Google This Week: Core Update, Travel Insights, Core Web Vitals & More

by | Dec 11, 2020

Google This Week
18 min read

This might be our biggest Google This Week ever with 20 updates to share, including more updates on the December 2020 Core Update from last week (see how your industry faired), Google’s new website “Travel Insights with Google” and potentially big news to some with noindexed pages affecting Core Web Vitals. Plus we’ve got a whole lot of Google tests to share and new features.

ICYMI, here’s what happened at Google This Week:

Google Tests Page Experience & Core Web Vitals Icon

Google is now testing a new icon in the search results to show page experience and core web vitals. It looks similar to the AMP icon. Google’s Martin Splitt said, “It’s a test right now, but once the page experience update rolls out in May, all pages passing the core web vitals thresholds should get it.”

Google Tests Page Experience & Core Web Vitals Icon


New Features in Google My Business Suggest Edits

Google seems to be testing including more explanatory options when you click suggest an edit. Here is a screenshot Amy Toman shared on Twitter showing multiple options for why you may want to tell Google a business needs to be removed.

New Features in Google My Business Suggest Edits

This may make it easier to searchers to change your business listing, making it even more important to be on top of your listing.

Google News Showcase is Expanding

Google is bringing new features to News Showcase, including metrics now in Search Console, access to paywalled content and a new interface. Google wrote, “News Showcase metrics will soon appear in Search Console so publishers will have more data to better understand which articles and topics users are responding to.”

It also appears Google will pay certain publishers to give searchers access to paywalled content. Google said it will be “offering people access to paywalled content in partnership with select news publishers.” They’re also launching a new interface called the News Showcase panel, which includes a list of important articles selected daily by favourite publishers.

“If a user follows a news outlet that covers their local news, they will see daily updates on the most important local stories, selected by that newsroom. Relevant publications, both national and local, will also now be shown within the For You feed, plus in a dedicated area to discover new News Showcase publications within Newsstand on Google News.”

Google News Showcase is Expanding

It will also be shown in more places like and Google Discover. For now, only select publishers are included in the program.

New Features for YouTube Premieres

Google is adding 4 new features to YouTube premieres and calling it Premieres 2.0. It is the most significant update for premieres since it launched in 2018. There is now a Live Redirect, which allows creators to put together a multi-part show experience by connecting a live stream to an upcoming premiere.

Creators can now also have their own trailers for premieres with up to 3 minutes of footage. YouTube now also has more countdown themes and you can schedule premieres on mobile. Channels need at least 1,000 subscribers to access the Live Redirect and Trailers features.


New Features for YouTube Premieres


Request a Call from Google My Business Support is Back

Google seems to have re-enabled phonesupport from the Google My Business team. Businesses can now once again request support in the form of a callback. This feature was removed during the COVID hit but appears to be back now. You can request a call in the Get Help section.

Request a Call from Google My Business Support is Back


“New” Label in Google Local Reviews

Google appears to be testing a “new” label on local business reviews. The label appears on recently added reviews and says “new” in an outlined box. The new label is shown to all searchers and will help them distinguish between old and new reviews.

"New" Label in Google Local Reviews


The December 2020 Core Update is a Big One

Last week we reported on the December 2020 Core Update that Google started rolling out on Thursday.  While Google says it can take up to a couple of weeks to fully roll out, it does appear to be a big update already with heavy fluctuations seen on Friday.

heavy fluctuation during dec upate

Search Engine Land asked several data companies to track Google’s search results and send impressions “and they mostly all agree, this was a big update that was significantly felt across almost all verticals.”

google big update significantly felt on verticals

RankRanger commented that the “December update showed even more changes than the May update in some areas, especially in the top three results.”

Rank Volatility Comparison for May and Dec


Improvements to Lead Form Extensions

We recently reported that Google was introducing lead form extensions. Now Google is rolling out improvements to make them easier to manage. Lead form extensions are now shareable across Search, YouTube and Discovery campaign to help you use them across campaign types.

Improvements to Lead Form Extensions

Lead form extensions for YouTube and Discovery campaigns are now available in the “Extensions” page of Google Ads. You can now also choose from over fifty questions to customise your lead forms. Google has now partnered with Zapier to help you more easily connect lead form extensions to your CRM and get notified when you receive a lead.

Google Tests Non-AMP Pages in Top Stories Carousel

Google is now testing non-AMP pages in the Top Stories carousel in Search on mobile, according to John Shehata, Global VP of Audience Development Strategy & CRM at Conde Nast. Google can do this for COVID related news stories but outside of that exception, Google should only be showing AMP links in the carousel.

Shehata said “We are starting to notice some mobile queries producing non-AMP Top Stories carousels. We know that AMP will no longer be a prerequisite to appear in Top Stories soon. Have you seen similar SERPs? BTW, some of the results are AMP but have no AMP icon.”

Google Tests Non-AMP Pages in Top Stories Carousel

It looks like Google is getting ready for the page experience update where AMP will no longer be required for appearing in the Top Stories carousel in May 2021.

