We hope you are in good health. Here are some of the major SEO news updates of the week that you need to know:
Search Related News and Updates from Major Search Engine
In a recent response, Google’s Search Liaison has clarified that author bylines do not directly influence search rankings. The liaison emphasized that Google does not check the credentials of authors and that adding a byline does not improve ranking. Author bylines are intended for readers, not for Google’s ranking systems. However, publications that use author bylines may exhibit other characteristics that align with useful content, which can indirectly impact search rankings. It is important to note that simply adding a byline will not guarantee a boost in ranking.
Google’s recent update to the guidance on Special Announcements structured data marks a notable shift in its intended purpose, deviating from the original intentions of Schema.org. The updated documentation now emphasizes a more general application, moving away from its previous focus on specific announcements related to COVID-19. While numerous changes have been made throughout the document, it is worth noting that the earlier version had 38 references to COVID-19, with a substantial amount of text being removed (221 removals in total). In contrast, the new version of the special announcement documentation contains only 13 references to COVID-19.
In a social media statement, Google’s Search Liaison emphasized that there is no “perfect page” formula that websites must adhere to in order to achieve high rankings in search results. This statement challenges the common belief that a specific set of guidelines or strategies can guarantee success in Google Search rankings. While third-party SEO tools may promote their formulas, Google asserts that these formulas do not accurately predict success. Instead, Google advises website owners to prioritize providing valuable and helpful content to users rather than relying on ranking tricks. This reaffirms the importance of user experience and relevance in determining search rankings rather than following a rigid formula.
Google has made updates to its search snippet documentation, and this change could have a significant impact on the way meta descriptions are written and content is optimized. The official documentation now states that the primary source of the snippet is the page content itself. This means that Google will primarily use the actual content on the page to generate the snippet that appears in search results automatically. While snippets are mainly created from the page content, there are instances where Google may still utilize the meta description HTML element. This clarification in the documentation highlights the importance of creating high-quality and relevant content that accurately reflects the page’s content.
Google SGE, the Search Generative Experience, has introduced a new feature called “Here are Some Products to Consider.” This search carousel aims to enhance the user experience by displaying products from various vendors. Users can click on these products and delve into the Google Shopping graph for further engagement. With this new feature, Google is providing a convenient and efficient way for users to explore different products and compare offerings from multiple vendors in one place. This not only saves users time but also helps them make informed purchasing decisions.
It appears that Google’s test to bring back FAQ and HowTo snippets in search results has come to an end, as both the FAQ-rich results and how-to-rich results have once again disappeared. Just a few days ago, we reported on the removal of FAQ snippets from search results, and now it seems that how-to snippets have suffered the same fate. It remains to be seen whether these rich results will be released again in the future. As Google continues to refine its search algorithms and user experience, changes like these are not uncommon. We will have to wait and see if FAQ and how-to snippets make a return in the future.
Bing Search has made some updates to its search menu, particularly with regard to its “Chat” feature. Since the launch of Bing Chat, the “Chat” button has been prominently displayed in the top search menu. However, Bing is now testing an expansion of this button to read “Chat w/GPT-4” and “Copilot.” While it is expected that Microsoft will eventually rebrand Bing Chat to Copilot, the inclusion of “w/GPT-4” is intriguing. This suggests that Bing may be integrating the advanced GPT-4 technology into its chat functionality. Additionally, Bing has introduced a tab for “My Bing” and a vibrant Copilot tab, further enhancing the user experience.
On January 4th, it appears that Google may have implemented an unconfirmed local ranking algorithm update. While the search engine giant has not made any official announcements regarding this update, there are indications that it quietly rolled out changes to its local ranking algorithm. The BrightLocal Local RankFlux tool detected a notable increase in volatility on Thursday, which suggests that something significant may have occurred. Additionally, several local SEOs have reported observing ranking fluctuations for their clients around the same time. This indicates that there may indeed have been an algorithm update that impacted local search results.
PPC Related News and Updates from Major Search Engine
Google made an update to the auction insights box in the Google Ads console specifically for Performance Max campaigns. This update provides users with valuable data on top advertisers, including comparison data. This information allows advertisers to gain insights into how their campaigns are performing relative to their competitors. Additionally, a new section called “competitors entering and exiting” has been introduced, giving advertisers visibility into the changing landscape of their competition. This enhancement to the auction insights box provides advertisers with a more comprehensive understanding of their ad performance and helps them make informed decisions to optimize their campaigns.