Many businesses spend a significant amount of time figuring out how to gain greater visibility in Google Search. This can be challenging since Google updates its search systems often and unexpectedly. Just when you think you have their algorithm figured out, they change things up. While this can be frustrating, it’s important not to get discouraged. Instead, do your best to keep up with Google’s changes so you can modify your content accordingly. Here is what you should know about the latest Google Search news and what it means for your digital marketing efforts.
Understanding Google Search
As a business owner, you may find yourself wondering if Google Search really matters for you specifically. Is it worth the time and effort to make sure your content ranks well in search results? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Search engine optimization is the practice of creating online content that earns you a good ranking in Google search engines. When you rank well in such engines, your content appears within the first few Google Search results pages for specific keywords. Companies in the first three positions in organic search results receive more than half of all user clicks. If you sell products and services in a highly competitive industry, a good rank is very important if you want customers to find you.
Many consider search engine optimization to be the main building block of inbound marketing success. The key is to optimize your content in such a way as to outperform and outrank your competition. Potential customers search for keywords related to your services and products. When they do, you want your content to appear above your competitors’. The key to getting the best results with your content is to understand Google’s algorithms. Since they’re changing constantly, you need to be aware of Google Search news changes.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console was once called Google Webmaster Tools. In early 2015, it went through a rebranding and name change. Google Search Console is a free service Google provides. Its purpose is to help webmasters and site owners check the indexing status of their websites. It also allows them to optimize website visibility. The most visible and obvious change to Google Search Console is its transfer to a new interface.
The old dashboard and home page are now updated and remodeled. They offer new features and tools meant to help webmasters. The features make it easier for users to see how Google Search works with their websites.
Changes to Nofollow Tags
The rel=nofollow attribute was originally created in 2004. It allowed users to instruct search engines on certain links. Specifically, users could show which hyperlinks should not affect the search engine ranking of the link’s target. Since then, the internet has evolved significantly. As a result of this evolution, Google Search news reports two changes to outbound links. They include the addition of the following:
- rel=”sponsored”: This allows users to mark sponsored links. These include advertisement or paid placement links (frequently referred to as paid links).
- rel=ugc: This value works for any user-generated content (UGC) links. These may include forum posts and comments. You may want to consider removing this attribute from trusted members’ posts.
- rel=”nofollow”: You can use this value whenever the other values don’t apply. It is appropriate for cases when you don’t want Google to associate your site with linked pages.
In early 2020, Google will treat these values as hints to help it discover new pages. Existing sites aren’t required to make changes but should know that rel=”sponsored” and rel=ugc are both options.
Webmaster Central Changes
Google’s official Webmaster Central allows anyone to talk with Google employees. They can chat about Google Search or ask questions about their own websites. These are some of the changes to Webmaster Central:
- Announcements for new sessions occur a week before the events on the YouTube Community Page and in the Event Calendar.
- Users can leave questions they’d like covered in new sessions in the Comments section.
- Links to live video conferences appear in the Comments section once a session ends.
- All sessions get recorded and added to the Google Webmasters YouTube channel.
All interested individuals are welcome to join sessions. They can also comment on videos after they get posted to the Google Webmasters YouTube channel.
Meta Tag and Snippets Updates
As of September 24th, Google has new meta tag rules. These give publishers more freedom when deciding how much of their page’s content shows up in search result previews. The new rules give users more freedom to decide:
- The number of characters that show up in text snippets
- Whether they want an image preview
- How large image previews are
- Preferred video preview lengths
In addition to these changes, an HTML attribute called the Data No Snippet attribute will soon be available. It can restrict parts of text from appearing in previews.
Most users welcome these changes, as they allow greater freedom in customizing previews for content. Google used to randomly select how some content previews get displayed. Now, site owners enjoy greater control.
For site owners who don’t want to give SERPs too much information, options are available. Now, users can exclude entire sections of text from snippets. It’s important to note that this change should not impact the search ranking of sites that use the new snippets markup. The change should only affect snippet displays in search results.
Changes in Original Reporting Preferences
This year’s Google Search news includes many algorithmic updates, and Google will likely release more before the year ends. One recent change involves reporting preferences. Google now gives preferences to original source stories. The algorithm change gives original reporting a higher rank in Google Search. It also allows original reporting to show up in search results for longer periods of time.
Google has not revealed how it identifies original reporting. It does say, however, that the change may benefit less-known publishers. Those publishers may not have ranked high under old algorithms. This change may prevent syndicates from ranking higher than you if you are the original publisher.
Changes to Review Stars in Search Results
Google recently made changes to its review rich results. The change encompasses two parts:
- Only certain types of items show review rich results. This change only allows reviews when they make sense for the product or service.
- Reviews for local businesses and organizations may not show in search results. This applies if reviews already appear on the organizations’ websites.
It is important for businesses to understand the new rules regarding review rich results. These changes can affect how and if reviews appear in search results for your website. Sites that implement the changes right away should see results in just over a week.
New Card Layout Design
Google is releasing a new design for search results in Google News. The new design displays a single featured story in place of the old story clusters. The new design looks cleaner, but it may cause a decline in traffic to some Google News publishers. This is because only one story shows in a card-like format. Alternative sources for the same story are not shown in the search results. Of course, the source featured in the card is likely to get all of the clicks and see a huge increase in their Google News traffic.
Changes in Targeting Audiences
Google Ads now offers two new ways for site owners to use Google Search to reach target audiences. Here’s a brief overview of each option:
- Seasonal Event Segments: Google Ads now offers seasonal event segments. This change is just in time for the holiday season and is for in-market audiences on YouTube and Search. The new targeting method makes it easier to extend timely offers to in-market audiences. Toyota gives an example of how this option works. The automotive manufacturer used specific segments to focus on active shoppers, including Christmas and Black Friday segments. As a result of the targeted efforts, Toyota saw a 24% increase in cost per conversion and a 67% increase in conversion rates.
- Affinity Audiences: Advertisers who want to target an audience that’s already interested in their products can now do so. Affinity audiences targeting raises awareness and drives interest in a given topic. It does so among audience members who already show interest in the given topic. Volkswagen used this targeting method. By doing so, the car company achieved a conversion rate increase of 250% compared to non-audience traffic.
These targeting options are brand new and will continue rolling out in the next few weeks. You may want to try both options and see for yourself how they improve your target audience reach.
Google Search News About Structured Data Recommendations
Recently, Google released recommendations about its structured data requirements. Site owners who want to ensure their content qualifies for display as a rich result should follow the requirements. Companies who fail to follow Google’s official requirements will not get the results they want.
Site owners should keep in mind that following structured data isn’t a guarantee that any web page will display as a rich result. All it means is that web pages that follow the requirements are eligible for display as a rich result.
Optimize Your Page
Google algorithm changes can make search engine optimization tricky and confusing. Frequent updates in Google Search news require you to stay involved and aware. If you feel like your page is getting lost in the clamor, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Boostability offers services designed to increase your visibility and profits. Want a free analysis of your website that includes an organic search analysis, website consultation and more? Fill out Boostability’s online form to get started.