Google News Digest: New Languages in Voice Search, New Features in GSC, and Most Irritating Ads Formats

Olga Andrienko

Aug 23, 201710 min read
Google News Digest

We are thrilled to announce a new column for the SEMrush blog – the Google News Digest.

It is difficult to keep up with Google’s dynamic development because the company works tirelessly to improve and add a more user-friendly touch to every application or service it provides. Updates, polishes, and new features are rolled out daily, if not more often. So, instead of trying to keep up to date with the latest changes by scanning the Web for valid information and jumping from one Google blog to another, you can now simply check out our bi-weekly Google News Digest for all the latest developments in the Google universe.

From adjustments to the AdWords pricing policy to more functionality for local business listings, these past two weeks have been full of surprises and improvements. We will make sure you have not missed a thing.

Happy Googling!


Google Adds Mobile-Friendly and AMP Testing Tools to its Search Results

The days of mobile-friendliness and compliance with AMP standards are still ahead of us. Google is currently working on making mobile-friendliness its, and our, priority. Thus, the key to a more mobile adapted web space is accessibility. People are lazy creatures, so Google is bringing AMP and mobile-friendliness tests to us on a silver platter. Now Mobile-Friendly and AMP testing tools are added to the SERPs for an easiest ever access. Once you enter a “mobile-friendly” query into the Google’s search box, Google will provide an Instant Answer that includes a URL box. Simply copy and paste a web page you want to test for mobile adaptability, and the result will be showcased in an instant manner. 

Google AMP test query

The AMP testing tool is available via the query “AMP page test”. After the test is launched, you will be redirected to the tool’s web page, where you will receive the final Kafkaesque verdict - does your web page comply with AMP standards or not?

AMP page test on SERP

AMP test in action

It doesn’t get easier than that, so Google is not leaving us with any excuses for not adapting to a new mobile-friendly world!

Source:  Google Adds Mobile Friendly Test In The Search Results

Source: Google Adds AMP Testing Tool Box To Search Results

Google is Testing New Topic Categories for Search Refinements

Search is often vague, and with the coming age of more conversational search elements, Google is trying to bring some clarity to the table.

Keep in mind what we mentioned above, people are, indeed, lazy! So query specifics are so often undefined, and it is always assumed that Google will understand what it is we mean by “pizza” - delivery, recipes, the origin of the word or something else. Well, the search giant is doing its best to live up to our expectations.

Google continues to test a new functionality for its search that offers query refinement suggestions by adding topic categories for that particular query.

For instance, a box with topics refining the query will appear upon entering “latest google update” into the search box. Google suggests narrowing down the query to “search engine,” “Chrome,” and “Android.” The test is, so far, available on a limited scale and only on mobile.

Google topic categories

Source:  Google Tests Topics For Search Refinements

Google Adds 30 New Languages to its Voice Search

Google continues pushing its voice search agenda. Having added 30 new languages to its voice search, Google now supports 119 languages worldwide. It sounds really impressive, but keep in mind that there are more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide. Thus, Google still has a long way to go to cover each and every one of them. Of course, there’s no need for that. But it seems that Google has already covered pretty much every major language, and is now moving onto less widely spoken ones.

Bengali (Bangladesh, India), Lao (Laos), Sundanese (Indonesia), Urdu (Pakistan, India), two of Africa’s biggest languages, Swahili (Kenya, Tanzania) and Amharic (Ethiopia), and Georgian, an ancient language dating back to the 10th century, are among the newly added languages.

The turn to add less widely spoken languages to its voice search is likely to trigger the local search in more distant areas of the world. Google has also integrated its support for the new languages with its Cloud Speech API and is currently working on adding them to other applications, such as Google Translate.

And, of course, the language talk could not do without an emoji somewhere in between the lines. The cherry on the top is a bonus feature that allows users to search for an emoji using queries like “winky face emoji”, ”Colbert emoji” and others. Because sometimes it is hard to find the relevant emoji you really need. This feature is now available only for users in the US.

Source:  Type less, talk more


AdWords is Changing the Price Model for Showcase Shopping Ads

Starting in mid-August, AdWords adjusted its pricing policy for Showcase Shopping Ads.

