10 min read

For our monthly Google Marketing Platform Sydney meetup, we talked about the latest Google search and tool updates in December.

First, let’s take a look at what’s on our Digital Radar.

Digital Radar

Marketing over Coffee

Marketing over Coffee podcast - Digital Radar

Marketing over coffee is a marketing podcast, audio-on-demand, that covers both classic and new marketing.

Each show is 20 minutes long and routinely covers topics such as staying up to date with social networking, SEO and SEM, email marketing, multivariate testing, copywriting and “old school” offline marketing campaigns.

Digital Marketers Australia Conference

Digital Marketers Australia

Speakers include:

  • Naomi Simson
  • Mike Rhodes
  • Harry Sanders

12,13,14 February 2020

Google Search & Tool Updates December 2019

View the slides here and read on to learn more:


Google Algorithm Updates

Neural Matching for Local Search

Google has added neural matching for Local Search. Many have had local ranking changes over the past month and Google has now confirmed the reports.

Neural matching means Google is better able to understand user intent. So even when a user does not include a business name or description Google can still understand that they’re looking for something local.

Businesses do not need to make any changes to benefit.

Google Search Pulse

Local SEO Update

This is Google’s largest local algorithm update since 2016. It means businesses need to be increasingly vigilant about fighting spam in affected areas.

Since the update businesses have seen drops in Google Maps traffic.

Search Engine Roundtable provided a clear picture:

Possum Local SEO Update - Google Search & Tool Updates December 2019

This ranking update is another proximity update like “Possum” (Google’s update in 2016). Meaning businesses closer to a user performing a discovery search win.

Read more about this update here.

Google Discover: More Traffic for Publishers

Publishers are getting excited about Google Discover. According to Vogue, October saw more users coming from Google Discover than from Google Search. However, more traffic seems to be coming from international editions than US, and there’s a smaller impact for iOS dominated markets.

While traffic from Discover is still erratic for most, it’s a promising platform for Publishers as it could build loyalty and habit among readers as early data suggests that each user’s Discover feed is personalised based on content they’ve searched for in the past and content users have read in other Google products, such as Google News.

Google Discover: Google Search and Tool Updates December


Product Result Filter in Performance Report

You can now dig deeper into how your product rich results are doing in Search. The new product result filter in your Performance Report in Google Search Console captures and displays click and impression data when rich results display based on your use of product rich results markup.

Product Results - Google Search and Tool Updates December


Google Search Console Speed Report

Another new addition to Google Search Console is the Speed Report. This report helps you find URLs that may have speed performance issues. This tool should be used for monitoring performance over time and to track your fixes.

The report is broken down by mobile and desktop and the number of slow, moderate and fast URLs. Users are able to isolate their slow URLs and see tips for improvements.

Google Search Console Speed Report


Preview Recipes on Google Home Hub Devices

You can now use the Rich Results test to preview your results on Google Home and Smart displays. As more and more users are turning to their Assistant devices, it’s important to understand how your recipe markup is seen on these displays.

Google Home Hub Recipe Rich Results


Google Search Console Training Series on YouTube

There’s a new Google Search Console training series on YouTube which will teach you everything from the basics, such as getting started, verifications, reports and settings.


Google Ad Pulse

Combined Audience Targeting

Now you can show ads to users who are in multiple specific audiences. You can layer combinations using “AND”, “OR”, “NOT” directives and you’ll have the ability to filter users who meet the combined audience criteria.


Local Campaigns Inventory Expanded

New local inventory includes Promoted Pins in Maps and catalogue-style ads in Display.

Google is focussing on building out its advertising capabilities for brick-and-mortar and hybrid retailers across its properties. The new local campaigns support other goals including calls or directions that don’t require store visits measurement to be enabled. Advertisers can upload a local product feed and select a set of products to be featured.

Local Campaign Inventory Expanded - Google Search and Tool Updates December 2019

Local campaign advertisers can also have their location pop up when users are getting directions in Google Maps.

Another feature, currently in beta, merchants can highlight whether a product is available instore for pickup today, rather than simply saying “store pickup” or if they can be ordered now and shipped for instore pickup later.


Car Rental Comparison Ad Unit in Search Results

Google is testing a sponsored widget for car rentals in Search results. This enables users to research and take action without leaving the search results page. Presumably, as with Hotels, Flights and Shopping ads, offers are powered by data feeds. It is not yet clear how widespread this test is.

Car Rental Results in Google Search Results - Google Search and Tool Updates December


Support for Discovery Campaigns

Google Ads Editor has been updated to include support for Discovery campaigns. In the edit pane you can condense fields to hide them. If you’ve already built out broadly applicable negative keywords lists you can now share them across accounts in the Shared Library. You can also now search for similar errors across your campaigns and accounts.


More Visibility for Shopping Campaigns on YouTube

Earlier this year, Google announced that Showcase Shopping ads would extend to Discover. These ads are primarily designed for apparel and furniture queries but have expanded to categories like beauty and electronics.

Shopping Ads on YouTube - Google Search and Tool Updates - December

Sitelinks for TrueView for action ads enable users to access additional landing pages from your video ads. Google is currently testing Sitelinks with 30 advertisers. The results so far appear to be good, with a 23% increase in conversions.


Google Tool Pulse

Assistant to Buy Movie Tickets for You

Google has made it possible to use the Assistant (via Duplex) to buy movie tickets online. Users can now use Google Assistant for new reservation and purchase categories, with movie tickets just the latest example. This feature is currently only available on Android.

Google Assistant can Buy Movie Tickets for You


Follow Local Guides in Google Maps

Users in a number of cities using Google Maps will soon be able to follow Local Guides with local recommendations of places and things to do. This feature closely mirrors the local business follow feature in Google My Business and follow Lists feature in Maps under “Your Places”.

Google Maps Local Guides Follow Feature


CallJoy Gets and Upgrade

CallJoy, Google’s virtual phone agent for SMBs has new capabilities and customisation options. It can handle enquiries regarding hours, location and service area among others. It can determine when the phone is answered and customise the personality beyond male and female. This way businesses can avoid common calls while ensuring customers get the answers they need. The transcripts can also be a source for insights and common queries.

CallJoy Gets an Upgrade


Join Us for the Next Google Marketing Platform Meetup

Join us for our next Google Marketing Platform meetup in Sydney or Singapore to get the latest Google Search & Tool Updates.

Google Marketing Platform Sydney

Kirsten Tanner

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