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Search Engine Recap - Week 51

Each week, we delve into the latest updates in the search engine world and discuss how marketers should adapt. This week, you get the Christmas edition, which also happens to be the last for this year. Welcome to week 51.

search news week 51

In this final week leading up to Christmas, we cover everything from structured data (again) to local SEO, spam guidelines, and of course, AI.

Google Updates Structured Data (Again): Focus on Authorship in Q&A and Forum Content

It's become almost a weekly event for Google to update its structured data documentation - a technical way of organizing content so that Google can better understand the signals.

This time, Google has focused on authorship in Q&A and discussion forums.

Going forward, Google wants links to author profiles in forums and Q&A content. The changes include an improved 'InteractionCounter' data type for forums and mandatory author links for Q&A content.

This update reflects Google's focus on content authors and those who create content. This will impact how content is displayed in search results.

The timing makes sense, as content is being generated across all channels today, often incorporating AI. Google wants to ensure that authors are known, whether it's a blog post or comments in a forum.

discussions and forums example google

Here are some tips to take away:

  • Adapt forum and Q&A structured data for new author guidelines.

  • Ensure that author profiles are accurately represented in structured data.

  • Track changes in search results following these updates.

  • Use these changes to authenticate and highlight user-generated content (UGC), potentially improving rankings.

You can read about the Q&A and forum updates from Google here.

Opening Hours are a Local Ranking Factor on Google

Google has recently reinforced the value of "openness" as a local ranking factor. This change places greater emphasis on the accuracy of business opening hours listed in Google Business Profiles, affecting visibility in local searches and on Maps.

This is particularly crucial for those working in local SEO and wanting to be found in search results.

The takeaways here are to ensure accurate opening hours and keep them updated. Avoid false 24/7 opening hours, which can negatively affect your rankings if not true.

Also, it's been observed that businesses closed for several days have disappeared from search results for a period.

Especially during Christmas or other holidays, be mindful of this if opening hours change. It's important to align changes with operations to enhance the overall user experience.

google searchliaison tweet on openness

Above, you can see confirmation from Google itself (screenshot from tweet).

Google Updates Spam and Ranking System Guidelines

Google has updated its spam and ranking guidelines to address pages with 'non-consensual' explicit images and 'removal requests' for the same.

The update states that Google downgrades domains that use this type of content and those that charge a fee for its removal.

This underscores the importance of consent in content used across the web. For some news outlets or image galleries, this may require a cleanup and better monitoring of content - unless they wish to lose their audience.

Therefore, a good piece of advice is to quickly get a handle on Google's updated guidelines if you're using explicit images and sharing personal information in the same vein.

You can read Google's spam guidelines here.

New Google Labs Design Includes Relevant AI Tools

We've saved the best for last: Google Labs' new AI tools.

Google's new Labs design includes several AI experiments, all with functionalities that could be gifts under the Christmas tree for us in marketing.

google labs new design

The experiments include features that enhance search, creativity, and productivity. This includes Google Search Generative Experience (SGE), TextFX for AI writing, Google Bard with extensions, NotebookLM for research, and Duet AI for Workspace collaboration. Tools that all demonstrate Google's commitment to integrating AI into various work processes and sectors.

So dive in and explore the tools (if available in your region) and understand their potential impact on search and content creation. I am sure that these tools will improve SEO, content marketing, and creative processes in businesses going forward.

You can explore it all here in Google Labs.

Takeaways and Recommendations

We're approaching Christmas and the end of 2023.

A year that in many ways has been the most reformative in recent times in search.

With everything from AI's renewed entry into SEO and marketing broadly, we are facing a world with entirely new opportunities in 2024 for conveying products and messages - SGE will be particularly interesting here.

Meanwhile, the latest week's updates on 'author' structured data, information on opening hours, and updates on spam guidelines show that it's more crucial than ever to help our target groups understand who is behind the content.

It's important that in a time of vast amounts of AI-generated content, we show accurate information and demonstrate transparency if we want to stay on top in search results and the competition overall.

With that as a backdrop, we enter an exciting new year where those who seize opportunities and adapt will be at the forefront.

Google, with its update of the Google Labs design, has already set the stage for many exciting experiments that in their own way have marked next year's focus in SEO.

Thomas Bogh

CPO & Partner

Thomas er CPO samt Partner, hvorfor fokus til dagligt ligger i evig analyse af Googles algoritme og udvikling af SEO som produkt. Thomas har arbejdet med SEO i flere år med stor passion for at sprede know how på, hvordan man som virksomhed implementerer SEO bedst i sin forretning. Ved siden af Bonzer bidrager Thomas med viden til læserne hos bl.a. Search Engine Journal, DanDomain og Detailfolk. Herudover har han også undervist i Digital Mediestrategi på Copenhagen Business School i København. Har du ønsker eller spørgsmål vedr. SEO universet, kan du altid kontakte ham på [email protected].

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A brief meeting, where we review your position in the market and present the opportunities.