Episode 200 contains the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Feb 19 -23, 2024.

1. Google : You Decide On The Fate Of Your Old Content – The question of what to do with old content on your website is a recurring dilemma. Google’s John Mueller recently shed light on this topic, emphasizing the importance of self-assessment over stringent guidelines when deciding the fate of outdated material. His insights, shared on Reddit, underscore the value of content quality and relevance over mere word counts.

  • It’s Your Call: Mueller makes it clear that Google does not dictate the utility of old content. The decision to keep, remove, or update it rests with the website owner. He states, “There is no upper / lower word count limit or target…So what’s useful & helpful content is up to you to decide.”
  • Unique Content Holds Value: Drawing from his personal viewpoint, Mueller suggests that unique news archives, for instance, can serve a purpose. This highlights the potential worth of specialized content that may cater to niche audiences.
  • Hybrid Approaches: For content that’s not actively serving your main site’s goals but still holds value, Mueller proposes a middle ground. He recommends relocating such content to an archive section with a ‘noindex’ tag. This method preserves the content for internal search purposes, allowing you to gauge its ongoing relevance through user engagement metrics.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Echoing a sentiment relevant to all content creators, Mueller reminds us that the significance of content is not inherently tied to its popularity. He posits, “Something can be useful even if only a few people read it,” challenging the notion that only widely viewed content is valuable.

This guidance from a Google insider offers a fresh perspective on managing old content. Business owners should view their content through the lens of utility and uniqueness, rather than adhering to arbitrary standards. By evaluating content’s relevance to your audience and considering creative archiving solutions, you can enhance your website’s value without compromising on quality or cluttering your digital space.

In essence, the approach to old content should be strategic and thoughtful, tailored to your business’s unique needs and the interests of your audience. This mindset not only aligns with Google’s advice but also paves the way for a more engaging and resourceful online presence.

2. Clarifying the Use of Google’s Indexing API – John Mueller, from Google, reiterated the intended use and limitations of the Google Indexing API, shedding light on its appropriate application. This clarification comes amid ongoing discussions within the digital marketing community about leveraging the API beyond its official capacities. Mueller’s comments aim to guide and inform website owners and digital marketers about the proper use of this tool.

The Google Indexing API is designed with a specific purpose: to facilitate the indexing of job posting and live stream content on Google. This narrow scope is intended to streamline the process for these particular types of content, ensuring they are promptly recognized and indexed by Google’s search engine.

Despite clear guidelines, there exists a trend where the Indexing API is applied to content types it wasn’t designed for. Some users report temporary success in speeding up the indexing process for other types of content. However, Mueller warns, “it’s great to see passionate people try to do more with it, but a) it’s often for spam & low-quality, and b) it’s not supported.” Essentially, while experimentation is noted, it’s often associated with low-quality outputs and is not officially endorsed by Google.

Mueller’s stance emphasizes the API’s limitations and discourages attempts to use it beyond its intended purpose, stating plainly, “So you can keep trying to use it but hey, it won’t work.” This serves as a reminder that while innovation is valued, adherence to Google’s guidelines ensures the longevity and visibility of content within its search ecosystem.

Attempting to exploit the Indexing API for unintended purposes may yield brief results but could ultimately lead to content being dropped from the index or associated with spam.

3. Structured Data Support for Product Variants – Google has rolled out structured data support for Product variants. This move, building on the previous expansions in 2022 for Product structured data and the addition of shipping and returns data in 2023, marks a new milestone in enhancing online shopping experiences. Structured Data Support for Product Variants enables merchants to showcase a wider array of product variations, offering shoppers more relevant and detailed results directly in search. 

Products often come in various options, such as size, color, material, or technical specifications like memory size and processor type. Recognizing this, Google’s latest update facilitates the representation of these product variants in search results through the use of structured data. By adopting the Schema.org ProductGroup type for your product listings, you can now make your product variants eligible for enhanced visibility in Google Search.

For business owners, the ability to display product variants more prominently in Google Search can significantly enhance product discovery and customer engagement. By providing detailed variant information directly in search results, you can improve the shopping experience for your customers, potentially leading to higher conversion rates.

4. New Google Merchant Center Requirement: Tagging AI-Generated Images – Google has introduced a new requirement for businesses leveraging AI-generated images in their Merchant Center listings. This change mandates the preservation of specific metadata tags within AI-created imagery, aiming to maintain transparency about the origin of these images.

When you use AI to generate images for your product listings in Merchant Center, Google now requires that these images retain their original metadata tags, specifically indicating their AI-generated nature. This requirement is centered around the ‘trainedAlgorithmicMedia’ tag under the IPTC DigitalSourceType category, a standard for photo metadata. This tag serves as a clear marker that the image was created by generative AI technologies.

By ensuring these AI-generated images are appropriately tagged, Google aims to foster an environment of transparency and authenticity within the digital marketplace. This move is particularly relevant in a time when the distinction between AI-generated and traditionally created content is becoming increasingly nuanced.

Action Steps

  • Review your AI-generated images in Merchant Center for compliance.
  • Ensure all AI-generated images include the ‘trainedAlgorithmicMedia’ IPTC tag.
  • Educate your team about this requirement to prevent future oversights.

Compliance with these requirements not only aligns with Google’s standards but also signals to your customers that you value honesty and transparency in your digital marketing practices. As AI continues to play a significant role in ecommerce, understanding and implementing these guidelines will be crucial for maintaining a competi…