11 min read

This month for Google Marketing Platform Sydney, we spoke about Growth Marketing and How the Biggest Online Brands Create Scalable Marketing. As always, we also covered the latest Google news. Here are the Google Search & Tool Updates for February 2020.

Google Search & Tool Updates – February

Google Algorithm Updates

January 2020 Core Update

On January 14, Google announced a new broad core update. Many SEOs are seeing substantial uplifts rather than downward trends. We recommend, as does Google, to continue to focus on providing excellent content. No drastic changes needed.

BERT Rolling out Across 70 Languages

Google BERT is now rolling out across Google Search in over 70 languages. Google BERT was introduced to Search in October in English and is now rolling out globally. Google has said that 10% of all searches are impacted by BERT which makes it the biggest change to hit Search in over 5 years.

You can read more about Google BERT here.

Google Search News

Improved Accuracy in Google Search Console Coverage Report

The indexed coverage report can now report more accurately on indexed pages. Previously some of the pages were indexed even if they were labelled as “Crawled – Currently not indexed”.

Search Console Coverage Report - Google Search & Tool Updates - January - Search Updates

Discover Performance Reports Get Fresher Data

Site owners can now view data as recent as less than a day old in their discover performance report. Fresher data provides a more accurate picture of the performance of your content. Unfortunately, the Search Analytics API does not yet support fresher data.

Fresher Data in Discover Performance Reports - Google Search and Tool Updates - January

Messages Can Now Be Viewed Without Leaving Reports

Google Search Console messages can now be viewed anywhere within the tool. Messages are categorised by type and are now easier to locate when dealing with a specific issue.

GSC Messages - Google Search & Tool Updates - February

Google is Fixing Data in the URL Parameter Tool

Google is currently working on fixing data within the URL Parameter Tool. Currently, the data shown in the tool is not accurate. Some see no parameters where they had 100+. Google has implied that this is a data issue. We recommend ignoring the report until it is known to be fixed (we’ll let you know when). For now, don’t make any changes in the tool as it could cause ranking issues.

Search Console Launches New Removals Tool

Google Search Console has a new removals tool which allows you to:

  • Temporarily hide URLs from showing in Google Search
  • Show which content is considered “outdated content”
  • Show which filters were filtered by SafeSearch adult filter

The tool enables you to quickly remove content from Google Search and see why content was removed due to third-party requests.

New removals tool in GSC - Google Search and Tool Updates - February

Dataset Search Tool Rolled Out

Google has rolled out its new Dataset Search Tool after beta testing and adding new features. The tool enables users to find datasets stored across the web through keyword searches. Almost 25 million datasets have been indexed and is a way for users to find data from science, government and news organisations.

New features include:

  • Filtering results based on types of datasets (tables, images, text, etc.)
  • Filtering based on whether the dataset is available for free
  • Featured map if based on geographic area
  • Mobile-friendly support
  • Significantly improved dataset descriptions

Google Datasets Search Tool - Google Search and Tool Updates - February

Mobile-First Indexing Guide Update

The mobile-first indexing guide has been updated. It emphasizes the same content across site versions. The guide has also been updated in numerous areas including crawling, structured data, visual content and best practices. It is advised you use the same meta robot tags, structured data and persistent URLs for images and videos. Users cannot opt-out of this update.

Mobile-first indexing guide update - Google Search and Tool Updates - February

Google Ads News

Extended Optimization Score for Display Campaigns

Optimization scores in Google Ads are now available for Display campaigns. Scores range from 0% – 100% and indicate how well your campaigns are expected to perform. The score is accompanied by a set of automated recommendations and indicators of how much score improvement you can expect after implementing the changes.

Google Ads No Longer Provide Customer Support Via Social

Customer support requests have shifted to an online form as Google ads no longer provide customer support via social channels (Facebook and Twitter). However, the advertiser can still opt to get support via chat, email or phone.

Reporting Based on Business Structure

Reporting based on business structure in Google Ads - Google Search and Tool Updates - January

Google Ads are testing reporting based on business structure. Google are testing custom dimensions to group and report on campaigns with hierarchical structure. This feature allows users to append annotations to their campaigns to report on categories and subcategories aligned with their business structure and goals.

Example: View campaign performance by product line and department.

It is currently in beta mode and is available from the “tools” dropdown in Google Ads when enabled.

Bid and Budget Simulators

Google is extending the availability of bid and budget simulators to more smart bidding strategies. The bid simulator helps for target return on ad spend, while the budget simulator helps to maximise clicks and conversions. The tool features a projected impact based on your auction data from the past 7 days while assuming other influences remained the same. Both bid strategies aim to spend your budget while maximising the clicks and conversions your campaign can generate on a daily basis.

Google Ads Budget Simulator - Google Search and Tool Updates - February

Desktop Ad Redesign

After several months live in Google mobile results, the new ad redesign has launched on desktop. The new design includes a new black label and favicons for organic listings. We recommend tracking click-through rate changes. Give it some time for users to adapt and see if you notice any changes.

Ads and Sponsored Labels Removed from Flight Search Results

No more referral fees from partners in flight search as Google seeks to emphasise price and convenience in rankings. The results will now be ranked according to price and convenience rather than ads and sponsored. The ads and sponsored labels were required as Google received booking referral fees from certain airline partners.

Google Tools News

Request Quotes Above Local Pack on Mobile

This feature enables users to request direct quotes from multiple businesses. The new feature appears to be available to businesses participating in the Local Services Ads program. The feature uses Google My Business messaging. For now, it remains unclear whether it is a test or a permanent feature.

Reviews Carousels on Local Business Profiles

Reviews carousels are now seen when relevant to the query and the business has enough high-quality reviews. This is the first time that reviews have been shown in a scrollable carousel format. This stresses the overall importance Google places on reviews as this will only be of benefit to businesses with multiple high-quality reviews.

Google My Business Review - Google Search and Tool Updates - January

Incognito Mode in Maps for iOS Users

Incognito mode is now available in Maps for iOS users. The new feature will also provide a bulk location history deletion in Timeline for Android users. Searching in incognito mode stops users from getting personalised recommendations based on their location. Google is building greater trust by providing more control over privacy settings.

Google Maps Incognito Mode - Google Search and Tool Updates November

Join Us for the Next Google Marketing Platform Meetup

Join us for our next Google Marketing Platform meetup to get the latest Google search and tool updates. See you there!

Paul Hewett

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