SEO & Marketing Updates in October 2020

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Our monthly round-up of all things SEO goes to show that while the world may be in a constant state of stop and start, the online realm of digital is still accelerating at a superhuman speed. 

As online is becoming the backbone of our current COVID economy; no matter your business service or product, now more than ever online is paramount to your survival through this pandemic. 

Whether you’re getting online to sell your products, or ensuring that when this thing blows over, you’re dominating the search results; our latest marketing and SEO news from October 2020 is just the place to keep your finger firmly on the digital pulse. 

SEO 

SEO is by no means a one task wonder. As you should know by now, Google likes to keep us on our toes, which means updates come thick and fast every month to ensure that the results are fresh and relevant for users. 

We highly recommend you take a look at these latest SEO updates from October to see they can help grow your business.

Google’s Bert is In Action

Google confirmed in October that their algorithm BERT now powers almost every single English query. 

If you haven’t swatted up on BERT; the algorithm which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers is an update introduced in 2019 to improve how Google understands users’ search queries. 

Google has already been pretty savvy in learning how to identify a user’s intention from a search. Hence why we’re all so used to the autocomplete from Google as it attempts to learn what we’re truly looking for without having to write the full query. Clever but scary at times. 

However, BERT takes this up a notch as it is now adding context into its understanding of search queries. 

In reality, SEO wizards cannot technically optimise for BERT, but as with any SEO, the more you understand your users, the more relevance you can have to their search query. 

BERT is simply designed to improve the relevancy of the results shown to a user. 

According to Google, so far, BERT has enabled them to improve results on specific searches by 7%. 

As Google’s power of search becomes more human with the help of artificial intelligence, once again as a web owner, it’s critical that you are creating content that speaks to the user, not to the robot. 

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Bing Site Explorer Has a New Look

Bing may not be as popular as Google, but optimising your website for Bing should still be on your SEO checklist especially, as Bing is the default browser on Microsoft computers. 

For many businesses who are so heavily focussed on Google, Bing can, in fact, be the forgotten search engine where traffic is just as important. 

In October, Microsoft announced that Bing’s Site Explorer now comes with a completely new look. 

Bing Site Explorer provides you with data on clicks, impressions, links, errors, warnings, indexing issues and many more SEO related features. 

If you’re used to Bing Webmaster Tools, then don’t be fooled that this is simply an upgrade. Bing Site Explorer is a completely new tool which has been redesigned and improved to enhance any web owners experience. 

Ultimately, Bing Site Explorer reveals how Microsoft Bing views your website. It will show you redirects, broken links, and URLs blocked by robots.txt. 

With such a vast amount of data available for your website, it gives you an incredible insight into how many search engines are probably viewing your website. 

If you haven’t got yourself stuck into Bing yet, we’d highly recommend you take some time focussing on Bing optimisation, and understand where your websites current faults lie. Now is not the time to have an underperforming website. 

 

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Google Podcast Reveals Google Search Data

Podcasts are now growing in popularity, and Google has been quick to ensure they can support podcasters with as much data about their listeners as possible. 

In October, Google announced a new feature for podcasters named, Google Podcast Manager. 

Podcast manager enables podcasters to see how well their podcasts are performing in Google Search, as well as incredible insight into top discovered episodes and search terms that lead to their podcast being found. 

However, in true Google style, they take the dive into data much deeper by providing information on each episode so podcast managers can understand where people are dropping off.

If you’ve put your heart and soul into creating a podcast, this new tool will help you maximise it’s potential. 

Popular podcasts now show up in Google search, so understanding the data behind how it’s performing could help you massively enhance its reach. 

Mysterious Google Algorithm Update

Was there a ghoul in Google, or did we experience an algorithm update?

That’s what we’re all asking in October after some strange shifts in the ranks had SEO’s around the world scratching their heads. 

It all began on 28th October, with SEOs reporting on Twitter and Webmaster World that there were some unusual drops in ranks. 

While the conversation isn’t as intense as what normally occurs when a core update happens, it was still large enough to create a buzz online that something was happening at Google.  

Of course, in Google style, there has been no social response as they keep quiet. 

As we head towards 2021, we’ll certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for any big algorithm announcements, as no doubt one is due.’

 

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A Google Home Movie

A home movie in October sounds like some kind of Halloween horror ready to be released upon the world. But in fact, Google decided in October to release a home movie of their own to show people the origins of Google and how search works. 

The film, titled “Trillions of Questions, No Easy Answers: A (home) movie about how Google Search works”, is available to watch for free on YouTube, and takes you behind the scenes at Google HQ. 

If you’ve ever wondered how the decisions get made about search, and the challenges that Google has to face, this film provides an eye-opening insight into the world of Google. Plus, for the first time, many high-level Googlers are sharing their thoughts on rankings, spam, BERT, and machine learning. 

