October 2020 has been a pretty busy month in the world of SEO and digital marketing. Of course, the digital world is still adjusting to coronavirus and the impact it’s continuing to have on people’s browsing and shopping behaviours. Plus, with most retailers now putting a huge proportion of their time and energy into preparing for the holiday season, Google has been releasing some new features to help with that.
If you want your business to thrive online (and who doesn’t?), you need to ensure you’re up to date with all of the latest digital marketing news. So, to help you out, we’ve put together this bulletin that includes the biggest and most important changes from October 2020. Read on to ensure you’re filled in!
New Google Shopping features introduced
Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Google has announced some new Google Shopping updates that will make it easier for consumers to find the best possible deals.
Google Shopping has allowed us to compare prices across retailers for a while, but users can now also see whether an item’s price is high, low, or typical when compared to different prices from across the web. If a shopper then decides to wait it out to see if a better prices comes up further down the line, they can enable “price tracking”, which will provide them with alerts either via email or in the Google app.
With more people becoming concerned about the safety of receiving parcels or picking them up in person, shoppers can now also compare shipping options, which will include kerbside and in-store pickups.
Google confirms it doesn’t index passages separately
Google recently used the term “passage indexing”, which led to a lot of confusion around whether Google has started to index certain passages of content separately to the pages they can be found on. However, the search engine giant has confirmed that this isn’t the case — it still indexes pages as a whole and uses all of the information on a particular page to decide how to rank them.
However, the company did note that some webpages are particularly long and include information about a whole host of topics. This means, when pieces of content are considered as a whole, they may not have previously ranked for all of the relevant search queries. While Google hasn’t started to index passages independently, it is now better equipped to understand all of the key passages on a specific webpage, so content could begin to rank for a lot more keywords.
This is likely to be music to the ears of marketers and content creators who have long been creating shorter and more specific guides in order to rank for as many relevant search queries as possible. If they believe a longer and more comprehensive guide that covers a wide range of topics would serve their audience best, they now don’t have to worry as much about struggling to rank for all of the relevant queries.
Google starts testing ads in its auto-suggested results for Maps
Google has started to test including ads in its auto-suggested results when you’re searching for local businesses using Google Maps. For example, if you were trying to decide where to eat and you typed “steak restaurant” into Google Maps, you might find that one of the auto-suggested results is clearly marked as an ad. This is because the local business that’s being promoted will have paid for that space.
Of course, Google is testing new features all of the time, and this isn’t one that’s been properly rolled out just yet. This is believed to be the first time the search engine giant has tried including advertisements in auto-suggested results, though, so it could certainly be a sign of what could be on the horizon.
Google updates its search quality guidelines
This month, Google refreshed its search quality guidelines [PDF], around 10 months after the last update. The guidelines were previously 168 pages long, but they now span 175, so what’s new? They have:
- Added a note to clarify that ratings don’t directly affect rankings — they’re in place to help Google collect feedback that is then used to tweak its algorithms
- Added a new ‘The role of examples in these guidelines’ section as part of the introduction
- Included clarification that Special Content Result Blocks might include links to landing pages
- Updated their guidance on how to rate pages that have malware warnings and when to assign a ‘Did Not Load’ flag
- Added a ‘Rating Dictionary and Encyclopaedia Results for Different Queries’ section, which emphasises the importance of understanding a user’s intent
- Made minor changes throughout to update examples and explanations for consistency
Google employees use these guidelines to determine whether the right pages are currently ranking for the right queries and whether any tweaks to the search engine’s algorithms would improve the user experience. While they don’t directly impact rankings, marketers should keep them in mind when creating content for their websites, as they do give a nod to what quality checkers are looking for when they assess the pages that are ranking for a particular query or keyword.
And that’s it! You’re now up to date with all of the biggest industry updates from the last month. In digital marketing, the goal posts and guidelines are changing all of the time, so it pays to keep your eye on what’s going on in within the sector.
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