Google News Digest: WSJ Controversy, Algorithm Updates, and More

Judith Lewis

Nov 20, 20198 min read
Google News Digest

It has been an interesting two weeks of Google news, updates, and industry anger. A major newspaper made some claims about Google that greatly upset the industry, and algorithm updates have caused a lot of problems for many businesses, bloggers, and agencies. However, throughout all the upset, Google has made some updates that will help businesses this holiday season. So keep reading and see which of these changes could help you, and be sure to let us know if recent algorithm updates have affected you in any way.


Wall Street Journal Report and Search Community Backlash

Probably the biggest story of the last two weeks was the huge dispute that fired up after the Wall Street Journal published this report on Google. Among other claims, journalists accused Google of manipulating search results, favoring big companies over small businesses, and more. The search community as a whole was not happy over what they felt were inaccuracies, false/biased reporting, and outright mistruths. 

Barry Schwartz said on SEL, “What the Wall Street Journal published to me is either showing how it has a complete lack of understanding of search or even worse — the publication has its own agenda against Google, which honestly makes me sad.”

It appears several SEOs were interviewed for the piece, but what was printed didn’t represent what they said, or what they said isn’t what the journalist wanted to hear 

A piece like this is not good for Google and the SEO industry as a whole.

Sources: Misquoted and misunderstood: Why many in the search community don’t believe the WSJ about Google search, Wall Street Journal Is Wrong & Why I Think The Google Story Should Be Retracted

Algorithm Updates Confirmed by Google

Yes, more algorithm updates. Around November 8th,  there numerous reports of fluctuations at Webmaster World. With lost rankings and traffic being reported, Google did confirm the update:

And users replied:

On November 18th, Danny Sullivan confirmed that there was another update this past weekend after SEOs were reporting changes they were seeing.

Source:  Google Confirmed Search Algorithm Update Rolled Out; Here Is What We Know

Single Box for Same Domain Results Tested

A user noticed a new layout where results from the same domain were grouped together in a box on the SERPs. Barry Schwartz could not replicate it; it could have been a test.

Source: Google Search Tests Grouping Results From Same Domain In Single Box

In the past, if you earned a snippet, you had additional real estate in the SERPs with a link in the main listings. Now it appears Google is testing the removal of a spot in the main listings if you have a featured snippet. 

This could be a test or a preview of what is to come. The question will be, what happens if you lose your page one listing for a snippet, and later lose the snippet? Will you get your page one spot back? 

Source: Google Tests Removing A Site's Normal Snippet When Featured Snippet Is Displayed

New Features in Google Ads Editor v1.2

On November 7th, Google released its Ads Editor version 1.2 that includes support for new campaign types and updates to multi-account management. These new features will help you save a lot of time.

Support for New Campaign Types

The new campaign types the editor supports include  App campaigns for engagement and  Discovery campaigns. You can now create and edit these new campaign types at scale within Editor.

Shared Negative Keyword Lists

You can now share existing negative keyword lists across accounts by applying them in the Shared Library within Editor.

Searchable Errors

Don't worry about spending tons of time trying to find where a particular error occurred anymore. To help save you time by finding and fixing these errors faster, you can now search for them across campaigns and accounts.

Condensed Edit Pane

To help save you time and make it easier to find the fields you need, empty fields will now be hidden in the edit pane, but you do have the option to show these fields when needed.

Source: Google Ads Editor v1.2 Adds New Campaign Types & Cross-Account Features

New Extensions for YouTube Ads

Google has introduced new YouTube ad extensions aimed at helping businesses reach their business goals by making it easier for customers to take action.

Augmenting its search extensions, YouTube ad extensions will offer useful information for consumers, such as store locationinterest forms, and display calls-to-action alongside businesses’ video ads.


Previously exclusive for TrueView in-stream and non-skippable ads, the call-to-action extensions will be available for 6-second bumper ads later this year. Currently,  Sitelink extensions are in beta testing and will be generally available for all TrueView for action ads in the coming months.

Source: Elevate your video campaigns with new extensions for YouTube ads


Google Updates JavaScript SEO Documentation

Martin Splitt, a developer at Google, announced that the JavaSscript SEO basics guide & the JS troubleshooting guide had been extended for web components.

See the updated guide “ Follow best practices for web components” and the “ Fix Search-related JavaScript problems” guide for more information.

