SEO & Marketing Updates In April 2020

If there’s one thing you can guarantee in the world of SEO, it’s that no month goes by without a change. 

As we continue to tackle Google algorithms, increase engagement on social platforms and optimise websites to convert visitors into customers; it’s fair to say that keeping our finger on the digital pulse is a job we take seriously. 

Only by being the know, can you prepare for change. A lesson we’re all learning amid the worldwide crisis of Coronavirus. 

So in the name of knowledge, we’ve shared the most significant SEO updates that occurred in April to help you embrace the change and prepare for what’s to come in 2020. 

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a continuous learning game, even when you think you’ve got it perfect, Google goes and changes something, so it’s well-advised you keep up with what’s going on in the SEO world. 

As Google and other search platforms continue to improve their features for users around the world, these updates have heavily focussed on the coronadrama.

 

COVID-19 Google Special Feature 

As the world went into lockdown with Coronavirus, Google decided to create a special feature dedicated to users searching for information and updates related to the virus in their area. 

Google’s COVID-19 special feature is specifically for health-related and government only websites. 

When a user types into Google any query relating to coronavirus of COVID-19, the results are intended to cover vital updates such as school closures, event cancellations, changes to business hours or stay-at-home updates. 

At present, it’s still unknown if non-health related or official government pages will be featured in these search results. 

To support businesses, Google has requested all those with a Google My Business account to submit any changes to their business during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

google coronavirus search feature screenshot

 

COVID-19 Impacts Rankings 

With COVID-19 turning the world upside down, it’s little surprise that rankings were going to be influenced. 

Google is constantly updating their algorithm, so pair this with the fact that people are perhaps searching differently than before the coronavirus outbreak, and you’ve got a severe flux happening in SEO. 

Many SEO experts claim there has been volatility in the rankings since COVID-19, as businesses have had to make dramatic changes to their websites, editing content, putting products out of stock and even pausing business altogether.

graph showing google ranking changes during covid-19

Google Shuts Down Reviews

If coronavirus hasn’t already got a lot to answer for when it comes to disrupting businesses, Google decided in April that it would be best to pause any possible reviews on Google My Business accounts. 

For a short time, Google shut down the publication of new reviews, as part of its coronavirus response effort. The reasoning behind the review pause was Google felt it was unfair for businesses to receive negative reviews during a time when businesses are not operating as normal. 

It has now been confirmed that reviews and review replies are now live once again, however, there is still a ‘Delay message’ from Google, indicating that reviews may take longer than usual to be published. 

Be Different and Rank Better Says Google 

In a Google Webinar with John Mueller back in April, it was highlighted that businesses should be looking to make their content different and unique from their competitors. 

John commented in the webinar, that “ our algorithms really do try to look out for unique, compelling, high-quality content”.

Going further, John explained that a high ranking website must be unique, high quality, and compelling. 

This has been claimed to go a long way in helping differentiate your website from your competitors. So before you go doing the same type of content but just longer, think differently. 

Bing Introduces Update to Search Snippets 

While Bing may not be at the top of your SEO bucket list, the search platform still holds merit and shouldn’t be ignored. 

In April, Bing rolled out a new tool to help site users control how they appear in Bing. 

Bing has always provided users with search snippets of a website that’s included images, text and videos. However, now Bing provides site owners with the ability to add and improve their feature. 

Google Algorithm in Court

Without a doubt, this is the biggest news to hit the SEO world in a long time, but as with everything in the world right now it’s been overshadowed by COVID-19. 

So here it is… Google’s algorithm could be exposed to. 

Yes, the top-secret algorithm that has us always scratching our heads and trying to understand what the secret sauce is, could be revealed. This may not only change everything in our digital landscape as we know it but change SEO history! 

Google is involved in a lawsuit with a company called Foundem which dates back to 2012. 

Foundem claims that Google deliberately ranked its own products ahead of Foundem in 2006, saying they were victim to anti-competitive practices by Google. Therefore, Foundem is seeking damages for loss of business as a result of being ranked down in Google search. 

However, in an effort by Google to prove its innocence, it provided confidential documents to the UK high court, explaining the operation and aims of Google’s ranking algorithms, and how they are applied to comparison sites generally. 

Foundem is arguing that the Google Algorithm would be too technical for lawyers to understand, and therefore wants an SEO expert to review the document. 

This, of course, puts Google in a sticky place, as Google argues that giving its algorithm to an SEO would compromise the integrity of its ranking process. 

There are only two ways now for Google to go. The judge can step in and ask Google to withdraw the documents or let them be seen by an SEO!

We will all be waiting to see how this one pans out of the coming months.

Marketing

How you get your message out there can change in a heartbeat, with new apps and platforms constantly helping us share the story of our businesses, which is why these new tools may be staying around for a little while longer thanks to COVID-19. 

Zoom Booms

The race to go digital has commenced around the globe as more businesses adapt to survive during the lockdown. And one platform that has helped everyone from yoga teachers to school teachers adapt to the ‘new normal’ is Zoom. 

The video conferencing software added 2.22 million active users in 2020, compared to a mere 1.9 million in the entire year of 2019. Yes, it doubled its user base in just four months! 

While there are other video conferencing tools out there, this just goes to show the power of a strong brand presence.

YouTube Opens COVID Targetted Ads

When COVID-19 broke out, YouTube made the decision to pause any advertising on any videos mentioning or referencing the virus. 

YouTube was so strict about de-monesting content that even a passing mention of the word “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” wasn’t allowed. 

However, YouTube has now back-tracked and updated their policies, meaning monetisation on videos relating to the coronavirus will now be accepted, with of course some exceptions. For example, Ads will not be shown on distressing footage, medical misinformation, pranks and challenges.

TikTok Steps-up the Social Ladder 

The TikTok app actually started in 2016, but with boredom taking over, the app has had a resurgence in users creating fun dances, challenges and micro-videos while in lockdown. 

Originally popular with teens and the Gen Z, the app is now being used by big brands, celebrities, influencers and even local priests! 

To date, the TikTok app has been installed on mobile devices around 800 million times. 

 

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