Happy October, all! We’re here to share with you some updates that happened in the search world over the last month, curating some of the more interesting and important happenings that could affect your digital marketing strategy as we quickly approach the end of the year.
A lot happened in search over the last month, starting off with Google’s annual search conference Search On, which happened in late September. This event usually gives marketers insight into what is coming down the road from Google and can help inform yearly planning and strategies.
October also marks the second month after the Helpful Content Update, giving writers the perfect creative brief with how to write for humans, which the community has determined a softer landing than originally anticipated.
SEO News at a Glance:
- Think beyond text for content, it’s important to leverage other media
- Google update (continues) to crack down on spam, no surprise here
- Importance of Alt Text and Accessibility, verdict: humans first, search second
- Google Ads are now more differentiated and will likely cause shakeups in click-through-rates
- Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the recent updates and how it might affect you.
Google’s “Search On” Annual Conference
Google is continuing to commit and innovate to deliver a better search experience for its users as outlined in its annual 2022 conference this year. Here are a few takeaways worth noting:
- Images are getting more importance in crawlability and in delivery
- Localization matters with improved functionality for maps
- Google Shopping experience improvement
- First-hand experiences being surfaced from community sites
- Google going green with eco-friendly search elements
What Does This Mean for Marketers?
Well, diversity is something that Google is continuing to show is important when it comes to search results, and being the data giant that it is, they are using their own data to serve their users better. For businesses, this means that optimizing images, video, hyper-local schema, and improving your brand image is going to be increasingly important.
As crawlers get smarter and information is learned, the search world gets disrupted as people start thinking outside just content writing on a web page and start to think about media and its role in search. Searchers are going to get improved search results when shopping, looking for events, understanding complex subjects, etc. To think not that long ago we were happy with the 10 blue links!
Google Updates Spam Guidelines
Google’s Search Central announced an update to combating spam earlier this month, likely for their spam prevention system, SpamBrain AI. This update is global in release and affects all languages.
With this spam update coming off the heels of the Helpful Content Update early in August, it is no surprise Google are continuing to take measures to cut down on the gamification of their search engine. For businesses that are engaging in tactics that would associate with these low-quality sites, it is recommended to put a stop to that.
If you have been listening to BrightEdge’s position on spam, you’ve got nothing to worry about :)
Optimize your Image Alt Text
The regular chat with Google’s John Mueller has rewarded marketers with some insight on what to do when optimizing. alt tags. To rank well in Google’s image search, optimized image alt text has been a SEO 101 tactic for years but has become increasingly important for some brands as certain queries will show up in Universal Results and can be an effective use of branding if done right.
The sum of what was said was ultimately: alt text matters for SEO and accessibility, which might not be news to some people, but regardless it’s good to get clarification. Accessibility is a huge concern, as there are more than 61 million adults in the US that live with a disability, of which 60% are in a household with internet.
It’s about the purpose of the image and how it’s intended to be used. If you’re using stock imagery, does it make sense to go through all your images on your site to optimize the alt text using your brand? Probably not, as it’s better to serve differentiated or branded media if you can. John goes on to say adding something into the alt text field is a worthwhile endeavor, and “something is better than nothing.”
What does this mean for marketers? Check out your universal search listings and find out how frequently images on your site are being shown in search, because there’s a dual-purpose in optimizing for users (accessibility) and keywords (SEO).
Google Distinguished Paid and Organic
In the long-contested debate of organic vs. paid and which is better, (both are crucial for different businesses/outcomes!), Google has given SEO marketers a win this month by making paid adverts more differentiated in search. This is something that should impact searcher behavior as data starts to pour in. As of October, these changes are being rolled out for mobile, and are planned for desktop release in the future.
This is huge for marketers, as click-through-rates will start to change as the change starts in mobile and gets introduced to desktop. As this gets rolled out and people start noticing what is “natural” and what is an ad, it’ll be interesting to see CTR changes. We expect this will likely make some brands revisit their messaging for paid ads if clicks start to slip, whilst businesses owning organic real estate could see an uptick in clicks.
Time will tell what changes this paid ad differentiation will make, and as marketers we welcome the change to help distinguish organic versus paid results, as brands vie for searchers’ attention.
That’s the quick digest of search news this month, we’ll be back in November with the next batch of updates to serve you better in all things search.