Episode 185 contains the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Oct 30 – Nov 3, 2023.

1. Mobile-First Indexing: Google’s 7-Year Mission Accomplished! – Imagine a world where your smartphone is the key to unlocking the vast potential of the internet. That’s the vision Google has pursued for nearly seven years, and they’ve just announced a significant milestone: the completion of mobile-first indexing. This means that Google now primarily uses the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking across all websites.

Back in 2016, Google embarked on this journey, recognizing the shift towards mobile internet usage. By 2018, half of the websites in Google’s search results were indexed this way. Fast forward to today, and Google has officially declared the process complete. What does this mean for you? It’s simple: if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re not speaking the same language as Google’s search engine—and potentially missing out on valuable traffic.

For the few sites that still don’t work on mobile devices, Google will continue to use its legacy desktop crawler, but this is a temporary measure. The message is clear: mobile optimization is no longer optional; it’s essential.

As a business owner, this update is a call to action. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, with responsive design and content that shines on smaller screens. This isn’t just about staying in Google’s good graces—it’s about providing your customers with the best experience, no matter how they find you.

Google’s update is a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of the web and the importance of keeping pace with these changes. As mobile-first indexing becomes the norm, it’s an opportunity to review your online presence and ensure that your business is set up for success in a mobile-centric world.

P.S. Don’t let your website get left behind in the desktop era. Embrace mobile optimization and open the door to a world of opportunities.

2. Google Launches Nov’23 Core Update –  Google has announced its November 2023 Core Update. This update is the latest in a series of adjustments that Google makes to its search algorithms, which can significantly impact where your site appears in search results.

The November update is particularly noteworthy because it’s the fourth broad core algorithm update of the year, following closely on the heels of the October 2023 Core Update. These updates are part of Google’s ongoing efforts to improve the searcher’s experience by providing the most relevant and high-quality results.

What’s new with this update? Google has improved a different core system than the one adjusted last month. This means that even if you’ve made recent changes to your site, you might still see fluctuations in your search rankings. Google’s guidance remains the same: focus on creating high-quality content that provides value to your users.

If your site’s rankings are negatively impacted by an update, Google advises that there aren’t specific actions to take to recover. However, they do offer a list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update. It’s also possible to see a bit of recovery between core updates, but the most significant changes typically occur after subsequent updates. 

In conclusion, Google’s Core Updates are a reminder of the importance of having a robust content strategy that prioritizes user experience. By focusing on creating valuable, high-quality content, you’re more likely to weather the storm of algorithm changes and maintain a strong presence in search results.

3.  According to Google, Small Websites Can Win in the Ever-Evolving Search Landscape – In the digital age, where the internet seems dominated by large players, it’s easy to wonder if small websites still have a fighting chance. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison with over 25 years in the search space, shared an encouraging perspective that’s vital for you as a business owner to understand.

Search engines have evolved tremendously since the pre-Google era, and with each update, concerns arise about the visibility of small sites. Yet, history has shown us that small sites have not only survived but can thrive and become leaders in their niches. Sullivan himself has witnessed this growth firsthand, having run two successful small sites before joining Google.

The key takeaway? Google’s goal is to reward great content, regardless of the site’s size. They are committed to the success of the open web ecosystem, where quality content leads to satisfaction all around—for searchers, content creators, and the search engines themselves.

However, the web is dynamic, with changing content and shifting user expectations. Google continuously adapts, striving to improve search results. This includes recognizing valuable contributions from various sources, including forums and personal experiences, ensuring a diverse mix of results.

For you, the message is clear: don’t get caught up in an “expert arms race” or create content solely with Google’s algorithms in mind. Instead, focus on what benefits your readers. Author bios, for instance, should be crafted for your audience, not for search engine optimization. Quality content that serves your readers’ expectations aligns naturally with Google’s ranking principles.

Sullivan emphasizes that there’s no checklist for success. Instead, he points to guidelines that help assess if content is genuinely people-first, such as providing original information or analysis. If your content consistently delivers value and leaves visitors thinking, “Wow, that was great. I learned something. That was helpful,” you’re on the right track.

Remember, it’s not about being labeled as an “expert” or having the perfect About page—it’s about creating content that resonates with and serves your audience. As a business owner, focusing on delivering great content is your key to thriving in the search landscape.

P.S. For more insights on creating helpful content, visit Google’s guide here: Creating Helpful Content.

