Google, the premier search engine for the Internet, has released several updates to its services over the past quarter to continue its mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
This time around Google has focused on making search results clearer and more informative for users by introducing features, like author properties for article pages, UPIs for products beings sold, new webpage title generation techniques, new rich results for the travel and leisure industry, and much more. With all these new features and updates, it looks like Google is going to provide users with a highly intuitive experience on the search engine. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major updates to Google in Q3 2021.
Google Algorithm updates
1. Page Experience Rollout
The rollout of the Page Experience algorithm is now complete. This algorithm update will not affect most pages as it is not a standalone ranking factor but rather a tiebreaker. Google also announced that it has removed Safe Browsing from the Page Experience Report. This is because breaches in a page’s safety cannot necessarily be attributed to the website owner, and they should not be penalized for it.
2. Link Spam Update
Websites that use sponsored links, affiliate links, guest and social posts as monetization techniques will need to qualify these links. This update was introduced to curb spam links that are included on these sites which can lead to a poor experience for users. This new update will check websites using poor link building strategies to manipulate SERPs, therefore, it is important to employ Google’s best practices for link building strategies.
Google Search updates
1. Non-AMP pages are now eligible to appear on Google News
Articles no longer need to be in an AMP format to appear in the Top Stories box in Google News. This broadens the spectrum of topics and articles that feature in this section and can be a great way to improve visibility.
2. Google Adds Author Properties to Article Type Schemas
Google has updated its article schema to now include links to the author’s information and show that the piece of content is an original work. This helps Google distinguish between article writers that have the same or similar names. The author.url property can be found in the Article Schema, so pages that already have this schema deployed can just add a link to the author’s bio page.
Google has not provided recommendations for the link to be provided in this case, but it is assumed that a bio page on the same domain name as the article would be preferred. It is important to keep this updated as Google’s Quality Raters manually look for the source of articles and if there is too much ambiguity related to the author of the article it can lead to the page being marked as a low-quality page. The sameAs schema can be deployed for including the author’s bio as well.
3. Google Enforces Unique Product Identifiers for Google Merchant Center
Since mid-September Google has begun enforcing the requirement to provide Unique Product Identifiers (UPIs) for all products being advertised through Google Merchant Center. This can help reduce duplicate or counterfeit products being displayed on Google. Google has 6 different UPIs that can be used, namely
Universal Product Code (UPC):
This is a 12-digit code that is primarily used in North America. This is also called GTIN – 12 or UPC – A.
European Article Number (EAN):
This is typically a 13-digit code that acts as an identifier, but in certain cases can carry either 14 or 8 digits as well. This UPI is used outside North America and is also known as GTIN – 13.
Japanese Article Number (JAN):
This is either an 8 or 13-digit unique identifier that is used only in Japan. This too is also referred to as GTIN – 13.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN):
As the name suggests this UPI is primarily for the identification of published books. ISBN – 13 is the most used UPI for books that is a 13-digit code which typically starts with 978 or 979.
The brand of the product and this needs to be clearly displayed on the packaging or label.
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN):
This is an alphanumeric code of varying lengths and is used globally. This is primarily used by product and component manufacturers.
4. Google Merges Smart Display Ads with Standard Displays Ads
Google will now provide users with all the features of display ads with the addition of being able to control the level of automation across bidding, creatives, and audiences. The new merger will allow users to set the level of automation they require and change automation settings at any time without having to create a new campaign.
5. Google Updates Webpage Title Generation for Search Results
Google is now creating titles for webpages to better describe what the page is about and how it is relevant to the search query. Google has gone beyond HTML text and now uses human-readable text that appears on a webpage to create titles. The main reason for this update is to make search results more relevant to users by providing appropriate H1 tags for SERPs.
6. Google Launches Ticket Booking Links, Eco-Friendly Badge, and Things To Do Type of Ads for Travel Industry
The Hotel and Travel industries were among the most highly impacted sectors as a result of the pandemic, and to help these sectors recover Google has introduced new features that are targeted towards search queries related to these industries. Google has now rolled out new ticket booking links in search results, ‘Things to do’ type of ads and eco-friendly badges for certain hotels. Let’s take a closer look at these features.
