Welcome back to the Google News Digest. Once again, we are going to break down the latest news for Google Search, Google Ads, and Google Tools that have taken place in the last two weeks. Key updates include the release of SEO guidelines for AMP stories, changes to the performance requirements for the Google Partner Program, and Google’s removal of 600 apps as part of its ongoing ad fraud initiative.
SEMrush Sensor shows volatility has slowed down a bit — whew. 😊 We will see how long that lasts.
So let’s get started with articles to learn from, and then move into all the latest information you need to know.
Articles to Learn From
Google Search News
Keywords In Google My Business Descriptions Don’t Guarantee Ranking Improvement
Google has stated on Twitter that keywords in your Google My Business descriptions aren’t ‘guaranteed’ to play a role in rankings. This was after Google removed information from a Google My Business help document, which said it did, but then swiftly updated the page after many unhappy local SEOs said that relevant keywords had no impact.
Previously, the document said:
On February 13th, Google changed the document, removing the following sentence “Think about the words customers would type to find your business, and make sure that your listing actually includes those keywords within it.”
Since removing this sentence from the document, there has been an additional update from Google on Twitter:
Hi there! The information in question is accurate. While it’s not guaranteed to improve the ranking, it could, depending on other factors, as well as information that is found online associated with the business. Send us a DM if you have any questions. Thanks! -Brad
— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) February 19, 2020
Source: Google My Business: Keywords In Descriptions Don’t Guarantee Ranking Improvement; But They Could.
Google Beta Testing Licensing Information On Images
Google is going to start beta testing a feature that allows websites to show licensing information about content that shows in Google Images.
Soon, we will begin beta testing a new way for sites to display licensing information about content that appears in Google Images. The new badging and license information display isn’t live yet, but you can prepare your content for it now. Learn more: https://t.co/dPGAP2cM1t pic.twitter.com/yueftWRGwL
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 20, 2020
This includes how a user can use the image, which will be through a link to the image license on Image Viewer. While this license information display on Images is not available yet, it is possible for website owners to prepare for its arrival by providing metadata in advance to each licensable image on your website. You can do this by:
Adding structured data whenever the image is used on your site. Google has said that structured data will need to be added for every instance the image is used on your website
IPTC photo metadata; embedded into the image itself, and this only needs to be done once for each image
Here is a screenshot showing how license information will appear in Google Images
Source: Google Search Liaison; Image License Metadata in Google Images (BETA)
SEO Guidelines Released for AMP stories
Recommendations regarding SEO for AMP stories have been released this month. AMP stories are much like the stories featured on Instagram and Facebook, but the major difference is that they can be indexed and appear on Google search results.
AMP stories are also web pages, linkable, have their own URL, and can link to other web pages too.
In terms of SEO for stories, users are advised to
“Do all the SEO things you would do for any other page on your website. If it helps rank your non-Story pages, it’ll probably help the Stories as well.”
SEO recommendations for stories by the AMP Dev Blog:
URL format: It isn’t necessary to indicate in the URL that it is using an AMP Stories format.
Image descriptions: Use approximate alt-text for indexability of stories, as recommended for all web pages.
Page attachments: Provide additional detail for the content that appears in your story.
Metadata: Include all markup that you would usually use for a web page (title, schema.org, OGP, description, Twitter card, etc.).
Video subtitles: Provide subtitles or captions.
Video-only stories: Use semantic HTML to build up AMP stories.
Desktop: whilst stories are mostly associated with mobile use; these stories can also work on desktop.
Source: SEO for AMP Stories
Google Image Search Icon Update
Google will be updating image search results for photos on desktop later this week. According to the tweet, this update relates to images from a recipe, video, or product page — the icon displayed will indicate which of these the image is. The icon location will be where image dimensions were previously.
Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan shared how these icons will look:
Danny also pointed out, it will still be possible for users to retrieve image dimension information by selecting the thumbnail when hovering over the image in the larger preview.
Source: Google Search Liaison
Google Ads News
New Requirements Coming for Google Partners Badge
Google announced a new Google Partners Program on Feb 13th.
Google will be making changes to the requirements to be considered for a Google Partners Badge status by the end of June 2020. The changes will also include the way your certifications count toward badge and company specialization status. Google provided the changes in a table for you to compare the differences between the current program and the upcoming program.
There was also the announcement of new badges, with businesses needing to first earn the New Partner badge. This is what they look like:
These announcements did not go over well with the industry:
Google responded with some clarifications, but those clarifications were not enough to ease the minds of many.
Source: How to earn the Google Partners badge
Sharing Remarketing Lists in Manager and Sub-Accounts Made Easier
Google Ads recently revealed that for remarketing lists, it will now be possible to set up continuous audience sharing in manager accounts. This means that the need to share them manually will no longer be necessary, making it a considerably quicker and easier process than before.
Below is a screenshot that shows how you can enable this feature:
Once set-up, remarketing lists created in your manager account will be automatically shared with existing and future sub-accounts, and you have control over which lists are active or not.
Google also announced that there would be another new feature with remarketing lists, the ability to share those created in sub-accounts with your manager account. This will become a feature in the coming months.
Source: Easily Share Remarketing Lists Across Your Manager and Sub-accounts
Google Ads Alters Change History Report To Make It Easier To See Campaign Changes
Google Ads has announced tweaks to the change history report to make it easier for users to understand the effect of campaign changes and their overall performance. Now, users can view changes that are annotated in the performance charts.
