It was a September to remember, as it was one of the ‘busiest’ months with Google updates we’ve had in years:
The past month for Google webmaster and SEO topics was insane; core updates, unconfirmed updates, starmageddon, nofollow link changes, raters guidelines update, snippet controls, old Search Console goes away and much more. Catch up here https://t.co/APP7UBWjtD pic.twitter.com/kVYSKEvqPv— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) October 7, 2019
Here’s a short-list of some key changes:
- Google Shopping Overhaul
- Reviews in Search (Starmaggedon)
- 3 Major Core Updates
- Link Attribution Overhaul
- Major Results Page Design & Features Testing
Some of these changes are more obvious than others, but all are highly impactful in how most people use the web on a day-to-day basis.
Let’s Go Shopping (on Google!)
For one, Google has made a clear statement that online shopping is a top priority with the overhaul of Google Shopping. While Google could simply drop Amazon and other direct e-commerce competitors from search, we all know this would be wildly unethical, if not illegal. As a result, Google’s putting in the effort to provide a valuable e-commerce experience, and the new Shopping platform has a lot to offer:
- Affiliate Location Extensions – a tool to help businesses capture local consumers looking for branded products near them.
- Local Catalog Ads – A full product feed for users to engage with.
- Local Inventory Ads & Feeds – Google hosted landing pages that presents in-store product availability, store hours, directions, and more.
- Competitor Pricing Information – Google will show competitor pricing so users can make the best value purchase.
Why the Google Shopping Update & New Features Are Noteworthy
Simply put, Google is working to keep users locked into their Shopping platform more than ever before. In addition to this, you’ll note that none of these features work to push users to websites, but instead, to storefronts via Google My Business. This, in my opinion, is the single most important takeaway from the Shopping overhaul. Will this overhaul truly compete with other big players like Amazon? Doubtful, but the groundwork is now there for Google to integrate Shopping with all the other platforms it has, specifically with Local Search & Google My Business.
What is Google Trying to Accomplish When Making Updates?
It is no secret that Google is working to keep users on Google, instead of going to other websites. Like most things, it all points back to the mighty dollar – if users stay on Google, they will see more Google Ads, which leads to more ad clicks and revenue. Their decision to remove review scores from the search results of non-ecommerce sites doubles down on this notion. Aptly described as ‘starmaggedon’, nearly all websites with review scores on their search results were removed.
The reason for why this update happened, and even why it was needed, is still up for debate. Some sides claim that it was the best solution to clean up spam, while others argue that this update points to a broader sweeping overhaul in the future, where Google is working to further cement its ‘faux-monopolization’ of Local Search & Maps. What we do know is this: review stars drastically increase the click-thru-rates on search results, and by striping them from results the clicks generating from Google will decrease.
Other Noteworthy Updates
All About Linking
Google is changing the way it’s crawling the web. While users may not be impacted in a clear & obvious way, Google has updated link attributions when crawling websites. Because links carry heavy weight in Google’s algorithm, PageRank, any major attribution update will spur on changes in search rankings. Most importantly, it changes how linking between sites will be done going forward. With the introduction of Sponsored Links, how websites create and publish sponsored content will begin to look different.
When did Google Look Like This?!
Ever search around Google and land on a search results page that looks vastly different from what you’ve seen before? You may see different colored text, or an entirely different layout – congratulations, you just triggered a testing page. What this means: Google is constantly looking to improve, and by A/B testing different layouts they can identify features/designs that improves user experience, click distribution, etc.
The ASTOUNDZ team of SEO Experts have seen these tests more consistently this past month. And while it doesn’t confirm any future changes, we do expect certain design elements to change on Google Search in the coming months leading into 2020.
Is Google Done With Updates for a While?
Certainly not. If anything, we expect Google to continue making updates to their platforms at this rate. Specifically, we see Google preparing to make more updates in how Local Search & Maps integrates with B2B and B2C websites. If you’re looking for a partner that works to keep your website and online business generating customers in the ever-changing landscape of search, reach out to our SEO Agency in Houston to start a conversation.