While some of us are still barely surviving the coronacoaster of 2020, the world of SEO and digital marketing is still open for business and keeping itself busy. In fact, there’s enough movement going on in SEO to make the fairground waltzers seem slow!
As always, keeping your finger firmly on the pulse with these updates is paramount to your success during these turbulent times.
With updates impacting rankings, and insight into how people are searching, no matter your industry or business, these SEO and marketing updates from August need to be taken seriously.
SEO & Marketing Updates
Throughout August, Google has been up to its usual tricks of keeping us on our toes and wondering when and if an algorithm update has occurred.
Plus, due to the continuation of businesses being disrupted by covid-19, there is more support being offered by companies such as Facebook.
Was it a Google Glitch or an Algorithm Test?
Never ones to shout about a ranking update until it’s been discovered, the SEO world was a hive of noise on August 15th as rumours spread that Google was rolling out an algorithm update.
SEO marketers on forums and social media were claiming that their trusted rank tracking tools had seen a clear shift in the rankings across the board. Including local search rankings.
However, the shifts that had occurred, and been reported on, seemed to revert back within 24 hours of the reports kicking off across the forums.
As of yet, Google still hasn’t confirmed whether they were testing a new algorithm update. But this could be a taste of an update to come.
A handful of SEO’s are claiming this was simply a ‘glitch’ in the system, but yet again, there have been no further reports on Google’s side to say that this was the case.
The investigation is still open as to what this was all about, with theories stretching from a ‘bug’ in Google to the trialling of a new update. When we really know what happened, nobody knows.
Google Launches People Cards
Would you ever consider creating your own personal profile on Google? It seems that this could soon be a shiny new thing that Google adds to its search.
In August, Google rolled out People Cards in India, detailing how you can create a public personal profile to enable people to search for you in Google and discover a detailed profile card.
The People Card will add your profile to Google’s search listings, meaning if anyone searches your name, your profile can be listed and found.
People who claim their People Card can add details such as personal bio, occupation, employer, location, phone number, website and social media accounts.
As personal branding becomes a more important marketing tool for businesses, especially for individuals who are the face of their brand, this could become a popular feature.
At present, People Cards remain in beta testing in India, and Google has not confirmed whether this will be rolled out internationally.
What is interesting, though, is how Google recognises the power of personal branding. Now more than ever if you haven’t got a personal touch to your business, it may become a huge differentiator in your SEO and marketing.
Google Adds Holiday Features
Since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic the world has been grounded, and millions of people have been unable to enjoy their usual holiday abroad.
With the extreme changes in travel restrictions, in August, Google rolled out an update to support users in searching for flights and hotels.
Now if you’re in the hospitality sector, this is one update you really need to understand.
Google had been testing this update for a while, but officially launched the new flight and travel search feature in August to help people who are trying to travel during the pandemic.
In a statement put out by Google, they said, the travel updates were critical “because the impact of covid-19 on destinations can vary, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest travel-related information.”
So what does this new feature do exactly?
If a user is searching for a hotel or flights to a particular destination, Google is showing travel advisories and updates to provide the user with the latest information on restrictions.
However, going a step further, the travel update also provides the user with the opportunity to filter by cancellation. This allows people to search for hotels that offer free cancellations.
The updates to the travel feature will come as a welcome support to the hospitality industry, which has been the most affected by the pandemic.
By Google providing data and insight such as this to users, it is hoped that the feature will make travel less worrying for consumers, and encourage more bookings.
Search Console Insights for Content Creators
It’s priceless knowledge to understand more about how your website visitors are finding you, and through which type of content. After all, data can provide insight, and this insight can help you to map out your SEO and marketing for maximum value.
In August, Google announced the launch of its Google Search Console Insights dashboard.
The new feature from Google combines both Search Console and Google Analytics data so that you can see which of your content performs the best.
The aim of this new Google feature is to help content creators understand how people discover their content and what their audience engage with the most.
In a statement, Google said, “Today we’re starting to roll out a new experience to beta testers: Search Console Insights. It’s a way to provide content creators with the data they need to make informed decisions and improve their content.”
At present Google Search Console Insights is in beta, which means you may not have access immediately to this bounty of data so if you’re not one of the chosen few you’ll have to keep waiting for the global release.
A Bug in the Google Search Results
Google with a bug – sounds about right for 2020!
In August, it was found that a bug in Google wreaked havoc on the search results causing rankings to fluctuate and SEO’s to lose their minds.
