Episode 176 contains the notable Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of August 28 – Sep 1, 2023.

1. Google Announces Lighthouse 11 with New Accessibility Audits, and LCP Bug Fix – Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is a free tool to help you find and fix issues slowing down your web application. PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on the user experience of a page on both mobile and desktop devices, and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved. An open-source tool called Lighthouse collects and analyzes lab data that’s combined with real-world data from the Chrome User Experience Report dataset. 

Google has released the latest version (v.11) of Lighthouse, an open-source tool that helps developers and webmasters measure the performance of their websites. Lighthouse 11 includes a number of new features and improvements, including:

  • New accessibility audits: Website accessibility is not currently a ranking factor and quite likely not a quality signal. However it’s a best practice for a website to function correctly for as many people as possible. Lighthouse 11 introduces thirteen new accessibility audits that help developers identify and fix accessibility issues on their websites.
  • Changes to how best practices are scored: Lighthouse 11 has changed the way that best practices are scored. This makes it easier for developers to understand how their websites are performing and what they can do to improve their scores.
  • Largest Contentful Paint scoring bug fixed: Lighthouse 11 has fixed a bug that was affecting the scoring of Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). LCP is a measure of how long it takes for the largest content element on a page to become visible.
  • Updated Interaction to Next Paint (INP) to reflect it’s no longer experimental: Lighthouse 11 has updated the Interaction to Next Paint (INP) metric to reflect that it is no longer experimental. INP measures the time it takes for a user to be able to interact with a page after it has loaded. In my opinion, INP is in line to become an official Core Web Vital in 2024.

These changes make Lighthouse 11 a more powerful and useful tool for developers and webmasters who want to improve the performance of their websites.

2. YouTube Creators Can Now Remove Community Guideline Strikes – YouTube has announced that creators will now be able to remove Community Guideline strikes from their channels by completing educational courses. This is a new policy that was introduced in June 2023, and it is designed to help creators learn about the Community Guidelines and how to avoid violating them in the future.

To remove a strike, creators will need to complete a course that covers the Community Guidelines and how to create compliant content. The course is available in several languages, and it takes about an hour to complete. Once the course is completed, the strike will be removed from the channel.

This new policy is a positive step for YouTube creators. It provides them with a way to learn from their mistakes and avoid getting strikes in the future. It also shows that YouTube is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for its users.

3. Your Site’s Language Doesn’t Protect It From Google’s Penalty – Google can issue manual actions to any site, regardless of the language it is written in. This means that sites written in non-native English can still be penalized by Google if they violate the company’s webmaster guidelines.

Google Search Advocate, John Muller was asked if Google penalizes sites written by non-native English writers. Mueller responded that manual actions and algorithm changes are independent of the native language of the authors or the site language. He also said that Google does not have a list of “bad” languages, and that all sites are treated equally.

This means that site owners who write in non-native English need to be just as careful as those who write in English as their first language. They should avoid any practices that could lead to a manual action, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and duplicate content.

4. How Googlebot Handles AI-Generated Content 🧐 – Google’s Martin Splitt was asked how Googlebot’s crawling and rendering was adapting to the increase in AI generated content during a webinar produced by Duda. Martin’s answer provided insights into how Google handles AI generated content and the role of quality control. The questioner wanted to know if there are any special processes happening on Google’s end in response to the AI content in order to deal with the increased crawling and rendering load?

Martin did not explicitly confirm that Google was applying AI detection on the content. However he did confirm that Google was using Quality Detection at multiple stages.

Remember, back in December 2022, Google published a research paper (after conducting extensive qualitative and quantitative analysis over 500 million web articles, the largest-scale study conducted on this topic) where they wrote that while their algorithm was written to find low quality content the researchers discovered that the algorithm was successful in detecting AI generated content.

So if you are thinking of using AI generated content for your site then you need to ask yourself: What is the purpose of this content? Is it to get ranked? Or is it to look great in front of visitors who visits my site? And the most important question you should be asking: Can I live with a penalty from Google?

You can watch the Duda webinar here.

5. URL Structure Doesn’t Matter for SEO, According to Google – Michael Baggelin asked Google’s John Mueller if the URL structure plays a role when it comes to ranking. Here is the original question:
I realize today while research of company service and location in a combination at category structure. Always put /services/ before /location/ (site/service/location/) and bare in mind that location search might always differ on mobile search… automatically I would say 😉 how about that?

John replied with this: “I’m trying to think of where this could play a role, and I don’t think there’s anything on the SEO side where it would. I could see it being relevant for UX or marketing though, maybe users care more about “service” or “location” and seeing it faster in the URL helps them (in search, we don’t show URLs that much, but they can see them in the browser bar). For SEO, we see URLs more as identifiers, with very few exceptions.

In conclusion, your URL structure does not help you with ranking. You need quality content.

6. Google Debunks Redirect Myths: What You Need to Know – In a recent video, Google Search Advocate John Mueller debunked several myths surrounding redirect types. The conversation dispelled long-standing confusion surrounding how Google handles various redirects. One myth is that the use of one redirect type over another can significantly impact PageRank. Mueller clarified that Google does not treat different redirect types differently when it comes to PageRank.

