Barry Schwartz – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Fri, 17 Sep 2021 15:03:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 Google explains why it made the title change to the search results /google-explains-why-it-made-the-title-change-to-the-search-results-374501 Fri, 17 Sep 2021 11:49:11 +0000 /?p=374501 Google said it went from using your HTML title tag 80% of the time to 87% of the time in the past couple of weeks.

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Google has confirmed that it not only made a change to what title it shows in the search results but also disclosed how much of a change it actually was. For the past few weeks, Google said it was using your chosen HTML title tag 80% of the time. Now Google said it is using as-is title tags 87% of the time, a seven-point increase: “Title elements are now used around 87% of the time, rather than around 80% before,” Google wrote.

Why the change. “We’ve used text beyond title elements in cases where our systems determine the title element might not describe a page as well as it could. Some pages have empty titles. Some use the same titles on every page regardless of the page’s actual content. Some pages have no title elements at all,” said Google. The company then listed off other reasons why it won’t use your HTML title tag:

  • Half-empty titles (” | Site Name”)
  • Obsolete titles (“2020 admissions criteria – University of Awesome”)
  • Inaccurate titles (“Giant stuffed animals, teddy bears, polar bears – Site Name”)
  • Micro-boilerplate titles (“My so-called amazing TV show,” where the same title is used for multiple pages about different seasons)
  • and more.

Guidance. Google also gave some guidance on how to encourage the search engine to show your HTML titles: “Focus on creating great HTML title elements. Those are by far what we use the most.” Google reshared the help document on titles, that it recommended SEOs read. “Consider the examples in this post to understand if you might have similar patterns that could cause our systems to look beyond your title elements. The changes we’ve made are largely designed to help compensate for issues that creators might not realize their titles are having. Making changes may help ensure your title element is again used. That’s really our preference, as well,” the company also added.

But Google is not done and said, “Our work to improve titles will continue.”

Are titles getting better? Time will tell if these changes Google made actually made things better. We saw some SEOs earlier this week saying the titles were starting to look better. Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz recently published a large case study on the title rewrites as well, but it is hard to say when Google made the changes and when the case study data was pulled from.

Many SEOs are still not pleased with Google making such wide-sweeping changes, even if it was only 20% of the time (and is now 13% of the time). And, this explanation doesn’t cut it for them:

It’d “be great if this is what [Google] was doing but it’s not what they are doing. They need to stop or give us a way to opt out. They take out brand names, move brand names, remove pipes make dashes, take out key terms from several of our good titles etc. Let us opt out,” tweeted Kristine Schachinger, digital strategist and SEO consultant. “Here we go…again,” added Tess Voecks, director of SEO project management at Local SEO Guide.

Others are more optimistic that Google took SEO feedback into consideration: “Wow, this is exactly what I asked for in yesterday’s post: (1) a more conservative approach, and (2) more transparency on the reasons for rewrites. Kudos to Google for listening and adjusting,” said Dr. Pete Meyers. “Interesting clarification of Title Tag ‘Update’ stating Google are trying to improve badly constructed or misleading Titles rather than update all your Title tags. Plenty of evidence to suggest that it has not rolled out perfectly (E.g. below) but I’m sure it’ll improve,” added Dan Nutter, head of SEO at Clarity At Speed.

Why we care. If you noticed changes to your click-through rate from the Google search results, it may be related to these changes. Hopefully, those changes are positive since it is a win-win for Google to provide titles that its searchers want to click on. If not, Google said it will keep making improvements. It’s critical that SEOs continue to provide feedback on the adjustments to the title tag system as well as any changes that play out in real-time.

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New technology from Apple & others help me plug in; Wednesday’s daily brief /new-technology-from-apple-wednesdays-daily-brief-374417 Wed, 15 Sep 2021 14:00:00 +0000 /?p=374417 Plus more on Google search-related changes that you may have missed.

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Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, don’t you just love new technology? If you’ve been following me throughout my career, you will know that I love the latest gadgets and technology. I am an early adopter. Heck, I am typing this newsletter while wearing the new Ray-Ban and Facebook smart glasses — not kidding.

Yesterday was a special day for me – Apple announced the new iPhone 13 and various new technology advancements it has been working on over the past year. They have faster chips, faster internet and faster speeds to handle more machine learning and AI. These devices are attached to us, not just sitting in our pockets but strapped onto our wrists (Apple Watch) and our heads (Ray-Ban – Facebook glasses).  

