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This Month in Search [October 2020]

The latest search and digital marketing news brought to you by Click Consult…


Friday 30th October

I’m going to drop a link here to a podcast that I had not realised existed – apparently Search Engine Journal has a podcast. I need to add this to my list, but it seems to only be available on Spotify which is, frankly, unforgivable.

Thursday 29th October

Update rumours

Thursday saw a few blogs on the rumours of a possible Google update that may or may not have possible taken place the day before. There was some movement on the monitoring sites, but nothing to suggest anything major.

Wednesday 28th October

Microsoft WFH

With Microsoft staff set to continue their work from home until at least July 2021, SE Roundtable carries a brief blog on the resultant blurring of work and home life and the consequent increase in the amount of time people are working. As it says at the end of the day, we’re all adapting however we can.

A fairly slow news

Tuesday 27th October

A bug’s life

The news today is essentially a list of bugs, with the odd denial thrown in. We have the local product carousel bug, the denial that the suspension of the request index tool is related to the general indexing bug, a new Microsoft indexing bug and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about any of it. So that’s nice.

Monday 26th October

No optimal number of links

While it may seem fairly obvious, SE Roundtable has tracked a number of different queries to Googler John Mueller on the topic, and said Googler’s response. There’s something to be said for the context clues that links on a page make, but ‘as many as necessary’ is probably as good a rule to live by as any.

Wednesday, 21st October

Facebook says it rejected 2.2m ads for breaking political campaigning rules

A total of 2.2m ads on Facebook and Instagram have been rejected and 120,000 posts withdrawn for attempting to “obstruct voting” in the upcoming US presidential election, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg has said.

Facebook has been increasing its efforts to avoid a repeat of events leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, won by Donald Trump, when its network was used for attempts at voter manipulation, carried out from Russia.

There were similar problems ahead of Britain’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union.

“Thirty-five thousand employees take care of the security of our platforms and contribute for elections,” said Clegg, who is vice president of global affairs and communications at Facebook.

99% of Google’s indexing issues fully resolved but not all pages are indexed seperately

Google has posted another update regarding the indexing issues with mobile-indexing and canonicalization. As of last Wednesday, October 14, 2020, the final indexing issue has been resolved, outside of minor “edge cases.”

Google said “Final update: the canonical issue was effectively resolved last Wednesday, with about 99% of the URLs restored. We expect the remaining edge cases will be restored within a week or two.”

Google also confirmed that it doesn’t index passages separately but “considers passages from pages as an additional ranking factor.”Google wrote “this change doesn’t mean we’re indexing individual passages independently of pages. We’re still indexing pages and considering info about entire pages for ranking. But now we can also consider passages from pages as an additional ranking factor…”

Tuesday, 20th October

Google tests local ads in Maps auto-suggest results

Google is testing ads for local businesses in Google Maps auto-suggest search results.

In a story appearing on Search Engine Land it was Thibault Adda, local search specialist at Darden Restaurants, noticed and tweeted about it Thursday. As he typed a search for “Seafood restaurant,” an ad for the seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster appeared in the auto-suggest results before he completed the search query, as you can see in the screenshot he shared.



Google confirmed  that this is an experiment. “We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers and users, but don’t have anything specific to announce right now,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

It’s unclear if these ads are delivered only through Local campaigns or generally via location extensions, but it’s another sign that Google is continually testing new ways and places to surface ads.

Monday, 19th October

Bing revamps Site Explorer in new Bing Webmaster Tools

Microsoft Bing has announced the re-launch of Bing Site Explorer. Don’t be fooled, Bing Site Explorer is a complete revamp from the old version. Bing did not simply migrate the feature from the old version of Bing Webmaster Tools to the new version of Bing Webmaster Tools.

Fabrice Canel from Microsoft told Search Engine Land, “This is a complete new experience, cleaner and far easier to use and complete new system to support this tool.”

“We now deliver a lighting fast experience, including on super large sites, and more actionable experience helping SEOs investigate quickly their sites,” he added.

BERT now used on almost every English query

BERT powers almost every single English based query done on Google Search, the company said during its virtual Search on 2020 event Thursday. That’s up from just 10% of English queries when Google first announced the use of the BERT algorithm in Search last October.

Google also explained that it has improved results on “specific searches” by 7%. Google did this through different AI and machine learning techniques. Google said it is also improving search results and answers on more “broader searches.”

In December 2019, Google expanded the use of BERT to over 70 languages.

Instagram targets rule-breaking influencers

Instagram says it will do more to catch influencers who fail to disclose when they have been paid for their posts.

It follows an investigation by a UK watchdog which found the platform was failing to protect consumers from being misled.

Instagram will also report users who inadequately label their posts to the businesses whose products they endorse.

In the UK, social-media stars have to make clear if they are being paid by a company to promote its business.

They often do this by including the hashtag ‘#ad’ in such posts.

According to the BBC, Instagram’s new tools, which will be rolled out over the next year, include a prompt requiring influencers to confirm whether they have received incentives to promote a product or service before they can publish their post, and new algorithms built to spot potential advertising content.

Week 2

Microsoft Bing

Having seemingly accepted the inevitable global decision that nobody would ever ‘bing’ anything, Microsoft has officially rebranded their search engine as ‘Microsoft Bing’ according to the story on Search Engine Journal.

Location report updates

Changes to Google Ads Locations reporting are covered by Search Engine Land, while changes to AdSense channels are covered by SE Roundtable here.

Week 1

Shopping listings

Google is set to roll out free shopping listings across Asia, Europe and Latin America. Search Engine Journal carries the following comment from Google:

And as consumers increasingly shop online, they’re searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods.

While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale.

Fraggles

SEO Roundtable covered the Google announcement on when fragments will appear in SERPs. While nothing brand new, it’s always good to have actual confirmation.

Showcase

Search Engine Land carries a story on Google’s announcement that they will be rolling out Google News Showcase which comes with a $1Bn financial commitment to news publishers. About time, some might say. I may always be late with this blog, but considerably more prompt than this much needed decision.


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