13 min read

This month for Google Marketing Platform Sydney, we spoke about how to get early growth for your mobile app with Miguel Lorenzo, founder of Filma and how he got to #1 on Product Hunt. As always, we also covered the latest Google news. Here are the Google Search & Tool Updates for March 2020.

Google Search & Tool Updates – March

Google Partner Updates

Big Google Partners Program Changes Coming

New requirements for agencies to achieve and maintain Google Partner status take effect in June.

  • The 90-day spend requirement is going up from $10,000 to $20,000
  • At least half of the users who have admin or standard access to their manager account have to pass the relevant certification tests
  • Google will be evaluating the optimization score in your manager account

Google Algorithm Updates

New Local SERP Live in Europe

An updated version of the search engine results page featuring branded directory buttons appears to be displayed above the map throughout Europe.

  • The changes have come about in order to comply with the European Commission’s antitrust decision in shopping search
  • It’s also an attempt by the company to preempt a separate antitrust action in local search

New local SERP live in Europe - Google Search & Tool Updates - March

Google Search News

Test Your How-to Pages on Small Displays

  • Rich results testing tool now also supports showing you how your How-to markup will look on the Google Home Hub and other smart displays
  • How-to search results in Google will show searchers step-by-step information on how to accomplish specific tasks directly in the search results

Test your how-to content on small displays - Google Search News

Change of Address Tool Adds Redirect Validation and Reminder

  • Redirect validation for top five URLs of the moving domain added
  • Will show you the redirect flow, validate the flow, show you examples and give you recommendations
  • Will also show you a reminder at the top of both the moving domain and the destination domain

The validation tool also can help you fix any issues and validate that the site move is something you want to communicate to Google.

Change of address redirect validation - Google Search News

Export More Data with Google Search Console

  • Search Console users can now download complete information (instead of just specific table views) from almost all reports
  • Makes it easier to analyse and manipulate the data using other tools

Export more data with Google Search Console - Google Search News

Product, Recipe, Video & Licensable Labels Instead of Dimensions

  • Google Images has replaced the dimensions information in the image search results, as you overlay your mouse cursor over a specific image thumbnail
  • Google will replace the dimensions information with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels based on the query

Google said this will help searchers find visual ideas and get more information directly from the image thumbnail.

Google changes dimensions on images - Google Search News

New Treatment of Nofollow Links

  • Nofollow link attribute - Google Search newsGoogle is treating the nofollow link attribute as a hint, rather than a directive, for crawling and indexing purposes
  • The nofollow link attribute was created to stop spam links from passing credit and manipulating ranking signals
  • If you were using nofollow to block any sensitive areas of your site that you didn’t want crawled, go and block these in a different way
  • As for the UGC and sponsored attributes, implementing them is voluntary.

Google Mobile-first Indexing to be Applied to All Sites Within a Year

  • Google is sending notices to sites that have mobile-first indexing issues
  • Google will crawl your site from the eyes of a mobile-browser and use that for indexing and ranking
  • If Google has issues with accessing your site with the mobile-crawler, then it might impact your indexing and ranking

View in 3D Now Live for ECommerce Sites

  • When you click on view in 3D, Google will show you the image using AR, (augmented reality), as if it is in front of you through your mobile phone’s camera lens
  •  Can also be seen as a 3D object

Over the past several months, Google has been dropping hints that image search is something SEOs, webmasters, developers and content producers should pay attention to. It is a good way for searchers to discover new content and information and can be helpful in not just driving eye-balls but potentially even conversions.

View in 3D - Google Search News

New Image License MetaData

  • Google has launched a new structured data element for image license metadata
  • Allows Google Images to show a licensable image label in the search results
  • Licensing information for pictures will be reflected on Google Images

New image license metadata - Google Search & Tool Updates - March

Review Snippets Performance, Enhancement & Testing Reports

  • Google added a new enhancements report, a new performance report and added new support for review snippets on the rich result testing tool
  • Available for sites that have implemented reviews or ratings structured data

Rich Snippet Enhancement Report: allows you to see errors, warnings, and valid pages for markup implemented on your site

Rich Snippet Performance Report: see how well your rich snippets are performing in search. You can check the impressions, clicks and CTR of those results and deeply filter into more queries and other parameters.

