Good morning, happy Tuesday.

In a follow up to our earlier coverage, Barry Schwartz dove in deep with an examination of what the Wall Street Journal got wrong in its report on Google search last week. Barry heard from Glenn Gabe, who was misquoted in the WSJ piece, and from Rand Fishkin as well as others who, like Barry, had spoken with the WSJ writers about how Google search works months ahead of publication. It’s worth your time. 

In ads news, check to see if combined audiences are enabled in your Google Ads accounts. The new option is rolling out and allows you to build personas by layering affinity, in-market, retargeting, demographic and other audiences available in Google Ads with “And” functions. You can also exclude audiences for further precision. Happy persona building. 

Google Maps is getting some social treatment with the ability to follow Local Guides, the legion of contributors to Google Maps. Users will be able to see Local Guides’ recommendations of places to go and things to do from the “For You” tab in the Google Maps app — it is essentially a local discover feed, reports Greg Sterling. 

Read on for a Pro Tip from local search expert Joy Hawkins on a recent algorithm update.

Ginny Marvin

Pro Tip

Local SEOs still seeing volatility in ranking after latest update

“The changes we’re seeing in the local results (Google Maps packs) seems very different from the last major update we got in Local SEO. I haven’t seen this many drastic changes since Possum in 2016, which was a huge change to the way Google treated proximity,” explains Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky.

“For this update, the changes I’m noticing are mainly related to relevance. Specifically, I’m noticing that Google is doing a lot better job of understanding a broader set of search terms that apply to a single business. Previously, Google has always weighted Google My Business categories extremely high. Having the right categories could either make or break your ranking. Similarly, the primary category would influence ranking at a much higher rate than the additional categories. With this update, I’m seeing some changes to that.”

See examples »


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Search Shorts

Another Google search ranking update this weekend?

Google Search Update. Yet again this weekend, there is more chatter and signs of yet another Google search algorithm ranking update. We are watching it and will let you know if Google says anything.

Chrome mixed content. Google warns about the Chrome mixed content change. Does it affect your site’s Googlebot rendering? Probably not!

Queries and intent. Here is a good line from John Mueller of Google: “those are different queries, with differing intents, and probably different competition. I don’t see it unexpected that the rankings would differ, perhaps even significantly.”


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What We're Reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader

5 Useful PPC Bid Management Tips – Search Engine Guide

Cortana to Be Removed from Non-U.S. App Stores, Directing Users to Microsoft 365 for Productivity Assistant – Voicebot

Discover new places with help from top Local Guides – Google Blog

Find Hidden Budget to Fund New Marketing Initiatives – Seer Interactive

Former Googler: Often Someone Assumed Google Took Action But Didn’t – Search Engine Roundtable

Google Ads & Machine Learning Transparency – PPC Hero

Google is scaling back its weekly all-hands meetings after leaks, CEO tells staff – The Verge

Google search will now give you feedback on your pronunciation – The Verge

Rewriting Queries Based Upon Entities at Nearby Locations – Go Fish Digital

So, what happens when they Google you? – Five Blocks

The Content Distribution Playbook – Whiteboard Friday – Moz