As things begin to move and shift here in the UK with lockdown restrictions easing, and the hope that we may be back to some kind of normal by Summer; it would be easy to think that the whole world has been on pause waiting for the grand re-opening.
However, as we know, the digital world never stops moving, and across April we’ve seen more updates and tests from search platforms and social channels as they begin to adapt to new user habits.
As always, these changes are vital to keep up with, because in one way or another they will impact your business. Whether you’re selling a service or a product, a strong online presence is essential now to a business to success, as air is for a human to survive.
Bring your team together, and build an action plan from April’s latest news updates.
Secretive algorithm updates, algorithm delays and new features appearing in Google’s products. It appears that Google may have been busy in April, and these changes could be hugely influencing your own search placements.
Potential Google Local Search Update
Some SEO industry experts are all in chatter about a possible ranking algorithm update that occurred at the end of April.
Of course, as ever the secretive type, Google has not confirmed or denied such an update, but ranking tools saw clear shifts in ranking across the date of April 23rd.
From conversations in SEO forums, it appeared that content was part of this algorithm shift, as many fellow SEO specialists revealed that they had seen big moves in fresh content.
Other SEO marketers commented that they had seen shifts in local search rankings.
Nobody really knows what’s going on, and at present, it’s all just speculation as to what Google may have changed.
One theory doing the rounds, is that it was the anniversary of the Penguin update, so could there have been some tweaks to this old algorithm?
All we do know is that right now, you need to be playing by Google’s rule book to keep your site in sync with these algorithm changes.
Google Page Experience Update Moved to Mid JuneFor the past six months, Google has been consistently rolling out information on their next algorithm update, which we have covered extensively in our news features. Core Web Vitals, is the update that aims to enhance the user experience for those searching the web. Google has been kind enough to provide guidance to site owners about where they should be focussing their efforts and why this is going to matter. An extensive page about Core Web Vitals has been created by Google and their internal experts have been constantly hosting sessions to answer further questions around this big update. The deadline for this rollout was May 2021, however, Google has taken an unprecedented kindness on the world and decided to delay the deadline due to the continued strain on businesses with the covid-19 pandemic. Google has now confirmed that the Core Web Vitals update won’t be rolled out until mid-June to give site owners a bigger chance to get their sites fixed and ready. There was also more information about Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal from Google’s John Mueller. In a Google Office-Hours Hangout, John Mueller was asked how often we can expect to see the Core Web Vitals algorithm updated. Will this be on a real-time basis or will it be rarely updated? John was honest and said that he wasn’t sure how often we can expect to see this algorithm updated. As he clarified in the hangout, it hasn’t been discussed with him, which means it could still be in the decision-making process.
Google Product Reviews
If you’re selling products online then this is a Google update you’re going to want to hear more about.
At the beginning of April, Google rolled out the product reviews search algorithm update, which is designed to rank well-researched, in-depth content over brief product descriptions.
Just to make it clear. This is not a core algorithm update that will impact all websites, this is purely an algorithm that targets product reviews.
Google made a public statement about this update, clarifying that this is to further support users when searching with the intent of purchasing a product.
“Google Search is always working to show the most useful and helpful information possible, through testing, experimenting and review processes. From this, we know people appreciate product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products. That’s why we’re sharing an improvement to our ranking systems, which we call the product reviews update, that’s designed to better reward such content.”
As a product provider, you may want to keep an eye out for any fluctuations in your rankings. Especially if you have not publicly listed the reviews of your products.
From the current landscape of this update, it appears that those who have strong reviews are faring well with this update, so it may be worth looking at your product review strategy.
Google My Business Adds Update for Restaurants
It seems like not a month goes by without a new feature on Google My Business, but we can understand why, as this Google tool is so helpful for all business types to attract customers.
If you STILL haven’t created your Google My Business page then go and do it right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local service, a global service, or sell local products; this feature in Google can make a huge difference to your online presence and without it, you can be losing custom.
Anyway, enough of our soapbox on the importance of Google My Business. The really exciting news is that they’ve added a new feature for restaurants in the way of a food ordering tab.
As we all know, food delivery and take-away was a vital service for restaurants to be able to offer during the covid-19 pandemic. It saved restaurants from having to close their business completely and saved many of us from the constant cooking of three meals a day.
