It’s been a hive of activity in the digital world in May – blink and you might just have missed some of the biggest shifts we’ve seen in months.
As if the world has suddenly come alive again, the tech giants have been making drastic changes to cater to new demands and support us in returning to a ‘new normal’ – or whatever that may be.
There are some serious shifts ahead of us, so the news this month really isn’t news to ignore. In fact, many of these changes may have a big impact on your business, especially if you primarily operate online.
Get your pen and paper ready, because the the SEO and marketing news we have to share is worth taking action on.
It’s been a long time coming, but at last, this month we see more announcements surrounding Google’s next core algorithm update. As this is going to be one of Google’s biggest in years, we’re expecting a serious shake-up to happen when this finally lands this June.
However, alongside must-know news on the latest algorithms, the SEO world has also been scratching its head at some of the random tests that have been cropping up across the digital landscape. This could be a time to take note and see if you need to shift your perspective on how you’re approaching SEO.
Did Google Test Video Search Results?
SEO experts were wondering what was going on with Google’s search results in May, as it appeared that videos were being shown on the right-hand side.
Often this area is kept from Google My Business listings, or knowledge dropdowns, but in May many SEO’s reported seeing video results on the right-hand side of the search results.
No one at Google is yet to confirm or deny this shift. Is it a bug, is it a plane, or is just Google testing out a new feature? – Doesn’t this always feel like the question?
Honestly, this wouldn’t surprise us if this was a test as video content is increasing. It only seems logical that Google should start to offer up video content in their search results.
‘People Also Ask’ Feature Increasing in Frequency
You may have noticed the ‘People Also Ask’ feature in your Google search results. It’s super handy to get that extra bit of information on a topic. However, this feature is also coveted by many SEO experts, as getting listed as one of the answers can massively enhance your organic visibility.
In May data released by both Semrush and RankRanger revealed that Google is showing this feature more often in the search results.
The increase is only by a few percent, but its clear that Google, or should we say users, are finding this feature more helpful – hence why Google is favouring it more.
The increase in the ‘People Also Ask’ feature is great news for those who spend time on content creation, as these snippets provide a valuable insight into what information people are looking for, and which pages are winning the answer.
If you’re focussed on enhancing your organic traffic this year, this should be a strong area of focus.
Deleting a Sitemap Won’t Stop Google
In a recent AskGooglebot, a regular YouTube series from Google, Google’s John Mueller revealed that deleting a sitemap won’t prevent URLs from being crawled in the future.
Mueller addressed the question that was posed by a site owner, and advised that while it is possible to delete a sitemap in Google Search Console, this alone does not stop Google from crawling.
Simply put, Google will only stop crawling the sitemap file and not the site.
Google’s John Mueller instead advises that in order to prevent Googlebot from crawling a site, or specific URLs, it requires the use of a no-index tag in the robots.txt file.
As Mueller said during the AskGooglebot session, the site owner should also consider what the intention is behind the deletion of the sitemap. Instead, Mueller recommended they think about alternative ways to update the sitemap rather than delete it.
Google’s Core Update Begins in June
Google has now officially announced that its broad core algorithm update will begin on June 2nd, 2021. However, this isn’t all it. Google has confirmed that it will also roll out another part of the update in July 2021.
It’s practically unheard of that Google would roll out two updates so close together, but Google has said that it’s unlikely we will see much of a change, and site owners should not panic. (We’ll be the judge of that!)
Unlike more specific updates that often target site categories, a core update is much more powerful as it only happens a few times a year and makes substantial changes to Google’s ranking processes.
Google’s Danny Sullivan provided a small bit of advice to site owners, saying;
“Core updates are designed to increase the overall relevancy of our search results. In terms of traffic we send, it’s largely a net exchange. Some content might do less well, but other content gains. In the long term, improving our systems in this way is how we’ve continued to improve Search and send more traffic to sites across the web every year.”
If you do see that your website has been negatively impacted by Google’s core update then try not to panic and think that you’ve done something wrong. In many cases, it is simply that Google has changed what it deems as relevant to its users.
Instead, focus on the areas that are impacted and consider how these could be enhanced.
For example, is it old pages or blog posts that are now out of date?
Our recommendation is to make sure your site is as relevant as it can be before the next rollout in July.
40% of SEO’s Ditching AMP
Google has confirmed that when its Page Experience Update is eventually rolled out, AMP will no longer be required.
If you’re not in the know – AMP stands for ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’. It was a framework launched by Google alongside other tech companies to help site owners create simple mobile web pages that would load almost instantly.
However, with the news that AMP will no longer be needed SEOs are up in arms about what to do. Should we be updating these pages, keeping them, or removing them altogether?