Personally, I am excited to play with these new toys. Not only because they are new, but because I love talking to my smart devices in different ways. I close my blinds with my Apple Watch. I take photos and place phone calls with my Facebook smart glasses. I use my phone all day for work, and I talk to Siri and Google Assistant in my car or on the go. The neat part of what Apple is doing is that it is leveraging the processing power on the device to keep some of your queries private and give you some of the answers you are looking for without sending that data to Apple or a third-party company. 

I am plugged into the matrix, in a huge way. But that doesn’t mean I am always connected. Tonight is Yom Kippur, and I’ll be offline, completely disconnected like I am every Saturday on Shabbat. Disconnecting is important but, honestly, I can’t wait to plug back in because of the convenience and efficiency these devices give me. It’s just perfect for my work ethic and personality.

Barry Schwartz,
Apple fanboy and early adopter

Unique product identifiers needed for free Google Merchant Center listings

Today you must now include unique product identifiers (UPIs) in your product feeds with Google Merchant Center for your free listings.

“In order to unify the enforcement of UPIs across programs, specifically the enforcement for multiple different products that use the same GTIN, we’re expanding this enforcement and applying it to products listed in free listings,” Google said.

This enforcement begins today: “Beginning September 15, 2021, the following enforcement will apply to products shown in free listings.”

Read more here.

Unconfirmed Google search algorithm update between 9/9 and 9/12

We had this unusual unconfirmed Google search ranking algorithm update between Sept. 9 and Sept. 12, Thursday through Sunday, over the weekend. Google did not confirm they pushed any type of ranking change but a lot of signals point to some sort of update. I doubt it is related to a typical weekend or even the 9/11 weekend event but you never know.

At the Search Engine Roundtable, I posted examples of the signals I found around why I think there was this prolonged Google update. That includes a lot of the various “chatter” from within the SEO industry and how all of the automated tracking tools showed large volatility over that time period.

Why we care. If you saw ranking changes between these dates, you should know you are not alone. It is unclear what changed, though, since Google won’t confirm or talk about this update. But it does seem that many in the industry noticed changes over that time period.

Read more here.

Former Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone is Yahoo’s next CEO

Remember Ask Jeeves? Now known as Ask.com? Well, the CEO former Ask.com executive for seven years, Jim Lanzone, was appointed the next CEO of Yahoo. I’ve personally known Jim for about two decades now, and it is amazing to see his career path. From going to a startup to a product manager at Ask.com, seeing Ask Jeeves rebrand to Ask.com, being acquired by IAC under Barry Diller, then becoming the CEO of CBS Interactive, then the CEO of Tinder and now the CEO of Yahoo. Wow!

Plus, there’s the irony in seeing the former head of Ask.com, a popular legacy search engine from the early 2000s now take the helm of Yahoo, another very popular legacy search engine from the early 2000s is amazing.  

Congrats Jim – much success!

Read more here.

Lead generation forms, content visibility CSS and Google site quality

Lead generation forms on pages. Did you know that it is possible Google may consider your lead generation call to action form on your site can be considered an ad? If the lead generation form is off-topic from the content on that page, Google may, probably rarely, consider that to be an ad.

Content visibility CSS and Google Search. Google’s John Mueller said it is unlikely that the new content-visibility CSS property would have any significant impact on your rankings in Google Search. Maybe a slight speed bump with the CRuX data but that would not be a huge impact, John said.

Google site quality. “When it comes to overall site quality, it’s not the quality of the missing pages from indexing, it’s the whole site,” John Mueller said on Twitter. So don’t just look at the pages not being indexed, it can even be a result of the pages Google did index.

Site themes and SEO. Google’s John Mueller explained that website themes can impact SEO and he explained why this can happen in this new video.

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

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Google to enforce unique product identifiers on free merchant listings /google-to-enforce-unique-product-identifiers-on-free-merchant-listings-374406 Tue, 14 Sep 2021 11:34:02 +0000 /?p=374406 Starting on September 15, 2021, Google said it will begin to enforce the requirement of products having unique product identifiers in the merchant feeds for free listings.

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Google will start enforcing the requirements to have unique product identifiers on your product listing feeds with Google Merchant Center tomorrow, September 15, 2021, the search company announced.

What are unique product identifiers (UPIs). Google said a unique product identifier, also known as UPIs, are considered products that include Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs), and brand names in the product feed you submit to Google Merchant Center.

