This Month in Search [August 2022]

Aug 3rd, 2022

The rate this year’s going it’ll be November tomorrow. But for now, let’s focus on the search marketing news from August and hope that time slows down in order to keep up.

The new Google Search update that’s going to help you find useful content (no really!)

If you happened to be scrolling through your LinkedIn newsfeed last night, you may have been inundated with people reacting to the new update from Google that affects how content creators will curate content, and how users will be able to find it through Search.

Over the years people have become disillusioned with search engines prioritising web pages that just don’t fit what users were asking for. Think about the days you would perform a search on Google, and the first page would have the content you were looking for that was crafted specifically for the topic. Nowadays it feels like you need to scroll through to page 3 (gasp) before you hit the helpful content you’re looking for.

Google has been furiously updating Search over the last year to ensure ranking content is of good and useful quality, and using actual humans to inform their evaluations. We’re just as shocked about the use of real life people too.

We mentioned in our blog In Focus: Google and Schema Markup – how Google is prioritising supplied structured data in rich results how we believe this is the year that Google is putting its users at the forefront, with the Product Review update in combination with the Search update I think it’s safe to say that this is exactly what Google is doing. But it’s always nice to have some confirmation.

Next week, Google is launching their ‘helpful content update’ that will be cracking down on content that seems like it’s been primarily created for ranking well in search engines and not to help/inform users. This also means that if you’ve previously read articles about a topic, and you’re expecting to see fresh content, Search will now prioritise results with more

unique, authentic information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.

So it’s a win for Google Search users. If you’re a content creator, Google has written some guidance to consider about the new update Search Central.

Google Ads API Version 11.1 Now Available

Google has now released a minor update to version 11 of Google Ads API. To use some of the features, you will need to upgrade your client libraries and client code. You can view the highlights of this update by clicking here.

Search Console reports – it’s simple!

Two weeks ago Google tweeted that they were preparing to migrate all Search Console properties to the updated item classification; because of this, you may have noticed that task validation of index coverage issues were turned off.

They have now completed the migration (hold for applause)

You can read more about the changes here.

Google Guaranteed Local Ads are not actually guaranteed?

I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty weird to use words like “guaranteed” in your metrics, when there’s nothing guaranteed about it. Google has added a label on the Google Guaranteed Local Service Ads that says the reviews are not guaranteed – yeah I’m wondering about it too.

Some disclaimers state,

Reviews do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction on the outcome of your legal matter.

This could just be Google trying to cover themselves because of the recent influx of junk/spam LSA reviews have been fake – expect to see lots of “not verified” over reviews.

Improvements to featured snippets powered by MUM (Multitask unified model, not your mum)

Google launched improvements to featured snippets, content advisories and “about this result” this week. The words called out above the featured snippet in a larger font are now powered by MUM – which is deemed a rare use of MUM in search.

Google said,

our systems can check snippet callouts against other high-quality sources on the web, to see if there’s a general consensus for that callout, even if sources use different words or concepts to describe the same thing. We’ve found that this consensus-based technique has meaningfully improved the quality and helpfulness of featured snippet callouts.

A few Google updates…

It seems today is one of those days where we are bombarded with lots of new information and updates from Google. With the outage from Google being fixed, they have turned their attention to the Follow Feature in Google Search.

The adjustment to the documentation includes that you should use

  1. Descriptive titles for your RSS feed, and;
  2. A single feed even if you have multiple, as it is easier to maintain and better for UX

The Google Follow feature lets people follow a website and get the latest updates that website in the Following tab in the Discover section of Chrome. No word on how Twitter has responded yet…

Google search goes down

You may have experienced some issues with Google Search this morning, that’s because Google suffered a big outage that cause indexing issues; with pages dropping out the index and really poor search data results that were both poor quality and outdated. The outage was caused by a data centre fire, a Google spokesperson said

“We are aware of an electrical incident that took place today at Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, injuring three people onsite who are now being treated. The health and safety of all workers is our absolute top priority, and we are working closely with partners and local authorities to thoroughly investigate the situation and provide assistance as needed.”

