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The Google link spam update is rolling out; 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 have a new Google algorithm update to talk about again this week — the link spam update.

If you thought Google was done with all these algorithm updates, you thought wrong. Google launched yet another algorithm update aimed at “nullifying” link spam. So if you or your clients were doing any spammy links and you see a drop in rankings over the next couple of weeks, it might be related to this new algorithm update.

I should note, Google used the word “nullify” for a reason. Nullify does not necessarily mean “penalize,” but instead, to ignore or simply not count. Google’s efforts around link spam have been to ignore and not count spammy links since Penguin 4.0 was released in 2016. But ignoring a signal that may have helped you rank initially might feel like a penalty — keep that in mind.

So far, we are not seeing too many complaints about the link spam update but we will keep you posted.

Barry Schwartz,
Link spam reporter

Google passes on 2% “Regulatory Operating Cost” for ads served in India and Italy

Beginning on October 1, 2021, Google will include a 2% “Regulatory Operating Cost” surcharge to advertisers’ invoices for ads served in India and Italy, according to an email sent to Google advertisers on Tuesday. The surcharge applies to ads purchased through Google Ads and for YouTube placements purchased on a reservation basis.

The company was already passing on digital service taxes for ads served in Austria, France, Spain, Turkey and the UK, and this is more of the same. Advertisers should be aware that these fees are charged in addition to their account budgets, so the surcharges won’t be reflected in the cost per conversion metrics in their campaign reporting. Advertisers should take these factors into account when creating their budgets.

And, if you’re thinking, “Hey, regulators are levying these taxes on Google, not on advertisers!” well, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, Google isn’t alone either as Amazon and Apple are also doing something similar by passing on their taxes to third-party sellers and developers in some territories, meaning that passing on government-imposed taxes is quickly becoming a precedent.

Read more here.

Google link spam update rolling out

Google has begun the two week process of rolling out a new algorithm update; the company is calling it the link spam update. Google said this update targets spammy links “more broadly” and “across multiple languages.” It is a global update that impacts all languages and seems to target links that are manipulative and not natural.

As of Tuesday, I have yet to see many complaints from SEOs about this update. I should add that, over the weekend, I did notice an unconfirmed update that seemed to target more “black hat” methods but again, that was the weekend, and Google said this update started on Monday, so the two are probably unrelated.

In any event, if you see a ranking drop in Google over the next couple of weeks, it might be related to some of your link building methods.

Read more here.

Google review stars back in the search results

Google seems to have resolved the bug that was preventing review snippets or stars from showing in the search results. We are now able to see the gold stars for many results in the Google Search.

The bug began creeping into the Google Search results interface on Wednesday, July 21st based on the reports that were sent to us. By the following day, the review stars were hard to find for any query you conducted in Google. Google confirmed the issue on Friday, July 23rd. Then, on Monday afternoon (July 26), the issue started to get resolved and now everyone seems to be able to see review stars again.

Why we care. Reviews not showing in the snippets can lead to a lower click through rate from the search results. Lower click through rates can lead to less traffic and less traffic can lead to fewer conversions.

Read more here.

Page speed, core web vitals and updated structured data guidelines

Old page speed signals. Google has come out with numerous page speed signals for search over the years. Does Google still use the old ones? John Mueller of Google said on Twitter “we try to avoid unnecessary duplication in our code, so I would assume this replaces the previous speed ranking factors.”

priceRange local business schema. Google has updated the priceRange fields in the Local Business structured data documents to say that the priceRange fields must be less than 100 characters to be eligible for use in Search features.

FAQ content guidelines expandable areas. Google updated the FAQ schema content guidelines document to say the FAQs can be in expandable areas as well as visible on the page to be eligible for use in Google Search features.

Too much focus on core web vitals. Gary Illyes of Google somewhat mocked those SEOs that complain that their search rankings dropped even if their core web vitals scores improved. He said on Twitter “I don’t know who needs to hear this but putting work in core web vitals doesn’t mean that the site can’t lose rankings over time.”

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