It’s been an exciting week at Google This Week with some interesting updates and free features including Google offering free Hotel Listings within Google Hotel Search. Google Local is now including custom order URLs in the call to action overlays in Google Maps and Local. There’s also been a large, unconfirmed local search algorithm update.
ICYMI, here’s what happened at Google This Week:
- Google Brings Full Coverage to Search
- Google Offers Free Hotel Listings
- Google Offers Free Pointy Devices to Retailers in Ireland
- Spike in Google Posts Rejections
- Google Local Now Includes Custom Order URLs
- Large Local Search Algorithm Update
- Changes to Structured Data Requirements
- Google Experimenting with New Privacy Solutions in Ad Manager
Google Brings Full Coverage to Search
Full Coverage first launched in 2018 as part of Google News. Now Google is bringing Full Coverage to Search, so you can explore a particular story from a variety of sources. When you’re searching for a recent news story, you see a carousel of articles at the top of your search results.
Now for larger, developing stories, you can tap into a Full Coverage page. Full Coverage is now available in Search in English in the U.S. and will be rolling out to more languages and locations in the coming months.
Google Offers Free Hotel Listings
Google has opened up free listings within Google Hotel search. There is now a new section in Google Hotel search for “all options” below the paid results that display unpaid listings from hotels and travel companies.
Google said, “We’re improving this experience by making it free for hotels and travel companies around the world to appear in hotel booking links, beginning this week on google.com/travel. With full access to a wider range of hotel prices, users will have a more comprehensive set of options as they research their trip and ultimately decide where to book.”
Google said they’ll be opening up more free travel listings.
“Over time, we’ll continue building this open platform, so that all partners will have even more opportunities to highlight their information and help people book a flight, find a place to stay, or explore a new destination.”
Google Offers Free Pointy Devices to Retailers in Ireland
For a limited time, Pointy from Google will be offering free Pointy devices to qualifying small and medium retailers in Ireland. Irish retailers connecting with Pointy within the next six months will also receive €100 ad credit to trial Pointy’s Product Ads feature.
Participating businesses will be able to connect their physical store with Google so that their products appear in local Google search results. Retailers won’t have to do anything extra, as they scan items to be sold, products are added to their Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.
Spike in Google Posts Rejections
There has been a spike in the number of complaints about rejection notices for Google Posts. According to Joy Hawkins, Google is aware and looking into it. For now, we’re not sure if this is a bug or whether Google is just getting stricter with Google Posts.
If you’re noticing this problem then we suggest simply trying to repost in Google My Business or waiting a few days.
Google Local Now Includes Custom Order URLs
Google is now including a local restaurant or business online ordering form to the call to action overlays in Google Maps and the local pack. Previously, Google only showed third-party platforms in the overlay, not the custom URL order form. We liked what Mike Blumenthal had to say about this:
“Google allowed custom URLS but they only showed as a link down the Profile NOT as a great big CTA… now Google has included the custom URL as a choice so that if the business has their own system, they don’t have to pay extra rent to a blood sucker.”
Large Local Search Algorithm Update
There looks to have been a large local search algorithm update this week. The unconfirmed update was picked up by the BrightLocal tool which showed a huge update. The tool normally runs at 2.x in terms of local pack changes but on Wednesday it showed 6.78 out of 10 in fluctuations in the local search results.
BrightLocal reported on Twitter “LocalRankFlux is reporting its biggest number to date.” It said “All industries are trending above their norm with real estate being particularly volatile…But don’t panic and don’t make any big changes yet! it’s always possible this could be a Google bug.”
#LocalRankFlux is reporting its biggest number to date 🚨
All industries are trending above their norm with real estate being particularly volatile…But don’t panic and don’t make any big changes yet! it’s always possible this could be a Google bug. https://t.co/PadcPQIqT5
— BrightLocal (@brightlocal) March 10, 2021
Changes to Structured Data Requirements
Google has made some changes to the rich results report in Google Search Console. Starting yesterday, Google changed its requirements for the Education, Experience and ExperienceInPlaceOfEducation properties for job posting structured markup.
Earlier this month Google also made a change to how they validate FAQ and Q&A structured data below the root entity level. Previously, Google only checked the validity at the root level, meaning you may see an increase in valid, warning and invalid items in your report. Google said this is “to reflect an accurate count of root and nested entities that we found on your site.”
Google Experimenting with New Privacy Solutions in Ad Manager
Google is experimenting with new privacy solutions for advertisers, including privacy-preserving APIs to move away from tracking individuals and maintain advertising effectiveness, called the Privacy Sandbox.
In addition to the Privacy Sandbox, Google is bringing first-party audiences to programmatic. Google is working on bringing PPIDs (Publisher Provided Identifiers) in Ad Manager to more programmatic campaign types, including Open Auction.
Google is also experimenting with ways to help publishers use first-party data and enable them to activate data from user engagement on their own sites.
In addition, Google is supporting direct relationships between publishers by experimenting with a functionality that would allow publishers to share encrypted signals directly with Authorized Buyers or Open Bidders. Google will not be able to read or decrypt the signals.
Thank You for Reading
Have you noticed any changes from Google this week?
Check back next Friday for the latest from Google This Week.