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.
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.
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:
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.
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”.
Hey there! Car dealerships are eligible to have a page for each brand at the location, as well as a page for the departments. Feel free to send us a DM if you have any other questions. Thanks! -Brad— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) February 11, 2020
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 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.
We've made changes to our photo and video content policy. All photos and videos are now reviewed before publication. If you're having issues adding photos, check out our photo criteria: https://t.co/XR21n7uM9Z— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) March 5, 2020
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 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.
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 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:
Keeping this information updated is vital, keeping your customers in the know at all times.
To avoid GMB listings being skewed with poor information during this pandemic, Google has decided to temporarily remove some features from GMB. These include:
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.
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.
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.