It is now possible for users to hover over markers in the performance chart of active campaigns to be able to investigate further and better identify the change needed for the campaign.
Google said, “You’ll notice under the performance chart we’ve now also highlighted audience list, optimization goal and asset (only for App campaigns) changes to help you better identify the type of change to investigate.”
Source: Making It Easier To See How Campaign Changes Impact Ads Performance in Google Ads
Google Announces Removal of 600 Apps As Part of Ad Fraud Initiative
Google has revealed it has successfully removed around 600 apps for violating its disruptive ads policy and disallowed interstitial policy; this is part of Google’s continued efforts to tackle Mobile ad fraud and improve the user experience overall.
These apps have been removed not only from the Google Play store but also banned outright from Google Ad Manager and Google AdMob.
To clarify, Google defines disruptive ads as:
“…Ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. While they can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads we’ve seen on the rise is something we call out-of-context ads, which is when malicious developers serve ads on a mobile device when the user is not actually active in their app.”
Source: Disruptive Ads Enforcement and Our New Approach
Google Reveals Key Initiatives It Delivered On In 2019 Against Ad Fraud
As previously mentioned in the update above, challenging ad fraud is something that Google has been doing to “Create a more diverse ecosystem of apps for people to enjoy.” It has been an ongoing process for 20 years, and Google Ads recently announced the key initiatives it delivered on in 2019.
Alongside the removal of almost 600 apps, Google has:
Announced steps to ensure ads that feature in apps for children are appropriate. This includes the Play team updating its inclusion requirement for the Designed For Families program.
Successfully launched the app ads.text. solution back in 2019, to help protect publisher revenue from ad spoofing. Now, the majority of app ad inventory is ads.text-protected.
Google has also announced its areas of focus in the coming months. This includes providing users with more control over their app experience and creating tools for app publishers so they can manage their compliance while reducing the potential risk of lost revenue.
Source: Protecting the mobile app ecosystem
Google Tools News
A Way To Remove Postmates Links In Google Local Knowledge Panel Has Been Found
A way to remove faulty links with the company Postmates on the Google local panel has been found. Users had previously reported this had been difficult to remove on the Google My Business dashboard.
On the Google My Business Help forum, Joy Hawkins advised two things for people experiencing this issue:
Source: How To Remove Postmates Links In Google Local Knowledge Panel
Revisions Made To The Change of Address Tool on Google Search Console
New improvements to the Google Search Console Change of Address tool
There have been changes made to the Change of Address tool this month, to help users who are moving domains. Users now get direct validation for the top URLs of the moving domain. Another improvement includes getting a reminder on top of the moving domain as well as the destination domain.
The tool within Search Console enables site owners to tell Google when a website domain has moved to another, or when a site is moving to another subdomain.
This is what Twitter had to say about the news:
Yes, was able to fix an redirect that could not be fixed for 18 months! See the results in google already!
— Wouter Blom – Stramark Online Marketing Bureau (@wouterblom) February 18, 2020
For more information on when to use this to, when not to use this tool, and to get step-by-step instructions on using the tool, visit Change of Address Tool.
Source: Google Webmasters
Titan Security Keys Now Available In 10 Countries
Google’s Titan Security Keys, which provides the toughest account protection for users that may be more vulnerable to phishing attacks, will now be available in 10 countries.
Prior to February 18, 2020, the Titan Security Key bundle with USB-A/NFC and Bluetooth/USB/ NFC was available in Canada, UK, Japan, and France.
Google has announced the USB-C Titan Security Keys will also now be available in these locations, but also in the Google Stores in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland.
Security Keys are a feature of the Advanced Protection Program that is recommended for users who may consider themselves at a higher risk of targeted phishing attacks, bulk phishing attacks, or automated bots.
Using public-key cryptography to provide verification and supporting FIDO standards, they provide the strongest level of protection that is currently offered.
Here is what they look like:
Source: Titan Security Keys – now available in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK
Augmented Reality and Near Field Communications (NFC) to be featured in Chrome 81
Google has revealed that it will be bringing augmented reality and Near Field Communications (NFC) to more users.
This is through Chrome 81 in beta available for Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows — it will include two new features created to support AR.
These are the WebXR Device API and additional support for the WebXR Hit Test API, designed to place objects within a real-world view. Web developers will now have an easier way to give AR to users without having to use native apps.
In terms of the Chrome 81 beta, adding web NFC (a wireless technology used to transfer small amounts of data), it means a web app can both read and write NFC tags.
Source: Chrome 81: Near Field Communications, Augmented Reality, and More
You Can Now Upload Multiple Photos Or Videos To Google Posts
@caseyabryan and @MCreutzberger tweeted to Barry Schwartz about the ability to upload multiple images or videos when creating a post on Google My Business. Before, users were only able to add one photo or video at a time for each post.
Casey showed he had the ability to upload a maximum of ten images or videos at once when adding a new post.
Source: Google Posts Now Supports Multiple Photos & Videos
How to Use Google Search Console to Improve AMP Implementation
In the video below, Daniel Waisberg goes over how to use the Google Search Console to improve your AMP implementation. He also gives a quick intro to AMP, explains why you should use it, breaks down how using it can benefit you in Google Search, and how to detect and fix issues with AMP through Search Console.
That is all for this week’s digest!
What are your thoughts on the latest digest from SEMrush? Do you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share on the new updates or features we’ve spoken about? We’d be delighted to hear your opinions in the comments.