Google

21 March 2024

GA4 “Key Event” Update Initially Perplexes Advertisers

Google announced a push for “greater consistency” with Google Ads, with an impending GA4 update that replaces ‘conversions’ with ‘key events’.

Most advertisers and GA4 users are used to using the same terminology as Google Ads (“conversion”), making the insistence from Kamal Janardhan, Google’s Senior Director of Product Management, that this is an “improved, more unified experience” a bit confusing.

How this will impact advertisers predominantly using GA4 goal tracking remains to be seen, but in the meantime, this could be a key step in differentiating Analytics and Ad platforms more definitively for the industry: Google Ads is a platform for performance and optimisation (conversion), whereas Analytics is arguably for reporting and measuring user behaviour (key events).

A minor difference, but an important one to keep in mind.

Read more on Google's blog announcement
13 March 2024

Google Adds Social Media Posts to Business Listings

It has been announced that after adding social media profile icon links to Google My Business listings, Google will be introducing a new social media posts section within business listings in Search!

Google Business profiles will now have a subsection for social media updates that will be automatically populated with the latest social posts once the accounts are linked up. You can link up your Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn and TikTok accounts.

screenshot of social media updates in google my business

Image Source: Search Engine Journal

Although most accounts will need to connect up the social profiles with the GMB, Google has said that they may automatically link social accounts in some cases.

This is a really interesting update as it adds more importance to the need for up-to-date social media accounts. If a business has poor social media, it’ll look bad pulling through in the SERP. If a business doesn’t link up its social media or any channels, it’ll look poor vs. competitors who do.

Let’s keep an eye on how the integration of social media and search progresses as this update rolls out!

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12 March 2024

Interaction to Next Paint (INP) Replaces First Input Delay (FID) as a Core Web Vital

On 12th March 2024, Google officially replaced First Input Delay (FID) with Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as a Core Web Vital metric and will be used moving forward to assess the Page Experience on your website.

The key difference between FID and INP is that INP measures interactions beyond the user’s first input. This gives us a much more accurate representation of User Experience, as we’re now able to measure how quickly a user can navigate from page to page.

This won’t be a groundbreaking update that will shake up rankings significantly – but if you’re not scoring “Good” across your Core Web Vital metrics, we’d recommend that you consider it as part of your strategy.

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5 March 2024

March 2024 Core Update and New Spam Policies

On 5th March 2024, Google began rolling out their March 2024 Core Update along with new policies regarding spam.

Unlike other Core updates, this came with a lot of detail from Google on what the update will be targeting.

Overall, the update is designed to improve the quality of Search by showing less content that feels like it was made to attract clicks, rather than demonstrating a sincere interest in your users’ needs.

google spam policies from the update in march 2024.

The Spam Policy updates aim to better handle the practises that can negatively impact the quality of Google’s search results.

A full write-up from Google Search Central’s blog can be found below.

Find out more
3 March 2024

Consent Mode v2 & Enhanced Conversions Presents both a Risk & Opportunity

This month, advertisers across the UK & Europe will begin navigating the minefield that the mandatory Consent Mode v2 update presents.

In a bid to strengthen compliance with data privacy laws, Consent Mode v2 requires advertisers to be more strict on their cookie policies, giving users a heightened ability to disregard cookies.

This poses a massive risk to all advertisers regardless of their preferred ad network, but Google Ads especially relies on cookie data in order to bid and optimise profitably.

The good news is that this will motivate users to migrate fully to gtag tracking – a long-standing best practice for goal tracking, and a method that Google continuously recommends for accuracy and optimisation. The other opportunity for advertisers is utilising Enhanced Conversions – an advanced user-tracking datalayer that improves Google Ads attribution and reveals “true” insight into how important assisted conversions are.

This update will undoubtedly cause a headache for advertisers as they implement and troubleshoot Consent Mode v2, but a strong focus on gtag and Enhanced Conversions will help mitigate the impacts on tracked revenue.

