The latest from Google Search News: the December 23 recap
We are probably still caught up in the festive mood of the past few days, so it may be useful to start the blog year at a “slowed down” pace, turning our gaze to the really near past. In our support comes the latest episode of Google Search News, which allows us to discover the latest relevant updates made to the Search ecosystem in 2023, offering as usual information and insights to website developers, search marketing professionals and SEO specialists, also useful for redefining strategies for 2024.
Google Search News of December 2023: the episode summary
The host of the episode is as usual John Mueller, even more humorous and festive than usual (here also in a “double” version, split between the classic John broadcasting from the Swiss Alps and a phantom Jim who instead stands against a tropical, marine backdrop), who first anticipates the topics covered.
- The news on structured data markups
Google’s work on structured data, which was already described in the previous episode of Google Search News in October 2023, continues. Since then, the search engine has announced new types of markup for a variety of different topics, and in particular there is now course information, which helps users find content from sites in SERPs with rich results showing details such as pricing, education level, ratings, and duration; vehicle-specific card listings for car dealerships; and specific learning videos as a tool for students and teachers to discover content on the topic; markup for vacation rentals with an advanced special result that allow travelers to more easily discover the best lodging options; an update on organization markup (which now pulls in additional administrative data such as name, address, contact information, and various business identifiers); and finally, two specific markups for discussion forums and profile page.
Mueller reminds us that structured data is primarily used to present more context in search, and there is no guarantee that the information we put on our pages is then actually used.
- Search Console Updates
Changes are also in the works for Google Search Console, described as “a tool to help your site succeed in searches.”
First of all, Search Console already has reports and tests for the structured data types mentioned earlier, allowing us to monitor the returns (and performance) of the pages to which we have added the new markup.
In addition, the Page Experience report has now also been simplified to provide an overview of Core Web Vitals and HTTPS processing, and Mueller is a quick reminder that Essential Web Signals (Google’s chosen translation for Italy) is one way to measure speed and interactivity of a web page. Then, the testing tool for robots.txt, the text file for robots that scan Web sites, has also changed: this tool is within Settings and gives an overview of all subdomains on the property.
In this regard, adds the Search Advocate, Google is removing the crawl rate limiting tool in Search Console because it is no longer needed: over the years, the search engine’s systems have in fact improved in determining an appropriate and sustainable crawl rate. As before, however, if we find that Googlebot is crawling too much that stresses our site, we can use the standard 503 or 429 HTTP status codes to slow it down.
- The point about algorithmic updates (and more)
Mueller then takes stock of the latest changes to Google’s algorithms, which in recent months have received core updates, a spam update and a reviews system update, as you can also monitor from the section we have here on the site devoted precisely to Google updates.
On a broader level, Google has added Google-Extended, a new user agent for robots.txt, which web publishers can use to manage whether their sites help improve Bard’s generative AI and Vertex API. It also launched Notes, a fair way to share knowledge about Search: currently an experiment with activation in Search Labs and initially available in the United States and India.
- Decisions about cookies
Google Chrome is slowly eliminating so-called third-party cookies: the change has been being implemented for users globally for several months and, in practice, has already shown some effects on e-commerce checkouts and commenting or login systems, among others. It is possible that some types of sites may not be affected, but Google recommends testing to be sure, referring to Chrome’s documentation for full details.