We may have reached the Summer holidays, but that doesn’t mean the digital world is taking a break. Oh no, instead things have been moving and shaking in the world of SEO as Google, Bing and social brands adapt to the ‘new normal’ we’re starting to find ourselves in.
To help you get a grasp on everything that’s changed in SEO & Marketing in July, we’ve listed the hottest changes from the digital world that may have some impact on your business in the coming months.
SEO & Marketing Updates
You should know by now that nothing ever remains the same in SEO.
In July we’ve seen some more updates from Google that could mean major improvements for your Googe My Business Listings, and some sage words from Google’s top man, John Mueller on where you should be putting your SEO focus.
Focus on Your Users Not on ‘Link Juice’
Links are a fundamental ranking factor, but are too many businesses putting their focus too much on this area and not creating a website that supports their users?
In July, Google’s John Mueller answered a big question on the topic of link juice.
For those of you unsure of what ‘link juice’ means; link juice is a non-technical term used to describe the SEO value of a hyperlink to a website or webpage. Every link has a value from 0 to 100. The higher the quality of the link, the more ‘juice’ your website or webpage gains.
Anyway, back to the question in hand.
A web owner on Twitter asked John Mueller about how to direct link juice on their website. I.e., linking from pages across their own website.
While the question was about how to structure your links to get the best possible ranking ability, Google’s John Mueller was quick to turn the question around.
In John’s opinion, this person appears to be trying to do extra work when, in fact, there are other areas they should be putting their attention on.
John Mueller agrees that internal linking is important, but actually what this person should be focussing on is how users are interacting with the website in the first place.
Instead, John recommended that this site owner looks at conversions, user experience, and accessibility.
Success should be stimulated from making a site popular with users, not primarily for Google.
So there you have it, folks, don’t get caught up in a link juice rampage, put your effort into building a site your visitors love.
Bing New WebMaster Tools Launches
Poor Bing, it may not be the popular kid in the search engine world, but people are still using it, which means it’s always essential to know what’s going on and how to ensure you’re keeping ranks high in the playing field.
On July 30th 2020, Bing launched a new version of Bing WebMaster Tools, supporting site owners with SEO and insights on how they can rank better within the search engine.
The core updates for Bing WebMaster Tools sees the addition of URL Inspection, Site Scan and Robotos.txt Tester.
The URL Inspection is currently under beta test, so there may be a few hiccups right now. But mostly, this tool has been created to identify guideline violations and indexing issues.
The Site Scan is an incredibly helpful tool for any site owner as this technical SEO tool alerts you to common problems like missing metadata, 404 errors, missing alt attributes and on-page issues like the use of multiple H1 titles.
The Robots.txt Tester allows you to discover misconfigurations in the Robots.txt file. Another convenient SEO tool if you want to stick to the book with your ability to rank.
While these tools might sound good, this is only scratching the surface. Bing has turned up the dial on what it’s offering compared to Google.
Unlike Google Search Console, Bing’s Webmaster Tools provides you with the ability to backlink check your competitors. For those seeking to get competitive and ramp up their digital marketing, this is a golden key.
Is Google Analytics Used for Ranking?
A comment on Twitter in July sparked a response from John Mueller to comment on whether Google Analytics data is used for ranking purposes.
There have always been ‘allegations’ that Google uses Google Analytics data for its own purposes. But could this data be influencing ranks?
Even in Google Analytics terms of service, it states, “Google may use the data collected via Google Analytics.”
However, after a tweet from a web owner, Google’s WebMaster Help Analysts John Mueller stepped in to squash the rumours.
John confirmed that “Google does not use Google Analytics in search”. He went on to say, “Google Analytics and Search Console track data quite differently. Search Console track what’s shown in Search. Google Analytics tracks what happens when a user goes to a site. There’s overlap, but it’s not exact.”
Commission-Free Sales from Google eCommerce
Ecommerce has boomed during the covid-19 pandemic, but Google has decided to go a step further to help retailers capture those vital sales.
In July, Google confirmed it is making it free for retailers to sell products in search results by waiving fees for sales made through the ‘Buy on Google’ option.
The ‘Buy on Google’ is currently a payment option that can be found in the ‘Shopping’ listings, which enables users to buy products without leaving the Google search results.