Advertisers are currently paying for actual conversions - ad clicks, followed by an expanded ad, and only once the user actually clicks on an item or a link within the ad. Thus, lots of clicking is involved in order to pay the ad cost to Google.

Google is now introducing a new pricing model, with way less clicking and allegedly more expenses for advertisers.

From August onwards, advertisers are charged in the following cases:

  1. When a user clicks a Showcase ad and views the expanded version for at least 10 seconds without taking any further steps.
  2. When a user expands the Showcase ad by clicking on it and then clicks on the featured item or link.

Showcase shopping ads

Source:  Googleto Soon Update Showcase Shopping Ads Pricing Model

AdSense : Pop-ups are the Most Irritating Ad Formats on the Web

It comes as no surprise that, according to recent research published on the Google AdSense blog, pop-ups are the most annoying, irritating, frustrating, distracting, and you-name-it online advertising formats across the web. This same blog post advised publishers and advertisers to enhance the quality of the online advertising on websites for no one can afford to lose traffic due to advertising.

On desktop sites, 97 percent of Better Ads Standards violations come from pop-ups. And 50 percent of surveyed users admit that they will not return to or recommend a webpage with pop-up ads.

Let’s admit it; pop-ups are simply discouraging, no content, even of the utmost value, can compete with an impulse of shutting down a window that is too loud, colorful, or is full of conflicting texts. Thus, AdSense suggests replacing pop-ups with their less distracting alternatives, for instance, with full-screen in-line ad formats. They take up the same amount of screen space as pop-ups, but they do not conflict with the content on the page.

Once again Google makes advertisers’ and publishers’ job as easy as it can be: they can check whether their website’s ads are compliant with Better Ads Standard regulations by consulting Google Search Console’s report, issued in June 2017:

In the forthcoming weeks, AdSense will start notifying publishers about the issues with online advertisements on their websites.

Source:  Helping publishers bust annoying ads

Source: Inside Adsense: Helping publishers bust annoying ads

Enhanced Tappable Sitelinks, Callouts, and Structured Snippets for Mobile AdWords

Google AdWords continues to work on mobile ads to make them more useful and informative. It is almost like fitness - the restrictive nature of online advertising on mobile is finally starting to take a better shape. The more time passes from the moment online advertising has shifted towards mobile devices, the better user experience it can provide.

Thus, since the beginning of August 2017, tappablesitelinks on mobile devices have become interactive, while callouts and structured snippets are taking up more readable space within Google’s mobile ads.

Tappablesitelinks are now presented in a carousel format. Mobile search is all about having instant access to the most relevant page of the website. As a result, it is now easier for mobile users to decide which particular section of a website they find more compelling, for no one wants to spend an extra MB for opening up an unnecessary web page.

Improved sitelinks for Google Ads

We also have good news to all the copywriters and online advertising experts who have put their hearts and souls into creating the ad content. It can be frustrating when the mobile version of the ad often gets rid of some fractions of the ad copy; this is how it was in the old days. Callouts and structured snippets are now featured in-line within the ad copy, in a paragraph format, instead of appearing below the ad and being cut off in the mobile version of the ad as before. Thank you, Google!

Source:  Delivering more informative sitelinks, callouts and snippets

Google AdWords is Optimizing Content Exclusion Options

As a response to some big scandals within the online advertising industry, when ads have been displayed in inappropriate placements for the wrong audiences, Google is rolling out an adjustment to its content exclusion options. Starting in July, Google AdWords began optimizing site category, or as it is now called, “content”, exclusion options for Google Display Network campaigns. Some exclusions are already unavailable for new Display campaigns.

The following category settings are no longer available for new Display Network campaigns:


These categories will still be available in already existing Display campaigns with previously defined parameters through the end of this year. However, do not dwell on the older settings and try to adjust to the future standards. In early 2018 all of the older campaigns will automatically comply with the new settings anyways. Thus, some categories will disappear completely.

Google highly recommends changing your Display Network campaign settings manually by the end of 2017.

Notifications about the update already started to appear in Display Network campaign settings last week.

