Google Search News, what has changed in September 2022
Search Console, e-Commerce, search algorithms and much more: the month of September was also a sprint month for Google, with many interventions and novelties affecting the complex world of Search (and more generally the whole Big G ecosystem). To recap all the effects of this work comes in our support the traditional appointment with Google Search News, the series on YouTube entrusted to John Mueller, who precisely tells us everything that has changed or is changing in Google’s house.
Google Search, highlights of the last few months
As usual, the Googler takes us on a tour of the main news that has affected Google Search in recent months and that has also impacted the work of SEOs and site managers: specifically, the topics of this episode cover new reports in Search Console, ranking tips for content creators, the increased focus on digital commerce, and other updates from the resources of Search Central, Google’s information home.
The first aspect highlighted by Mueller is the significant growth of e-Commerce in Search, which convinced Google to introduce some specific features and tools for those dealing with sites engaged in digital commerce.
The interventions for e-Commerce sites
“Whether you are selling products directly or working indirectly with merchants, we have some updates for you,” says John Mueller presenting precisely the latest developments available on the Search system.
The first intervention is the introduction of a new annotation within the structured data, namely “Pros and Cons”, which can help users view a high-level summary of a review. This summary appears directly in search in the form of a small snippet of text that highlights precisely what are the main pros and cons reported by reviews.
In addition, Google recently announced the extension of eligibility to product experiences through the use of structured data, previously available only to Merchant Center users: features include shopping knowledge panel, popular products, and Google Images and Lens features. Google has updated the documentation to enable these features and added a new “merchant listings” report in Search Console.
Updates to the ranking system
There have also been substantial interventions inherent in the ranking system and search algorithms, which have been affected by various types of updates and improvements in recent months.
The first mentioned by Mueller is Helpful Content Update, which as we know is the update launched in late August for English searches only (at least for the time being) with the goal of “helping people find great content made by and for people.” In short, recalls the Search Advocate, content creators should focus on making “people-centric content and avoid focusing only on search engines,” and from a technical standpoint HCU “is a site-wide signal whose process is fully automated”-for those sites affected, improvements will be considered over time.
In addition, two other Google Search-related interventions have arrived in recent weeks: the first is one of the classic and periodic core updates, called the September 2022 Core Update, which serve Google to fine-tune the quality of its SERPs. At about the same time, then, the fifth Product Reviews Update, the algorithmic change that affects content that deals with product reviews, started for English searches only.
What changes in the Search Console
News has also come to Search Console, the platform that “helps explain how a website is performing in Google Search and provides site owners with information about potential problems and areas for improvement,” as Mueller summarizes.
The first action is the introduction of a video indexing report, which allows users to determine which videos are being indexed and what might be preventing others from being indexed. Also on this topic, Google has also improved the URL Inspection tool to provide information about videos.
Another change concerns the HTTPS report: “Sites use HTTPS to communicate securely with users because it authenticates the website and protects the confidentiality and integrity of transmitted data,” says the Search Advocate, which then points out that “HTTPS is part of the Page Experience ranking factor.” With the new report, it is easier to recognize any problems that prevent a page from being served securely.
More generally, in recent times Google has simplified the way it ranks pages, items, and issues in Search Console, so that it is easier to focus on critical issues that may affect a site’s visibility in Search and prioritize the right work.
Still, the geographic targeting setting and the hreflang report in Search Console will no longer be available, although (of course) hreflang annotations continue to be supported.
Updates to official documentation
In the last part of the video, Mueller mentions some changes introduced in recent months to Google’s official documentation.
In particular, the Search Advocate reports that in July the Search Quality Rater guidelines were updated, which are the guidelines intended primarily for quality raters that help Google evaluate the efficiency of its algorithms (but also useful for us to understand the direction the search engine is taking in identifying page quality).
Finally, some changes have also been made to the documentation for developers, where, for example, technical information has been added about the amount of bytes of HTML that Googlebot will scan: the limit is 15MB and, although it does not affect most sites, it is a “nice curiosity to mention to developers.” Still, Google added best practices for feeds for the Follow feature in Google Discover, currently available in the United States.