Happy new year and welcome once again to the digital marketing monthly round-up! December was full of festive cheer and some big news including Lewis Hamilton’s sixth F1 World Championship victory, Spotify wrapped everyone’s year and decade as Drake was announced as the most streamed star, and climate activist Greta Thunburg was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. December also saw Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin step down from parent company Alphabet, with Sundar Pichai becoming CEO of both. While we were tucking into a tub of Celebrations and opening multiple packs of Lynx Africa, there were still new developments in SEO, PPC, Technical SEO and Social Media to be found! Here are the best bits!
1. Google reveals top trending searches of 2019
December is always the time to look back on the year, and a highlight of those end-of-year lists is the annual top trending Google searches. Sport dominated global searches with India vs South Africa, Copa America and Neymar featuring. The Rugby and Cricket World Cups were high in UK searches, as English sporting successes captured the nation. Game of Thrones, Avengers Endgame, Joker, Notre Dame and Caitlyn Jenner also featured heavily. Find out more over at Google Trends.
2. Some Search Console data was inaccurate in December
You may have missed Google quietly announcing that a bug was discovered in Search Console, which affected the reporting of impressions and clicks. The bug didn’t record data between 8-13th December. If you discover a drop in performance during those dates, it was because of that bug.
3. Google Ads will now explain why changes in performance happened
A new feature in beta on Google Ads will now give users explanations for changes in impressions, clicks and cost. Considering how time-consuming it is for PPC marketers to diagnose why metrics are fluctuating, any help from Google to fix and optimise issues is certainly welcomed.
ATTENTION: PPC marketers and advertisers must remember that from 1st January 2020, you can no longer receive Google Ads customer support via social media. Instead you will have to fill out an online form.
4. BERT now helping generate top stories in Carousels
Google BERT was the most significant algorithm update to take place in 2019, and it’s already having an impact on SERPs. BERT, alongside other machine learning techniques, help group together articles in carousels to give you the best articles related to a news story. It’ll also find content that’ll provide more context and various perspectives on a given story. Currently, BERT is available in US English search results and will roll out to more languages in the coming months.
5. We provided some helpful Local SEO Tips
For small businesses, being visible in local search terms is vital to succeed as a company nowadays. With 80% of consumers using local searches to find relevant information, it’s important to have your website appear to be visible to them. With big businesses dominating general terms, it’s better for small businesses to target local search. To do this effectively, follow our Local SEO tips with 5 Quick Ways to Improve Your Visibility.
6. John Mueller explains how Google bots receives Sitemaps
If you’ve wondered if having multiple sitemap files on your site is a problem, John Mueller now has a great analogy for how it works. “All sitemap files of a site are imported into a common, big mixing cup, lightly shaken, and then given to Googlebot by URL in the form of an energy drink. It doesn’t matter how many files you have.” Mueller did stress that you should provide Googlebot with the last-modification date with the URLs matching it.
7. Google serves 11 million fact checked articles every day
In the age of fake news, it’s important to remember that not everything you read on the internet is true. Google highlighted during December the work it has been doing to ensure URLs have been fact checked. A fact check label has appeared in SERPs for over three years now and appears in search results 11 million times a day in global searches and Google News in a few countries. This is made possible by the ClaimReview markup: a special type of schema that allows fact-checkers to decide if the claims made on the page are true. Anything that can help decipher the truth from the lies is welcomed.
8. Latest WordPress update goes live
We love WordPress, so we’re always excited when a new update goes live. The Gutenberg 7.1 update was released during December, bringing with it a host of great features. Updates include a new page to welcome users to block editing, table captions, mobile editing improvements and more. These improvements add to the already excellent usability of the comprehensive website builder.
9. Google Assistant finds itself behind Microsoft and Apple
Google in third place? In the virtual assistant market they are. A recent study by Futuresource shows that Apple’s Siri has 35% of the worldwide market share. Meanwhile, Microsoft Cortana sits at 22% while Google sits at 9% and Amazon Alexa at 4%. What is the reason for this? It comes down to pre-installation. Siri is in every Apple device, including MacBooks and watches while Cortana is in all Windows 10 PCs. Google Assistant may be used in Google Home and Chrome OS but it isn’t in all Android devices, hence the lower market share. Overall, the virtual assistant market has grown by 25% year-on-year to 1.1 billion units, making the need for marketers to optimise for it greater than before.
10. SEO professionals in high demand according to LinkedIn
If you’re an SEO professional, you’ll find that your skills are in high demand, according to LinkedIn. There are 26.5k people on LinkedIn with the word SEO in the title, with a total of 909k professionals in the US featuring it on their profile in some way. With 12k SEO job openings seeking experienced individuals but with the majority of people on LinkedIn new to the industry, people are reminded not to sell themselves short when applying for a role.
If you’re looking for a career in SEO, check out Ricemedia’s vacancies page for our latest roles!