The May 2021 Search & Digital Marketing News Round Up

John Mueller, guru of all things Google, had a lot to say during May.

Firstly, during his latest Ask Googlebot YouTube video, Mr. Mueller advised site owners that turning off – or deleting – a sitemap won’t prevent Google from crawling URLs at a later date. John went on to say that if a site owner does delete a sitemap file, Google will continue to crawl the website – but will be less efficient in doing so. Though here at Mackerel Media, we have to ask ourselves why would anybody want to delete their site map? If a user was hoping to upload a more recent version for Google to crawl, there are more efficient way to achieve this – including multiple sitemaps being supported by Google.

Google Encourages Geographic Ranking Improvements

Next, John Meuller gave insight into Google’s ranking signals for international businesses, with clear advice on how to geo-target specific countries. 

Asked what the most efficient way to target a country was, and if a local domain was required, John responded:

No, it’s not required.

In general, if you want to use geotargeting there, there are two ways to do that.

One is to use the country level top-level domain, which would dot DE for Germany in that case.

The other is to use a generic top-level domain and to use a geotargeting setting in search console.

So that could be, for example, a dot Com website or dot Net or dot Info or dot EU or whatever.

Any of those would also work and then you just set geotargeting for [country].”

Google's John Mueller shakes head to illustrate response of someone to poor quality content

There are a number of benefits to specifically geo-targeting a country – with perhaps the most important being the level of trust gained by a local user. In these scenarios, one of most important elements of an international version of a website can be the use of a geographically relevant local language. Nobody wants to find the website they’ve landed on is written in a language they do not speak!

However, translating your site into a localised language could be more difficult than first imagined. Meuller went on to say that whilst direct translation of a website into another language would not count as “duplicate content”, he did caution against using Google Translate to simply copy & paste your site into a new language.

Unsurprisingly, automatically generated translations often miss gramatical, contextual or semantic nuances in the target language – which Meuller suggested is likely to cause significant quality issues on site:

So if you use an automatic translating tool and you just translate your whole website automatically into a different language then probably we would see that as a lower quality website because often the translations are not that great.

So in these scenarios, what can be done? Meuller suggested that at a minimum, local translations really should be done by somebody who speaks the target local language.

Core Web Vitals Able To Group Similar URLs Together

With the update to Core Web Vitals scores last year, digital marketers are keen to understand as much as possible about what influences the Chrome User Experience Report data.

Google Search Console Updated With Core Web Vitals Report

When asked how Google measures the score of pages which do not have enough views to generate a Chrome User Experience Report, Meuller suggested that Google is able to group similar pages together based on it’s understanding of the site as a whole.

“It could be something where all of your category pages are in one group and we say, well, these pages perform similarly. So if we find a new URL that is also a part of this group, we don’t have to have data for that new URL. We can rely on the data for the group overall.”

In other words, if Google comes across a new page which it has no data for – such as a blog or category page – Google’s system is able to interpret signals and group new pages together with similar pages which do have a Core Web Vitals score, assigning the overall score to all pages of a similar type.

Google Announces “Consent Mode” Updates

Following in the footsteps of Apple in taking a strong stance towards user privacy, from May 2021 Google Ads will set a new first-party cookie aimed at improving conversion attribution data with updates to Global Site Tags and GTM to set a same-site cookie on users browsers.

To support these changes, Google has announced updates to it’s Beta “Consent Mode” – a browser setting which allows advertisers to remain compliant with EU regulations. Consent Mode automatically ensures that Google tracking does not read cookies where consent is not expressly given by the user.

Google has now announced that Consent Mode will allow for conversion modeling to fill in the gaps left behind by cookies. not being accepted. This will enable Consent Mode to recover the attribution between ad-click events and conversions measured in Google Ads.

Overall, this could be an extremely useful update for digital marketers, as Google’s own data suggests this can recover more than 70% of conversion data that was lost due to cookie consent being denied by users.

Unfortunately, Consent Mode is not the standard for advertisers working in the EU yet, but gradual rollout is expected.