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In this week’s update, learn about the impact of the May 2022 Core Update; the rumor that Apple will announce a search engine; Messenger’s new Calls tab; the uses of Open Graph meta tags; the temporary suspension of product editing in GBP; and the launch of Google’s Topics API test. 


The Impact of the May 2022 Core Update


Analysis published by Mordy Oberstein on the SEMRush blog shows Google’s May 2022 Core Algorithm update continues a pattern established by the last few core updates, with a short, strong period of volatility during which search rankings for some sites changed dramatically. The study compares the May update to the November 2021 core update, both of which achieved volatility ratings of more than 9 out of 10 possible points. For May, the volatility rating was 9.4; the scores for desktop and mobile were the same. 


The verticals most impacted by the May update included real estate, books and literature, hobbies and leisure, travel, pets and animals, and health. Real estate saw the biggest impact of any vertical. The study found that 6.7% of the top 10 URLs after the update, and 17% of the top 20, were previously ranked below 20. The study notes that as usual, there is no specific advice for recovering from demotions after a core update, aside from publishing quality content and adhering to E.A.T. standards. 


Core algorithm updates impact organic results and can indirectly influence local search via business websites associated with GBP profiles, though the local search algorithm is managed and updated separately. 



chart from SEMrush sharing the average number of domain positions lost or gained


Will Apple Announce a Search Engine at WWDC?

For some time now, rumors have been floating around that Apple might be working on a search engine in order to compete with Google. Now tech blogger Robert Scoble has hinted on Twitter that just such an announcement might be coming at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) which takes place today. The keynote address is at 10am Pacific Time, so by the time you read this, the rumor may have been confirmed or denied. 


Apple has, without question, dipped its toes into search over the past several years, launching its own AppleBot web crawler way back in 2014. Federated search, which includes web results as well as results from apps, is an established feature of the iPhone, and Apple’s Siri provides search results powered by Google today. Scoble’s comments imply that the new search engine is tied to Siri, suggesting at least a possibility that Apple may replace Google with its own search solution. Google paid Apple $15 billion last year for its prominent role in iPhone search. 



Meta Adds Calls Tab to Messenger


Meta has added a new Calls tab to the functions bar in the Messenger app, making it easier for users to initiate audio and video conversations. The company reports that daily callers have increased by 40% over 2020 and that 300 million audio and video calls take place on Messenger each day. Back in 2016, Messenger began adding features such as games and bots to try to broaden the app’s usefulness and appeal, but in 2018 leadership acknowledged the app had become too cluttered. This led to a movement towards streamlining and simplifying the app’s core messaging functions – which makes the addition of a new tab especially notable. 


The Uses of Open Graph Meta Tags


Last week, we discussed how to influence the appearance of featured photos in organic search results. During the internal meeting we hold at SOCi to review the week’s updates, it was suggested that Open Graph tags may also be influencing the selection of photos in Google results. I thought this was a good opportunity to review Open Graph and its primary uses. The Open Graph protocol was developed at Facebook and now exists as an open source method of tagging website content for display in social media. When you share a link on a social platform, Open Graph tags tell the platform which content on the page represents items like the page title, description, site name, and featured image. 


The protocol is used by Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and can also control the display of shared links on Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, and Slack. The Ahrefs blog contains a useful guide. As for usage of the protocol by Google, the official Open Graph site claims that Google “consumes” Open Graph content, but the link to the relevant Google documentation returns a 404 error. Other online mentions suggest that Open Graph content does not influence Google SERPs. Regardless, the protocol is useful for anyone who wants to control the display of website content on social platforms. 


Google Temporarily Suspends Product Editing in GBP


An outage lasting several hours on May 31 made it impossible for users to edit content on the Products tab in Google Business Profile Manager. A notice in the dashboard said that previously added products had been unpublished and that users wishing to add product content to GBP must do so by managing inventory feeds in the Merchant Center. Despite the claim that previously uploaded products were deleted, many of the public profiles of businesses receiving the notice still had live product listings. Not all businesses saw the message, and for some Products functionality was unchanged.


Google submitted a statement to Barry Schwartz indicating that this was all the result of a bug and that normal functionality had been restored. As of June 1, the Products tab had returned to its prior state for the affected users. The error, if that’s the right word, is reminiscent of the notice we reported on a few weeks ago suggesting that Google Business Profile Manager was being retired. After all, someone must have created the notice and the capability of disabling Product entries, which suggests that a change of some kind might still be on the horizon. 


Google to Launch Topics API Test


As of July 1, a small percentage of advertisers using Google AdSense to monetize their websites will be able to test Google’s new Topics API. The new API lets advertisers enable ad targeting in Chrome based on the general interests of the recipient, rather than on specific information about individual user activities. Google suggests that interest-based advertising or IBA, as powered by the Topics API, can actually increase the addressable audiences of websites who might have a harder time with contextual advertising. 


Despite this optimism, many advertisers have expressed concern about the cancellation of support for third-party cookies in Chrome, still expected to occur some time this year, and about the efficacy of the Topics API as Google’s proposed replacement. A central area of concern is that the 350 topics supported by the API will not provide sufficiently granular targeting and will lead to greatly increased competition for larger segments of users. 


Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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