Google ended 2020 much like the rest of the year, with plenty of updates. We’ve summarised and analysed the major changes to help you keep track and stay on top of the latest in search.
Google released the third core update of 2020, called the “December Core Update”. There was no particular reason for the update and Google did not announce any specific improvements they were making with the update, so marketers have been keeping an eye out to see what’s been impacted by the core update.
After more than a month since the update was announced, marketers have not noticed a specific trend of winners and losers. Whilst some websites such as affiliate sites have seen an improvement, this was not consistent. The results vary too much between each URL for us to notice a trend. The main message from experts is that you should keep watching your performances closely and that its effects can take some more time before we start noticing a pattern.
The December 2020 Core Update rollout is complete.— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 16, 2020
As the impact of the core update is still being assessed, the best possible action is to keep a close eye on performance and organic traffic to see if anything changes.
Google has started tests for an interactive search results page which would allow users to reveal images of a website straight from the SERP.
Google is always looking to improve the search experience and regularly tests features to see what works, so there may be plenty of changes to the feature before its release.
The test involves a small icon below the search result which the users can click on to reveal images from that webpage.
This feature gives users more insight into what content is provided by a site so they can see if it is relevant for them. This could impact the CTR for that site and highlights the importance of having different media in your content.
The YouTube Premieres feature helps content creators to build hype for their videos by scheduling and sending notifications to audiences. YouTube has now added 4 new features to Premieres, in its biggest update since 2018. The 4 new features are:
Live Redirect – This feature allows creators to connect a live stream to an upcoming premiere. This allows them to engage with users before the premiere and then redirect them to the premiere once the live stream is over.
Expanded Countdown Themes – YouTube will now have more options for the countdown displayed before a video premiere. When before there was only one theme, there’s now 10 different themes to choose from.
Premiere Trailers – Premieres can now have their own trailer to build hype. Trailers can be a video from 15 seconds to 3 minutes long which will be shown on the premiere watch page before it starts.
Schedule Premieres On Mobiles – Creators will now be able to upload a video from a mobile device on the YouTube App and schedule it as a Premiere at the same time. Previously, you could only schedule a Premiere on the YouTube desktop site.
Google has recently been upgrading the features they offer on Google Maps to improve user experience, especially with all the hefty competition available now. They continued this development with four new features to benefit the experiences of both businesses and searchers.
Messaging From Maps & Searches – Google is introducing messaging capabilities to Maps and Search. If turned on, users can now message businesses with a verified profile directly from the Google Maps app.
Updated Performance Insights – Google is adding more metrics to performance insights available on GMB. Businesses will be able to track their performance and see customer engagement from Maps and Search. The metrics will also highlight which terms and how many times your profile was triggered to appear in the SERP.
Community Feed – A new community feed is being added to the Explore tab of Google Maps which will allow users to find the latest reviews, photos and posts added by the business, local experts and people you follow.
Street View User Contributions – Google is testing a new feature on Maps which will allow people to contribute to Street View by using their phones. Users will be able to record the street using the Street View app.
Google has started testing short videos in the search results in a carousel for selected search queries. This new feature will pull through relevant TikTok and Instagram Reels videos to the search results page for that search term. The short-video carousel is currently only available to users on their mobile device.
Short video formats have become increasingly popular in the past year and Google themselves have been experimenting in it with their Web Stories. This move seeks to incorporate this popular format into the SERP to provide an engaging and informative experience for the user.
After 69 days of it not being available, the Google Request Indexing Tool is available once again in Search Console. You can access it using the URL inspection tool in Search Console. Google, however, did state that if you have a large number of URLs that you want to be indexed, you should submit a sitemap instead.
Reminders!1. If you have large numbers of URLs, you should submit a sitemap instead of requesting indexing via Search Console. 2. Requesting indexing does not guarantee inclusion to the Google index – our systems prioritize the fast inclusion of high quality, useful content. — Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 22, 2020
Google announced a new feature in the SERPs which allows users to try on makeup with AR. When users want to try on eligible products, such as eyeshadow or lipstick, the front-facing camera opens and shows how the product will look on you, much like a Snapchat or Instagram filter.
How the AR makeup feature looks
With more shopping being done online, especially with physical shops closed due to current restrictions, Google wants to provide the next best possible experience to users. When they can’t try a sample on themselves, AR provides an alternative.
Google has removed the issue validation function from the Search Console for the time being as they make some updates. When trying to access the Issue Validation function, a message displays saying the feature has been temporarily disabled whilst they are making changes to the report.
What Is the Issue Validation Function?
This feature lets you inform Google when you have fixed an issue which was previously preventing crawlers from accessing any part of your website. Using this feature, you were able to let Google know to validate the fix so that your website can be crawled again. Google has not stated when they are expecting this feature to be back up and running so users will have to just patiently wait for its return.