December is typically the month when everything starts to slow down, as we all focus on tying up any loose ends before the end of the year. So, you could be forgiven for assuming that the last four weeks of 2020 were very quiet where SEO and digital marketing news is concerned. But we actually saw some significant developments last month.
Google rolled out a new core update, introduced some new features to make life easier for business owners, and found a new use for augmented reality. Plus, the EU put new regulations in place, which demand more transparency around ranking factors in an effort to level the playing field.
Here, we’ll take you through the biggest news stories from December 2020 and explain how they’re likely to affect you and your business.
Google rolled out a core update
On 3 December, Google announced that it would be rolling out an algorithm update, which it called the December 2020 Core Update. This is the third and last broad core algorithm update we saw in 2020. The first was in January and the second was in May.
As part of their confirmation, which was tweeted from the Google SearchLiaison account, the company linked to their core update advice for Webmasters. This information tells site owners that there’s nothing they need to do in response to core updates, but we have some advice on how to recover from core update ranking drops in ecommerce SEO. This might help if your site has been negatively affected.
We also have a blog post all about the December 2020 core update and what it means for your business, so make sure you check that out if you would like more information.
Google Search Console’s request indexing tool made a comeback
Towards the end of December, Google announced that it had reintroduced the request indexing tool, which had been missing from Search Console since 14 October. They said they had removed it to allow for some infrastructure changes and that they expected it to be reenabled “in the coming weeks”. However, it took almost three and a half months for it to return.
While the tool was disabled, you couldn’t request the indexing of old URLs with new content or of new pages that you had just created. Instead, you had to wait for Google to automatically crawl them. This can take significantly longer, so many SEO experts will have missed the option to speed things up.
While making a request doesn’t guarantee that Google will index or rank your site’s pages, it can increase the chances of any content updates you make being reflected in Google’s search results as soon as possible.
If you would like to learn more, make sure you read our in-depth blog post about the return of the Google Search Console request indexing tool.
Google started allowing users to try on make-up virtually
On 17 December, Google published a blog post that explained it would be launching a digital “try it on” experience for certain make-up related queries. It’s working with ModiFace and Perfect Corp and using augmented reality to show internet users thousands of eyeshadow and lipstick shades from big brands like L’Oreal, MAC Cosmetics, and Charlotte Tilbury.
When someone searches for a certain make-up product through the Google app, they may be presented with a knowledge panel that offers some swatches of the different shades available. These can then be applied to different models with various skin tones.
Perhaps most excitingly, users can also try the products on virtually. Using your front-facing camera and augmented reality, you can work out which shades will suit you best. This new feature could make the Google app a more useful and appealing platform for shoppers who are researching cosmetics to buy. It also offers a new marketing opportunity, as the brands who decide to take advantage of this feature could attract a lot of new traffic.
The introduction of this feature could mean that we’ll soon see this technology being used to offer a better and more personalised shopping experience for other types of products, too. For example, it might not be long before something similar will be offered to clothing brands. We’re very excited to see how this technology is used in the future.
Google Ads Editor v1.5 was released
Google announced that it had released version 1.5 of its Google Ads Editor on 16 December. Its Ads Editor is a downloadable application that allows marketers and business owners to manage their Google Ads campaigns.
A number of new features have been introduced, including:
- The option to filter by account, campaigns, ad groups, or label
- Image extensions
- Improved messages about account limit errors
- Updated statistics columns
- The ability to check the strength of responsive search and display ads.
For a full list, you can check out our news story all about the release of Google Ads Editor v1.5.
The aim of releasing this new version is to make it much easier for marketers and business owners to get the most out of their PPC campaigns. It will streamline the process of setting up and tweaking your paid search ads, so you can always get the best possible results.
The EU demanded more transparency around ranking factors
New European Union guidelines released in December ask that digital platforms, such as Google and Amazon, explain how their search results are ranked. This is to level the playing field, as it will give non-SEO professionals a better understanding of search ranking factors, making it easier for them to compete.
Not only do these guidelines ask search engines, marketplaces, and travel sites to disclose their ranking factors, but they also ask that updates are provided whenever an algorithm is tweaked. They state that it should be made explicitly clear when a listing has been paid for, too.
The likes of Google and Amazon are notoriously secretive when it comes to how they rank their search results, and it’s not yet clear how these platforms will respond. But we’re very interested to see how this story develops. If you would like more information about the new regulations, make sure you check out our blog post all about the new European Union guidelines around ranking factor transparency.
Google gave local businesses and their customers more messaging options
At the beginning of December, Google announced that it would be offering businesses and their customers some new messaging options.
The company is always looking for ways to provide internet users with the information they need as quickly as possible, and they’ve found that people browsing local businesses often have some questions that need to be answered in a timely manner. For example, they might want to know what the parking is like outside a particular shop or may need to check whether a restaurant offers any vegan options if this isn’t clear from the menu. So, now, verified businesses can direct message with their customers through the Google Maps app.
If you would like more information about why this is great news for your business and how you can get the most out of this new feature, make sure you check out our blog post about Google’s new local messaging options. At a time when people want to have plenty of information before they leave the house or visit a new business, it’s well worth taking full advantage of this new tool.
As you can see, December 2020 ended up being a pretty busy month in the world of digital marketing, so we’re going into 2021 with lots of new tools and developments to take full advantage of.
If your new year’s resolution is to invest in your business and make more sales, our SEO, PPC, and affiliate marketing experts are here to help you boost your online visibility. Get in touch today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help.