Read more on Google's Support hub
8 November 2023

Google Reviews Update – November 2023

Starting on the 8th November 2023, and finishing on the 7th December 2023, this will be the last time that Google confirms an update to the reviews algorithm.

What is now likely to be a realtime system, due to the ever-increasing deluge of fake reviews across sites thanks to services such as ChatGPT, all publishers of sites with reviews should keep their eyes open for increased levels of seemingly natural reviews.

It is going to be tough for publishers to know if Google’s review algorithm is rewarding or punishing them. The only way to be entirely safe is to give enough internal resource time to ensuring that any added reviews are as genuine as possible.

There is almost certainly going to be many sites that have been using fake reviews with ranking headaches over the next few weeks.

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2 November 2023

November 2023 Core Update

The November Core Update started to roll out on the 2nd November and concluded on the 28th, only a few weeks after the October Core Update.

During this period and like in many other updates, many sites saw volatility in their keyword rankings. But in the early stages of the roll-out, many other SEOs noticed the impact quickly, which implies that there were significant changes being made at the time.

Like with many Google Core Updates, there aren’t clear actions to take for recovery, but as always it’s important to monitor which areas of your website were impacted to review whether any further action is required.

Interestingly, Google released another update during this period, with the Google 2023 reviews update beginning to roll out on the 8th November – meaning two updates overlapped with each other.

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5 October 2023

October 2023 Core Update

This Core Update marked Google’s 3rd broad core algorithm update of 2023, rolling out just 1 day after the Spam Update.

This update began rolling out on October 5th 2023 and concluded 2 weeks later. Due to the overlapping of this update with the Link Spam Update, it was difficult to identify its individual impact.

In usual form, Google declined to provide any specifics about the update and encourages users to follow best practices.

Find out more
4 October 2023

October 2023 Spam Update

On October 4th 2023, Google announced that they were rolling out a Spam Update to their algorithm, which concluded its rollout after 2 weeks.

This update improved spam detection, largely in non-English-speaking markets, which resulted in many spammy websites losing Organic visibility.

However, this update preceded the October 2023 Core Update which began rolling out the following day, so measuring the impact was challenging.

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14 September 2023

September 2023 Helpful Content Update

This update officially marked the third “Helpful Content” update that Google has ever rolled out, however it was the first of 2023.

The Helpful Content Update rolled out over 13 days and rewarded websites that Google deemed to have “Helpful Content” for their users.

This update impacted rankings more significantly than the previous two, which is theorised to be due to the rise in AI content.

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22 August 2023

August 2023 Core Update

The August 2023 Core Update began rolling out on August 22nd 2023, with the roll-out concluding 16 days later.

Prior to this update (starting in July) there were significant ranking fluctuations across Google’s SERP, meaning that measuring the impact and interpreting its purpose was a significant challenge.

As with all Core Updates, Google didn’t release any information on what this update was targeting.

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8 August 2023

How-to and FAQ Changes

On August 8th 2023, Google announced that rich results in their SERP that were based on “How To” and “FAQ” structured data would be reduced… in some cases.

This alarmed SEOs as it was believed these would only appear for high-authority Medical Advice websites, but so far we’ve seen mixed results, with very few reductions on Desktop SERPs.

We’d recommend importing your keywords into a tracking software so that you can monitor the presence of rich results.

 

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1 July 2023

Google Analytics 4 Officially Replaces Universal Analytics

The forced migration away from the long-serving Universal Analytics (UA) to Google’s newest analytical platform Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a historic transitional moment in digital marketing. Advertisers now have no choice if they were previously using UA but to use GA4 if they to track the performance of their websites as UA officially stops processing website visitors as of today. It is now imperative for any advertisers to migrate from UA to GA4 in order to stop any potential data loss.

Find Out More at Wordstream
20 June 2023

Store Sales Reporting & Bidding in Performance Max

Did you know that Omnichannel shoppers make 2.9X more purchases and spend 2.3X more than single-channel shoppers? As such, it has become increasingly more important to effectively measure impact across online and in-store purchases.