App Campaigns for Engagement Now Available Globally

App campaigns for engagement are now available for eligible advertisers globally to help you reach your users with relevant ads on Google Search, Play, YouTube and over 1 million apps in Google’s network.

App Campaigns for Engagement Now Available Globally

You can also showcase your most relevant content by connecting to your Google Merchant Center or business data feeds. Feeds give you a scalable way to keep your ads updated with your latest products and services. Starting “early next year” feeds can also help people discover your app by expanding how your engagement ads appear on Google. See eligibility requirements here.

Travel Insights with Google

Google is launching a new website “Travel Insights with Google“, in which you can learn about travel demand and make better-informed decisions. It’s built around three new tools.

travel insights with google

  1. Destination Insights gives you a clear picture of the top sources of demand for a destination and the destinations within their countries that travellers are most interested in visiting.
  2. Hotel Insights makes it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to understand where demand for their property is coming from.

“Hotel Insights is designed to help hotels of all sizes – but especially small and independent hotels – understand how to target their marketing as they plan their recovery.”

hotel insights designed to help hotels of all sizes

3. Travel Analytics Center is available to Google’s commercial partners in the travel sector. It enables you to combine your own data with broader Google demand data and insights, giving you a clearer picture of how to manage operations and find opportunities.

Updates to Google Search Console API

A few months ago Google announced an API infrastructure upgrade to improve performance as demand grows for the Search Console API. Now Google has announced a few more updates, including the addition of fresh data & news filter in the Search Console API, domain property support in the Sitemaps API and guidelines on how to migrate the Discovery doc.

Google Testing “Learn More About” Within People Also Ask

Google appears to be testing or rolling out a new feature in the People Also Ask section in Search, named “Learn More About“. It shows a box that gives you more information about the topic you searched.

Google Testing

Valentin Pletzer first spotted this and posted on Twitter, “Google tests a new kind of carousel at the end of “people also ask”. It’s called “learn more about” and it seems to feature lists.”

Shareable GIFs Carousel in Google Search

Google is now showing a carousel of GIFs that you can click to share with friends. It is query dependent and matches relevant GIFs to your search. When you click to share the native iOS or Android sharing bar appears so you can share via email, text, social media, etc. So far we do not see this on desktop. Mobile only.

Shareable GIFs Carousel in Google Search


Google Testing New Google Guaranteed Badge

Google seems to be testing out a new design for the Google Guaranteed badge/icon. The previous design was a green circle with white checkmark. The new design matches the Google brand. It is a shield with a checkmark in it in the Google colours and branding.

Google Testing New Google Guaranteed Badge


Noindexed Pages Can Affect Core Web Vitals

In a recent Google Search Central livestream, Google’s John Mueller stated that noindexed pages can impact a site’s Core Web Vitals (soon to become search ranking factors).

Google uses aggregate data to measure the Core Web Vitals, taking a group of pages and analysing them for user experience. This could include noindexed pages. This data is then used to calculate Core Web Vitals for the entire site.

In response, a live attendee asked if there was any way to ensure that particular pages are not being used to assess how well a site passes Core Web Vitals, to which Mueller stated: “I don’t have any great answers for you at the moment.”

Google Tests Taller Shopping Ads

Google appears to be testing taller shopping ad formats in Google Search. Shalom Goodman first noticed this and posted to Twitter. The ads are around 55 pixels.

Google Tests Taller Shopping Ads

We enjoyed what Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable had to say about this:

“Like the organic search results in Google are not far down the page enough?”

Planned Regex Filters in Search Console

Back in July Google was testing adding regular expressions (regex) filters to some of the Search Console performance report. It was removed quickly but this week Google’s John Mueller was asked whether they’d be coming back. “Yes, we have a plan. Unfortunately I can’t share it with you. I don’t know if that’s helpful, but it is what it is :)”

Web Stories Ads Now Available via Display Network

Google is rolling out programmatic ad buying for Web Stories now in open beta. Before, Story Ads could only be sold direct via publishers in Google Ad Manager. Now Story Ads can be sold programmatically by all publishers using Ad Manager and AdSense.

Ad serving in Web Stories is handled dynamically “to optimize both user experience and monetization potential,” according to Google. That means publishers cannot control where the ad slots appear in their Stories.

New User Controls for Alcohol and Gambling Ads on Google and YouTube

Google is launching new user controls for alcohol and gambling ads. It will be rolled out on YouTube in the U.S. first before rolling out across Google Ads and other countries next year. The new feature is available in users’ Google Ad Settings and will not affect countries that already have legal restrictions on gambling and alcohol ads.

Elijah Lawal of Google global communications and public affairs stated: “We’ve heard feedback that some people would prefer to limit ads in certain categories like alcohol, so today, we’re launching a new control in Ad Settings, enabling people to see fewer alcohol ads, with gambling as an additional option.”

New User Controls for Alcohol and Gambling Ads on Google and YouTube


Thank You for Reading

Have you noticed any changes from Google this week?


Check back next Friday for the latest from Google This Week.

Paul Hewett

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