Updated 5. April 2022 by Peter Ottendahl Anberg

Google News March 2022

Google News March 2022

March has passed and brought with it some large product updates from Google (saying goodbye to old tools) and some great confirmations for how the algorithm works at Google. 

So, without further ado: Read on to get the latest and greatest from the world of SEO.

Structured data gets a faceliftt

The GSC view for structured data issues is now much more helpful. Google has added a lot more helpful context to structured data issues. In essence, it’s not adding new features to GSC as much as it is about making the details more explicit.

How to react:

  • This change should not provoke any big changes to your marketing projects.
  • Will make technical SEO fixes easier
  • Especially for nested attributes it will be easier to see which errors affect your site.

Say goodbye to the URL parameter tool 

The seldom used, well-hidden URL parameters tool is being sunset during April. It’s an old tool from the nascent days of SEO. The tool is used to instruct Google on how to understand and handle URL parameters (those sneaky “?” that make their way into URLs). 

How to react:

  • Due to low usage and low impact, the tool is being removed.
  • It had its place in the old Wild West of SEO, but now Google knows parameters much better
  • In the future, rules for parameters should be specified in the robots.txt if needed – but trust that Google is generally pretty good at understanding them.

Update (again) to review best practices

2021 and 2022 are years where Google has been working hard to improve product reviews. Very needed in my opinion as the space is filled with bad actors. Read more news on the newest update here. It’s about surfacing results that are authentic and helpful and not rewarding spam and low-quality posts.

How to react:

  • Google answers three central questions in the highlighted blog post.
  • They also reiterate the importance of authentic, factual reviews of products the authors have actually tested. 
  • In the future, work hard to adhere to the best practices lined out by Google.

New “Highly cited” label highlights original news stories

A new label for search will highlight news articles that are heavily cited by other news organizations. 

How to react

  • Rolling out for US mobile now and globally afterwards
  • Will mostly impact news stories
  • Ostensibly this is done to “fight misinformation”
  • Focus on digital PR efforts for your link building. 

Link to seasonal products from your home page

For seasonal products, Mueller advises that it’s important to show to Google that this is important to you. One such way is by linking to your seasonal deals and products straight from the home-page.

How to react:

  • Linking from the home page means you value a page highly
  • Since not all pages can be equally important, the structure of your internal linking is a strong signal to Google.
  • A classic example here is the highlighted banner at the top linking to seasonal deals.

Alt tags don’t matter for web search, only image

Adding alt tags is great for accessibility reasons. It’s also great for getting your images to rank in image search. But for web search, it doesn’t matter.

How to react:

  • Mueller recently commented that alt tags are only ranking factors for image search.
  • So if you don’t care about ranking an image, and you don’t need to improve accessibility, alt tags are not needed.
  • He also reiterates the need for “descriptive alt tags”
  • On  the other hand, adding alt tags is such a low-impact task that you might as well always do it.

CWV is mostly a tiebreaker

CWV performance mostly dictates rankings on equal content, and isn’t always used. An interesting question for Mueller led to interesting advice: CWV is mostly a tiebreaker for similar content.

The questions is also interesting for what it teaches us about the algorithms. Namely that not all queries are equally affected by all algorithms at all times.

How to react

  • CWV is mostly a tiebreaker within SERPs with similar content
  • Some ranking factors can be “eased off” for some searches
  • Core Web Vitals mostly affect rankings on a small scale
  • Do in-depth SERP research for the queries you’re trying to rank for.

Farewell, UA!

Google Analytics Universal Analytics is being sunset from 2023. A mainstay of website analytics for many years, GA UA is now being sunset from next year. Instead, we will have to say hi to Google Analytics 4.

How to react:

  • You should as soon as possible set up GA4 so it can start collecting data
  • It will also help you feel comfortable navigating the new system
  • UA will stop receiving data from July 2023. 
  • This will mark the entry of GA4 as the only analytics product supported.