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Navigating the Dynamic Landscape of Google: Essential Updates You Need to Know

by  David Dwyer on  30/03/2024

The digital landscape is always evolving, andstaying ahead of the curve is now a necessity.

Whether you're a local business owner steering the ship or a savvy digital marketer shaping the digital narrative, these updates are your compass in the vast sea of SEO.

Let's unravel the tapestry of Google's recent updates and equip ourselves for digital success in the ever-dynamic Scottish business landscape.

Buckle up, embrace the learning, and chart a course toward SEO mastery!

Google updates 2024


Update #1: Google is turning off websites made with Google Business Profiles

According to the official statement from Google, starting March 2024, websites created through Google Business Profiles will no longer be available. Once your site is turned off, users visiting your site will be redirected to your Business Profile until June 10, 2024. After this date, users trying to visit your site will get a “page not found” error. 

To continue having a website for your business, you can create a new website using other tools (or consult with a leading web design agency like Inspire!). It’s also important to update your Business Profile with the new web address. 

Google My Business

Update #2: Possible Google local ranking update

A recent development that has stirred the digital landscape involves a potential local ranking algorithm update. Reports have surfaced regarding fluctuations in local search rankings, suggesting a possible tweak in Google's algorithm.

Based on this post, the BrightLocal Local RankFlux tool had a significant spike in volatility with a 5.92 Flux score last January 4, 2024. While Google has yet to confirm the specifics, the buzz within the SEO community signals adjustments that businesses need to monitor closely.

Local SEO

Update #3: Google clarified the primary source of snippets

Last January 5, 2024, Google amended their documentation about the primary sources of snippets, shedding light on how search results snippets are generated. 

According to Google, their previous documentation has incorrectly implied that structured data and meta description are the primary sources for snippets. In their announcement, they clarified that these elements are not the basis for generating SERP snippets – it is, however, the page content itself.

By producing concise and informative content consistently, businesses can enhance their chances of securing coveted snippet spots in search results.

Update #4: Google removed the FAQ and How to Snippets on SERPs

Several reports emerged in the first week of January as Google seemed to remove the How-to and FAQ-rich results again. 

As you may recall, the tech giant released an announcement last year stating that FAQ-rich results would only be shown to well-known and authoritative websites (e.g. government and health), then came back two months later. On the other hand, the How-to snippets will be visible to desktop users only.

However, last January 7, 2024, FAQ-rich results stopped showing up on Google results again. A few days later, How-to rich results follow suit. This shift prompts a reassessment of content strategies, emphasising the importance of diverse content formats to maintain a robust online presence.

Update #5: The Crawl Rate Limiter within Google Search Console is now gone

Google bid goodbye to the Crawl Rate Limiter within Google Search Console last January 8, 2024. After being available for over a decade, Google stated that the tool is no longer needed due to the improvements they made to their crawling logic and other tools.

The removal of the Crawl Rate Limiter signifies a departure from the manual control webmasters had over Googlebot's crawling speed. With Google's crawler now determining the optimal crawl rate for a website, this change prompts a reassessment of how websites ensure visibility in search results.

Update #6: Gmail launched a new protection for a safer, less spammy inbox

Starting in February 2024, Gmail will be introducing robust security enhancements aimed at fortifying user inboxes. This significant update ensures safer and less spam-prone email experiences. 

The update focuses on bolstering email authentication, leveraging advanced protocols to verify the legitimacy of incoming emails. By enhancing sender authentication, Gmail aims to fight phishing attempts and malicious emails, protecting users against potential security threats.

Update #7: Google amended the documentation for the Product search feature

To streamline and enhance user experience, Google has recently made notable amendments to the documentation governing the Product search feature. These changes are outlined in detail on Sitebulb’s Structured Data History to signify Google's commitment to improving the accuracy and efficiency of product-related searches. 

The updated documentation delves into the intricacies of structured data, providing businesses with clearer guidelines for optimising their product information. With a focus on precision, Google aims to ensure that Product search results align seamlessly with user intent, delivering more accurate and relevant outcomes.

Update #8:OpenAI GPT store launched for paying members subscribed to ChatGPT Plus

Exciting news for ChatGPT Plus subscribers! OpenAI has officially unveiled the GPT Store to provide a curated space for premium content accessible only to paying members. 

This update unlocks an array of exclusive content, setting the stage for a more tailored and sophisticated AI engagement. The GPT Store is poised to become a hub for innovation, and subscribing to ChatGPT Plus is your key to this exclusive realm.

Update #9: The WordPress AMP Plugin installed on 100,000+ websites had an XSS vulnerability

A critical security update has been issued regarding the popular WordPress AMP Plugin, which boasts an extensive user base of over 100,000 websites. Recent scrutiny has unveiled a potential cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability that could leave websites susceptible to malicious script injections. 

To fortify your site against potential security breaches, site owners are strongly advised to upgrade their WordPress AMP Plugin to version 2.5.1 or higher. This essential update patches the vulnerability, ensuring a more robust defense against malicious exploits.

Update #10: Possible Google ranking bug that causes websites to repeatedly drop out of the SERPs

An intriguing phenomenon has caught the attention of SEO experts: a potential Google ranking bug causing websites to experience a perplexing cycle of disappearance and reappearance in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEOs are reporting a peculiar pattern where websites drop out of visibility, only to resurface after a few days before vanishing again. 

The cyclical pattern raises questions about the stability of current rankings and the factors influencing this peculiar behavior.

Update #11: /r/SEO subreddit taken over by a group of 6-24 month-old anonymous accounts

In a surprising turn of events, the /r/SEO subreddit, a bustling online community with over 250,000 users, is currently grappling with an unexpected takeover. The subreddit has been seized by a group of anonymous accounts, each aged between 6 to 24 months, associated with networks spanning silver, crypto, and investment communities. 

The motives behind this takeover remain a mystery. This incident has sparked concerns within the SEO community, questioning the impact on the quality of discussions and the potential redirection of the subreddit's focus.

Digital marketing agency in Scotland

The evolving digital dynamics

The journey through Google's recent updates has been nothing short of enlightening. Staying informed about these pivotal changes is crucial for Scottish businesses and digital marketers aiming for success. 

As the digital landscape evolves, so does the need for comprehensive insights and expert guidance. Inspire Digital, a beacon in the world of digital marketing, stands ready to assist.

Navigate the complexities of SEO, stay ahead of the trends, and fortify your digital presence with Inspire Digital!

*This blog is based on this LinkedIn post

Digital Marketing, Digital Trends, Google My Business, The Evolving Web
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