We’re only a bit past halfway through April and already Google has released a number of ranking updates and news for SEOs.
At a glance, here are the Google search engine and documentation updates:
- April 2023 Reviews ranking update
- Shipping and Return info in SERPs
- Changes to video search results in SERPs
And the updates from the Search Console team:
- Analyzing data with bubble charts
- More updates about Search Console data exports, status dashboard, and more
And, finally, Google’s efforts to fight spam in 2022:
- How we fought spam on Google Search in 2022
April 2023 Reviews ranking update
This release covers Google’s recommendations for writing high quality reviews. This is relevant information for ecommerce in general but this particular article covers any site that makes reviews about products.
The three examples given cover a variety of scenarios:
- Reviews on an ecommerce site, where an expert staff member or merchant provides guides and recommendations between various products
- Bloggers providing reviews about various product offerings within a category
- Editorials from news or other publishing sites
In all three cases, the most important advice (as always) is to evaluate products from a user’s perspective. This approach (should) take out any bias in the reviewer’s recommendations, although if there is any bias or relationship, that should be disclosed early on, so that the reader is able to account for it when reading the review.
The other main points are centered around demonstrating knowledge, expertise, and (ideally) direct experience in using the products in question. The more you can provide around quantitative measurements, pros and cons, product evolution, and hard evidence demonstrating the best options, the better.
One of the most asked questions in response to this release was “what about other languages?”
There is a secondary article discussing how the reviews system works, noting that structured data can help but it should not be relied on. Important for sites with an international presence is noting which languages are currently affected: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish.
Shipping and Return info in SERPs
The image shown on the article demonstrates how this change can be implemented:
Use structured data to add shipping and return info to product listings.
There are reports available within Search Console to help site owners and SEOs confirm that these structured data updates are working properly and can be used to identify any pages missing this information.
Our product team is monitoring the Search Console API and will incorporate these reports into our Search Console integration when they become available.
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Changes to video search results in SERPs
This update will likely annoy publishers who feature video content but not as the main element of a given page.
The gist of the update is that thumbnails will no longer be shown in SERPs if that video is not the main content of the page.
The image from the Google article demonstrates the change clearly:
These sorts of changes are one of the reasons why it is so critical to measure your site’s performance both in terms of visual rank AND pixel depth on the SERP because, although Google currently reports little change in engagement as a result of this change, your mileage may vary and you owe it to yourself to see the impact on your own content.
Be sure to refresh yourself on Google’s best practices for videos too.
GSC: Analyzing data with bubble charts
The Search Console team released a new video explaining a template that they’ve released:
We’ve long been a fan of this sort of visualization and have had a bubble chart available in our platform to highlight the queries that get the highest amount of clicks.
More updates about Search Console data exports, status dashboard, and more
Most of these updates are things we’ve already covered before here or on our Twitter and LinkedIn feeds (be sure to follow! for the latest real-time updates).
- Bulk Data Export – bringing Search Console data to BigQuery
- Guidance about AI-generated content
- The Google Search Console Status Dashboard
- Creating helpful, people-first content
- Visual elements in Google Search
- Top Core Web Vitals recommendations for 2023
- Learn images!
- Learn Accessibility!
- SEO Troubleshooting with browser devtools
There are a lot more here, definitely worth watching the video for a refresher, even if you’ve seen most of these before.
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How we fought spam in Google Search in 2022
Google made a number of important improvements to SpamBrain in 2022. Highlights:
- SpamBrain detected 5 times more spam in 2022 than it did in 2021, and 200 times more than it did when first launched in 2018.
- There was a heavy focus on detecting and eliminating spam that was tied to scams, online harassment, and other dangerous sites.
- SpamBrain further added improvements for detecting attempts at ranking manipulation (which is a very different thing that quality SEO).
Overall, this was a solid round of updates from Google and it’s worth staying on top of these changes as 2023 has already been a year of unprecedented change for SEO. Stay tuned for more.