Google has stepped in to answer this call with store sale reporting and bidding now available within Performance Max campaigns.

This new level of reporting will allow advertisers to see the impact and value of their ads by using your sales data in a privacy-safe way. By unlocking this reporting tool, you will be able to: – use smart bidding to optimise towards shop sale conversions. – have a holistic measurement for ROAS across both online and offline sales – align your reporting across shop and online sales so advertisers can learn about ad-to-shop conversion rate by campaign. If you have a brick-and-mortar store and are looking to see more easily the impact of your paid search campaigns, then uploading your store sales data is the right way to go

14 June 2023

Automatically Created Assets Are Coming To Performance Max

Google has started testing its automatically created assets feature on Performance Max campaigns

Performance Max is continuing to be Google’s favourite test-bed, with Google now testing “automatically created assets”. By using advanced AI generative process, this feature takes advertiser’s already-uploaded text & image assets to create something new.

If you’re familiar with Google’s Responsive Display Ads, or Discovery Ads, you’ll understand how this works: Google will “mix and match” text and visual assets together, in order to create visual ads (similar to Display ads) to increase visibility of your ads across networks outside of Search & Shopping. As usual with Performance Max, advertisers can choose to let “the machine” handle decision making here, although how closely these “auto-assets” will adhere to brand guidelines remains to be seen…

25 May 2023

Search Generative Experience

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is finally here!

Well, kind of. On May 25th 2023 Google announced SGE, which added “AI” results to the top of some searches, which is powered by Google Gemini (formerly Bard).

The initial rollout was to users who had opted in and were signed into their Google accounts.

Find out more
10 May 2023

Google I/O Post-Game Update: The Latest Advancements In AI For Google Ads

This year’s Google I/O showcased how the latest advancements in AI can help “boost creativity”, and generally raise the bar for productivity. Google also reaffirmed their objective in building and deploying AI responsibly (we’ll let you decide what to make of that last bit).

Some new products and variants within the Google AI landscape were promoted, such as the new search generative experience (SGE) that will make search engines more of a conversational piece while connecting users to the information, services and products they desire, via “Bard” – this will expand and enhance new and existing apps such as Google Workplace, Maps, Lens and more .

12 April 2023

April 2023 Reviews Update

On April 12th 2023, Google rolled out their April 2023 Reviews Update.

This update expanded the “scope” of previous Reviews update to not only account for Product Reviews, but also Businesses, Services, Destinations and Media being used.

This roll-out concluded after just under two weeks.

Find out more
6 April 2023

First-Click, Time Decay and Position-based Attribution Models Are Being Removed

First-Click, Time Decay and Position-Based attribution models will no longer be available within Google Ads, in favour of the Data-Driven attribution model by September 2023.

As per their strong focus on Performance Max, Google has increasingly catered to the variety and number of touch-points prior to a conversion (shorthandly referred to as “The Messy Middle”). Data-driven attribution has been found to improve performance when used in combination with Smart Bidding, however for years, Data-Driven was only available to accounts that had thousands of conversions a month, making it inaccessible for many.

Now that Data-Driven attribution’s requirements are lower, more advertisers can leverage Smart Bidding and enter “The Messy Middle” for themselves.

These days only 3% of web conversion actions use First-Click, Time Decay or Position-Based attribution, and with Data-Driven now being the gold standard, it is no surprise Google has decided to move away from these outdated models completely.

Advertisers not using Data-Driven or Last Click will be automatically switched by the end of September 2023.

15 March 2023

March 2023 Core Update

On March 15th 2023, Google confirmed that a Core Update was officially being rolled out. This update took 13 days to finish rolling out.

This update was marked as being especially impactful on rankings, causing significant levels of ranking volatility on the first day of the roll-out and then again on the sixth day of the roll-out.

As with other Core Updates, Google released no specific information or guidance on what this was targeting, encouraging users to follow SEO best practices.

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