good page experience and search impressions over time. It also offered a way to dig into the components of the page experience signal to get more insight into ways to improve. These included Core Web Vitals, Mobile Usability, Security issues, HTTPS, and potential Ad experience.

Local SEO

Google My Business is now Google Business Profile

In November, Google announced it would rename GMB to GBP. This update will include new features to give marketers and business owners additional control over their accounts.

  • Claiming and verifying business profiles directly in Google Search and Google Maps.
  • Call history
  • Messaging directly from Google Search
  • Message read receipts


Some updates include showing price ranges for U.S. Restaurants. New features that focus on indoor business directories, such as airports and malls.

Moving forward into 2022

We have experienced so many algorithm changes and platform updates this year, that SEOs are watching their data closely. Many of these updates are broad and Infront wants to keep you informed about these changes.

People still need to focus on the pandemic and answering their audience’s questions and make things as convenient as possible. Continue to show your customers how you can solve their problems and offer substantial value. 

We hope you enjoyed our 2021 SEO review.

Learn about our 2022 SEO and Digital Marketing Trends.

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