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March Search Updates

Blog Article

There were plenty of updates and new features that came about in March in the world of SEO and PPC. March also saw the outbreak of Coronavirus which brought the world to a standstill and changed people’s lives throughout the globe. This has led to a lot of changes and updates to help users and businesses on Google. We’ve analysed all the top search updates and trending news from the past month to better understand how it will affect the search landscape.

Google Confirms 70% of Sites Moved to Mobile First Indexing

In early March, Google confirmed that they are preparing for all sites to be moved over to mobile-first indexing by September 2020. They also confirmed that this change is already in place for 70% of sites. If you want to check if your site is on mobile-first indexing, a good sign is an increase in Googlebot’s crawling, particularly from the mobile smartphone user-agent. You can also check in search-console, where a site’s mobile-first indexing status is shown on the settings page as well as in the URL inspection tool.

How Optimise For Mobile-First Indexing

The most crucial aspect of optimising for mobile-first indexing is to ensure that users have the same experience on mobile as they do on the desktop. In order to do this, the following tags and content should remain the same on both the desktop and mobile sites:

  • Content
  • Meta Data
  • Structured Data

Google also specifically recommends for you to not use separate mobile URLs (m.example.com), as they believe this causes confusion for the user. Another key recommendation by Google is to have a responsive web design which gives a good user experience.

Multiple GMB Listings For Car Dealerships

The Google My Business twitter account tweeted in February stating they dealerships are eligible to have a page for each brand they are selling at their location. On the 4th of March they provided more information by updating their GMB help centre document to include that “New car dealerships are eligible for multiple listings. You can have one listing for your dealership and one listing for each brand you sell of new cars”.

How This Impacts Car Dealerships SEO

Local SEO is one of the most important factors for car dealerships in order to attract customers who are looking to view cars available in their area. This is why their GMB listings are so crucial as this is how the customers will find and learn about them, especially with a growing number of “near me” searches. This new feature is especially useful for dealerships that sell multiple brands, as they can have a separate section for their reviews and Q&A’s. Dealerships can also have separate listings for servicing and parts of the business, which can be very useful for them as they usually have different opening times to their sales side of the business. It also allows the servicing side of the business to have separate reviews to the sales side, which will be more relevant for the customers who are looking to get their vehicle serviced.

Google Reviews User Submitted Media for GMB

Google confirmed on their Google My Business twitter account that from March 5th onwards that they will be reviewing the photos and video being submitted by users on Google My Business. The media uploaded by the business owner directly will not be subject to review. Google did not state whether this will be done by an AI or be manually reviewed.

This has been setup to avoid irrelevant media being submitted on the GMB listing of business. However, as there was no mandatory review in place before, you can likely expect some delay for photos and videos to appear on GMB listings after they have been uploaded.

Google Makes It Easier To Appeal Disapproved Or Limited Ads

Google have launched a new feature on Google Ads which will make it easier for advertisers to appeal policy decisions and get ads approved. Google admitted that “Sometimes well intentioned advertisers make honest mistakes, and we want to empower every business to get their ads up as soon as possible” and this new feature should enable them to do so.

Previously, advertisers had to go through the Google Ads support team in order to appeal a policy decision but now they are able to do it without having to leave the Google Ads interface. To use this new feature, simply hover over a disappeared or limited ad and you will see an “appeal” link if the ad is eligible for an appeal.

Google Ads Appeal Update
Google Ads Update The Appeal Process

Coronavirus Updates

The Coronavirus pandemic has taken over the world and impacted all walks of life. Online businesses are one of the sectors that have been impacted the most. Google has introduced new features and updates to help users and businesses alike in these difficult times.

Google Coronavirus GMB Suggestions

Google suggested that businesses who are affected by the Coronavirus update their GMB listing so their customers are kept informed and to avoid any confusions. Google’s GMB suggestions include:

  • Update business hours to reflect any changes made to your opening times.

  • Update your business description so that you can explain to users whether or not you’re affected by the Coronavirus. You can add information such as the precautions you have in place and if you are expecting any delays.

  • Create a post of the latest updates on what is going on in the business and any changes you’ve made which you can share on your GMB. You can use these posts to continually update customers.

Keeping this information updated is vital, keeping your customers in the know at all times.

GMB Features Temporarily Removed

To avoid GMB listings being skewed with poor information during this pandemic, Google has decided to temporarily remove some features from GMB. These include:

  • Reviews and Q&As: GMB will not be publishing any new reviews, review replies or new Q&As until further notice.

  • The GMB team will prioritise reviewing new listings, business information edits, claims and verifications for critical health-related businesses which may cause a delay for other types of businesses.

Update Your Business to “Temporarily Closed”

Many businesses will be temporarily closed during this period, with a new GMB feature to reflect this. This lets users know that you’re not currently operating but will be back in the future.

If you are forced into a temporary closure, Google recommends that you keep your website online but just simply restrict the functionality of the website, perhaps by displaying a banner of your closure or by disabling the cart functionality.

Google Supports New Events Schema To Help During COVID-19

With events being postponed, cancelled or being moved online, Google is supporting new types of event schema in order to help users to find the status of events easier. One of the properties added is ‘eventStatus’ which allows site owners to indicate whether an event has been cancelled, postponed or rescheduled. This allows Google to display the status of the event without having to rope it from the search results.

How To Use ‘eventStatus’:

  • Canceled event: Set the eventStatus property to EventCancelled and keep the original date in the startDate of the event.
  • Postponed event (new date not known): Keep the original date in the startDate of the event until you know when the event will take place and update the eventStatus to EventPostponed.
  • Rescheduled event (new date is known): Update the startDate and endDate with the relevant new dates. Optionally, you can also mark the eventStatus field as EventRescheduled and add the previousStartDate.
  • In-person event changed to online-only: Optionally update the eventStatus field to indicate the change with EventMovedOnline.

Google Giving $340 Million of Ad Credits to SMBs Around the World

Google understands that this is a tough time for businesses, especially for small and medium businesses. They stated that they wish to “alleviate some of the cost for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time.” In order to help them, Google is giving away $340 million in ad credits, which can be used at any point up until the end of 2020 across their Google Ads platform to help SMBs during the Coronavirus crisis.

To qualify for the rebate, you need to have been an advertiser from the start of 2019. You do not need to do anything if you qualify, the credit will automatically appear in your account in the upcoming months. Google stated that this is part of their larger commitment in supporting small and medium business owners during these difficult times.


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