4. Unpacking the Real Impact of Keyword Stuffing on Your Site – In the realm of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), “keyword stuffing” has been a buzzword for all the wrong reasons. But what does it truly mean for your website’s content? Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, sheds light on this topic, clarifying that keyword stuffing isn’t about the number of times a word is used. Instead, it’s about the context and quality of your writing.

Keyword stuffing refers to cramming a webpage with keywords or numbers to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. This often results in content that sounds unnatural or out of context. For example, repeating “unlimited app store credits” to an excessive degree can be flagged as keyword stuffing. It’s not the repetition per se that’s the issue; it’s when the repetition leads to non-sensible patterns and unhelpful writing.

Sullivan advises against writing with Google’s algorithms as your primary audience. Phrases shouldn’t be repeated unnaturally just to ensure Google “gets it.” Instead, focus on how people consume content. Google’s sophisticated language analysis can understand meaning and concepts without the need for over-repetition. The best practice is to write naturally, as if you’re explaining something to a person, not a search engine.

This insight is crucial for you as a business owner. The content on your website should be crafted for your customers, providing them with value and a pleasant reading experience. If your content is engaging, informative, and written in a natural tone, you’re already aligning with Google’s preference for high-quality, user-focused content.

Remember, the goal is not to outsmart search engines but to create content that genuinely serves your audience. By doing so, you’ll naturally improve your site’s SEO and foster a trustworthy relationship with your customers.

5. Write for Your Readers, Not for Google – In the digital world, where Google’s algorithms can feel like an enigma, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, offers a simple yet profound piece of advice: “Stop thinking ‘What should I do for Google?’ when writing content.” Instead, focus on what your readers need and want. This shift in perspective is not just refreshing; it’s crucial for creating content that resonates with your audience and, ironically, performs well on Google too.

Sullivan’s guidance comes as a reminder that the content you produce should cater to the interests and queries of your readers, not to the perceived demands of search engines. The essence of his message is to prioritize the quality and usefulness of your content over SEO tactics. Google’s ranking systems are designed to reward content that serves readers well, which is why your primary goal should be to address the needs and questions of your audience.

This approach is more than just a best practice; it’s a strategic move in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO. By focusing on your readers, you’re likely to naturally include the keywords and topics they’re searching for, which aligns with how Google assesses and ranks pages. Sullivan reiterates this point, encouraging content creators to write in a way that’s most helpful for their audience.

For you, this means taking a step back from the technicalities of SEO and asking yourself: What information does my audience seek? How can I provide value in a way that’s engaging and informative? The answers to these questions will guide you in crafting content that stands out, not just to search engines, but more importantly, to the people you aim to serve.

In conclusion, let go of the “What should I do for Google?” mindset. Instead, embrace a reader-first approach to content creation. It’s a strategy that will serve your business well, building trust with your audience and, as a result, with search engines too.

6. Vintage or Outdated? Google’s Take on Old Content’s Value – Understanding the importance of content relevance is crucial for any business owner. The digital space is often seen as a race to stay current, but Sullivan’s insights suggest that the true value lies in the content’s quality and utility to the reader, not its publication date. He states, “Just because something is older doesn’t make it unhelpful.” This is a significant point, especially for news publishers and content creators who worry about the need to constantly update their articles to maintain relevance.

The conversation arose from a question about the feasibility of news publishers updating old articles. Sullivan’s response was clear: if the content is written with the audience in mind and remains relevant, it doesn’t lose its value over time. This perspective is part of Google’s broader guidance, which emphasizes creating content that prioritizes the reader’s experience.

For you, this means that the evergreen content on your site—those pieces that provide timeless value—can continue to serve your audience and contribute to your site’s authority. It’s a reminder to focus on quality over quantity and to consider the lasting impact of what you publish.

In summary, don’t rush to discard or rewrite your older content just because of its date. Evaluate its ongoing relevance and usefulness to your audience. If it still answers questions, solves problems, or provides insight, it remains a valuable asset to your website.

7. The Truth About Schema: Does It Really Boost Your Google Ranking? – Are you looking to improve your website’s ranking on Google? You might have heard that adding schema, or structured data markup, to your pages can give you a leg up in search results. However, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, has clarified a common misconception: schema does not directly improve your site’s ranking.

Schema markup is a code that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative results for users. While it’s true that schema can enhance the way your page appears in search results—potentially increasing click-through rates—it’s important to understand that it doesn’t give your page a ranking boost. Sullivan emphasizes, “Using schema doesn’t give you a ranking boost. It can help you be eligible for certain displays or enhancements, but it doesn’t somehow boost you to the top of results.”