Enforcement begins tomorrow. Google said “in order to unify the enforcement of UPIs across programs, specifically the enforcement for multiple different products that use the same GTIN, we’re expanding this enforcement and applying it to products listed in free listings.”

This enforcement begins tomorrow, Google said, “beginning September 15, 2021, the following enforcement will apply to products shown in free listings.”

What enforcement will occur? Google said it may disapprove product feeds if they do not have UPIs. Google said “different products that use the same GTIN with the same variant attributes will be considered ambiguous and will be disapproved.” This includes “variant attributes” that include condition [condition] and multipack [multipack] for all products, as well as color [color] and [size] for apparel products, the company said. Also, Google said “if a group of products are identified as duplicates, only one will remain active and eligible to show in free listings.”

Why we care. If you are taking advantage of the free Google Merchant Center and you are not using UPIs on your products in those feeds, you may soon start seeing those products being rejected and disapproved. Your next steps is to ensure you have UPIs on those products in those feeds. You can find a list of these approved unique product identifiers over here in the Google help docs.

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Bing content submission API now available to all /bing-content-submission-api-now-available-to-all-374248 Fri, 03 Sep 2021 16:30:00 +0000 /?p=374248 Now you can push your content and HTML directly to Bing Search without the need for crawling.

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Microsoft has opened up its Bing content submission API after over two and half years of it being in a private beta. The content submission API is different from the Bing URL submission API, in that the content submission API lets you submit not just your URLs but also your content, images, HTML and more directly to Bing’s index.

Microsoft said “the API provides the ability for webmasters to notify Bing directly about the changes in their site content in real-time.”

Bing Content Submission API. The Content Submission API is a method that enables websites to directly send content to Microsoft Bing whenever website contents is updated or created without waiting for BingBot crawl. This is different from the URL submission API. With the URL submission API you only can send URLs for Bing to crawl and index. With the Content Submission API you not only send the URL but you send along the your HTML, content, images and so on directly to Bing to index, technically bypassing the crawling process completely.

Open to all. After expanding the beta version of this in May, Microsoft said “with an overwhelming response and great feedbacks from website owners who had adopted the API, we are pleased to announce that Bing Content Submission API is now open for all to implement and to start sending their content changes to Bing, not only to reach more relevant users on Bing but also to reduce bingbot crawl load on their sites.”

API documentation. You can learn more about how to technically send this information to the Bing API within the Bing API docs. Here is a screenshot of a JSON request example:

Why use it. Bing says it not only helps you get your content and pages into Microsoft Bing Search faster but also “will reduce BingBot crawl load on your sites.”

How to get started. Microsoft said you will need to request an API key within Bing Webmaster Tools. This API key can be generated from Bing Webmaster Tools by following these steps:  

  1. Sign in to your account on Bing Webmaster Tools. In case you do not already have a Bing Webmaster account, sign up today using any of Microsoft, Google or Facebook ID.
  2. Add & verify the site that you want to submit URL for through the API, if not already done. 
  3. Click on Settings button on top right corner and then go to API Access section. If you are generating the API key for the first time, please click Generate to create an API Key. Else you will see the key previously generated

The company shared code examples in its API docs on how to submit this content through the API.

Why we care. This solution not only helps expedite indexing for your new or updated URLs like the Content Submission API offered, but it also bypasses the crawling of that content and lets you submit content directly to the search engine. This solution might be something you want to test out on your sites or client sites and see if it makes a big difference on indexing and your server resources.

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Google page experience update is now rolled out /google-page-experience-update-is-now-rolled-out-374237 Thu, 02 Sep 2021 19:01:47 +0000 /?p=374237 The Google News app changes have about a week more to go.

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Google confirmed that it completed the page experience update rollout today. This includes the updates to the Top Stories carousel on mobile search but the Google News app changes won’t be done for a week, say Google reps.

Google began rolling out the page experience update on June 15th and told us it would be completed by the end of August. It technically was not finished before the end of August and has about a week more to go, but it is essentially done.

The announcement. “The page experience rollout is complete now, including updates to Top Stories mobile carousel. Changes to Google News app have started to roll out as well and will be complete in a week or so,” Google announced on Twitter.

No huge ranking changes. As a reminder, you should not have seen huge ranking changes in Google Search for this release. This was a slow rollout and Google originally said do not expect drastic changes: “While this update is designed to highlight pages that offer great user experiences, page experience remains one of many factors our systems take into account… Given this, sites generally should not expect drastic changes,” said Google.