Our thoughts go out to those injured in the incident.

Signals indicate another Google Search ranking algorithm update

There was lots of chatter and ranking fluctuations over the weekend that could potentially indicate another algorithm update. It could well be that this has something to do with the finished Google Products Review update from last month, or it could be totally unrelated. Only the Google overlords can provide us with the answer (but won’t).

People have been reporting low traffic to sites, with search traffic apparently dropping as low as 30%. There is usually a lull in search traffic during the summer months, but it seems that these drops are more closely linked to a potential update as opposed to people spending less time on devices to actually enjoy the sun (we don’t get it often, afterall).

Google Ads Editor and API now support Discovery Ads

Google made the announcement this week that Google Ads Editor and Google Ads API are now supporting Discovery Ads, Google wrote:

[If] you’re looking for more tools to help you save time with your Discovery ads, Google Ads Editor and API are now available to help you manage your campaigns at scale.

Google included that there are new audience insights at the Discovery campaign level, and new support for images with text overlays. The update means that you can use the Insights page to see which audience segments deliver the biggest impact on your business, allowing you to drive deeper engagement and optimise targeting to scale your reach to consumers who are likely to convert.

The addition of new support for images with text overlays is a welcome one. Google wrote:

To make the lift and shift of your assets and audiences more seamless and help you craft more successful ads, we’ve rebuilt our onboarding flow from the ground up. During ad creation you’ll see more detailed asset guidance like prompts to add more aspect ratios or unique headlines, and you can now add image assets with text overlays to help you deliver even clearer calls-to-action.

h3>Sorry, can you repeat the question?

Put your hand up if you have ever asked Google a question, and gotten lost in the “People also ask” sea. Well, it now looks like that sea has become an endless abyss of Q&A’s vying for people’s attention.

Google has dynamically added an additional “People also ask” block at the bottom of the page which appears if you have interacted with one of the questions on the first PAA block; so if you don’t get your answer on the first 4 attempts, you’ll have more luck with the 5th and 6th right?

Historically, PAA boxes can seemingly appear in different SERP positions, or for some queries, on a different page. While 43% of SERPs have a PAA box, only 3%* of Google’s users interact with the boxes.

*This number does vary due to nature of the queries, some queries reach interaction rates of 13%

Outcomes tool

Audience insights platform DISQO has unveiled a new tool today called Outcomes Lift. This tool is being formally unveiled as a companion piece to DISQO’s Brand Lift tool, which gauges the effectiveness of an ad based on consumer attention.

Through consented customer feedback, the Outcomes Lift tool reports on actions taken by a consumer after exposure to the ad within the Brand Lift tool. Stephen Jepson, Executive Vice President of ad effectiveness stated that:

Brand and upper funnel activity is important, but if you’re not combining that with lower funnel activities, like search activity, like site visitation, and most importantly, sometimes e-commerce activity … you’re kind of missing how effective your media might be — or not —and many different KPIs that you can optimize on

In layman’s terms, DISQO’s Outcomes Lift gives a clearer picture on what consumers are doing after ad interaction.

An Apple a day, keeps third party cookies away

Recent job listings from Apple are keeping marketers on their toes, making us infer that there is a demand-side platform on the way.

The job (requiring 8+ years of experience fyi) is a senior manager for a DSP in its ads platforms business. With part of the job description stating…

[the successful candidate will] drive the design of the most privacy-forward, sophisticated demand side platform possible

It is unclear whether the DSP will only operate on Apple’s owned and operated properties (App Store, Safari etc), but they will have full control of how and where the data is used, preventing leakage of very valuable data outside of their walled garden.

Tag, you’re it!

Google has just announced the Google tag.

“What is it?”, we hear you cry! It is a single, reusable tag built on top of your existing gtag.js implementations. The rollout of the tag will happen over the next couple of weeks, with Google advising that it should be placed on all pages of your website.

They also claim that the tag will:

help you confidently measure impact and preserve user trust.

You can find more about it on Google’s blog, here.

Need help keeping on top of the rapidly changing world of search and digital marketing?

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