Just as with other online payment providers, Google has always charged a commission fee for sales made through its shopping listing. However, now in a pilot launch, Google is no longer charging commission fees when users purchase a product through the ‘Buy on Google’ option.
For online retailers, this could be a huge support to attract customers during this time, especially when other third-party providers such as Shopify are still charging high commission rates.
If you haven’t looked at turning this option on for your own eCommerce website, we highly recommend you test it out. People are always buying on Google, so make it easier for them and capture those new customers.
Google set to Upgrade My Business Listings
We rave intensively about the why it’s important to have a Google My Business Listing, but now it seems this Google feature is getting a shiny new upgrade.
While Google has not ‘officially’ launched the program, there’s been word on the street that Google has been rolling out a test version to selected local businesses.
Rumours have it that the upgrade will cost $50 per month for selected new features.
As this begins to roll out, it will be interesting to see how this influences users to select businesses with a ‘Google Guarantee’ compared to competitors without one.
Trust is a critical factor in purchasing decisions, so could this be the Google trust-factor that increases customers to shift to a Google verified business? Only time will tell.
Google Launch Mortgage Information Search
Property and finance websites might be shaking in their boots to hear that Google has launched a mortgage information search.
As we all know, anything related to mortgage questions is highly searched for in Google, so it seems logical that the search engine will support users in getting this information quicker.
Teaming up with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new mortgage search tool will be available on mobile searches.
Only available in the US currently, the mortgage search feature is a way to support users conducting high-level mortgage search queries to more specific information.
While Ads will still remain about the mortgage tool, organic listings have been dropped to below Google features.
When searching for mortgage-related queries, users will now be faced with a variety of tools from Google, including;
- A mortgage calculator
- A mortgage rate tool
- A step by step mortgage tool
- Videos on how to gain a mortgage
For any website currently ranking for mortgage terms in the mobile searches, this is going to cause some major disruption.
There has been no update from Google as to whether they will roll this out across the UK and Europe. But we can only imagine that if all goes well, this could become a common feature.
Google Prefers YouTube
In July, a report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that Google prefers ranking content from YouTube over other videos sources.
The report discovered that if content from Facebook and other sources was published on YouTube, it would gain favouritism in the video search over the third-party sources.
If these claims are found to be true, Google could yet again see themselves in hot water over anti-competitive behaviour.
The Wall Street Journal conducted its own investigation and found the following data;
YouTube vs Facebook Watch: YouTube is first 95% of the time versus 5% of the time for Facebook.
YouTube vs Twitch: YouTube is first 86% of the time versus 14% of the time for Twitch.
YouTube vs. Dailymotion: YouTube is first 82% of the time versus 18% of the time for Dailymotion.
The Wall Street Journal, even deliberately chose content with more engagement on other platforms, in an effort to see if Google manipulated the results in Google search.
At present, these are all claims, but the data is very clear. If you want your video to rank, get it on YouTube.
Google Creates a New Way to Drive Traffic Via Image Search
A picture says more than a thousand words – and now it seems images could also attract more customers to your website.
In early July, Google announced they would be updating Google Images to support site owners in driving more traffic through their photos.
The update will see Google adding more context to photos in image search results, revealing information about people, places and things related to the image.
Google claims the update is to support searchers explore topics in more detail and help site owners gain more traffic. For example, users will be able to click on the website where the image is featured.
The best part about this is you don’t have to do a thing. Google will automatically enhance your image in the search snippets.
Google Delays Mobile-First Indexing to March 2021
The switch to mobile-first indexing has been at the top of the agenda for marketers and SEO’s for a few years now as Google decided that it would rank mobile versions of websites before desktop.
However, since the outbreak of covid-19 it appears the deadline for the switch has been extended. Which means if you haven’t been working to make your site responsive, now really is your last chance to catch up.
Previously, Google was set to make the switch to mobile-first indexing in September 2020. This meant that all websites would be indexed via their mobile version automatically from September.
Google has revealed that more than 70% of websites have already made the switched, however as the global pandemic is still causing disruption, they have decided to extend the switch over to the end of March 2021.
Mobile indexing is still on the cards, and if you’ve not made the changes yet, this will cause major disruption for your website in 2021. A word to the wise, make this your SEO priority.