Google Updates: What Has Happened in 2017 So Far

Last year was all about AMP and AI. Updates happened across platforms from month to month, as they usually do, but the biggest focus was AMPing up websites and preparing ourselves for marketing to the AI generation.

We’re a little more than halfway through 2017 and updates have been happening left and right in the digital marketing world. Google has made several updates to it’s advertising and algorithms, Facebook has enhanced itself and Instagram a few different times, and some of the industry’s top leaders are transitioning.

Read along to see if you missed any of Google updates that have happened so far this year.

Mobile Pop-Ups Affect Rankings – January 10

Google gave fair warning last August, but to those who didn’t listen, their rankings started to change during this roll out in January. What you may know of as intrusive interstitials, the rest of the world knows as pop-ups or email capture light boxes. These intrusive beings are a negative in Google’s eyes and not only affect user experience, but also search time.

Google clarified in their blog update in January:

“Starting today, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.

As we said, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking and the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content. “

Google Assistant Makes Purchases and Changes the eCommerce Game – February 16

Need more toilet paper? Just ask Google Assistant!

The eCommerce world is about to change now that Google has made it easier than ever to make everyday purchases. By speaking directly to your Google Assistant, you can order whatever you need from participating Google Express retailers, including Costco, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens, PetSmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and more than 50 other national and locally available retailers.

This is a big deal for online retailers and now more important than ever to become one of Google’s Express retailers. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over time and the increase in purchases that will be made using Google Assistant instead of directly through a website like Target.com.

Close Variants Adwords Update – March 17

This Adwords update focused on simplifying the keyword bidding process. It’s tedious and quite an honest waste of time for us to be adding both “hotels in Las Vegas” and “Vegas hotels” in our list of keyword search terms, don’t you agree? Both phrases allude to the same concept: find me a hotel in Las Vegas.
The Adwords update that happened March of 2017 is here to fix this tedious issue using close variants.
These variants illuminate the need to include every type of variation of the same keyword or keyword phrase. Google went a step further and expanded close variant matching to include any additional rewording and rewording for exact match keywords.
“Early tests show advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates.3″

Google Attribution – March 23

In order to get ROI,  you need to be able to track your efforts. This is one of the most challenging aspects of digital marketing because finding the original source of conversion isn’t always clear.

A user can start at Point A, which we will call a search result, and then move to Point B, which we’ll call a landing page, and then a Facebook page, and then wait two weeks until they hit Point E which is the actual website, and wait another week before hitting Point F which is the actual purchase.


Image Source: Google

Google’s attribution update was designed to help track data in Adwords, Google Analytics, and DoubleClick Search without you having to add any additional tagging. This way, you’re able to watch an entire user’s journey and see how actions are being made, or not being made.

Smart Display Campaigns in Adwords – April 20

Another for-user, pro-brand type of update made in Adwords, smart display campaigns do the automation of advertising for you. Ads are automatically created, designed, bid chosen, and targeting made which allows you to create a variety of ads to test with.
“Smart display campaigns use the power of Google’s machine learning to automatically:
Advertisers using smart display are seeing an average of 20% increase in conversions at the same CPA over traditional display campaigns.

YouTube Location Extensions and In-Store Sales Measurement – May 23

Another update that happened at Google Marketing Next in San Francisco was the addition of location and tracking for ads on YouTube. To help determine the offline impact of online ads on YouTube, Google added location extensions so a business’ location, hours, photos, call buttons, and other information would show so users can react to an ad instantly.

Image Source: Marketing Land

By adding the business information, users can make an action directly from an ad and the action can be measured one of two ways.

The first, is through manually uploading transaction data to Google and matching it with conversions. The second, less manual option, is letting Google compare store visits using smartphone data with credit card transactions in the aggregate.

Google My Business Adds Messaging Feature – July 12

Google announced this update back in November of 2016, but it officially rolled out in the US in July. Google My Business users are now able to communicate with their customer from the platform that they’re being searched in.

Customers now have the option to message you directly from the business dashboard, and businesses can respond.

In order to utilize this update, you’ll need to configure the mobile number of the Allo device you want it to connect to, and then respond as messages come in.


What do you think of these updates? Comment below with what you think of Google’s updates so far this year.

About Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is a Corporate Speaker for SEMrush, an EPIC all-in-one tool designed to make life simpler for digital marketers. Ashley is passionate about helping businesses and individuals gain longterm ROI through teaching content marketing and social media tactics. With over 6 years in the digital marketing industry, Ashley brings first hand experience and case studies to inspire marketers around the world to better their strategies using the SEMrush platform and unique marketing tactics. She regularly speaks at workshops and conferences like Pubcon, RetailGlobal, SMS, and more. Ashley is also a contributing writer to industry blogs such as Search Engine Journal and AuthorityLabs.

Filed under: Internet Marketing