According to a survey among the SEO community, it appears that 40% of SEOs will look to ditch AMP completely.
There is some debate that AMP should be tested further, but it seems the sign of the times is to cut your losses and start building for the future update.
Microsoft Unveils New Feature Rollouts
Alongside Google, it seems that Microsoft also wants to keep up with the cool kids and ensure their rollouts get just as much attention.
In an announcement, Microsoft has revealed that their new update will bring with it a number of significant changes.
The first update from Microsoft is that advertisers will now be able to import their Google Merchant Center store (GMC), along with their Shopping Campaigns.
Advertisers will have the option to import their GMC account, and once imported Microsoft will automatically create a Microsoft Merchant Center with the same name, domain, and settings.
Another smart update from Microsoft will be the ‘Smart Shopping’ added to their Shopify app.
Using the Shopify app advertisers are automatically opted in to show your products for free on the Bing Shopping Tab.
If you are an eCommerce business, these Microsoft updates are well worth learning more about as it appears many of them are focused on audience insights and increasing advertising ease.
Search History Gets Password Protected
Google is letting users password protect the web and app activity page, which contains search history, and Google Maps usages.
Before this update, anyone could have picked up another person’s phone or laptop and type activity.google.com into the address bar and view all of someone’s search history.
As you can imagine this is a huge breach of personal data, and a major danger for those who may have to share devices. The Web & App activity page holds a wealth of private data, including activity in search and maps, YouTube watch history and even Google Assistant queries.
With the new verification option, users can set a password that will have to be entered before anyone can access the activity page.
If social media hadn’t been monetised enough already it appears many of the tech giants are finding new ways in which people can make money from their social content.
The news for May is rife with social media updates and changes, as we see new features added, and some even removed.
Like Counts Can Officially Be Hidden on Facebook & Instagram
There have been whispers of Like counts being removed from Facebook and Instagram for quite a while, but in May it appears that the change became official.
From now on Facebook and Instagram users will be able to hide their Like counts on all posts.
According to Facebook, the change comes to encourage users to focus on consuming and sharing content, rather than getting absorbed with the amount of likes they receive.
Users can reinstate their Likes should they wish to add it back, and even though they cannot see the Likes on posts users will still be able to access their own Like counts even when they’re hidden from people.
It’s an interesting change, and certainly puts the control back into the users hands, but is it too little too late when so many of us have got used to the hit of ‘Likes’?
Facebook is Targeting Ads with False Information
It’s safe to say that Facebook has faced a serious backlash to their Ads department due to a number of fake news stories being pushed through the platform. But it seems at last Facebook is taking action and making it hurt for those trying to promote false information.
In May, Facebook announced a number of measures to penalise individuals who were found to be spreading fake news.
Previously Facebook focussed their efforts on Pages or Organisations, but things are taking a more personal turn with this new action plan.
If Facebook finds an individual is spreading false news, it will aim to educate them. And if they fail to improve their behaviour, Facebook will then take action to limit the reach of their posts.
For some this may not feel like, quite enough from Facebook considering the rise of toxic false content that has been found on the platform, but only time will tell if these actions bring a real change.
Facebook Launches Neighbourhoods
We cannot deny that social media helped the world come together in 2020 when we couldn’t be truly ‘together’, and it seems that Facebook noticed this strong community trend.
In May, Facebook announced the launch of Neighbourhoods, a tool to help locals connect with each other.
Similar to what already happens on Facebook, users will now be able to create a Neighborhood profile, separe from their personal profile. From this space they can have discussion with others who live in the area or the same part of their city.
Facebook’s aim, is to give users the ability to connect with a wider group of locals, even those who they may not be directly connected to.
Twitter Launches Tip Jar
Twitter’s approach to making users able to monetise from their feed has faced some scepticism in recent months – after all – is Twitter content that good that people are willing to pay to see someone’s tweets?
But in a new turn of events, Twitter has now also announced ‘Tip Jar’.
Tip Jar again aims to help journalists and content creators earn tips from their followers.
The program is said to be the first in several rollouts that Twitter will initiate in order to help users earn money from the platform. And according to Twitter, it’s going to make no money off the tips.
Twitter has said that Tip Jar ideally is about receiving appreciation from their users, rather than being able to make a living.
Twitter has said, :“This is a first step in our work to create new ways for people to receive and show support on Twitter – with money.”
To give someone a Tip, you can check for a Tip Jar icon near the members follow button.
Twitter is enabling the tip jar feature only for select members who currently tweet in the English Language. You can check if it’s enabled on your own profile by going to Edit Profile, and scrolling down to the Tip Jar function.
As the first step for Twitter to support users to monetise their content, we’re certainly intrigued about how this new method is going to take off.