The most comprehensive list of Google Shopping, PPC and SEO updates

Keeping up with the Kardashians is a far easier feat than keeping track of the multitude of updates Google makes every month across its Shopping, PPC and SEO offerings. Not only is it difficult, there is a real necessity to remain ‘in the know’ about these updates because, as search markets demonstrate, even one missed update can dramatically, and quickly, send you plummeting down from position 1.

This is why we’ve created the most complete list of Google updates for 2020 so far and expectations for 2021.

  • 2021 – Core Web Vitals – Update –  Google announced Core Web Vitals are now a ranking factor, they are; Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures page load time, First Input Delay (FID) which is the time taken between user first interaction and server response, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which looks at looks at unexpected changes on pages whilst user is on them.
  • 2021- Google Cache (Finance Product) – Intelligence – A new financial initiative is in the works for Google, partnering with CitiGroup, Bank Mobile, BBVA USA, BMO Harris, Coastal Community Bank, First Independence Bank and Stanford Federal Credit Union. The aim is for Google to partner with banks and financial services and to provide even more granular insights on the data, as well as new ways of selling checking accounts. This is suspected to go live in 2021.
  • By the end of the year – SEO Subtopics – Update Google will deliver, by the end of the year, results not only related to user searches, but subtopics within that particular category of search.
  • November 1st 2020 – Google Shopping – Update – 2 new performance metrics added for Google Shopping: Return Defects (anytime an item’s return is not processed within 2 business days of delivery at your return facility) and Delivery Defects (shipped on-time, delivered late) which has been broken out of Shipping Defects. For France only, after 4 months of below-standard performance your account will be suspended.
  • Before the end of October – Google Shopping – Update – Free shopping ads extended to Europe, Asia and Latin America. Paid Shopping ads will still be available and will appear before free listings. 

     

What this means: Whilst there is a great opportunity here for companies who have previously not advertised via Google Shopping, to try out and see for themselves how effective it is, overtime this could increase CPCs for paid brands.

What to do: Now is the time to review your products which appear in Google Shopping, to update your product descriptions with the most relevant keywords and review bidding strategy before long-term competition increases.

 

