October was yet another busy month for the search giant known as Google, as the company owned just about every headline we saw in the digital marketing industry. We saw another algorithm update, a rebranding of a major tool, and a few new additions to familiar platforms. Another big player in the space made waves, too — Meta — with some, shall we say, interesting choices with its latest set of Instagram ads.
You can learn more about those stories and more right here in the October 2022 digital roundup.
Google rolls out new spam-related algorithm update
Google’s algorithm updates continued this past month with a spam-related update that appears to have hit a number of sites. In fact, we’re hearing that it did target more sites than the Helpful Content Update (see our August roundup), which didn’t have much of an impact. As noted by UK Head of SEO Ewan Stevenson, “If we can observe any trend at this stage, it's that some relatively rudimental AI content took a hit across aggregator sites.”
Google adds "site names" feature to mobile search
Google is forgoing title tags in mobile search and replacing them with the new “site names” feature, but only for branded queries and on homepage URLs. Title tags will remain the primary signal for non-branded keywords, searches related to a sub-domain, and brand name searches including an additional keyword.
The company said the "site names" feature will “make it easier to identify the website that's associated with each result.” To make sure the search engine knows your site’s preferred name, Google recommended using the associated structured data. In case you’re wondering, you can include favicons in your site name, so long as they meet the guidelines.
Ewan shared his thoughts on this new feature: “While this initially looks like an improvement for the search results pages, time will tell whether this will become abused and reduced in prevalence.”
Paid media stories
Google shares new way to measure recommendations
Have you used the recommendations in Google Ads, only to realise it wasn’t exactly clear if they had an impact or not? If so, Google heard you loud and clear, because the platform now includes a way to measure those recommendations. You can now set them up as an experiment in just a few clicks, which allows you to compare your standard campaign to a campaign incorporating the recommendations.
As noted by Ayima Head of Paid Paid Lucy Whittaker, “Although we’re skeptical of a lot of the "recommendations", this shows Google has some faith in them since they’re encouraging us to compare directly rather than trusting blindly.”
Instagram brings ads to profile feeds amidst Meta’s financial woes
In the midst of ongoing financial issues, Meta officially upped the advertising ante on one of its key platforms, Instagram, by adding four new ad types. The standout addition: ads in profile feeds. Instagram is only testing these on public, non-teenaged profiles to start, so we’ll let you know if this expands in the future. For now, you can learn more about the other new ads in IG’s announcement post.
Digital analytics stories
Google rebrands DataStudio as Looker Studio
Back in 2019, Google announced its plans to acquire the data visualisation tool Looker, and the search giant is now starting to integrate Looker features into its offerings. This includes Google Cloud, which has a Google Sheets integration coming in 2023, and a complete rebrand of DataStudio to Looker Studio. This is all part of Google’s plans to position itself against premium data visualisation tools such as Tableau and Power BI.
Gareth Williams, our UK Analytics Director, welcomed this news with the following note: “We use DataStudio (now Looker) extensively, and developments resulting from these integrations will be of significant benefit to our clients.”
Google delays Universal Analytics 360 deprecation—again
Wasn’t it just this past March that Google delayed the Universal Analytics 360 deprecation? Well, it’s happening again.
Here’s what GA Product Director Russell Ketchum explained in the announcement:
“To allow enterprise customers more time to have a smoother transition to Google Analytics 4, we’re moving the Universal Analytics 360 properties’ sunset date from October 1, 2023 to July 1, 2024.“
Ketchum went on to write that the company plans to continue shifting its focus from UA throughout 2023. As a result, “performance will likely degrade in Universal Analytics 360 up until the new sunset date.”
Note: The deprecation date for standard UA users has not changed—it remains July 1, 2023.
Most of our UK team attended the brightonSEO October 2022 event, and we made sure to take notes and share our impressions with everyone who couldn’t attend. Be sure to check out our picks for the Best Talks of brightonSEO Oct 2022.