Review snippet in rich results test: gives you faster access to possible errors with your review snippets.

Google reviews snippet enhancement - Google Search & Tool Updates - March

Hints to E-A-T & Catogorising Health Sites

Google recently published a new patent application that uses Neural Networks to understand patterns and features behind websites to classify those sites.

  • Google can determine the category of the site and thus understand if the site needs to have a level of authority to it.
  • Sites classified in specific knowledge domains can have an advantage in using that classification to return search results as they respond to receiving a search query.
  • This rings in the concept of E = expertise, A = authoritativeness and T = trustworthiness that we get from Google’s search quality raters guidelines. But this is a patent application that technically can be used to create ranking signals and algorithms.

Google Ads News

‘Continuous Audience Sharing’ for Manager Accounts

A new setting “Continuous audience sharing” enables you to share all available audience lists with all of its sub-accounts.

  • An option to share lists created in sub-accounts with the manager account will be coming in a matter of months
  • Be sure to only share remarketing lists with accounts when they’ve received the proper consent from users

More Granular Conversion Actions for Leads & Sales

Google is testing more granular options for tracking website conversion actions in Google Ads through the customer journey.

  • Current five options: purchase, lead, page view, sign-up and other
  • Extra options: clicks that result in “add to cart”, “begin checkout” or “subscribe”
  • Extra sections: sales categories and lead categories

For lead generation, advertisers can set up the following actions: submit lead forms, book appointment, sign-up, request quote, get directions or outbound clicks.

The new more granular options can make it easier for advertisers to track micro-conversions and optimize campaigns for various stages of the customer journey.

Change History Reports Easier to Navigate

New chart annotations are now available in campaign-level change reports in the Google Ads UI.

  • Able to click on a card that lists and links to the types of changes made during the chosen time period
  • Clicking on any of the links will take you to that section of the change history report
  • Google will also show audience list, optimization goal and asset (for App campaigns) in the list below as well, when applicable

Change History Reports Easier to Navigate - Google Ads news

New Price Competitiveness Report in Merchant Center

The new report can show you how your prices compare to other merchants selling and promoting the same products in Google Shopping campaigns

  • It’s in Beta under the growth section
  • The data goes back to October 2019
  • You have to meet certain minimum requirements for participation
  • The report reflects the percentage of Shopping auctions

You can dig into the product-level reporting:

  • to see the number of clicks a product has received during the timeframe selected
  • your price vs. the current benchmark price
  • both the current and historical differences of your product compared to the benchmark
  • You can filter, sort and download the report as well

Google Merchant Center Price Competitiveness - Google Ads News

Google Shopping Ads on Gmail, Discover & YouTube

Product Shopping and Showcase Shopping ads will be eligible to show on Gmail — as well as YouTube and Discover feed.

  • Eligible to show starting 4th March
  • In the web UI, you’ll already see the option to include YouTube, Gmail and Discover from the Networks section in your Shopping campaign settings. opting into Search Network opens Shopping campaigns up to show in Image search

Google Ads lumps the performance metrics from YouTube, Gmail and Discover together under the Display Network, so there is no way to see performance by property.

Google shopping ads on gmail, youtube and discover - Google Search & Tool Updates - March

Google Tool Updates

Google Looking to Upgrade the Quality of Images in Posts

  • Posts that don’t conform to Google’s image guidelines are being rejected
  • Guidelines are only now being enforced, while Google hasn’t made any official statement
  • No more stock images

Google looking to upgrade quality of images in posts - Google Tool Updates March

New Google Lighthouse Extension for Firefox

  • Google Lighthouse is a collection of highly useful tools for practitioners across the entire spectrum of our industry
  • Firefox had not yet reviewed the extension, so the risk level on this extension is still unknown even when it appears to legitimate

Google Adds Siri Shortcuts to its iOS Apps

  • Google has added Siri Shortcuts for its search, Gmail, Drive and YouTube apps on iOS
  • Users can take actions within the corresponding Google app through Siri by saying trigger phrases, such as “search with Google.”

Siri Shortcuts in Google Apps - Google Search & Tool Updates - March

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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