It appears WFH is not affecting the productivity at Google. This week there have been a staggering number of changes including an algorithm update, more COVID-19 updates, more search feature testing, a huge Google Shopping announcement and a vital policy change affecting every Google advertiser.
ICYMI, here are the top stories from Google this week.
Possible Google Algorithm Ranking Update
Last Thursday, 16 April, there was a spike in chatter from SEOs noticing changes in ranking positions pointing to a possible algorithm ranking update.
Throughout 2019 Google was communicating some changes as they happened, and there is no word from Google, but there may be a small update at play. Barry Schwartz has the data from various sources over at SEroundtable, as you will see, there is a blip. Take a look for yourself.
More Tests to ‘Related To…’ Box
Recently I reported a drop in the number of search results containing a ‘related to…’ box (found at the bottom of the page), well, Google appears to be undertaking more tests related to this feature. As you can see from the tweet from @shemiadhikarath, Google is testing a third column where there are usually two.
Like @shemiadhikarath, I have also seen this test feature. I was exposed to both the two-column version and the three-column version on the same query when researching travel deals, but I could not replicate the result with consistency. Strange.
Google related searches @rustybrick @JohnMu @SEO pic.twitter.com/YgasPljskE
— Shameem Adhikarath (@shemiadhikarath) April 13, 2020
Important: Google Ads Credit for SMBs Confirmed
At the end of March, Google announced they would be helping SMB advertisers with $340m in Google Ads Credit. At the time there was little information about how the scheme would work. On Tuesday this week, there was confirmation of the credit scheme. Here’s how it will work:
Who is eligible?
Small and medium-sized businesses and those supported by their SMB team. Then these advertisers must meet the following criteria.
- Advertised 10 out of the last 12 months in 2019, and
- In January and/or February of this year
So to be clear, you are not eligible if you are not an SMB, or if you have been advertising less than a year, or if you have not advertised in 2020.
How much will advertisers get?
Google has stated each eligible advertiser will get one ad credit. What is an ad credit worth? That depends. Each credit will vary from advertiser to advertiser. When received, your allocated ad credit can only be used in the future and not redeemed against previous campaigns.
When will you get your credits?
Credits will be added to eligible accounts starting this May. Allocation and notification will be automatic. The credits must be used this calendar year, after which point they will be revoked, also automatically.
You can use your credit for all Google Ads platform products including Search Ads, Display and Youtube.
Agency managed accounts
If you meet the eligibility criteria and an agency manages your Google Ads account via MCC you will still receive your credit. It will be allocated by account and NOT distributed at an MCC level.
Source: Search Engine Journal
A New Feature to Keep Your Visitors Informed During COVID
No doubt you have seen the COVID update informational banners appearing across many sites over the past few weeks.
Google has made adding a COVID banner easy through Google Optimize. As of this week, you can quickly add a banner to your website to let your customers know if your service or business hours have changed, or even better if it is business as usual!
Published on Google’s blog, The Keyword, Optimise Product Manager, Pawl Matkowski provides instructions on how to get your banner live on your site and best practices for creating your COVID banner.
Source: A new Optimize feature to keep your website updated through COVID-19.
Google Introduces Optional Web Link to ‘Call Ads’
Google has announced a change to ‘Call Ads’ which will allow advertisers to extend this ad format with an optional website URL which will appear at the bottom of the ad.
Since launching ‘Call Ads’ in 2015 there have been few changes to the format, so why now? Google says “managing call volume can be challenging if your business is operating on limited hours or staffing”. This new feature will give your customers flexibility in how they connect with your business while providing your company with an option to support customers through website support.
This format change comes with a few additional perks. Not only will your ad size increase, but the format will result in few accidental calls, more qualified leads and improved customer experience. This addition is a neat feature, which I hope will still be available after the pandemic has passed.
Getting started is easy. Add a ‘Final URL’ to a new or existing Call Ad. Two things you should remember. First, call ads are only served to call compatible devices, like a smartphone. Second, remember to track calls from your ads.
Google Ads Requires Identity Verification
Advertisers, Google wants to know who you are and where you are so they can provide their users with a better experience.
In an update to the 2018 advertising policy, Google has announced they will require identity and geographic verification for all advertisers.
This change will provide Google users with greater transparency. All ads will inform users with information on who is advertising to them, and why they are advertising to them. From a UX perspective, this information will be presented in slightly different ways in Search ads, Display ads and YouTube ads.
Advertisers will need to verify their identity and location using a range of documents including personal identification documents, business incorporation documents and possibly other methods (yet to be disclosed). Once requested, advertisers will have 30 days to verify their identity and location. Failure to comply will result in ads being stopped.
The verification programme will begin in the U.S. with the prioritisation of specific industries. It is expected that a full rollout of the global verification programme will take several years.
Keep your eyes peeled for a verification request in your inbox.
Source: Search Engine Journal