Request a demo
Andrew Riker
M Posted 1 year ago
t 6 min read

Over the last two weeks, Google has made several significant updates to Search Central documentation. It’s important to take note of these additions and changes because implementing the advice could lead to a rankings boost. 

SEOs will be pleased to hear about a new video indexing report in Google Search Console. In addition, Google Analytics 4 data is now also available in Search Console Insights. Google’s Search Console is just getting better and better, allowing webmasters and marketers to get crucial data about how search traffic is interacting with their assets.

Finally, there have been several interesting stories that don’t involve Google. The CEOs of DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and Qwant have signed an open letter on “user choice.” And WC3 will be transitioning to a nonprofit model, with some interesting implications for the future of the web. 

Google Disqualifies Weapons, Recreational Drugs and Other Products from Rich Snippets

Google has updated guidelines covering product markup for certain prohibited items, including weapons, recreational drugs, vaping goods, and others. 

The documentation in Google Search Central reads as follows: “We don't allow content that promotes widely prohibited or regulated goods, services, or information that may facilitate serious, immediate, or long term harm to people. This includes content related to firearms and weapons, recreational drugs, tobacco and vaping products, and gambling-related products.”

If you do sell items that fall into one of these categories, you’re not necessarily breaking any rules by applying product markup and consequently will not receive a penalty. Just be aware that rich snippets won’t appear in search results. 

Google Updates Documentation for Javascript Canonical Tags

Google has provided guidance about how to add canonical tags, which prevent over-indexation of your pages and help avoid duplicate content penalties, to pages using Javascript. However, it’s not a recommended practice, and it’s generally better to include canonical tags in a page’s HTML code from an SEO stance. You can find a step-by-step guide, along with code examples, on Google Search Central.

One of the key takeaways is that if you do decide to inject a rel= "canonical" tag using Javascript, you should include it only in the Javascript itself and not anywhere else on the page. As Google says, adding two tags to a page “may lead to unexpected results.”

Google Makes a Minor Change to Search Console Information About Anonymized Queries

Google has removed text from Search Console documentation that described anonymized queries as “very rare.” Anonymized queries do not display in Search Console reports in a granular way and cannot be analyzed with filters. 

This change comes after a widely discussed study found that 46.08% of all search clicks are anonymous. However, it’s improbable that this figure is exclusively the result of user privacy controls. Rather, it’s likely that Search Console cannot identify all long-tail keywords, which consequently don’t show up in reports. All of this has been a source of frustration for SEOs and marketers since the “not provided” designation started to appear in reports almost a decade ago.

While this change is a small one, it points towards an increasing emphasis on privacy in search reporting. As a result, user data is not as readily available as it once was. SEOs should take account of this trend over the long term, focusing on big-picture shifts rather than individual query data from Google. 

Google Extends Structured Data Guidance for Courses

Google has updated its course documentation, adding extra details about how to format schema markup correctly. The guidance isn’t new, but it was previously only included in the carousel documentation. If you are in the education space and provide educational classes online, it’s absolutely worth checking out.

In essence, to qualify for educational course rich results, which display as a carousel for summary pages, you must add structured data to at least three courses. 

Video Indexing Report Is Available in Google Search Console

Google Search Console users will soon have access to a video indexing report, which is big news  for marketers that leverage videos as part of their strategy. The rollout will occur over the next several months, so it might not appear in your Search Console dashboard immediately. If you don’t have video on your site, you won’t see a link to the report.

The report provides information about which videos on your site are indexed and identifies any issues related to non-indexed videos. Once you have remedied any problems, you can validate pages through the report and monitor their indexing status. If you publish lots of video content, this report will likely prove invaluable. 

Google Adds Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Support to Search Console Insights

Google Analytics 4 properties are now compatible with Search Console Insights. This means you’ll have access to more data about how users discover your content, which in turn helps you identify opportunities for improvement.

Previously, Search Console Insights drew data from older versions of GA properties (collectively called “Universal Analytics” or “UA”) that will fade out in 2023. Keep in mind that you’ll need to connect GA properties with relevant GSC properties to access Insights data. 

DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and Qwant Sign Open Letter on User Choice

The CEOs of three influential search engines—DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and Qwant—have signed an open letter aimed at “companies, consumer organizations, and regulators” with the power to affect fair choice rules. 

In essence, the letter asks for the implementation of a series of “common-sense principles” that will allow users to switch search engines and browsers with ease. These include the periodic presentation of choice screens (on-screen windows with options to switch services), equal preference for apps, and the use of functional ability as the sole inclusion criterion in choice windows.

We’ll know in time if any of these changes come into effect. In any case, the open letter provides an interesting window into how top-level search engine executives are thinking. And giving users the ability to choose what technologies they use is likely a benefit to the industry as a whole.

Google Fully Retires My Business App 

The mobile app Google My Business is no longer available. If you try to access the app on your phone you’ll be redirected to Maps or Search, from where you can respond to customer messages, manage your profile, and access performance data. Most of the features of the My Business App have been absorbed into Maps. 

W3C to Become a Non-Profit

The World Wide Web Consortium, the main organization responsible for creating and implementing standards that govern the web, has announced that it will adopt a non-profit structure. 

How W3C grows and matures is of relevance to SEOs because the regulations that it develops affect the structure of the web in fundamental and important ways. Most recently, W3C has been involved in determining standards that will govern user privacy and has been tied to accessibility and proper code compliance, which directly involves SEO and crawlability.

It is hoped that transitioning to a non-profit model will allow for more “rapid development,” allowing W3C to respond quickly to changes, while accessing individuals with specialized skill sets more effectively.

Google Test Celebrity Rich Cards

Google has been testing “rich cards” that display celebrities' net worth, age, top videos, and other details. 

If the feature is rolled out, it probably won’t mean much for you in terms of traffic. But it’s an interesting development nonetheless. And if you’re like us, you’re probably a bit curious about how much all those mega-stars have in the bank. 

And that brings us nicely to the end of this roundup. As usual, here’s a joke to finish off. What style of haircuts do wealthy SEOs get? Rich snippets.