Google Search Updates – March ‘22 Changes
Spring has sprung – and with it, some big announcements in the search world. For instance, did you know your Universal Analytics will stop working next year? Have you heard product reviews have been the target of a third algorithmic update?
If not, read on and take a look at our picks of the stories you need to keep tabs on this month.
Google Announces Deprecation of Universal Analytics in 2023
Starting off, we have probably the biggest announcement of the month – the retirement of Universal Analytics (UA) in 2023.On March 16th, Google announced that Universal Analytics will be put to bed as of July 1st 2023 (or October 1st 2023 for Universal Analytics 360 users) and will no longer be processing hits after these dates. Instead, users will now need to switch to the latest version – GA4 – to maintain insight in the future.
Bear in mind, GA4 has been available to switch over to since October 2020 – and this is Google’s way of ensuring the rest of us now follow suit and make the switch. But what happens to your historical UA data? Google states that:
“After July 1, 2023, you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in your Universal Analytics property for at least six months. We know your data is important to you, and we strongly encourage you to export your historical reports during this time.”
Exporting your historic data is extremely important as UA properties will no longer be available in the future. Google have not yet confirmed an exact date for when access will be removed, but bear this in mind and get your ducks in a row now.
Two and a half years ago, we introduced Google Analytics 4 to address evolving measurement standards and help businesses succeed. Today, we’re announcing that we’ll begin sunsetting Universal Analytics next year.— Google Analytics (@googleanalytics) March 16, 2022
Learn more about what to expect → https://t.co/QPGatOiZLB pic.twitter.com/zRVkds6hir
Take Action & Adopt GA4
If you haven’t yet made the switch to GA4, now’s the time to start preparing and get it set up as soon as possible. (Seriously – this is important!) The earlier you start, the more historical data you’ll have to refer back to later on. At MRS for instance, we are advising that our clients make the switch to GA4 no later than June this year so that they have at least a year’s worth of historical data to compare YoY when UA tracking stops working.
We wrote more about the end of Universal Analytics earlier in the month, so take a look for a larger break down on the matter.
Highly Cited Labels Added to US Google Search
Fake news and misinformation continues to be something that search and social giants are forever battling against. And, it seems Google has taken another step to give prominence to, and help users determine trustworthiness of the sources they see online with two new features (currently in US results only).
New cited labels will soon launch for Top Stories (mobile) results and will help users to see what stories have frequently been cited by other news outlets. This essentially confirms to users that this is a story that can be relied upon as it has been cited by many other journalists (and therefore likely contains something unique and valuable).
In order to get this label, you need to be highly cited and linked to comparatively to others reporting. So, journalists should bear this mind moving forward – as this label is likely to enhance click through rate compared to a listing without.
Rapidly Evolving Topics
Another change is a notice informing users to come back later when a topic is rapidly changing and evolving – again to reduce the spread of misinformation. This does however mean that if breaking news is being covered, news publications are likely to experience lessened traffic when the notice appears on screen.
See this notice in play below:
Google is launching a highly cited label for top stories and a notice to come back later for search results that are rapidly changing and evolving https://t.co/ya2ZJovYrw pic.twitter.com/v2O4PwtKNw— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) March 31, 2022
Product Reviews 3.0 Update Rolled Out
In March, Google began to rollout the third version of its products reviews update to continue to ensure that users are accessing the best product review related content out there. Google has said that ultimately, that the aim of these updates is to promote product reviews that go above and beyond (compared to say – thin repeated content on other pages).
Our March 2022 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take the next few weeks to complete. We’ve also extended our advice for multi-product reviews. Check out our blog post for details: https://t.co/CSZaaFHgXN— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) March 23, 2022
With the third release, Google hasn’t directly been specific on what has changed this time round, stating that it “builds on that work to enhance our ability to identify high quality product reviews”.
But the key takeaway here is to review and ensure that any product review content follows Google’s up-to-date best practice.
Big Tech Dominance Forced to Loosen its Hold on Service Bias
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like it’s one rule for some and not others…? Well, many have felt this way about big tech firms for a while now – specifically when it comes to opening up their services and platforms to other businesses. (We’re looking at you Apple and Google).
Now, European lawmakers have agreed on new rules (expected to come into force from January 2023) under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to force these tech giants to play fair, and allow other companies a look in.
For example, on Android systems – new rules would mean Google will have to offer alternatives to its search engine, Chrome browser and Maps app. And, Apple would be forced to open its App Store to third-party payment options other than its own.
The reason this has come about is that currently, with tech giants’ vast market dominance, it can be nigh on impossible for the competition to get a look in, and this anti-competitive behaviour is finally being cracked down on.
According to the BBC, “the new law will affect companies with a value of more than €75bn, annual sales of €7.5bn and at least 45 million monthly users.”
So, expect to see less platform bias in the future!
Struggling to Keep Tabs on The Latest Goings on in Search?
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