It’s been a busy year of updates in the world of SEO and marketing. In fact, we can’t remember a time when there were so many changes in just one year.
We’re used to the odd annual Google algorithm update, but over the past seven months it’s seems like Google have been tidying up the internet in an almost frenzied manner.
And it’s not just search that’s seen a large amount of changes.
With so much competition now in the social space, a month doesn’t go by without a social platform adding a new feature. From Twitters new Twitterspaces to YouTubes shorts; every platform is vying for users’ attention.
To help you keep in the know about all the latest updates in SEO and marketing we’ve done our big July round-up. Breaking down the biggest stories, and helping you keep your own marketing strategy relevant.
Google appears to be on a mission, with a core update still rolling out, and now new updates to target spammy websites, it’s enough to make your head ache. As always from our news stories, take note of what you need to know, and read the rest as good to know.
Google Targets Link Spam
At the end of July 2021, it was revealed that Google would be rolling out an algorithm update to tackle spam links.
Duy Nguyen a Google Search Quality Analyst, commented that “this link spam update targets spammy links more broadly, and across multiple languages.”
Officially Google has said that these links will be ‘nullified’ and not penalized. However, if a website did have spam links that were helping a site to rank well in Google search, it might feel like a penalty when the rankings begin to drop.
In a statement, Google said, “in our continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, we’re launching a new link spam-fighting change today — which we call the “link spam update.” This algorithm update, which will roll out across the next two weeks, is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.”
For sites that have been participating in spammy link building, this will mainly affect them, however, if you have had malicious link building done in the past, it’s worth keeping an eye on any ranking fluctuations.
If you’re unsure of what to do about this algorithm update, Duy Nguyen has written a blog post on what qualifies a ‘good’ link and spam link.
Google Reveals More About Search
Google is giving users an insight into why and how a search result was selected.
Since an update in July, Google now lists several of the factors it uses to rank a result in the ‘about this result’ section.
Google will now show the terms it matched on the web page based on your query, including the terms related to it, if links from others websites influence the ranking, if results had related images, and if there were geographical reasons for the result.
Google has said there are several factors this section can disclose.
Of course, Google doesn’t reveal all of its secrets, so with a few juicy details from Google plus SEO investigation, it appears that this new shows a number of factors that can prove highly useful to dissecting why a search result was chosen.
At present this is only being rolled out in the US, however, SEO experts predict this will gradually be rolled out globally by the end of the summer.
For SEOs and marketers who are always wanting to know Google’s secrets, and why Google ranks a specific site for a given query; this new feature gives detailed clues into the method Google is using. Of course, it’s not the full answer, but it gives further insight into what Google is looking for.
Google’s July Core Update Is Still Rolling Out
Did you see lots of ranking fluctuations in July? – Well you can hands-down blame it on yet another Google Core Update. And many suspect that this rollout is still going on, well into August.
Despite Google officially saying that this core update was rolled out across a 12-day period in July, many SEOs are still seeing changes. The rollout of this core change officially began on 1st July 2021, and supposedly ended on 12th July 2021 at 1 pm ET.
Like all of Google’s core updates, this was a global update, so it was not specific to any particular category of website, or region. It’s what is often referred to as a classic ‘broad care update’ that Google releases every few months or so.
We always care when there’s any Google update because an algorithm update big or small can either positively or negatively impact your rankings. Making a note of these changes can enable you to investigate any drops and to get an understanding of where these may have occurred.
If you see any changes between the 1st and 12th of July 2021 there’s no doubt this will be related to the Google core update.
Why You Could Lose a Google Rich Result
We’ve revealed many times how a Google Rich Result is part of the best Google real-estate available.
Essentially, your website gets featured within common FAQs related to a topic or search query. Well above the ads, and above the organic listings. Which means this prime search result real estate can dramatically increase your traffic.
The FAQs immediately answer a user’s query, which means it’s convenient for them as they don’t have to click to find a quick answer. And if the user is doing deep research, then all they have to do is click through to the web page which provided that answer.
However, this spotlight of gaining a Google FAQ is not easy, and you can lose it. In a Google SEO Office-hours hangout, John Mueller explained why a website would lose all the FAQ rich result snippets it had gained.
John revealed that when you use the correct mark-up you’re eligible to be shown, but this is still no guarantee that your website will be selected.
Going into more detail on the requirement to be selected for an FAQ, John explained that in general Google makes a decision to scale rich results up or down depending on the activity of the user around specific search queries. John went further still to say that Google also looks at a website quality, and that can change over time due to core updates.
John advised in this case that the site owner should check the quality of their site against the most recent update, and ensure that the mark-up was correct.
Google Allows Retailers to List Deals
In July Google revealed a new and free way for online retailers to list deals in the search results.
Google revealed that since the pandemic the searches for ‘deals’ or to ‘save money’ has dramatically increased, for example, searches for “discount codes” went up by 50% in 2020.
With this in mind, and with two of the biggest retail seasons ahead, Google is giving US retailers more ways to reach customers.
As of July 2021, Google will highlight deals in the shopping tab of the search results.
When searching for a product, the shopping tab will now organise and show listings that are discounted or on a deal.
Retailers can enable this feature in their Google Merchant Centre.
As always Google will take into account certain factors before featuring a deal, such as the discount itself, how popular a product is, how popular the site is that the product is listed on and many more.
Google Simplifies Job Applications
For a long time Google has been putting its efforts into helping employers and candidates come together, and in July new steps were announced.
Google has confirmed that it is introducing new structured data markup for job listings that allow candidates to apply directly on the employer’s website.
In addition to this, Google is creating a new editorial content policy in an effort to help users understand the content in a job listing.
Google says that for employers to use this markup the job listing must meet a certain criteria. Most importantly in this criteria, is that the user must be offered a short and straightforward application process.
In other words, if the job listing needs candidates to upload a resume and then type all the same information into an application form, it’s not eligible.
From July, if a job meets the criteria as laid out by Google they can begin using the markup straightaway.
Sharing what you do online is a critical part of the marketing process and building brand awareness, but when the social platforms keep changing it can be hard to know if you’re still getting seen. Here we break down the latest news on the social platforms to keep all eyes on you.
Instagram Disables Ads to Underage Users
Instagram has finally taken a stand on targeting ads towards underage users.
In July, Instagram confirmed that brands would no longer be able to target users under the age of 18.
To take steps further, Instagram would also be making all profiles of those under 18 private. Once they turn 18 they would then be given the option to change their account and become aware of which data would be accessible to advertisers.
If you’ve been targeting minors with products or activities on Instagram, you will now need to find an alternative way to reach them.
Instagram Reveals More About Reels Alogrithm
Reels are Instagrams copy of TikTik, and if you’re new to it and wondering how you harness this new wave of short video snippets, Instagram has revealed more on the algorithm driving engagement.
In July, Instagram kindly revealed which factors it takes into account in order to ‘rank’ Reels. Instagram even publicly shared this on their Creators Instagram account.
As well as factors such as how likely you are to like it and comment on it, Instagram is also looking at how likely it is to be watched all the way through.
To Instagram, the more Reels you watch all the way through from an account, the more it shows a signal of interest.
What’s more interesting is that Instagram has revealed that they are using an AI to understand these factors, which means it’s constantly learning and adapting.
While these insights could be beneficial for now to increase your exposure on Instagram, who knows how it may change again over the next year.