It was a big, big month for the digital marketing industry thanks to a little old company by the name of Google. The Silicon Valley monolith released a major search algorithm update—yes, another one—known as the “helpful content update” that we’ll certainly report on in the next roundup. That’s not the only SEO story for the month, of course, as we also have headlines related to dynamic rendering and international search.

You can read about those stories and much more in our August 2022 digital roundup.

SEO stories

Google announces “helpful content update”

Another month, another algorithm update from Google. And in August, the company launched the “helpful content update” that aims to provide “more original, helpful content written by people, for people,” in search results. It’s not completely clear what this means yet, because the update was rolling out at the time of this writing, but here’s more context from the update announcement

“This update introduces a new site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for ranking web pages. Our systems automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.”

Google: please avoid using dynamic rendering for search

It’s official: Google no longer recommends using dynamic rendering. Instead, the company views it as a workaround, and not a long-term solution, for crawling and indexing issues related to JavaScript. This bit of news (h/t SEL) was spotted in Google’s help section for dynamic rendering, which was updated to include a warning about using it.

For this piece of news, we actually have a special guest appearance from Ryan Huser, Ayima East Coast’s SVP of Search. Here’s a portion of what he had to say: 

“For the last several years, Google improved its ability to properly render Javascript injected content in order to index and return this content within the search results. The process is yet to be perfected, but Google is considerably more capable than it was compared to 5 years ago. However, dynamic rendering was always at best, a compromise and workaround, and was rife with hard-to-spot complications and potential pitfalls.

“Google now recommends moving to a setup of server-side rendering, static rendering, or hydration, most of which will likely result in higher resource expenditure for the site owners. But they all remove the complexity and possible error that a dynamic rendering setup introduces. In addition, it is proper engineering that serves both users and search engines alike, a tenet that both Google and Ayima wholeheartedly stand behind."

Google deprecates International Targeting report

In our last bit of SEO news, Google also announced that it is deprecating the International Targeting report from Search Console “soon.” We’re not sure exactly when this will happen, but the search giant added that it will “continue to support hreflang and our recommendations for managing multilingual and multiregional sites still stand.”

To help shed some light on this announcement, I reached out to Simon Panting, the Ayima West Coast Head of SEO:

"Deprecating this report will impact those working with international websites, removing the ability to understand whether Google has encountered any issues with hreflang markup. This means that moving forward, webmasters will need to manually validate frequently via auditing tools and proactive monitoring."

Paid media stories

Apple is apparently creating a demand-side platform

To the surprise of just about no one, rumors are swirling that Apple is building a demand-side platform (DSP). This comes via a scoop at Digi-Day, where Ronan Shields reported on a job listing looking for a senior manager who can “drive the design of the most privacy-forward, sophisticated demand side platform possible.”

Mentions of the DSP appeared in subsequent job listings—like one for a director of ads engineering services—and Shields noted that companies of Apple’s size don’t simply build a DSP without making a move on bigger media dollars. He added, “With its own DSP, Apple will also have full control of how and where the data is used, preventing leakage of this very valuable data outside of their walled garden.”

Google brings digital out-of-home ads to Display & Video 360

Google is blending digital and IRL by adding out-of-home advertisements to Display & Video 360. Essentially, this is a way for advertisers to reach customers beyond their digital devices in a more traditional format, like a mini-billboard you’d find on a sidewalk (see the example below provided by Google in its announcement).

image courtesy of Google

It’s worth noting that these ads don’t use any personal data or identifiers of any kind. Instead, advertisers should look to use context for optimum placement, such as a fast food restaurant placing ads near a busy business district (Google’s example).

Digital analytics stories

Google releases the new “Google tag”

Google unveiled the new “Google tag” for Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 with the hope that it will “help you do more, improve data quality and adopt new features — without requiring more code.” For example, if you wanted to set up a second product or account in the past, you needed to adjust the “gtag.js” coding on your site. But with the Google tag, you should be able to accomplish that through the product interface, and without any technical know-how.

Simo Ahava, a frequent citation here in the roundup, provided a very thorough rundown of the Google tag’s potential, especially for enterprise use. You should definitely check out his guide if you want to learn more, including how it may benefit your setup. 

To coincide with that, I have some additional thoughts from Gareth Williams, the Ayima UK Analytics Director:

“Google, as is customary, haven’t shared much detail on their future vision, but my view is that Google is moving towards a single tag for its GMC solutions where the end user experience is simplified and where GMC products share functionality and are configured in the interface as a single product. This will have implications on Ayima’s and our client’s workflow.”

Content marketing stories

Helpful writing guide for content marketers

While this CopyBlogger guide specifically targets writing habits, it’s beneficial for more than just copywriters. Everyone involved in creating a content marketing strategy will find something helpful here. And the folks at know it! In the intro, author Stefanie Flaxman notes that you can refer to these tips in a number of scenarios, including pitching article ideas, creating relationships with influencers, and editing blog posts. Head over to CopyBlogger to read the guide.

Ayima news

We have some very exciting news to share from our UK office:

  • We’d like to welcome our new Head of SEO, Ewan Stevenson. He joined in mid-August and we’re thrilled to have him on our team.
  • We’re also thrilled to announce that our new office is set to open in early September (we may be hosting our opening party as you read this!). It is based in Farringdon and we’re very much looking forward to having our own space and working together in person after nearly two years of working from home because of COVID-19.

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