  • October 27th 2020 – Sensitive Events Policy – Update – Update to advertising policy around posting ads which profit from ‘sensitive events’ such as health crises, natural disasters or elections. Heavy reference to ads which ‘exploit’ in some way the US elections candidates, the election itself or its outcome.
  • October 22nd 2020 – Google Shopping – Update – Users can now utilize price insights, price comparison and price tracking when deciding on a purchase. From now on you can see where a particular price fits in the range of prices for the same product and can set-up price tracking to monitor shifts, drops and peaks in pricing.
  • October 22nd 2020 – Smart Shopping – Update – New Customer acquisition goal functionality for Smart Shopping campaigns, now you can add conversion value to optimize towards. New aesthetic for dynamic for dynamic display ads; name and logo and short headlines. New updated layout for carousel products. Add videos to Smart Shopping campaigns or have Google automatically generate.Target and budget simulators available for Smart Shopping campaigns, enabling measurement of how changes to your ROAS or budget, will impact metrics based on historical data from the last 7 days. Auction Insights added to retail category reporting. New Report Editor in Merchant Centre. Remarketing and conversion tags no longer necessary to set-up Smart Shopping campaigns.
  • October 22nd 2020 – Google Shopping – Update – All eligible US retailers advertising on Google Shopping now automatically enrolled into promotions and approval time slashed from days to hours. On-sale filter added to Google Shopping interface. Extensions around contactless or curbside pick-up now in beta.
  • October 22nd 2020 – Journalist Studio – Update – Google has launched a new suite of tools for journalists. One tool called Pinpoint uses OCR and speech to text software to analyze mentions of people and places in scanned PDFs, images, handwritten notes, e-mails and audio files. The second tool, launched in beta, is The Common Knowledge Project which allows journalists to visualize large amounts of publicly available data.
  • October 16th 2020 – US Voting Locations – From today, American users will be able to find their nearest voting locations via Google.
  • October 15th 2020 – SEO Passages – Update – Passages in pages now a ranking factor for pages in search results and can now appear in a separate listing from pages in search.
  • October 15th 2020 – Google Lens – Update – Google lens can now translate over 100 languages and you can tap words to hear them aloud. In addition you can now use the google search bar and AR function to help solve equations and view and manipulate 3d images. With Lens, using Style Engine technology, you can also take picture of clothing or patterns and search via google. 
  • October 15th 2020 – What’s this song? – Update – On mobile you can now search for songs on mobile by humming the tunes.
  • October 15th 2020 – SEO Search – Update – New algorithm for matching misspelled words to searches and pages; according to Google “this single change makes a greater improvement to spelling than all of our improvements over the last five years.”
  • October 15th 2020 – Live View – Update – New functionality rolled out across Business Profiles across Google Search and Maps, telling users if businesses require you to wear a mask, if you need to make an advance reservation, or if the staff is taking extra safety precautions, like temperature checks.
  • October 15th 2020 – Video – Update – New AI for breaking up videos into steps or chapters, so users can find the particular piece of content they’re after. In Google’s Words, ‘we’ve started testing this technology this year, and by the end of 2020 we expect that 10 percent of searches on Google will use this new technology.”
  • October 1st 2020 – Google Shopping – Update – Retailers utilizing free ads whose product inventory is out of stock, but whose website state items are in stock, will have ads preemptively disapproved.
  • September 28th 2020 – Gift Cards – Update – Gift cards can no longer be sold on Buy on Google.
  • September 28th  2020 – Google Shopping – Update – New ‘additional countries’ feature to make showcasing your products in multiple places, easier. Pre-selected countries are also now appearing in feed.
  • September 10th  2020 – Algorithm Change – Update – During elections and other sensitive events, autocomplete suggestions will have tighter restrictions so as to show an unbiased view of results. 
  • September 10th  2020 – Autocomplete Policy – Update – BERT, an AI language model,  is now used to fact check news results against available ‘fact-checking’ data to improve the accuracy of SERPs. In addition, Google is able to break news much faster due to improved intelligence.
  • September 10th  2020 – Wikipedia – Update – Google now utilizing different tools to detect and protect wikipedia from vandalism as it is a huge source for knowledge graphs.
  • September 9th  2020 – Google Finance – Update – Updated Google Finance for desktop and mobile. Now you can group stocks and put them on a watchlist, can add company events and later in the year, you’ll be able to model portfolios.
  • September 4th  2020 – Text Ads – Intelligence – Users unable to create new text ads, suspected phase out of text ads. 18th September 2020 update – Text ads available.

What this means: A number of businesses were unable to create text ads through their Google Ads account, instead the only option was Dynamic Search Ads. The suggestion is that Google was trialling automated-only ads, ready to roll out in future.

What to do: With the potential removal of text ads in the pipeline, the keywords you target will play an even more important role in your search strategy than ever before. Ensuring the search terms you appear for are relevant, targeted and cost-effective is imperative in addition to removing irrelevant “close matches”.

  • September 3rd  2020 – Google Ads – Update – Google Ads now integrated with TCF v2.0. Companies wanting to use Adsense now need explicit opt-in consent from users for ad personalisation. Where consent is not given, users will receive non-personalized ads by default.
  • September 3rd 2020 – Conversion Categories – Update – 6 conversions categories now expanded to 19. Expansion of categories intended to improve understanding of funnel objectives.
  • September 1st 2020 – Location Extensions – Update – Ability to choose locations based on chains within Location Extensions.
  • September 1st 2020 – Location Targeting – Update – Household income has been moved from location and into demographic.
  • September 1st 2020 – Search Term Reports – Update – Threshold changes within Search Term Reports affecting visibility of search terms without ‘significant’ traffic. 

