As always, there’s been a lot going on at Google This Week with an unconfirmed algorithm update on the 23rd, a new travel trends feature and a Black-owned attribute added to business profiles.
Google is also showing an inventory status in the Local Pack carousel, are expanding the Rich Results Testing Tool after negative feedback, LSA’s are rolling out for professional services and Google Maps profiles are rolling out worldwide. Plus much more.
ICYMI, here’s what happened at Google This Week.
- Unconfirmed Algorithm Update on July 23
- New Travel Trends Feature in Google Search
- Programmatic Guaranteed Deals for Audio on 3P Exchanges in DV360
- Google Showing Local Pack Carousel with Inventory Status
- Expanded Rich Results Testing Tool in the Works
- LSAs Rolling Out for Professional Services
- Web Stories Now Recognised in Google Tools
- New “For Context” Section in Google Top Stories
- Google Testing Local Q&A Box Outside Knowledge Panel
- GSC Adds Support for Image License Structured Data
- Black-owned Attribute on Business Profiles
- Google Rolls Out Local Guides and Google Maps Profiles Worldwide
- New Features for Funding Choices
Unconfirmed Algorithm Update on July 23
There has been some chatter in the SEO community of another algorithm update starting on the 23rd of July and 24th. Some of the tools are also showing significant changes.
New Travel Trends Feature in Google Search
Google Search appears to be testing a new feature showing travel trends for specific cities. They are showing the percentage of flights operating in the area and percentage of hotels with availability. Google has not announced anything about this test, however we assume this is a COVID-19 related feature.
Programmatic Guaranteed Deals for Audio on 3P Exchanges in DV360
Programmatic Guaranteed deals for audio on third-party exchanges are coming soon to Display & Video 360. This will provide an automated audio buying solution with tagless trafficking, advanced targeting and consolidated reporting and billing. You’ll be able to select audio as your format when setting up a Programmatic Guaranteed deal.
Google Showing Local Pack Carousel with Inventory Status
Google has started showing local pack carousels with products with inventory status. Jackson Lo first noticed and posted a video of it in action on Twitter.
“In stock” product listings appearing in Google’s local pack image carousel. Probably powered by product feeds.
— Jackson Lo 🚀📈 (@jackson_lo) July 23, 2020
Expanded Rich Results Testing Tool in the Works
A few weeks ago we reported that Google was deprecating the Structured Data Testing Tool now that the Rich Results Testing Tool was out of beta. SEOs weren’t particularly happy with the news, given the old tool gave technical debugging feedback on all kinds of structured data issues, while the new tool only gives feedback on structured data that Google Search may show in the search results. In a webmaster video hangout John Mueller said
“Lots of people have been very vocal about wanting the Structured Data Testing Tool to remain. We are planning on expanding the Rich Results Testing Tool. We’ve been looking at all the feedback…”
LSAs Rolling Out for Professional Services
After a successful test, Google is now rolling out LSA’s and ‘Google Screened’ to select professional services. Originally designed for home services advertisers, Google is now offering Local Services Ads (LSAs) to select professional services categories (lawyers, financial planners and realtors) in San Diego and Houston.
LSAs appear at the top of search results and are available to those who have a minimum review score of 3.0 stars or higher and are either Google Guaranteed or Google Screened (both require a background check).
Web Stories Now Recognised in Google Tools
As Web Stories are becoming more popular, Google is supporting them in Google Search Console and its testing tools. If your AMP document is a Web Story, it will now be recognised in the Google Search Console Performance report.
“In our testing tools and Performance report we’ll use the term Web Story to identify this format.”
New “For Context” Section in Google Top Stories
Google appears to be testing a new “for context” section in Top Stories. For users that can see the test, you’ll see a second link to a separate but related story under the primary story link. It doesn’t show for every story in the carousel. So far, it looks like the second link is to the same publication so sites end up with two articles in the same slot.
Google Testing Local Q&A Box Outside Knowledge Panel
It appears Google is testing the local Q&A box outside of the business’s local knowledge panel. Valentin Pletzer first spotted the test and tweeted about it. Normally, you can ask businesses questions in their local knowledge panel, however now the local Q&A box is outside of that panel.
GSC Adds Support for Image License Structured Data
Google Search Console now supports image license structured data so you can debug your markup. The Rich Results test tool now also supports this structured data. A new section has been added to the Enhancements reports in Google Search Console if you use the markup.
Google Adds Black-owned Attribute to Business Profiles
Over the past few months Google has seen a surge in online searches for Black-owned businesses. Now merchants in the U.S. with a verified Business Profile can add a Black-owned business attribute to their profile to make it easier for customers to find and support them.
“With this attribute, our goal is to make Search and Maps more inclusive and help support Black-owned businesses when they need it most.”
Google has also teamed up with the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc (USBC) to provide training for Black-owned businesses to enhance their presence on Google with tools including Google My Business and Google Analytics.
Google Rolls Out Local Guides and Google Maps Profiles Worldwide
Last year, Google added a feature to Google Maps that allowed users to follow select Local Guides. Now Google is expanding this feature and rolling it out worldwide. If a Google Maps user has shared photos, reviews or lists publicly, you can now follow them to stay up to date with their recommendations.
Google has also added new topic filters on profiles so you can see the topics and places people share the most.
Google Adds New Features to Funding Choices
Google is helping publishers gather and manage consent for GDPR and opt-out requests for the California Consumer Privacy Act by adding new features to Funding Choices, Google’s Consent Management Platform.
Publishers who use the new IAB Europe TCF v2.0 can create consent messages that match the style of their website or app, display the messages to users in the EU and UK and communicate user privacy selections with advertising partners.
Funding Choices is integrated with Ad Manager and AdMob so user choices are automatically shared with and respected by the ad servers.
Thank You for Reading
Have you noticed any changes from Google this week?
Check back in next Friday for the latest from Google This Week.