This clarification is crucial for business owners like you who are investing time and resources into SEO strategies. It’s easy to get caught up in the myriad of tips and tricks out there, but Google’s stance is clear: schema is about aiding search engines in understanding your content, not about climbing the search result ladder.

Moreover, if your site violates Google’s schema guidelines, it won’t impact your ranking. Instead, it may disqualify your site from being eligible for those rich results or enhancements that schema can provide. Sullivan’s message is a reminder to focus on creating quality content first and foremost. The use of schema should be viewed as a tool for improving user experience, not as a shortcut to higher rankings.

As a business owner, it’s essential to align your SEO efforts with practices that genuinely help your audience. By focusing on delivering valuable, high-quality content, and using schema as it’s intended—to enhance user understanding—you’re setting your site up for long-term success.

Remember, the goal is to make your content helpful and accessible to your audience. Schema can contribute to this by making your content more understandable to search engines, which in turn helps users find the great content you’re providing.

8. Boost Your Video’s Visibility: Google’s New Structured Data Guidelines – Google has updated its guidelines for video structured data with new recommendations that could enhance your video content’s visibility in search results. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. For videos, this means using specific code to communicate details to Google about the video content on your site, which can then be displayed in rich search results.

The key change is that Google now requires not just the date but the exact time a video was published and also when the video expires, using the ISO 8601 format. This update aims to make the publication time more precise, which can be crucial for timely content. Google suggests including timezone information with this data; otherwise, it defaults to the timezone of Googlebot, which may not align with your local time.

If you ignore these new recommendations, the only immediate consequence is the potential for a timezone mismatch. However, it’s always wise to present structured data as Google expects. Think of it as fine-tuning your content for optimal performance – you’re giving Google exactly what it’s looking for, which can only benefit your site.

In summary, take the time to update your video content with the precise publication time and timezone. It’s a simple step that aligns with Google’s best practices and could make a noticeable difference in your content’s online presence.

9. Google’s Sep’18 Top Money-Making Search Queries Revealed – Have you ever wondered which search queries are the golden tickets in the vast lottery of Google searches? A recent revelation from an ongoing antitrust trial has shed light on this very topic, and the insights are invaluable for any business looking to capitalize on Google’s search engine.

For a single week in September 2018, terms like “iPhone,” “auto insurance,” and “cheap flights” were the most profitable for Google in the United States. This information, previously shrouded in secrecy due to Google’s tight-lipped policies on revenue data, was disclosed in a heavily redacted slide. While the exact figures remain undisclosed, the list of terms provides a fascinating glimpse into user behavior and market trends.

Why does this matter to you? Understanding these high-revenue search terms can inform your digital marketing strategy. If your business is related to any of these lucrative categories, there’s a clear opportunity to align your online content and advertising efforts with what users are actively seeking.

The top revenue-driving searches ranged from tech products to insurance and entertainment services, indicating diverse areas where Google users are willing to spend their money. This diversity suggests that there’s room for businesses of all kinds to find their niche in the search engine landscape.

In conclusion, while the specifics of Google’s earnings from these searches are not public, the takeaway for you is the importance of targeting the right keywords in your SEO and PPC campaigns. By focusing on terms related to your business that have proven profitable, you can potentially increase your visibility to high-intent customers and drive more revenue through your online channels.

10. Google Ads Click Tracker Policy – In the digital age, tracking the performance of your online ads is crucial for understanding customer behavior and maximizing your return on investment. Google Ads has recently updated its policies, and there’s an important change you should be aware of: the requirement to use certified click trackers.

A click tracker is a tool that records clicks on your ads, providing valuable data on how users interact with your advertising. Google has now mandated that, for accounts using click trackers for the first time after September 11, 2023, only certified click trackers will be accepted. Ads using non-certified trackers may be disapproved. This policy will be fully enforced over the next 12 to 18 months, with the timing depending on factors like the advertiser’s history and account activity.

Why is this important for you? Compliance with Google’s policies ensures that your ads remain active and effective. Using a certified click tracker not only aligns with Google’s standards but also guarantees that the data you collect is reliable and actionable.

If you’re currently using a third-party click-tracking service, it’s time to check if it’s on Google’s approved list. If not, you’ll need to switch to a certified provider or risk having your ads disapproved. This may seem daunting, but it’s a step towards more transparent and trustworthy ad tracking.

For those who provide click-tracking services, Google has opened applications for certification. Meeting their guidelines means you can continue to serve businesses like yours without interruption.