Now the new food ordering tab on Google My Business allows restaurants to manage how customers place online food orders. As a business, you can either use a third-party provider or add place order links.
For those continuing to provide a takeaway service post covid, we know this is going to become an extremely useful tool.
Daily Mail Attempt to Sue Google
While this is not necessarily huge SEO news, the fact that the Daily Mail is attempting to sue Google; we feel that it’s worth reporting on not only for the parody factor but also because it provides a strong lesson in what Google deems as quality content.
In April, the owner of the Daily Mail filed an antitrust lawsuit in New York against Google, alleging that Google punishes publishers for not selling enough ad space through Google’s marketplace.
The worldwide SEO reaction to this was somewhat humorous, as many SEO experts took to Twitter to say that the Daily Mail does not deserve to rank for its content, and it should spend the money it’s using on a lawsuit to instead improve its technical SEO and overall editorial content.
Google has released an official statement around the lawsuit commenting that;
“The Daily Mail’s claims are completely inaccurate. The use of our ad tech tools has no bearing on how a publisher’s website ranks in Google Search. More generally, we compete in a crowded and competitive ad tech space where publishers have and exercise multiple options. The Daily Mail itself authorizes dozens of ad tech companies to sell and manage their ad space, including Amazon, Verizon and more. We will defend ourselves against these meritless claim.”
Many feel that the Daily Mail are simply unhappy with Google as back in June 2019 one of the Daily Mail’s SEOs publicly announced that the company had seen a 50% loss in traffic due to the June 2019 cure update.
However, this traffic did bounce back after the September 2019 core update.
As you can see from the reaction on Twitter, Google has a number of supporters who feel the Daily Mail’s lawsuit is petty and unsubstantiated.
Changing Publish Dates Won’t Trick Google
There are many in the SEO world who believe that changing the date a page or post was published will trick Google into refreshing that page in its search results and boosting its ranking.
The belief here is that Google favours content that is fresher. But as well all know, that is not necessarily true.
However, this outdated method has finally had some wise words to debunk it thanks to Google’s John Mueller.
In Google Office-Hours hangout, John Mueller clarified that simply changing the date won’t trick Google into refreshing your page and giving it a new position.
Instead, John Mueller recommends that if you really want to enhance your ranks, you first need to make a significant update to the page – you can’t just change the date.
Mueller strongly advised against updating dates on a page after making small changes, and recommends that you should only update dates when making large updates to the content.
Social channels have become a necessary evil to remain in the eye of customers, but not everything they do is always for the greater good. As you will see from these marketing updates, social companies are being questioned more about their ethics, while simultaneously trying to keep up with their own competition.
Sports Boycott Social Media
In April the UK sports community went silent online for four days to show a stand of solidarity against online abuse.
The FA, The Premier League, athletes, sports influencers, clubs and those who had any links to the sports community came offline in order to show that they no longer accept the abuse and discrimination that occurs on social media.
The Football Association has called on the government to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse.
The Premier League, EFL and all member clubs all called for social media companies to take definitive action to end all forms of abuse.
Sports brand Adidas, which makes more than a third of Premier League Kits, also decided to stop all social advertising across its platforms during the four-day boycott.
Many have reported that this is one of the largest boycotts seen for social platforms, and only time will tell if the tech companies take note.
Twitter Trials Professional Accounts
Twitter is often seen as the water-cooler of the social platforms, it’s professional but personal, with many using it to not only share their career highlights and projects but to present their own opinions on how they see the world.
However, in April Twitter announced that it would be launching specific professional accounts for businesses, and not-for-profits, to enable them to share more business-related information on their profiles.
The feature is still in its infancy, with the professional profiles not looking as different as a regular Twitter account. But Twitter has said there will be new features such as instant verification and the ability to display products on your profile.
It will be interesting to see how this new profile enhances a business presence on Twitter. In our experience, Twitter has been the least eComm friendly of all social accounts, as the intention on Twitter isn’t always to buy. However, this could be a useful update for more B2B products and services.
We’ll certainly be keeping our eye on this update.
Update provided by RAD SEO Cambridge