Another myth is that permanent redirects (301s) are irreversible. Mueller said that this is not the case, and that it is possible to reverse a 301 redirect. However, he also cautioned that doing so can have negative consequences for SEO, so it should only be done in exceptional circumstances.

Mueller also addressed the myth that 302 redirects are only temporary. He said that this is not necessarily true, and that 302 redirects can be used to permanently redirect traffic to a new page. However, he also said that it is generally better to use a 301 redirect for permanent redirects, as this will give Google a stronger signal that the old page is no longer relevant.

7. Google: Technical SEO is Not Dead – Google Search Advocate John Mueller recently reaffirmed the ongoing significance of technical SEO. This counters claims that its importance is diminishing.

Mueller’s statement responded to a comment by Yiğit Konur on X, formerly Twitter. Konur claimed “Technical SEO is becoming less important every day.

He went on to say misconceptions surround technical SEO. Some approach it in an excessively complex way. Unless major technical problems occur, the focus should shift to creating and optimizing high-quality content.

In April 2023, Google removed technical items like HTTPS and Core Web Vitals from the ranking systems section. But it quickly clarified these still hold crucial weight. Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said at the time:

It does not say page experience is somehow ‘retired’ or that people should ignore things like Core Web Vitals or being mobile-friendly. The opposite. It says if you want to be successful with the core ranking systems of Google Search, consider these and other aspects of page experience.

Sullivan explained the difference between ranking “systems” and “signals.” The update moved certain page experience factors from “systems” to “signals.”

This change doesn’t diminish their relevance. But it shows they are signals used by other systems.

Mueller’s recent statement underscores technical SEO’s integral role in website success. Despite an evolving SEO landscape, technical SEO remains all open web constructions’ backbone.

8. Google Ads Limited Ad Serving Policy: What You Need to Know – Google Ads has announced a new policy called “Limited Ad Serving” that will affect some advertisers. This policy will limit the number of times that an advertiser’s ads are shown to users, and it will also prevent the ads from being shown in certain places.

The Limited Ad Serving policy is designed to prevent misleading and scammy ads from being shown to users. It will also help to ensure that users only see ads that are relevant to their interests.

The policy will apply to advertisers who are new to Google Ads, or who have a low Quality Score. It will also apply to advertisers who are targeting certain brands with their ads.

If your ads are affected by the Limited Ad Serving policy, you will see a message in your Google Ads account. So it is important to let Google Ads get to know you and that you become a qualified advertiser. How does one become a qualified advertiser? Google said it considers a number of criteria including:

  • User feedback: Our users are able to provide feedback on every ad they are served on Google’s platform, based on whether they had a positive or negative experience with that ad. Google will take that feedback into account.
  • Advertising history: It’s important that advertisers have a record of adhering to our advertising policies.
  • Advertiser Identity Verification: Completing Google’s Advertiser Identity Verification process is an important step in building trust between users and advertisers.

A qualified advertiser’s ad impressions are not limited by this policy. Google said will take into consideration various factors to evaluate whether an advertiser is qualified, such as:

  • Account attributes
  • User activity and reports
  • Account maturity
  • Ad format usage
  • History of policy-compliance
  • Advertiser industry
  • Identity verification status

To become qualified, you should continue to build campaigns and creatives with positive user engagement while Google assesses your account. Make sure you are complying with Google’s advertising policies. And if your account is eligible, consider initiating advertiser verification, Gooogle added.

Google won’t give a timeframe for how long an advertiser account would be limited in terms of serving their ad under this policy. Google wrote, “We will automatically review and update advertisers’ ad serving limits as we continue to monitor your accounts. Unfortunately, we can’t say how long this might take.”

Below are the scenarios in which your ads may be limited:

Advertisers with unclear brand relationships and generic ads: Google said it wants to ensure that users know which advertisers they are interacting with. At times, users may not be seeking content related to a particular advertiser, brand, product, or service; other times they may have a specific brand in mind. In both situations, Google wants to ensure that the identity of the advertiser the user chooses to engage with is unambiguous.

While an advertiser may not intend to purposefully mislead a user or misrepresent themselves, ads that reference other brands and generic ads that have no branding at all may confuse the user into thinking they are interacting with their desired advertiser. In these cases, Google may limit impressions for all branded and generic ads for that advertiser.

Examples that reference a brand where the relationship to the advertiser is unclear include (non-exhaustive):

  • Referencing another brand’s name or likeness (such as an airline or customer service department) in response to a user’s search for that brand
  • Referencing a name or brand closely resembling another brand in response to a user’s general search of an industry (e.g., technology, travel, customer service)
  • Situations where the user has reason to believe they are interacting with another brand
  • Use of a brand logo by an unaffiliated advertiser

Examples when a generic ad may be unclear include (non-exhaustive):

  • Users searching for specific brands, products, or services who encounter unbranded ads from third parties