Source: Martin Splitt Twitter

Google Merchant Center Redesign

The Google Merchant Center added some upgrades to help businesses get their products in front of more shoppers this holiday season. Shopping ads now available in more than 50 new markets, which makes a total of 95 markets worldwide. 

Google explained, “Start showing your products globally with multi-country feeds, which allow you to target multiple countries that share the same language by using a single feed in that language. For example, if you upload product information in German for Germany, those products may be automatically available to show in other German-speaking countries, such as Austria and Switzerland. You’ll just need to set up shipping and location targeting for these countries in your Shopping campaign in order to start promoting your products in these new countries.”

Source:  Merchant Center upgrades to get your products in front of more holiday shoppers

Google My Business Launch: Businesses Can Have Up to 20 Service Areas

Google My Business made an announcement on November 5th, “Service area businesses are now limited to having a maximum of 20 service areas per business. If more are needed, we recommend expanding the existing ones to cover larger areas. You can set your service area based on a combination of entire cities, districts, postal codes, or other areas that you serve.”

If you have more than 20 service areas, you will receive suggested updates from GMB about service areas.

Source: Launch: Add up to 20 service area businesses 

Thanksgiving Tips from Google Maps

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays in the US, both on land and by air. To help people avoid traffic jams and save time, Google has some tips on using their maps. They analyzed traffic data to pinpoint the best and worst times to start your Thanksgiving road trip. They created an interactive website to help people in some of the largest metropolitan areas determine when to and not to drive.

They also have information on the best and worst times to get things done, top holiday spots, and when traffic spikes in some of the largest cities. Check out their website and save yourself some time. 

Source:  Map out Thanksgiving with these tips from Google Maps 


Search Console Training Video Series Announced

Need help using the Google Search Console? They have a new series starting on YouTube to help you. Here is a video where Google explains what you can learn:

Youtube video thumbnail

So if you are a new business that needs to know how to get started with GSC, get your site found in Google, and how to monitor your site traffic, this is the series for you. 

Source: Google Search Console Training - Official Trailer (New Series) 

Chrome Dev Summit 2019: Elevating the Web Together

Google is focused on making loading disappear for all our users. At this year’s I/O, they previewed Portals, an API that can improve your navigation UX. It will allow developers to create a seamless experience by pre-rendering content and optionally embedding it in the page to change the way users navigate on the web.

At the Chrome Dev Summit this year, they previewed Web Bundles: “an infrastructural API that will allow developers to distribute their web content across any format - email, FTP, or even USB, without any compromises.”

Google also explained that “In the future, APIs like Background Periodic Sync and Content Indexing will allow developers to proactively cache and surface relevant web content for people even if they’re not on an active internet connection.” 

Note: Web Bundles is now available behind the experimental flag, and the other two are now available as origin trials.

Google breaks down strategies they see that will help provide people the best, unique web experience here.

Source: Chrome Dev Summit 2019: Elevating the Web Together 

New Google Search News Video

If you just read our digest and still crave for more news, feel free to check the new episode of Google Search News by John Mueller himself: 

Youtube video thumbnail

Source:  Google Webmasters YouTube Channel

Thanks for checking out all the latest news!

We will be back in two weeks with new updates, and hopefully with better algorithm news. 

Author Photo
Judith LewisJudith is a renowned writer, trainer, blogger and a digital and media consultant specialising in applying strategic understanding of digital technologies to help businesses innovate and optimise their effectiveness within the new, networked communications environment. She is a regular speaker around the world on SEO, content strategy, link building, PPC, and digital strategy, a contributor to the Huffington Post, and has been recognised by her peers as one of the most influential people in the UK digital industry. Judith judges the MENA, EU, US and UK Search Awards, an industry leading award and has every year since their inception. She has worked with market-leading global businesses including Google, Orange, COI, NatWest/RBS, National Gallery, CIPD, Fidelity, GalaCoral, NBC Universal, Readers Digest, Bayer, Family Search, Amadeus, AMD, AmEx, TotalJobs,, Virgin Startup & more. She has over 20 years of experience, predating Google in her entry into the market and now runs her own consultancy. She has worked at Centaur Publishing, i-level, & Beyond before setting up her own consultancy. Judith also blogs about chocolate, helps with London Girl Geek Dinners, was a founding Modern Muse, and has contributed to the book “Pimp My Site” and the Econsultancy guide to Paid Search. She is currently working on updating the Econsultancy Best Practice guide to SEO and teaches the advanced SEO course as well as the Paid Search courses.
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