 

Google My Business Just Got More Data 

We know we hammer on about Google My Business ALOT, but that’s because it is still one of the most underutilised tools created by Google, but can provide so much support for a business online. 

Thankfully, in October Google revealed that they are now adding more search results data to Google My Business to enhance the experience further. Which we hope means more people will now start taking it seriously and using their profile religiously. 

The most useful of the data coming to Google My Busiess, is the ability to see how many times a business profile was seen in the search results. Perfect, if you want to see how well your local SEO is performing. 

Besides with more data about how your page is performing and when it shows up in the search results, you can get an even better understanding of what’s truly working for you. 

Just like Halloween candy, we recommend you take full advantage of your Google My Business profile. 

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Is Google Ranking Pages or Passages? 

It appears that a new core update within Google is now showing specific passages rather than pages to answer a user’s search query. 

The new passages update as it is being coined highlights relevant passages from a page in the search results, similar to how a featured snippet is highlighted in the results. 

As you can imagine, this caused a frenzy of panic in the world of SEO and amongst SEO agencies, as people started to question how content and even pages should be structured for search. 

Google itself confirmed that it is not a pages over passages situation, and in fact, they consider passages as an additional ranking factor. 

Traditionally Google evaluates a page as whole to determine how relevant it is to a search query. However, as you can imagine, this gets challenging when it comes to long web pages, or pages that maybe touch on a variety of topics. 

With Google’s new technology, it will now be able to better identify and understand key passages rather than just entire pages. 

While this may feel counterintuitive for you as a web owner to begin with, this has the potential to allows more pages to get in the search results which may not have been seen as relevant before. So in reality, this may do you a favour. 

Once again, this Google update puts the emphasis on having not just great content, but also a good content structure. Every one of your paragraphs should have a clear focus and topic.

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Marketing 

For many businesses, it may feel like you want to bury your head in the sand and wait for COVID-19 to blow over. But if marketing shows us anything, it’s that during a turbulent time you have to stand up and weather the storm come rain or shine. 

Keeping your business present in the minds of your customers is paramount so that they don’t forget you. 

While marketing on a big-budget scale may not be available right now, there are some exciting updates in the realm of marketing that could lend you a hand. 

TripAdvisor Launches New Features

For the hospitality industry, TripAdvisor is the place where many customers go to truly understand the truth about your offering. It’s the one-stop-shop to understand the good, the bad and the ugly about restaurant, hotels and everything in between. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels and restaurants have been hit the hardest, which is why TripAdvisor has now upped the anti on the support it’s providing to those listed on the directory. 

In October, TripAdvisor announced new features to its platform that could support hotels and restaurants in not only continuing to provide services but also enhancing their overall listing. 

The first of these major new features includes menu syndication. Restaurants can confirm their business listing and upload their menu. The information from TripAdvisor is then distributed across a network of more than 100 sites, including Google, Yelp, OpenTable, Facebook and many other restaurant apps. 

While this feature alone sounds incredible, TripAdvisor takes it one step further with an analytics dashboard that offers data on menu views and customer status. Ie. are the new customers or returning. 

Taking advantage of these new features could greatly support your business in the adaptation of these new times, and offer some diversification. For example, more take-aways and collection services are emerging through COVID-19 restrictions, allowing businesses to remain open. 

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Facebook Increases Shopping Capability 

Throughout 2020 Facebook has made some major changes to its shopping features to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In October, Facebook announced that it would be future improving its shopping feed capabilities to add to the marketplace that they have already created. 

For retailers, these new features will come at a particularly helpful time as we head into the biggest shopping season of the year. 

The first of many of these features will be on Instagram, where product tags including the name and price when a user clicks the white dot; will now be added to photos, videos and carousel ads. 

For brands who already have a Facebook shop will also now be able to promote discounts using Commerce Manager across their platforms. This is currently being trialled in the U.S, but it is set to be rolled out globally in the coming weeks. 

Facebook is also playing its own part in the promotion of black-owned business throughout November. 

According to Facebook data, black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard during the pandemic, with 41% of black-owned businesses shut down in the U.S. 

Every Friday through November, Facebook will be promoting #BuyBlackFriday across its platforms and will be promoting a gift guide and directory of black-owned businesses. 

TikTok to Partner with Shopify

TikTok has catapulted into popularity during 2020 due to the global pandemic, and now it is partnering with Shopify to support merchants in reaching TikTok’s growing user base. 

It’s predicted that by 2021, TikTok will reach 10 million users, so it comes as no surprise that the platform now wants to start earning from ad revenue.

The partnership between TikTok and Shopify will see sellers gain access to the user base in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia. 

To take advantage of the data base, merchants will be required to download the TikTok app from the Shopfify App store, where they can create a TikTok for business account. 

TikTok is offering $300 (£251) in free ad credit for the users who sign up for a new TikTok for business account. 

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