What this means: Up to a third of your terms will be missing from search term reports and a fifth of clicks hidden.To find out more, and how you can combat it, head to our  “Google Ads slash search term report visibility. What now?” response.

What to do: Now is the time to consider investing in a competitive intelligence tool, to see the low volume search terms you might be appearing on, paying for, but can’t see in Google Ads.

  • September 2nd 2020 – Trend Searches for Researchers – Update – Searches in English and Spanish in the US around covid-19 and symptoms has now become a freely available dataset for researchers.
  • September 1st 2020 – Invoices – Update – From the 1st November 2020, a 2% Digital Services Tax will be added to the monthly invoices of all UK companies using Google Ads.
  • September 1st 2020 – Google Shopping – Update –  Image policy infringement now at an item rather than an account level. Image promotional text disapprovals at an account level now overturned.
  • August 31st 2020 – Google Images – Update – Changes to Google Images interface and filters. For results where the publisher or image creator has provided licensing information, there will now be displayed a “licensable” badge over the image as well as the ability to filter images by Creative Commons licenses or Commercial licenses.
  • August 20th 2020 – SOS Alerts – Update – New wildfire map for US users, including where the location is, the size and tips on avoidance. 
  • August 18th 2020 – Activity Cards – Update – Activity cards for Shopping, Jobs and Recipes have been updated. Now previous searches will be recorded, recommendations based on prior searches for products or recipes will be made and even products viewed previously in articles will be suggested.
  • August 17th 2020 – Performance Planner – Update – Plan your budget more effectively with new Performance Planner features. Now you can see performance on shared budgets and share/edit plans with colleagues.Lastly, if your conversion delay is longer than 7 days, this is now included in the reports.
  • August 13th 2020 – Live Sports – Update – You can now see the live streaming options for sports within the US via google search. In addition, for television and movies, there will now be carousels for live entertainment options as well as on mobile, live and streaming recommendations.
  • August 13th 2020 – Google My Business – Update – New free tools for Google My Business. There is a new performance page with consumer insights, you can now also create posts, reply to reviews, add photos and update business information right from Google Search and Maps.
  • August 10th 2020 – Bug fix – Update –  Bug which was affecting ranking has now been fixed.
  • August 4th 2020 – Google Go – Update – Google Go, a lightweight search app, launched to support developing markets. Webpages read out loud, to aid language learning, more focus on trends rather than individual results, and set second language for results.
  • August 2020 – Dishonest Behaviour Policy- Update – Updated policy prohibiting the sale of spyware, GPS tracking without content, spying equipment and more.
  • July 31st 2020 – Manager Accounts – Update – New in manager accounts: optimization score and recommendations. 
  • July 31st 2020 – ValueTrack- Update – Warning is ValueTrack parameters are present in url in link, mobile_link, and canonical_link attributes and, instead, use the ads_redirect attribute or a tracking template instead.
  • July 21st 2020 – Editor – Updates – Google Ads Editor v1.4: Support for recommendations and local campaigns. Recommendations can be reviewed and applied across campaigns at scale and editor now supports local campaigns.
  • July 15th 2020 – Buy on Google – Updates – Launched in the US, and 2021 for the rest of the world, Buy on Google for Shopping will enable users to purchase products on mobile without having to land on a company’s webpage. The retailer will however still handle fulfilment. 
  • July 15th 2020 – Smart Shopping – Update – Google launches new features for Smart Shopping Campaigns. You can now add a conversion value for new customers, new visual and discovery features and new ways to highlight product features like free delivery. 
  • July 15th 2020 – Responsive Search Ads – Update – new features for responsive search ads. Addition of location insertions to dynamically add where product or service is offered, countdown customizers for time-limited events or offers, recommended phrases for ad copy, cross-campaign asset reporting and new recommendations for RSAs which are underperforming.
  • July 13th 2020-  Shopping Actions Policy – Update – Advertisers will now no longer be able to sell downloadable software CDs and DVDs, however videogames will still be available.
