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Search Engine Recap - Week 7 (2024)

Every week, we provide you with an overview of the most important news and updates from the search engine world, so you can stay ahead of the curve. Welcome to week 7.

Welcome to week 7, where we have updates from both Google and WordPress. Here's a rundown for you.

Google Introduces New Search Features in EEA

Google has rolled out new search features in Europe to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA).

These features include aggregator links to major aggregator sites as well as carousels featuring rich results in travel, local services, and shopping. They are designed to enhance user experience and increase transparency in search.

Google will also provide users with better options to filter search results more precisely.

new search features in europe

These initiatives aim to present users with more relevant information. For instance, Google is testing a new feature for flight-related searches, displaying results from airline websites in a separate unit.

Overall, these new search features are exclusive to users in the European Economic Area (EEA) and are part of Google's efforts to create a more user-focused and competitive digital market in line with the DMA's objectives.

Google, therefore, encourages European businesses - and those serving European users - to express interest in these new features by filling out a form.

Google Improves Fake Review Detection with New AI

Google has enhanced its ability to identify fake reviews by leveraging new AI technology, resulting in blocking over 170 million fake reviews in 2023.

This marks a 45% improvement in accuracy compared to before.

ai technology for finding fake reviews

This AI analyzes patterns to quickly spot suspicious activity, providing a significant advantage for local businesses by protecting them from harmful fake reviews.

Google emphasizes that the effort to combat fake reviews helps ensure that businesses' online reputations accurately reflect customer satisfaction and service quality.

Google Updates its Google-Extended Web Crawler Documentation

Google has updated its Google-Extended web crawler documentation to clarify product changes and their impact on Google search for those wishing to block the crawler.

Updated the Description of the Google-Extended Product Token

This update provides clearer guidance on how publishers can control access to content concerning AI training models.

Google-Extended, launched on September 28, 2023, allows for controlling how websites are crawled, with the option to opt-out of inclusion in AI training datasets through the Robots Exclusion Protocol.

Google has changed the documentation following the renaming of Bard to Gemini apps, specifying that Google-Extended now contributes to Gemini apps and Vertex AI but does not affect Google Search.

This addresses concerns about opting out of data collection for AI. Google confirms that Google-Extended crawling only concerns Gemini apps and does not impact a page's inclusion or ranking in Google search.

New Documentation for Web Stories

Google has updated the documentation for Web Stories in Search Central to reflect changes in where Web Stories are available.

Updated the Availability of Web Stories

Web Stories, visually short content designed for small moments shared by a business, will no longer appear in Google Images.

This content format offers a mobile-focused format for delivering news and information through visual stories. Web Stories were previously available in Google Images, but they are no longer.

According to Google, the changes are made to ensure that the documentation aligns with how the feature appears in Google Search. Now, Web Stories appear as a single result or in a carousel on Google in specific regions and languages, and they may also appear as a single card in the Discover feed, especially in the USA, India, and Brazil.

WordPress Vulnerability Sparks Frustration and Doubt

We also need to talk a bit about WordPress. A content management system most are familiar with and has been in SEO for many years.

But yet again, another plugin is now being looked at closely for its vulnerability to hacking attacks. This time, it's a well-known backup plugin called Backuply, with over 200.000 installations. A high-risk vulnerability has been reported, which could lead to a denial of service attack.

Wordpress Plugins Example

The vulnerability affects the Backuply plugin, valued for its ability to create backups to multiple reliable third-party cloud services and for supporting multiple download options for local copies. This functionality is critical for website recovery after server failures, hacking, or failed updates.

It is strongly recommended that all Backuply users update the plugin as soon as possible to avoid unwanted security incidents. A general recommendation, therefore, is that if necessary, these plugins should be updated.

But it also raises the question whether WordPress is the best and most sustainable CMS for those who want to stay ahead of the curve? Or whether platforms like Webflow are becoming a better solution, as they avoid the many insecure plugins.

Recently, even a WordPress User Survey has been released, showing frustration from users experiencing limitations, and 55% of Wordpress users did not respond that WordPress met their needs.

New Update to Canonicals

Lastly, Google has updated the rel=canonical documentation to clarify how rel=canonical annotations are handled.

Use rel="canonical" Link Annotations

The update clarifies the use of rel=canonical to indicate preferred versions of duplicated content and emphasizes that annotations suggesting alternative versions of a page, such as language or media versions, are ignored. Instead, the use of link rel="alternate" is encouraged.

The changes do not reflect a new practice but emphasize existing guidelines.

Takeaways and Recommendations

In the past week, we've seen several updates in Google's documentation to clarify how the guidance should be interpreted. This aligns well with Google's recent focus, including updating its SEO Starter Guide.

Additionally, we've also seen updates to search features, aligning with the European market's guidelines. Google has also delivered another update to its AI technology, enabling better identification of fake reviews for the benefit of local businesses.

Lastly - but not least - yet another piece of news about insecure plugins on WordPress has sparked debate about the system's strength, which was also underscored with frustration in a user survey. This leaves the question of whether WordPress can remain competitive as a CMS in 2024 or if companies are wiser to explore other avenues.

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.