Do not confuse with core updates. Do not confuse the page experience update, that uses core web vitals as a signal, with core updates. They are unrelated and do not influence each other. In fact, the June 2021 core update just finished rolling out on June 12. The core updates are felt more in terms of ranking fluctuations by sites in Google Search than would this page experience update.

Why we care. Most of you have been waiting for this update to roll out for now over a year. It is now done rolling out. Again, do not expect big ranking changes from this rollout and do not confuse it with ranking changes due to the core update we had in June and the core update we are expecting in July.

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Search marketing in the dark: Google, give us more data!; Wednesday’s daily brief /search-marketing-in-the-dark-google-give-us-more-data-wednesdays-daily-brief-374176 Wed, 01 Sep 2021 14:00:00 +0000 /?p=374176 Also Google said HTML title tags still used for ranking purposes.

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Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, we expect Google to make changes, that is why so many of us love the search space. But figuring it out in the dark is not fun.

Anyone who has been in the search marketing industry for any period of time knows that one constant is change. Google is changing algorithms, user interfaces, and features all the time.  We are changing our sites, while competitors are launching new sites or modifying their own.  We embrace change and leverage change for our benefit.

But approaching it in the dark, in such a data-centric world, is not fun. As you will see below, we lost a significant amount of data in the performance report in Search Console last week.  Measuring the impact of our changes or Google’s changes (i.e., title changes) is hard enough, but harder when there is data loss.

If Google wants to make these changes, which some believe are massive and disruptive, at least give us the data to see how it impacts our click-through rates, positions and our bottom lines. In 2021, there is no reason to keep us in the dark when the data is so available. Show us the before and after titles, show us the before and after CTR and let us be able to opt out of those title changes.

Barry Schwartz,
Eyes wide open reporter

Google ads to drop expanded text ads for responsive search ads

Starting June 30, 2022, responsive search ads will be the only Google Search ad type that can be created or edited in standard Google Search campaigns, the company announced.  That means you will no longer be able to create new ETAs or edit existing ETAs in Google Ads. “Your existing expanded text ads will continue to serve alongside responsive search ads, and you’ll still see reports on their performance going forward. Additionally, you’ll be able to pause and resume your expanded text ads or remove them if needed. You’ll also still be able to create and edit call ads and Dynamic Search Ads,” said the announcement.

Why we care. This is the latest move that Google is making to push automation through their ad products. The announcement says that, “15% of search queries every day are new searches we’ve never seen before” and therefore “Automation is key to keeping pace with these trends.” Many advertisers do use RSAs well, but they also like having the control and capabilities that ETAs offer. The future phase-out of ETAs means advertisers are moving further away from direct control over their accounts and having to work with the Google Ads machine learning and AI.

Read more here.

Google lost some data in Search Console’s performance report

When you are looking at the performance report in Search Console, you will notice an annotation on August 23 and 24 stating that Google lost Search and Discover data between those dates. The data cannot be backfilled and is likely gone forever, Google said. Some sites are seeing huge impressions and click declines, while others are not.  

“An internal problem caused a data loss in Search and Discover performance during this period. Users might see a significant data drop in their performance reports during this period. This does not reflect any drop in clicks or impressions for your site, only missing data in Search Console,” wrote Google.

Why we care. It is important that you annotate this data glitch in your own reporting or client reporting. Google has added an annotation to the Search Console reports but do not forget, that data on from August 23 to 24 is likely gone forever. I would think it is safe to say you had more impressions and clicks on those days than what Google is showing you. But make sure to communicate the data issue with your clients when you do your monthly reporting.

Read more here.

Google still uses your HTML titles for ranking

Just because Google made changes to some of the titles it shows in the search results does not mean Google is not using your HTML title tag for ranking purposes. Google’s John Mueller confirmed that HTML title tags are still a ranking factor and that the title change has nothing to do with ranking. It may impact your click-through rate from the search results, but it should not impact your rank position in Google Search.

“This just changes the displayed titles, it doesn’t change ranking or takes [sic] anything different into account,” John Mueller of Google elaborated.

Why we care. This means the titles you wrote may still be taken into account by Google when it ranks results. So, don’t stop optimizing your titles just because they may change in the search results. That having been said, Google makes ranking changes very often, so you may experience rankings fluctuations, but they won’t be due to title changes.