  • July 8th 2020 – Knowledge Graphs for Images – Update – Knowledge graphs now shown for images, to provide greater information and validation of imagery. 
  • July 7th 2020 – Overview Page – Update – Google releases three new features on their overview page. You can now apply recommendations from the overview page, optimization score has been added here and you can now download the overview page as well as individual cards within it.
  • July 7th 2020- Manager Accounts – Update – Manager accounts are now available in the Google Ads mobile app. 
  • July 2020- Eligible Countries – Update – Product data submitted for primary country where there are other countries with the same language, with shipping and location targeting set up, will now cover additional countries.
  • July 2020-  Misrepresentation Policy – Update – Misrepresentation policy expanded to include phishing sites which mimic other brands or cannot actually provide products stated.
  • June 25th – Business Messages in Search and Maps- Google My Business profile now able to integrate into internal client services software. What this means is businesses are now able to process consumer queries through GMB seamlessly with internal systems. 
  • June 22nd – Fact Checks for Video and Images – ClaimReview attribute now available for videos and images, ensuring third-party validation of information presented in Google Images and Video.
  • June 15th 2020 – Product Data Specification – Update – Attributes for products have changed. Values for the installment and subscription_cost attributes now accepted for wireless products and services in only approved countries, new product_detail attribute to cover technical product details, product_highlight attribute added to allow spotlight on core functionality or selling point, details for sales_price annotations relaxed and now the base price must only have been active for any 30 non-consecutive days in a 200 day period.
  • June 15th 2020 – Coronavirus Guide for Google Shopping – Update – Google launches a guide on how to manage Google Shopping campaigns and new policies through COVID-19. Temporary restriction on selling masks to non-healthcare workers. Government organizations, healthcare providers, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations are allowed to run covid-19 ads. Prohibition of targeting audiences using coronavirus related content. New coronavirus FAQs. 
  • June 15th 2020 – `Coronavirus Guide for Paid Search – Update – Google Launches a guide on how to manage search campaigns through COVID-19.
  • June 9th 2020 – Webspam Report – Update – A retrospective report looking at 2019 spam issues, trends and reports.
  • May 28th 2020 – Bug fix – Update –  Bug which was affecting ranking has now been fixed.
  • May 28th 2020 – AMP – Update –  AMP no longer required for pages to appear in Top Stories on mobile.
  • May 28th 2020 – Anxiety Self-Assessment – To support mental health during covid-19, Google has unveiled anxiety self-assessment tests through google to help users identify and combat symptoms.
  • May 27th 2020 – Local Business Support – Update – Support links for gifts cards and donations now rolled out to a further 18 countries.
  • May 15th 2020 – Gallery Ads Beta – Update –  Google announced that they plan to sunset Gallery ads beta in August, moving towards a bigger focus on Image Extensions.
  • May 11th 2020 – Local Business Support – Update – New functionality for business profiles, where merchants will be able to add a donation link, gift card link or both to their profiles, through PayPaul and GoFundMe. This is available for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
  • May 7th 2020 – Think with Google Rising retail categories tool added to Think with Google to provide daily data to businesses to understand changing consumer trends.
  • May 6th 2020 – Covid Guide – Update – Google launches guide on how to “navigate your retail business through COVID-19 – Our new guide for retailers and brands provides tips and insights to help your business adapt to this dynamic environment.”
  • May 4th-18th 2020 – 2nd Core Algorithm – Update – Google releases core algorithm SEO update. These updates occur several times a year and are a rearrangement of ranking signals rather than targeting a specific aspect of SEO.
  • April 23rd 2020 – Call Ads – Update –  Google introduces Call Ads with an optional website link. “To give your customers more flexibility in how they connect with your business, you can now include an optional “Visit website” link with your call-only ads. As part of this update, we’re also simplifying the name of “call-only ads” to “call ads.”
