Updated 1. February 2022 by Peter Ottendahl Anberg

Google News January 2022

Google News January 2022

It’s Google news time! 2022 has arrived and as marketing teams worldwide get their action plans cemented, their channels evaluated and their strategies finalized, I think it makes sense to keep abreast of the updates of the largest search engine in the world, Google.

When it comes to SEO, the landscape changes quickly and often. 

So,  I’ll walk you through the updates, notes and messages that are coming from Google.

Spoiler alert: You don’t have any big algorithm updates to worry about. But there are helpful hints and tips to find. 

Google is going to crawl less in the future.

Citing environmental and sustainability concerns, Google considers reducing the amount of “refresh” crawls in the future. 

Google’s Gary Illyes states it like this: 

“We are carbon-free, since I don’t even know, 2007 or something, 2009, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t reduce even more our footprint on the environment. And crawling is one of those things that early on, we could chop off some low-hanging fruits.”

This boils down to the following: Google often comes back to a page to see if it’s changed. The thing is, most pages on the internet really don’t change that often. Think about your privacy policy or your “About us” page. So to save on unnecessary server capacity, Google is going to become better at figuring out how they can reduce that. 

The fact of the matter:

  • Discovery crawls are unlikely to be impacted.
  • Google wants to improve their ability to discern between sites that need refresh crawls and those that don’t. 

New robots tag: indexifembedded

Google has announced a new tag especially for larger publishers. The indexifembedded tag allows sites to both have media pages noindexed and have their media content indexed.

Essentially it’s about offering a larger degree of control to websites that organize their content in a certain way. 

To exemplify, Google states the following:

“… if podcast.host.example/playpage?podcast=12345 has both the noindex and indexifembedded tag, it means Google can embed the content hosted on that page in recipe.site.example/my-recipes.html during indexing.”

The details:

  • Use the tag if to get content indexed when it’s embedded through iframes in other pages, even when the content page has the noindex tag.
  • Should be used in combination with the noindex tag
  • This is a very edge-case tag that is probably not going to be useful to most websites.

Impressions are a poor proxy for search volume

Due to Google’s hyperpersonalized nature, impressions are a poor stand-in for search volume. Mueller recently made the point that impressions aren’t a great way to ascertain search volume, even if you are in the first place. 

A common sense approach would dictate that if you’re first for a query, you would be shown for every search made on that query. That means that impressions should equal the actual search volume for a time period.

However, keep in mind that the metric in Google Search Console is actually the average ranking position. That’s why it’s often going to say 1.3 or 2.6 instead of 1 or 2. 

The reason for that is that your ranking position is going to fluctuate during any given period. Further, queries made by some people might not even have you show up. Not only that, depending on the SERP features (how many Ads listings, knowledge panels, featured snippets etc.) some people might not even scroll down far enough to see your links. 

The conclusion is this: Impressions are not going to give you an accurate measure of how large search volume actually is. However, while Mueller completely sweeps the idea of using it for search volume away, the facts above should mean that it’s probably at the very least a good measurement of minimum search volume. 

Google uses different algorithms for different languages

We should be aware that different languages have different search algorithms used to understand that language. This is necessary because not all languages are structured in the same way. For example, some languages don’t use spaces to demarcate different words in the same way English does. In Danish, “Search engine optimization” is “Søgemaskineoptimering”. 

Why is that interesting?

Well, for most of us it’s probably not that important. The most interesting part of Gary Muellers answer linked above is the following:

Google cannot with certainty say that content piece A is just content piece B translated. So that means we have to be very careful to implement the correct hreflang tags to make sure we tell Google this.

Google Chrome and Google Analytics are not used for ranking

Logic would dictate it and now it’s confirmed: Google does not use Analytics or Chrome data to ascertain behavioural signals.

Why is that good? Well, otherwise it would provide a very unfair advantage to websites that actually do use Google Analytics. And in some spaces, where Google Chrome is perhaps used less, Google would have little idea on how to rank content by behavioural signals.

Imagine you wrote content in the internet privacy space. You might be philosophically opposed to using Analytics, and your users might prefer a more privacy-minded browser than Chrome. In that case, Google wouldn’t be able to have data to help it rank.

The details:

  • Only for Core Web Vitals is it used.
  • Meaning that while bounce rate and average time on site are good to improve, it’s not to improve SEO rankings.

Google Announces New API to Inspect URLs

With the abundance of indexing issues, having easy access to URL-level data has never been more important. Google has just announced a new API with which you can get data at the URL level and thus troubleshoot indexing.

In most cases you get far with the manual tool, but if you have a lot of pages, this is a good idea to set up.

You can read more about it and try it out right here.

90% of your visitors would give their email for a great deal

Together with Boston Consulting Group, Google has recently completed a study on conversion. We are all interested in more conversions, so this study on what it takes before a user is willing to cough up his details is extremely interesting reading.

You can see the full study here, and otherwise I will highlight a few important points below.

First of all, about 1/3 of the respondents are willing to share their email without getting anything in return. But if we look at the different incentives, it is only here that it becomes really interesting. 75% of respondents do not feel particularly excited about newsletters, even though it is one of the most popular conversion features that websites make.

On the contrary, you probably have to come up with something concrete to get the most: discounts and product samples are some of the things that encourage your visitors the most.

New instructions for structured data for recipes

Google has recently changed their guide to the use of structured data on recipes (Recipe markup). The change is really super simple: In the old guide you could specify a minimum and maximum amount of time it takes to make, while you need to be much more precise in the new one.

Find the guide here.

New Page Experience report for desktop

The traditional page experience report in Search Console, which shows how user-friendly your page is, has just been given a specific edition for desktop. The classic really focused on the mobile, which is still one of the most important to get a handle on, but now you can also get the exact overview for the users who still prefer the computer.

See more here.

Geotargeting can hurt your SEO work

Not many people know about it, but deep inside Google Search Console you can actually set which geographic areas you want to target. It is also known as “geotargeting.” In a recent issue of Webmaster Hangout John Mueller specifically confirmed that one must be very aware of the use of this particular setting.

It goes without saying that if you have set your website to hit Norway, then Google will be less likely to let you rank in Denmark. It’s rarely a problem, but something to keep in mind especially if you publish English language content and want to hit either a specific English-speaking country or more broadly.