It’s been one of those months where keeping up with the latest news is a full-time job in itself. So we like to offer a quick roundup of the latest developments at times like these, so you can keep up-to-date with everything that’s going on.
In the last two weeks, we’ve had Google algorithm updates, a £2.1bn fine for the search giant – plus a whole can of worms that could open after the EU’s antitrust ruling – and that’s just for starters.
‘Significant’ algorithm update on June 25
All the data from multiple sources points to a major Google algorithm update that appears to have occurred on June 25. It seems that sites sitting in the 6-10 positions of page one have been hit the hardest and, while it looks like a cross-industry impact, some sectors have been hit particularly hard.
The food and beverage industry looks like the biggest victim at this stage, followed by health and fitness; gambling; retail and travel sites.
Google is giving the usual we make changes every day speech and there aren’t many theories on what specifically is being targeted in this update. Expect more news on this over the coming weeks.
Google Posts now available to small businesses
Last year, Google released a new platform called Google Posts that allowed celebrities and major brands post directly onto search results via a carousel. Well now the search giant has opened this feature up to local and smaller businesses using the Google My Business platform.
The listings can appear both in Google Search and Google Maps for relevant queries. Google says the format is design for businesses to promote daily deals, events, best products, new arrivals and other posts of interest to consumers. Details like location, contact info and hours of operation are automatically fed into the posts – plus an all-important CTA to get users taking action right away.
EU slaps Google with a £2.1bn fine
In what kind of feels like a small moral victory, Google has been slapped with a penalty of its own. The EU is fining parent company Alphabet £2.1bn after it ruled that Google does in fact use its search engine to unfairly stifle competition. Google still reject the criticism of its conduct and could yet appeal the verdict, but the tech giant is yet to comment on that possibility.
Of course, £2.1bn won’t cripple a company of Google’s stature but this is the largest ever fine handed out by the EU in an antitrust case – double the previous record against Intel in 2009.
The question now is, what does this mean for the future of Google? This seven-year antitrust case highlights Google’s implementation of Google Shopping on its results pages, which leaves us wondering two things. First of all, what changes will Google have to make to Google Shopping? More importantly, though, Google’s aggressive promotion of its own products extends far beyond Google Shopping, so could the tech firm be forced to rethink its approach across the board?
Let’s not forget Google still has two ongoing antitrust cases with the European Union. The ruling also means rival companies who feel Google’s illegal activities hurt their business can now sue Google directly – and the queue of companies lining up to take action is pretty long to say the least.
Google to stop reading your emails (at least for advertising)
In an uncharacteristic move to improve user privacy, Google has announced it will stop reading emails sent via personal accounts on Gmail for advertising purposes. Since Gmail was created 13 years ago, Google has been scanning ingoing and outgoing emails from people using free Gmail accounts. This policy has always been in place, but received a major backlash from users in 2014 after the company clarified its policies.
Needless to say people weren’t impressed – especially the non-Gmail users who were unsuspectingly having any emails they sent to free Gmail users screened by Google.
As always, the aim from Google’s perspective was to provide better ad targeting but Google is now putting an end to this. Does this mean Google will actually stop reading our emails? Well, no, sadly not. It will continue to scan your emails in order to personalise your Google experience, but it won’t use this data to target you with ads. You know how Google Now magically knows when you’ve booked a new flight? Yes, you guessed it. Features like that all rely on Google taking an automated peek into your mailbox.
Canada just forced Google to remove results globally
Courts in Canada have ordered Google to remove results listings globally for a company caught up in a copyright scandal. Datalink Technologies Gateways apparently relabelled the product of another company, selling it online as its own. Courts in Canada previously called on Google to remove all results pointing to Datalink pages and the search provider did so – for the Canadian version of its pages only.
However, now the courts have ordered Google to remove these results globally, to prevent illegal sales of the product in question outside of Canada. Google has appealed the ruling and rights groups back the search provider on the basis of internet censorship and freedom of speech.
This is an interesting one, for sure.
So that’s what was going on in the world of SEO over the last two weeks. Google algorithms are getting trickier to pin down – something we expect to continue – and the search engine’s legal battles leave us wondering what else could change before the year comes to an end. Rumours of another record-breaking antitrust fine from the EU are already looming, this time for Google’s insistence that phone manufacturers using Android load their handsets with its own applications. Get the popcorn ready, it could be an interesting July!