Read more here.

N95 masks are back for Google Ads and Google Shopping

Google is now reallowing advertisers to promote the sale of N95 and N95 adjacent masks (i.e KN95s, FF2s) in both Google Ads and Google Shopping – both paid and free editions. There is an application process, managed by third-party companies named LegitScript and ProjectN95, to vet merchants looking to list or run ads for respirator mask products on Google Shopping.

  • N95 Adjacent Masks (Global): Google Merchants will be required to apply for approval to list KN95s, FFP2s and KF94s through LegitScript. LegitScript will require additional information on the merchant, supply chain and for certain products will require an independent lab test be conducted for authenticity of claims. 
  • ProjectN95 (US-only, to start): Google Merchants will be required to apply for approval through ProjectN95, Google said Project N95 is the leading rapid response nonprofit organization that acts as the National Clearinghouse for critical PPE and diagnostic tests. 
    • Through ProjectN95, manufacturers will be required to share more information on their business, supply chain and provide documentation of relevant medical certifications (i.e NIOSH).
    • ProjectN95 also adds an additional layer of vetting by reserving the highest-performing surgical N95s for healthcare workers, while providing standard N95s to consumers. 
    • Google said this ensures N95s are being directed to the most critical populations first and is in alignment with federal guidance.  

“Since the beginning of Covid-19, we have prioritized consumer safety and protecting critical mask supplies for healthcare workers. Based on recent guidance from the CDC and FDA stating respirator mask supplies are no longer in a state of emergency, we will begin allowing N95 and N95 adjacent masks from approved manufacturers on Shopping. We believe this will help users find more types of masks to meet their needs while also continuing to protect them from counterfeit goods,” Google told Search Engine Land.

Paywall content is not thin, don’t blindly change your titles and be confident in your rich results

Paywall content. Google’s John Mueller said that “content behind paywalls is not automatically thin, and people can choose different ways to monetize their sites.”

Change your titles. Some are thinking it might be a good idea to change your HTML title tags to what Google is using as titles in the search results.  That probably isn’t the best idea, said John Mueller of Google.

Rich results Google order. I would avoid using multiple rich results markup on the same page, because you kind of want to guide Google which rich result type to use in the search results. Google has no defined order on which rich result type to show, so stick with one, suggests Google.

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

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Google Search Console lost performance report data for August 23rd and 24th /google-search-console-lost-performance-report-data-for-august-23rd-and-24th-374139 Tue, 31 Aug 2021 12:03:43 +0000 /?p=374139 The data won't be replaced or backfilled, as we hoped for.

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Last week, Google had one of its typical reporting issues where we thought maybe the data was delayed due to some pipeline bug. But it turns out the data that was lost, is likely gone forever and won’t be backfilled in the Search Console performance report.

The statement. Google posted a statement saying that between August 23rd and August 24th “an internal problem caused a data loss in Search and Discover performance during this period. Users might see a significant data drop in their performance reports during this period. This does not reflect any drop in clicks or impressions for your site, only missing data in Search Console.”

Lost data. John Mueller of Google said this means that “it looks like this is really data loss and won’t be back-filled.”

Performance report. The Google Search Console performance report is a report many marketers rely on to see how much visibility and traffic Google Search sends a site. It shows you impressions, clicks, average position in search results; click through rate; and any special features (such as rich results) associated with your results. Learn more about this report over here.

Example of data loss. There are plenty of examples on Twitter of shocking graphs showing huge declines in clicks and impressions in the performance report. But you are not alone, many are noticing this as well. The issue is, if the data looks normal to you, I would not assume all the data is there. You are probably missing data and I would think it is safe to assume you had a better performing day than what Search Console is telling you on August 23rd and 24th.

Here is one tweet showing a decline but there are tons:

Why we care. It is important that you annotate this data glitch in your own reporting or client reporting. Google has added an annotation to the Search Console reports but do not forget, that data on August 23rd and 24th is likely gone forever. I would think it is safe to say you had more impressions and clicks on those days than what Google is showing you. But make sure to communicate the data issue with your clients when you do your monthly reporting.

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Title changes in Google Search causing distress; Wednesday’s daily brief /title-changes-in-google-search-causing-distress-wednesdays-daily-brief-351491 Wed, 25 Aug 2021 14:00:00 +0000 /?p=351491 Also Google Shopping bug and Google Ads campaign set up screen.

