Google This Week: New Algorithm Update Boosting Certain Websites, Free Product Listings and More

by | Jul 3, 2020

Google This Week
13 min read

Last week we reported on a potential new algorithm update, this week, we’ve seen Google boosting governmental websites with the new update. Google has also added free product listings to Search and Google is once again testing ads on local business profiles. ICYMI, here’s what happened at Google This Week.

Google Explains YouTube Search

Google explains how YouTube ranks and displays videos. Google published a new resource on YouTube search results to answer commonly asked questions. The website is called How YouTube Works. YouTube sorts over 500 hours of content uploaded every minute to find the most relevant results for a user’s search query. YouTube prioritises three basic elements when ranking search results:

  1. Relevance
  2. Engagement
  3. Quality

Relevance is determined by title, tags, description and of course video content. Engagement is determined by watch times, etc. and quality is determined by EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness), similar to Google Search. Personalisation is another factor taken into account determined by a user’s search and watch history.

Google Adds Free Product Listings to Search

Google has announced it will be introducing free product listings to its Search results page. Earlier in the year, Google allowed free product listings in the Shopping search tab, now they’ve moved on to Search as well. The change will first roll out in the US on mobile, followed by desktop.

Google Adds Free Product Listings to Search


Since the shift to free listings in April, Google said it’s seen an average 70% increase in clicks and 130% increase in impressions across both free listings and ads on Google Shopping in the US. This comes about as Google aims to help businesses struggling to connect with shoppers during the pandemic. Bill Ready, President of Commerce, Google said:

“For many merchants, connecting with customers in a digital environment is still relatively new territory or a smaller part of their business. However, consumer preference for online shopping has increased dramatically, and it’s crucial that we help people find all the best options available and help merchants more easily connect with consumers online.”

Google Search Console Insights via Google Analytics

Last week we reported that Google is sending out emails about Google Search Console and Google Analytics integrated reports. The report has been released in BETA and is called Google Search Console Insights. If it launches, here’s what it will likely do:

  • An overview of your site with “all-time page views”
  • A “your new content” section to show how well your content is performing, with insights on when Google found the content, number of views and how long users stay on the page
  • Pageviews and duration over a specified date range
  • How users find your pages, showing top traffic channels (including organic, social and direct)
  • A “your most popular content” section
  • Referring links
  • A social media section

Filter Charts and Add Reference Lines in Google Data Studio

A couple of cool new features have been added to Data Studio this month. You can now filter charts by metric values, using metric sliders to define a range of values to display in charts. For example, you could limit your chart to only show orders where the total value is between $100 and $200.

Filter Charts and Add Reference Lines in Google Data Studio

You can also now add reference lines to charts, highlighting values of interest in your charts and visualising progress towards your goals. You can add horizontal or vertical lines to a chart to show how the data compares to a reference value. For example, to visualise daily sales against a target sales figure.

Reference line weekly sales vs target

Google Explains Why Singular and Plural Keywords Rank Differently

This week, John Mueller was asked why Google ranks different pages for singular and plural keywords. He said,

“…we would see those queries as being different… And when we see them as being slightly different, then we might think that one or the other of these pages makes more sense to show.

So usually with singular and plural, we do recognize that they’re synonyms, more or less.

But we also recognize that maybe there’s something kind of unique to one of them or to the other one.

Such as, if you’re looking for a plural maybe you’re looking more for like a list or a comparison page or maybe a category page of different kinds of these items.

So that’s something where our systems try to take that into account and it can result in slightly different results being shown for one or the other.”

For certain queries, it appears users are looking for products or comparisons. Mueller went on to say that it’s difficult to try and update pages in order to rank for a singular or plural version.

“It’s a bit tricky when you’re in that situation. You’re like, oh but I want my other page to rank instead of this one. And you don’t want to remove the page you currently have ranking.

That’s something where you… can’t really force that, other than to tweak things subtly, that you kind of make sure that the right words, the right phrasing is on these pages, that you link them internally properly.

But that’s sometimes kind of tricky.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that just because when you take a step back that these words or these queries sound very similar and they seem very much the same, it might well be that users do treat them as different queries and do expect different kinds of results.

So… before just jumping in and saying oh I need to have the same page rank for both of these, maybe check with some other people to see, does it make sense to change this?

Or is this something where it’s actually not that bad?  …Another thing you can do is the page that’s currently ranking, put some kind of a call to action on it and say hey, if you’re looking for this, also check out this other page.”

So it’s probably best if you just let Google decide what the user intent is.

Source: Search Engine Journal


Is Google Boosting Governmental Websites?

Last week we reported that there seemed to be another algorithm update happening. It seemed to be a big update based on feedback and tracking tools, but not as big as a core update. This week, there have been a lot of reports about this update having a larger effect on governmental websites.

Of course, government websites weren’t the only sites to see a boost from the unconfirmed update but perhaps Google is choosing to boost them during the pandemic? Take a look at the SEMrush sensor filtered by the sector of government and see how the spikes increase more than other categories.

Google Boosting Governmental Websites

Google Cracks Down on Bot Traffic for App + Web Properties

Google Analytics is now filtering bot traffic from App + Web properties. In an update to Analytics, bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the reports.

“In App + Web properties, traffic from bots and spiders is automatically excluded. This ensures that your Analytics data, to the extent possible, does not include events from known bots.”

Google identifies bot traffic with internal research and the International Spiders and Bots list, maintained by IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). Bot filtering is now enabled by default and Google says site owners will not be able to see how much bot traffic was excluded.

If you have an App + Web property in your Google Analytics account, you should create an annotation about the switch.


GoogleBot Adds Products to Shopping Carts

Reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, a Google Crawler, named John Smith has been adding products to e-commerce site shopping carts. Sellers had complained about a serial cart abandoner, turns out it was John Smith, the GoogleBot.

Google told the Wall Street Journal that it builds systems to ensure the pricing on product pages reflects what a user sees when they add it to their cart. Google told Search Engine Land,

“We use automated systems to ensure consumers are getting accurate pricing information from our merchants.”

Sellers using Google Merchant Center agree to have Google crawl their sites for price verifications. Moral of the story: check your abandoned cart metrics, they may be slightly inflated.

Google Testing Ads on Local Business Profiles

Google is once again testing ads on local business profiles. Businesses can not opt-out of the test or choose the advertisers that appear on their local profiles. The ads are on both desktop and mobile.

So far, the third-party ads appear to be connected to the businesses, however. For example, food ordering is for the restaurant itself and Groupon ads offering deals for that business. Google stated,

“This is currently a small pilot program. We are always working on new ways to improve the experience both for users and merchants.”

Google Testing Ads on Local Business ProfilesSource: Tim Capper


Thank You for Reading

Have you noticed any changes from Google this week?

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

Paul Hewett

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