July had a lot of important updates and announcements being made in regards to search and paid search. We have put together all of the most important updates from the previous month so that you don’t miss anything in the ever-changing world of SEO.
Google launched Swirl as a beta version just over a year ago to deliver a more interactive ad experience. However, it is now available globally to Display and Video 360 customers. 3D Swirl is an immersive display format with an interactive 3D model. Users will be able to rotate, zoom into and expand 3D elements using Swirl ads, giving the customer a unique and engaging experience.
You can also use Google’s 3D design platform, Poly, to configure your 3D models for Swirl ads. Swirl ads are available in three sizes and fullscreen expansion is optional. The ads run across Google Ads Manager Inventory and advertisers can also access user data in DV.
Search marketers noticed that Google has started to offer an upgraded Google My Business profile for a monthly fee. This subscription-based model gives participating merchants a “Google Guaranteed Certification” for a cost of $50 per month.
Businesses can apply to get the certification online but Google will run some checks before it is granted. Businesses looking to participate will have to go through background checks and meet their requirements but once this has been completed, their GMB profile will have a badge on appearing to indicate that it is a Google guaranteed business.
Google has been seeking new revenue opportunities with their GMB service, and this could be their first step in finding new revenue streams. It’s reassuring that they’re not going charging for the existing service.
Using a service that has the Google Guaranteed Certification will fill the customer with more confidence, making them more likely to choose them over others. While there isn’t enough data to support this, a GMB profile with this badge is likely to have a higher click-through rate than those without it.
Having the badge can also open up an opportunity to get a competitive advantage as well. And those without a badge may feel like they are lacking a feature which their competitor offers.
Both Google Screened and Google Guaranteed work in similar ways as advertisers have to gain licenses and pass the background checks conducted by Google. Local Service Ads must also have a minimum review of 3 stars or higher. However, Google Guaranteed also offers a limited money-back guarantee if customers are not happy, something not offered by Google Screened.
Attributes are added to products to tag each product’s main features and details. It’s vital for merchants to add attributes to their products so that they can have an optimised product feed. This has become even more important now as they are now showing in the Shopping feeds, making it visible for users. A Google spokesperson stated that attributes in Shopping ads are live on mobile and are being tested on desktop.
The examples that were noticed showed that the material attribute was the most common to appear in the Shopping ads.
Google has launched a brand new video advertising platform which focuses on creators, brands and publishers in the beauty industry. This exciting new platform will come as an app-only and aims to change the way we shop for beauty products. The aim of the platform is to help users discover new products in an innovative and entertaining way.
The platform will allow creators to make short videos to promote products and share reviews. Users will be able to review and recommend products and help others to shop directly from their videos. Users will also be able to follow creators and share videos they like with their friends and family.
With the rapid rise of TikTok, brands are looking to take advantage of consumers’ preferences for short videos by increasing their video marketing efforts. Google is looking to take this one step further by providing a platform which helps businesses to use these short videos to promote their brand and allows for purchase all in one place. Whilst Shoploop is only available for the hair and beauty industry currently, the platform is likely to be developed further for other industries if reactions are positive.
Google is permanently removing commission fees on products sold via the “Buy on Google” purchase option. “Buy on Google” lets customers buy a product without leaving Google’s search results and is available on Shopping listings.
With this announcement, not only is “Buy on Google” the most convenient option for users, but it is also the most affordable option for businesses. Google’s payment option will provide major competition for services such as Shopify and PayPal who charge a fee for transactions. However, as users stay on Google, retailers miss out on an opportunity for customers to interact with their site. This could mean lower newsletter sign-ups, membership sign-ups or up-selling.
<Mobile-first indexing was set to be rolled out completely by September 2020. However, Google is now delaying this until March 2021. In the announcement, Google stated that most websites are already on mobile-first indexing and all new sites are set to mobile by default. However, a portion of sites hasn’t been switched over to mobile-first indexing yet. For these remaining websites, Google has run into issues which are causing the delay.
<One of the most important factors in optimising for mobile-first indexing is to provide the same experience on mobile as a desktop and having the same content. To find out more, read our section on “How to optimise for mobile-first indexing” in our March Search Updates blog.
Google often plays around with their SERPs, testing out different features to see what works and what doesn’t. Marketers noticed a new feature being tested: the use of thumbnail images in two different ways.
The first version of testing is with thumbnails appearing in the SERP as square-cropped versions of a page’s main image. However, it appears that not all sites have a thumbnail.
The second version of testing is using the thumbnail images in the Google Suggest drop-down, next to the text. As the screenshot above shows, thumbnails appear for search terms like names and brands. However, it also doesn’t seem to appear for every search term. In this example, the term “princess magic band” hasn’t got a thumbnail alongside it.
Google regularly tests new features so it will be interesting to see if this is a feature that is here to stay or if they will make further changes to it.
Businesses previously would only find out about a local listing suspension once they login to their GMB accounts or if they noticed a change in call volume, traffic or conversions. However, Google has now changed this so that account owners will receive an email to notify them.
This will give many GMB account holders a sigh of relief and help them to feel more confident about managing their GMB profiles. This will provide an opportunity for account owners to resolve issues quicker. However, the notice still won’t explain the reason for the account suspension.
In a recent announcement, Google stated that they’ll no longer allow advertisers to run ads for products or services for spyware and surveillance. Specifically, the announcement has prohibited ads for products or services which “track or monitor another person or their activities without their authorisation”. Google’s ban on spyware and surveillance tech products in all Google Ads campaigns will be rolled out globally.
If you are currently promoting products or services which fall under this category, you must remove them from your product feeds and campaigns by August 11 or risk your account being suspended. Google will give you at least a 7-day warning before suspending an Ads account.
This highlights Google’s wish to become a brand which takes more responsibility and works hard to fight against any sort of crime or foul play. However, this ban can harm many legitimate businesses with no negative intentions.