Content exclusion options

Source: Simplified site category options for Display Network campaigns


Google Docs Adds New Functionality for More Productive Team Collaboration

Here is a special “thank you” from us to Google for enhancing our team collaboration experience!

Google has added new features to its Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps. Most of these updates are to provide improvements on team collaboration elements. Generally, the Google suite is not intended for a lonesome experience, instead, it’s all about sharing, collaborating, editing and bringing your work to almost perfection. This can, of course, cause some confusions, such as getting lost in ten revised copies of the same text, and we now have the solutions from Google.

Key Add-ons:

  1. The option to create custom names for various versions of Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

A special thank you from any content writing team!

  1. The option to preview “clean versions” of a document without comments and edits.
  2. The ability to accept or decline all changes to a doc.
  3. Possibility to suggest edits via Docs app for iOS and Android devices.

Moreover, the service has been integrated with Google Cloud Search. Basically, it allows you to search through the entire documents, uploaded or created within Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps, imitating a similar to a Google search experience for docs you already own.

It is also now easier to compare various documents with each other. Litera Change-Pro and Workshare add-ons are specifically built for that. 

In addition, the service offers new templates with built-in add-ons from partners like LegalZoom, DocuSign, Lucidchart, PandaDoc, EasyBib, and Supermetrics.

New Google documents add-ons

New Google documents add-ons

Source:  Get on the same page: new Google Docs features power team collaboration

Android Supports Q&A’s for Local Business on Google Maps

Recently, Google started testing a new Questions and Answers section for local businesses. This feature is now available for all Android users.

Now, this feature is, indeed, extraordinarily cool. Basically, local companies can now publish FAQs on their local listing and answer questions from their potential customers. Let’s hope they pay attention to notifications that pop up on their screens. As an advantage, restaurant managers, or beauty salon receptionists will, hopefully, receive fewer phone calls with questions they answer every ten minutes. There is one more: there is such a thing as being phone shy, so to all those who are experiencing this problem, Q&A’s come as a great feature! 


Source: Answer customer questions on Google Maps for Android

Quicklinks to Diversified Landing Pages in Google My Business

Great news to all users and website owners, especially the ones involved in the service industry. Have you ever desired to simply reserve a table at a nearby restaurant, which serves that particular curry chicken you are craving right here, right now without the actual need to browse through their website and look for the “Contact us” or “Menu” page? Once again, phone shyness, simply lack of mobile internet can interfere with your plans for the evening. Google has already come to our rescue; Google My Business now offers to add quicklinks to various actions (placing an online order or booking an appointment), that customers can access right from Google Search or Maps.

Here is what you can add as a quicklink:

  • Booking an appointment
  • Placing an order
  • Booking a table
  • Searching for products, and other items
  • Browsing the menu

Warning: it is a great feature for booking an appointment at your dentist, but really dangerous for those who are trying to keep fit!

Source: Google My Business: Local business URLs

Google Updates Structured Data Reports in Search Console

Google has rolled out a more detailed Structured Data Report within Search Console.

The report for the “Products” section now has new fields for entering a name, price, brand, model, and a page URL:

Updates to Structured Data report in Google Search Console

New fields have also been spotted in the “Video” section:

New fields in Structured Data report Video section

Google has not yet commented on these changes. Let’s wait up for any confirmation from the search giant. But do keep in mind that Google will soon release a new version of Search Console.

Source:  Google Search Console Structured Data Report Gets More Details

Some of these news you have read yourself; some you might have missed. Now I can be sure that you guys are up to date and can utilize the latest Google updates to increase your presence online. Let us know in the comments if you have seen any changes in SERPs for the keywords that are relevant to you or there was some change in search traffic for you.

Author Photo
Olga AndrienkoTogether with her team she has built one of the strongest international communities in the online marketing industry. Olga has expanded Semrush brand visibility worldwide entering the markets of over 50 countries. In 2018 Olga was mentioned among the 25 most influential women in digital marketing by TopRank. She speaks at major marketing conferences and her quotes on user behavior appear in media such as Business Insider and Washington Post.
Subscribe to learn more about SEO
By clicking “Subscribe” you agree to Semrush Privacy Policy and consent to Semrush using your contact data for newsletter purposes