Ticket booking links:
Google now displays booking links for hotels and tours when a user searches for attractions or hotels in a region. In the coming months Google is planning to roll this feature out for a wider audience looking for things like experiences, such as, wine tasting in Paris or horse riding in Texas.
Using independent organizations like EarthCheck and Green Key, Google now awards eco-friendly badges to hotels and other businesses that display a prominent level of sustainability and eco-friendliness. The eco-friendly badge appears next to the search result and more information can be found in the About page of the business profile.
Things To Do:
This is a new paid feature launched by Google. Using the inventory feed of a page, Google auto-formats ads for the ‘Things To Do’ section. These ads will be targeted to users seeking tours, activities, and other attractions in the region and will show images, reviews, pricing, and even booking links. Ads can be targeted to individuals based on the country from which the query is sent and the device type used for the query.
7. Google Moves Towards Data-Driven Attributes (DDA) to Track Ad Performance
Google has been using ‘Last Click’ as a metric to see how customers are interacting with ads for the longest time, but is now moving towards DDA. DDA allows Google to see which elements of an ad customers are interacting with rather than where on the ad they are clicking. By comparing the interaction patterns of customers that performed a transaction against users that landed on an ad and did not perform a transaction Google can get a clearer picture of user intent on an ad and which elements are users interacting with the most. This also provides a picture of which ad group and campaign are the most effective.
Google Ads Update
Google Ads Editor 1.7
The new update to Google Ads Editor now provides full support for Hotel Ad campaigns, audio ads on YouTube and allows owners to download portions of their ad campaigns to work on offline. Apart from this Google Ads Editor now fully supports the following extensions:
- Lead form extensions
- Asset-based sitelink extensions, also known as “Sitelinks (upgraded)”
- Asset-based structured snippet extensions, also known as “Structured snippet extensions (upgraded)”
- Asset-based callout extensions, also known as “Callout extensions (upgraded)”
- Related videos extensions for Video campaigns
As Google releases updates regularly to make the user journey more valuable, at Milestone we enhance our offerings to give businesses complete control over their online presence and take maximum advantage of the latest features across search engines. To know more about how your business can be visible on search and keep up with the latest, contact us at [email protected] or call us at 408-200-2211.
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Ask our experts
Does schema help with BERT?
Google rolled out BERT towards the end of 2019 and called it their biggest algorithm update in almost 5 years, since RankBrain. BERT was basically the stamp that Google had moved past indexing pages based on keywords, and juggernauts to index entities rather, as entities are language agnostic – giving search an overhaul. With the focus shifting to entity optimizations, schemas play an integral role as they function in entity recognition by giving search engine bots context of the website content and the relationship between entities on the website.
What is BERT? What should I do about it?
To mark the shift of indexing entities, Google rolled out the algorithm. The BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a deep learning algorithm that is rooted with natural language processing to help search engines understand the nuances of languages and not merely deliver results based on keywords.
Following the roll-out, Google immediately stated that there isn’t anything that a website can do to optimize for BERT, but if the content is conversational, answers a query online directly, and relatable, it will be picked up. To sum up, content has to be of quality, conversation and straight to the point.
What are best practices for a good page experience?To create a good page experience for customers, you want to focus on the following key areas:
- Make sure your page loads quickly. Slow loading pages and pages that customers cannot interact with right away hurt the page experience, as defined by Google.
- Verify your mobile usability. You do not want the mobile version of your page to produce any errors for customers on their devices. Make sure all aspects of your mobile version have been correctly implemented.
- Verify that you have HTTPS enacted.
Google has mentioned that the Page Experience rollout can impact page rankings as more than just a tie breaker. This means site owners should take these best practices to heart and make sure their pages have been adequately prepared.
How can I measure Page Experience?
Site owners can access reports on the Page Experience they provide customers directly from the Google Search Console. The report will provide you with a clear summary of the typical experience of customers on your site. The summary will explore the area of core web vitals, mobile usability, and HTTPS.
You can use this report to see how Google views your site. If you find yourself with a less desirable score, then you will want to dig more deeply to find the source of the problem and correct it. Page Experience is now considered a running factor on the SERP.