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Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, over the past week, Google made a small change that impacted some of the clickable titles in the search result snippets, and some SEOs and marketers are having a hard time with the change.

For well over a decade Google has often not shown the title tag in your page’s metadata as the clickable link in the Google search results. But something changed last week with how and when Google shows the title tag versus headers or other content from the page or links. And with that change, it causes a lot of unrest amongst the SEO community.

Both Brodie Clark and Lily Ray covered this in a lot of detail, and I covered when this happened, which was on August 17, and how it is unrelated to passage-based ranking. But rest assured, Google has heard the feedback and is collecting examples of when these titles do not make sense. In fact, Danny Sullivan even said this might lead to more controls within Google Search Console for us to manage our titles in the Google search results better. Who knows if that will end up happening? Andrew Charlton came out with a nice tool to show you how Google is changing your title tags – just keep in mind, a lot of the title tag changes are query dependent. 

My advice: This doesn’t seem to be a huge change. We have already seen Google not use our title tags before and as SEOs, we are awesome at dealing with change. We will adapt and use this to our advantage going forward.

Barry Schwartz,
My title changes a lot

Google Shopping bug leads to large impression drops

Google Ads seemed to have a bug last Friday with Google Shopping in some regions, like the UK, where the shopping listings were not showing up. Some advertisers were claiming drops in their listings from showing up by over 90%, yes, 90% impression drops for Google Shopping campaigns.

Impressions and spend have dropped in Smart Shopping for many UK advertisers starting around August 20, 2021. “A high proportion of UK-based advertisers have seen a drop in impressions, cost and revenue for their PLA campaigns since Friday 20th,” tweeted PPCer Liam Wade. Google Ads Platinum Product Expert Emmanuel Flossie posted in the forums that it’s a known issue.

Why we care. “Assuming it gets fixed, bear in mind that bid strategies will likely be affected and may re-enter learning phases,” tweeted Wade in the initial thread. If your accounts or campaigns have been affected by this issue, it’s critical to communicate to clients and stakeholders that this change is a glitch in their metrics, and not indicative of other issues. It’d also be beneficial to annotate this change in Google Analytics so any KPIs can be caveated in future reports. The bug is also causing advertisers to question the machine learning and automation happening behind the scenes in ads.  Please note, this was fixed on Tuesday late afternoon, so all should be good now.

Read more here.

Google link spam update is finally done rolling out

A full month after Google initially started to roll out the link spam update, the company has finally confirmed the update is complete. Google initially said this update would take only two-weeks. Now a full-month after it was announced, Google’s Danny Sullivan said via the Search Liaison account “the link spam update is now complete.”

Why we care. This might be a hard one to pinpoint for you or your clients, since it took a month to fully roll out. But if you see any changes to your rankings, maybe in a big way, over the last month, it might be related to this new link spam update. Make sure your links are natural and in accordance with Google’s webmaster guidelines. Work on improving your site, so it can naturally attract new links over time.

Read more here.

Google Ads rolling out a new campaign setup screen

Google Ads is rolling out a new ads campaign set up screen that has the steps to set up your campaigns across the left-hand rail of the screen, as opposed to the top of the screen.   This seems to be broadly rolling out now and may surprise some advertisers who have been accustomed to the older version of this screen.

Some advertisers, as you can imagine, are not a fan of this change. It made a lot of industry vets do a double-take and it slowed down their process of setting up new campaigns in Google Ads. We do suspect that advertisers will adapt quickly to this new screen, as time goes on.

Why we care. Don’t be surprised when you see this new Google Ads campaign set up screen. You may have the same reaction as many of your colleagues where it takes you longer to set up the campaigns now because you are not accustomed to where things have moved. But you will quickly learn the change and be able to crank out new campaigns in no time.

Google AdSense new auto-optimize options

Google AdSense has added three new settings to auto-optimize features in your experiments. These new methods include select traffic, block a style and block an experiment.

  • Select traffic: Select the percentage of users that you want to show optimization experiments to.
  • Block a style: Remove an ad style that you don’t want auto-optimize experiments to run on. (AdSense for search only)
  • Block an experiment: Remove types of optimization experiments that you don’t want on your site, for example:
    • Vignette ads and anchor ads (AdSense for content)
    • Standard templates, shopping templates, and search keywords (AdSense for search).

Why we care. Publishers, it is probably worth testing some of these new auto-optimize options for your Google AdSense ads and see if they make an impact on your earnings. You can learn more on how to set these up over here.

