It has been a busy time for Google, with issues affecting search indexing and a number of search and ad updates. Read on to see the latest news about Google, from its website indexing and Search Console to the latest in advertising and tools.
GOOGLE SEARCH NEWS
SEOs have been discussing indexing issues regarding new content on Google this past week. Obviously, indexing issues can greatly impact businesses and individuals financially, so this was a serious problem for many people.
Google released a lengthy statement explaining their version of the situation. The post discusses what they have learned, their communication (and how they intend to do better), and they offer tips on how to debug and communicate with them. Barry Schwartz called it a "weak post mortem at best." We hope Google can avoid this situation in the future.
Sources: When indexing goes wrong: how Google Search recovered from indexing issues & lessons learned since., Google's Indexing Bugs Explanation Is A Weak Post Mortem, Google Not Indexing New Content Again
SERP Changes and Experiments
1) Podcasts episodes in search are now officially launched:
For now, this feature only works for English-speaking users from the US.
2) Local Scroll Pack with Ads
Back in June, Google began testing a new kind of carousel local pack on mobile SERPs, which was dubbed the Local Scroll Pack. Now some users have noticed ads in this carousel:
3) New Image Search Preview Box
Google recommends developers to use product markup to ensure all additional information is available to image search users.
4) Top Places List SERP Feature Comes Out of Beta:
Top places lists are composed using machine learning. They are based on "themed lists from authoritative publishers," Google claims.
Source: Top Places List
Featured Snippet Algorithm Update
Google has updated the algorithm that is responsible for the Featured Snippet. The main essence of the update is to keep the information in snippets always up to date; this is especially important for sporting events, concerts, holidays, etc.
Google Explains Algorithm Updates
As you know, Google is usually reluctant to discuss algorithm updates. Very often updates remain unidentified or get recognized only after long discussions that generate a bunch of rumors and disputes. To dispel at least some of them, an extensive article on Core Updates was published on the Google blog. In it, Danny Sullivan specifies what Google considers a Core Update, how often they happen, what they affect, and how to prepare for them. It also contains a list of questions for a site owner to answer to evaluate the quality of content, and old but gold advice to get familiarized with search quality rater guidelines.
GOOGLE ADS NEWS
Changes to phrase match and broad match modifiers on Google Ads
Phrase match and broad match modifiers became broader. Now, Google will show ads not only for misspellings, synonyms, and different forms of your chosen keyword but also for words with the same meaning. Now Google may display your ad almost for anything since AI will determine words and even phrases with the same meaning. See examples of the old and new matches in the screenshot below.
On average, we expect advertisers using broad match modifier and phrase match keywords to see 3-4% more clicks and conversions on these keywords. And of those new clicks, 85% are expected to be net new on average—meaning they’re not covered by your existing keywords.
Google Keyword Planner Update
A couple of new features are available in Keyword Planner after the recent update. Now the tool shows more relevant terms for a seed keyword (probably based on the update above). In addition, users can now see the keywords that are most relevant specifically to their site and exclude brand terms.
Google Ads Editor Update
Version 1.1 of Google Ads Editor offers a bunch of new features, here are some of them:
- Dark mode.
- Image picker that helps you to browse and select images that you used previously, as well as those stored on your computer.
- IP address exclusions.
- Accounts manager checkboxes to simplify selecting and opening multiple accounts.
Gallery Ads Launch
A new ad format is now available for beta testers. Gallery Ads were announced back in May at Marketing Live; they are shown in a carousel on top of mobile SERPs. Currently, they are available in 11 languages, and Google expands the beta to more customers. Check your Google Ads account to see if you are eligible.
Account Map in Google Ads
Another new feature in Google Ads is an account map that helps manager account users to stay organized. You can use it to see the whole structure of your sub-accounts with each one's performance data.
App Campaign Updates
At the Think Games conference in China, Google announced several updates for those who use ads to promote mobile applications. Here are some planned new features for App campaigns:
- Discover ads.
- Advertising on YouTube Search Results.
- In-stream video ads.
- Smart segmentation for rewarded ad units, which allows ads to be shown to users who are unlikely to make a purchase in your app.
GOOGLE TOOLS NEWS
A new type of property in Google Analytics
App + Web is a new type of property that Google promises to introduce in beta in the coming weeks. It allows Google Analytics users to see unified stats for their site and application.
Previously, it was not possible to add apps to a regular GA at all, and your only option was to use Google Analytics for Firebase. Now the same events and traffic sources are available for the site and application. For example, you can check how many users made a purchase after they got to the site from the application or vice versa.
New Googlebot in Testing Tools
Not so long ago, I wrote that Google has finally updated its bot, making it evergreen. Now a new Googlebot is used by these main testing tools:
- Search Console's URL inspection tool
- Mobile-friendly test
- Rich results test
- AMP test.
Now, these tools reflect as closely as possible how Googlebot handles pages.
#AskGoogleWebmasters is Live
The new short video series starring John Mueller is off to a flying start. You already can find no less than three episodes on Google Webmasters Youtube channel. Topics vary from basic concepts (are outbound links good for SEO?) to fairly advanced technical questions (how does Googlebot handle Client-side JS Redirects?)
Here is another video covering voice search:
These are all the news I have for you today; if you want to share more insights, feel free to use the comment section!