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Are all the Google algorithm updates too much to handle?; Wednesday's daily brief

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, we’re back in the swing of things after the July 4th break and that can be overwhelming for some, especially after such a busy month of Google updates.

To catch you up, we had about ten updates from Google in the past month or so; and only three of those updates were not confirmed by Google. In the most recent order, we had the July 2021 core update, Google MUM rolled out this month, then the June 28 spam update, the June 23rd spam update, the Google page experience update, the Google predator algorithm update, the June 2021 core update and then a few unconfirmed updates. Some of these updates are still rolling out, many overlapped each other and most are just very confusing to understand. Let’s not forget the July 4th weekend, you’ll likely see a seasonal traffic decline just from that.

Yes, it is a lot and in many cases, it can be too much to handle. It will be hard to know exactly which update hit a site, especially if there were multiple overlapping updates at the same time. What you need to do is drill into your analytics, see how bad your traffic dropped and see if you can pinpoint it to an algorithm update, a technical change on your site or something seasonal.

More importantly, this is where you can take a step back, take a breather, and think about what you can do at a higher level to improve your website overall.

Barry Schwartz,
Google update counselor

How Google ranks search results

Gary Illyes from Google spoke in the latest Search Off the Record podcast on how Google Search goes about ranking search results. The short version is that Google first comes up with a shortlist, let’s say around 1,000 results, for a given query. That list is generated based on if the query and the content on a page are relevant and topical. Once the list is generated, Google then applies a lot of its ranking signals and factors to that shorter list. Gary Illyes said that is where “the magic” happens.

Gary dives deeper into how the scores and numbers are assigned to each document, what happens when a tiebreaker is needed and much more.
Read more.

Microsoft Advertising expands Dynamic Remarketing beta and a few other important announcements

Previously only available for Retail (Hotels/Vacation Rentals), Microsoft Advertising has expanded the beta for Dynamic Remarketing to include Automotive (listings), Entertainment (events), and Travel (Tours and Activities) just in time for summer.

Along with this announcement, the company reminded advertisers about a few other new feature changes:

  • The platform UI now makes it easier to see how big a segment size is, based on the markets you target for your ad campaign/ad group.
  • Automated bidding tactics [Maximize Conversions, Maximize Clicks, Target CPA, and Target ROAS] are now available for the Microsoft Audience Network.
  • New RSA insertions will allow you to dynamically insert countdowns for events like sales and add locations to maximize relevancy to the searcher based on their location.
  • Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier now live across all markets.
  • The Microsoft Advertising Intelligence tool has been deprecated now.

Read more here.

How Google uses machine learning to prevent spam

Also in the latest Search Off the Record podcast, Google invited Dewey from the search quality team to talk about spam prevention methods. Dewey explained that Google tackles the most obvious spam methods using machine learning. He said it is a “very effective and comprehensive machine-learning model that basically took care of most of the obvious spam.” This lets the search quality team focus less on the most obvious spam and more on the “more important work.”

Google has years and years of data for its machine learning models to use when it comes to preventing spam and it was great to hear a bit about how Google uses it in this way.
Read more.

Google AdSense anchor ads on wider screens

AdSense publishers, Google is adding support for anchor ads on wider screens starting after July 19, 2021. Anchor ads are the ads that stick to the top or bottom of your page as you scroll through the web page.

“Anchor ads now support a larger range of screen sizes. For sites that have anchors turned on, anchor ads will soon start to appear on wider screens such as desktop. Our experiments show that anchor ads perform well on wider screens. If you’d prefer not to show anchors on wider screens, you can turn this option off using the new ‘Widescreen’ control in your Auto ads settings. Note that wide-screen anchors won’t start serving until after July 19, 2021,” Google said in the announcement.
Read more.

Nofollow links and indexing, Google Assistant recordings and site moves

Nofollow links do not prevent indexing. Gary Illyes and John Mueller from Google said it is not recommended to use nofollow links internally with the goal of preventing indexing. It won’t prevent indexing, for that you need to use noindex robots.txt and meta tags.

Google Assistant audio recording. Google on the SearchLiaison account explained how Google does and does not record audio searches over Google Assistant-like devices.

Site moves and ranking. Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter “any site move can affect your site’s visibility — I wouldn’t move things without having a good reason. If you do have a good reason to move things, then go for it. Don’t let an update hold you back (there are always updates).”

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