Custom metrics in Google Ads, did COVID change SEO, and Crunchbase gets crunched

Google Ads custom metrics. Google has announced the addition of four new metrics, these metrics include Search impression share, Click impression share, Display impression share and all phone call metrics.

Poll: Did COVID change SEO? J. Turnbull asked on Twitter, “did COVID change how we do SEO?” 52.5% said no, COVID did not change how we do SEO. 216% said yes, COVID did change how we do SEO. And 22% said, “it depends.” 

Google crunches Crunchbase. Data from FiveBlocks says that Google is showing results from Crunchbase a lot less often since this past Thursday, August 19th. Why? We are not sure, but that is what the data is showing.

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

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Google confirms it changed how it creates titles for search result listings /google-confirms-it-changed-how-it-creates-titles-for-search-result-listings-351506 Wed, 25 Aug 2021 01:19:23 +0000 /?p=351506 Google no longer uses the query to generate these titles but still uses HTML title tags 80% of the time.

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Google has confirmed that the search engine has changed how it creates titles for search result listings. “Last week, we introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages,” the company said in an announcement on Tuesday.

What changed. Previously, Google often used the query the searcher entered into the search box when formulating the title of the search result snippets. But now, Google said, “generally” it “will no longer” use the query when making these titles. Instead, Google has a new system to generate these titles that the company claims “describe[s] what they are about, regardless of the particular query.”

Google said it is now “making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page.” Specifically, Google is now considering “the main visual title or headline shown on a page.” This is content that site owners often place within <H1> tags, within other header tags, or which is made large and prominent through the use of style treatments, the company explained.

Title tags are still primary. Google said for 80% of the results, the HTML title tags are still the primary way it produces titles. “HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time,” Google wrote.

Why the change? Google said this “update is designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages. In some cases, we may add site names where that is seen as helpful. In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, we might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts.”

Industry coverage. So far, this has been covered in our newsletter a couple of times, and also SEO professionals Brodie Clark and Lily Ray covered this in a lot of detail as well. I covered on my personal blog when this happened, which was on August 17, and how it is unrelated to passage-based ranking.

Google is making tweaks. Google wrote the search company is “already making refinements” to the new title system “based on feedback,” and it promises to “keep working to make it even better over time.” Google has heard the feedback and is collecting examples of when these titles do not make sense. In fact, Danny Sullivan even said this might lead to more controls within Google Search Console for us to manage our titles in the Google search results better. 

Why we care. If you noticed changes to your click-through rate from the Google search results, it may be related to these changes. Hopefully, those changes are positive — “Our testing shows the change we’ve introduced produces titles that are more readable and preferred by searchers compared to our old system,” the company wrote. Although, we have seen some funny and weird examples of titles over the past week or so.

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Google link spam update done rolling out /google-link-spam-update-done-rolling-out-351483 Tue, 24 Aug 2021 18:04:07 +0000 /?p=351483 It took an extra two weeks longer than expected to roll out.

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Google has completed the rollout of the link spam update it started just over four weeks ago. “The link spam update is now complete,” Danny Sullivan said via the Google Search Liaison account.

What took so long. Google originally said this update would “roll out across the next two weeks.” But as you can see, it took an additional two weeks to complete – a total of four weeks. Why did it take so long? Google did not say, but I suspect things got stuck a bit and the rollout hit some unexpected snags.

The original announcement. “In our continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, we’re launching a new link spam-fighting change today — which we call the ‘link spam update.’ This algorithm update, which will roll out across the next two weeks, is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms,” Google wrote.

Nullifying link spam. You can see the word Google used here was “nullifying,” which does not necessarily mean “penalize,” but instead, to ignore or simply not count. Google’s efforts around link spam have been to ignore and not count spammy links since Penguin 4.0 was released in 2016.

Why we care. This might be a hard one to pinpoint for you or your clients since it took a month to fully roll out. But if you see any changes to your rankings, maybe in a big way, over the last month, it might be related to this new link spam update. Make sure your links are natural and in accordance with Google’s webmaster guidelines. Work on improving your site, so it can naturally attract new links over time.

As Google wrote, “Site owners should make sure that they are following the best practices on links, both incoming and outgoing. Focusing on producing high-quality content and improving user experience always wins out compared to manipulating links. Promote awareness of your site using appropriately tagged links, and monetize it with properly tagged affiliate links.”

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