February was Dynamic with Google Updates

February Was Dynamic with Google Updates

Google’s algorithmic changes do give webmasters a hard time. While aspects such as responsive web design services ensure that your website is user-friendly and brings about greater conversions, you also need to monitor Google’s innovations, because you never know what Google would target next when it brings about some changes to its algorithm.

February saw some updates launched by Google across its various services and not just search. The updates also covered AdWords, images, Maps and Gmail. Digital marketers have been particularly experiencing an active month in monitoring these updates and making changes accordingly. So let’s go through these updates.

An Algorithmic Change that Caused Volatile Rankings

Let’s start with the 4th of February. The SERPs witnessed increased turbulence, which gave a hint of Google actually making some algorithmic changes. Ranking dips and spikes were noticed by various webmasters. This up-and-down movement of rankings and traffic to websites intensified from February 8 to 13. This was an indication that Google was making major algorithmic changes.

But Google never gave a clear explanation for it, and just implied that this is part of the updating they do “all the time”. They did confirm, though, that this isn’t a core update, which means that such minor updates will keep happening every now and then. As per the tweet by Google SearchLiaison, a week could see many updates.

Announcing Innovations

The 6th of February was a day of major announcements. One of these was Google announcing that its search capabilities will be available to Apple’s voice assistant Siri in its tablets and iPhones. Now this is a big change that tilts the focus towards long-tail keywords that form the bulk of voice searches. It also highlights the importance of mobile indexation. This particular update, though, will take time to fully influence SEO since iOS users need to get their devices updated for using this feature.

Shopping Ads to Be Displayed on Gmail Too

The 6th of February was also when Google gave notification to advertisers that shopping ads will be displayed on Gmail from March 4. If advertisers using the Google Ads platform head to the “networks tab” and select “YouTube, Gmail, and Discover”, their shopping campaigns will be shown automatically on Gmail. This update gives much greater visibility for advertisers by bringing the ads right up to them.

User-friendly Innovations for Google Maps

Google Maps has witnessed changes as well. On the 6th of February, Google announced that Google Maps will be featuring some innovations primarily involving the Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute and Updates tabs. Of particular note among the host of user-friendly features are the features in the Commute tab which now enable users to categorize their public transport journeys on the basis of accessibility, temperature, security onboard, women’s section, and other parameters. The live view function enables users to see the directions in augmented reality if they take a snapshot of the area.

Image Search Innovations

On the 20th of February, Google started beta testing licensing information in the image search results. Users can find out if an image is licensable. The feature contains a link taking the user to a page explaining the use of the image. It also contains a link leading to a page that can potentially help the user to license the image. So websites must use image license metadata for each image where you have applicable licensing, but Google’s John Mueller has clarified that this has no impact on search rankings.

On the 24th of February, it was noted that in the top positions of local SERPs third-party sites were being displayed under the “Find results on” category for queries from European users. Depending on the kind of search query, the results appeared either before or after the paid results. Moving on to 25th February, Google started introducing new thumbnails to image SERPs. The thumbnail shows the kind of content that the particular image actually points to, as the following example shows:

thumbnail shows

The thumbnail on the bottom left of the picture shows that the image leads to a page that deals with food.

image leads to a page

The thumbnail for this picture indicates that it leads to a page selling the product, an ecommerce page. While this feature enriches the user search experience, Google has done away with the image size text information that used to come when you spread your mouse over the image result.

Manual Actions on Websites with Guest Posts Having Outbound Links

Starting around the 26th February, Google started punishing websites that host guest posts. The SEO community was surprised at the move, because Google usually punishes sites that get low quality or spammy links. But this time, websites publishing guest posts featuring outbound links were punished by Google in terms of manual actions. Google, in a tweet, recommended categorizing outgoing links as sponsored or nofollow, if your site features guest posts.

It can be hard to stay on top of these changes. It is therefore essential to monitor them all the time with the support of efficient digital marketing services.