  • April 23rd 2020 – Irrelevant SERPs – Update –  Google has started telling users in the US, where search results are not particularly relevant and tips on how to reformulate search query.
  • April 23rd 2020 Identity – Identity Verification Program – Update – Google announces they plan to roll out identity verification programs to all advertisers by summer. “Users should be empowered to make informed decisions about the ads they see online. That’s why we’re launching advertiser identity verification, a policy that requires advertisers to verify their identities for ads served through Google Ads.”
  • April 21st 2020 – Google Shopping – Update – Google Shopping opens up to free product listings in the US. “Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online”
  • April 1st 2020 – Monthly budgeting – Update Google Ads ends monthly campaign budget test. “Advertisers were told, “Monthly budgeting will no longer be available as of April 2020. Your campaign budgets will automatically switch to daily then, or you can update to daily budgets anytime before April.
  • April 1st 2020 – Shopping Actions France – Update Advertisers in France can now download EU VAT invoices from Shopping Actions.
  • March 25th 2020 – Covid-19 Google Shopping – Update –  New guides and tips published for managing Google Shopping during Covid-19.
  • March 16th 2020 – Shopping Defect Rate Adjusted – Thresholds for Shopping Actions Retailer Standards performance goals changed for defect rate; now retailers have more leeway.
  • March 11th 2020 – NHS Knowledge Panels – Get helpful health info from the NHS, right in Search. Users in the UK now have easier access to information from the National Health Service (NHS). Beginning this week, when you search for health conditions like chickenpox, back pain, or the common cold, you can find Knowledge Panels with information from the NHS website that help you understand more about common causes, treatments and more.
  • March 10th 2020 New Smart Bidding Strategies – Update – Use Maximize conversions and Maximize conversion value with portfolio bid strategies. Portfolio bid strategies originally were available for Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Click and Target Impression Share, but this has now been extended to Maximize Conversions and Maximize Conversion Value. 
  • February 28th 2020 Selling Opioid Medication – Update – The selling of opioid medications is now prohibited on Google Shopping in the US and Canada.
  • February 20th 2020 Merchant Centre Products – Update – You can now add products listings directly from Merchant Centre rather than setting up a feed, however bear in mind that; it’s not available for local inventory ads, can’t be combined with inventory feeds, can’t be affected by feed rules and multi client accounts can’t do this.
  • February 7th-12th 2020 Algorithm – Update – General algorithm update, target of update not known.
  • February 2020 Market Insights – Update – Market Insights now available under Growth to offer retail data on price competitiveness, best sellers, position and benchmarks.
  • January 23rd 2020 – Dataset Search – Update – Dataset Search has left Beta, now users have access to almost 25 million different datasets around everything from fast food locations to breeds of dog. Not all the datasets are free however and for some there will be a charge.
  • January 22nd 2020 – Google Shopping OTC Drugs – Update – Pharmacies with certificates in Austria, Czech Republic, Norway, Portugal, and Slovakia will now be able to promote over-the-counter medications on Google Shopping ads,
  • January 15th 2020 – Clothing in Search – Update –  A new way to find clothes, shoes and more on Search. Search has always enabled users to find links to different products and stores, but starting today and rolling out this week in English in the U.S., you’ll begin to see clothes, shoes and accessories from across the web in one place on Search. This update only affects your mobile device.
  • January 13th 2020 – Simulators – Update – Simulators added for budgets and Target ROAS bid strategies. Find the right Target ROAS level or the right budget level, by exploring simulator suggestions to apply to your campaigns.
  • January 13th-20th 2020 – Core Algorithm – Update – Google releases core algorithm SEO update. These updates occur several times a year and are a rearrangement of ranking signals rather than targeting a specific aspect of SEO.
  • January 7th 2020 – Google Ads Forum- Update – New Shopping Actions’ specific space has been added to Google Ads Forum.
  • January 2020 – Connecticut Sales and Use Tax – Update – Updated policy regarding market facilitator tax in the US.