Around the world, SEO experts were reporting major glitches in their rankings, taking to forums and social media to try and get to the bottom of the unusual activity.
Luckily, Google held their hands up and confirmed it was, in fact, a real-life 2020 glitch, with a Google Spokesperson commenting that “this is a bug that we are fixing but still in the process of fully diagnosing, so we don’t have specific details to share right now.”
Things are now supposedly fixed, but you may have experienced some disruptions in your own rankings during this period, so it may be wise to check your analytics. In particular, watch out for a massive spike in organic traffic around August 11th.
Google Updates Activity Cards
Google’s knowledge into our user behaviour is going one step further thanks to their new Activity Cards.
Just when you thought your Google activity was lost forever in the ether, Google rolls out an update which means as a user; you can pick up where you left off on your last search.
The update will specifically impact recipes, jobs and products, meaning if you’ve been viewing a particular recipe card or conducting a job search, Google will save the card so you can return to your activity.
Of course, Activity Cards are not completely new to the realm of SEO, as they were introduced in 2019 as a way for users to continue their previous searches.
In past editions, the cards contained links to a users visited pages, along with a carousel of queries that led the user to those pages.
However, this 2020 Activity Cards update will see searches for jobs, recipes and products specifically tailored for, with the inclusion of much richer content. For example, Jobs Activity Cards will reveal the latest job postings since your previous search.
In regards to Recipe Activity Cards, when searching for particular produce specific meals, for example, chicken, Google will list all your previously visited recipes that feature chicken.
Clever, or creepy, we’ll let you decide, but this is yet another way Google is optimising the search experience for users.
Heading Tags Are Critical According to Google
All SEO experts rave about the importance of H1 Headings in content, but it appears that this has now been set in stone by Google’s own John Mueller.
In a recent WebMasters Hangout, John answered a question about the true importance of heading tags and how they should be best optimised.
The first point that was confirmed by John was that headings ARE ranking factors. In fact, John points out that headings provide a signal to Google about what the content is about, and can even help Google in understanding SEO for images.
Mueller said during the Google Hangout, “headings on a page help us to better understand the content on the page. Headings on the page are not the only ranking factor that we have. We look at the content on its own as well. But sometimes having a clear heading on a page gives us a little bit more information on what that section is about.”
Without a doubt, if you haven’t been structuring your content with H1 and H2 tags now is the time to go back through your content. You could be missing a major ranking factor.
WordPress 5.5 Goes Live
WordPress updates are something we often have to roll our eyes at. We wonder what they’re going to have changed next; after all, we saw what happened with the epic fail of Gutenberg.
While WordPress updates are not usually something to write home about, this is one of the biggest updates we’ve seen in a long time, with over 450 improvements and bug fixes.
If your website is currently on WordPress, you will be very happy to know about some of the key features that have been rolled out.
One of the biggest and most useful in WordPress 5.5 goes to the addition of in-built lazy loading.
As we’re all aware by now, website speed is critical for ranking, and WordPress has given website owners a helping hand by providing lazy loading, which makes your website perform faster. Woohoo!
Going even further, and by far one of the cherries on top of this update is Theme and Plugin auto-update.
Any WordPress site owner knows how frustrating it can be where lots of plugins and themes need manually updating. It takes time, and if not done, can leave your website vulnerable to hackers.
All the fear of updates has been resolved in WordPress 5.5 as themes and plugins will now be automatically updated. Phew, that’s one less thing on the to-do-list.
Now there are many more new features in WordPress 5.5, but we want to reveal just one more that’s going to make such a big difference to your SEO performance. Site maps.
A site map allows a publisher to tell search engines where their web pages are, in particular new web pages. Ultimately this helps Google crawl your website faster and know what and where to crawl.
Traditionally site maps are clunky and require you to use third-party apps. However, WordPress 5.5 will now have built-in site maps, meaning website owners will no longer need to use third-party providers.
Facebook Launches Events for Small Businesses
Every business has been negatively impacted by the covid-19 pandemic in some way – unless you sell hand sanitiser or toilet roll.
However, small businesses have had the brunt of the impact. With this in mind, Facebook announced in August that they would be launching an event feature for small businesses.
Facebook has already shown their support to small businesses, as earlier in 2020, they introduced Facebook shops and provided small business grants.
The new paid online events feature yet another attempt by Facebook to help small business survive the pandemic.
At present on Facebook, paid online events is a free product that enables small businesses to set-up paid events or classes online and keep 100% of the revenue.
Plus Facebook has said they will not look to collect any fees for these events for up to a year.