Google Topics May 2023
GA4 & SGE
Google seems to be making changes faster than usual.
With so much new tech on the horizon, it’s no wonder that many of us might be feeling 10 steps behind on things.
Fair warning, I’m not an all around expert in Google, but obviously Google is a major pillar for our blogs so I wanted to touch on it the best I can and supply some helpful resources.
Let’s get into it.
July 1st, 2023
What’s so important about this date? Well, it’s the date that Universal Analytics is no longer going to be collecting data.
I know when I first saw this news a while back, my head flooded with panic. The idea of going through another Google Analytics setup was deflating, especially since the last time I did it was 2017.
Let’s start with the main question: what is GA4?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, and it’s got a ton of new features and capabilities. GA4 offers enhanced data collection, improved reporting, and more granular insights into user behavior.
It also includes a new user interface that makes it easier to navigate and understand your analytics data.
A big differentiator is, GA4's data model will concentrate primarily on events.
This means that a page view hit will now be classified as a page view event. Essentially, the shift involves moving away from various hit types and consolidating them into events.
One of the most exciting features of GA4 is its ability to track events across multiple platforms, including web, mobile apps, and even offline sources like point-of-sale systems. And for someone who has digital products, this is pretty great.
Additionally, GA4 allows you to set up custom alerts so you can be notified when something important happens on your site or app.
Another great feature of GA4 is its integration with Google Ads. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of your ad campaigns in real time, giving you a better understanding of what works and what doesn't so you can optimize your campaigns for maximum ROI.
For those of us using Google Ads, it’s nice to have some additional measures so we can track effectiveness!
Overall, Google Analytics 4 is an incredibly powerful tool that can help us gain valuable insights into our audience’s behavior.
How Do I Set Up GA4?
I’m going to point you to a super helpful video on this, led by Julius Fedorovicius, the founder behind https://www.analyticsmania.com/.
You can also join their FB group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/222427283409187/
Your goal should be to get GA4 set up as soon as possible, but don’t worry about deleting your old analytics property.
You can have both Universal Analytics and GA4 active at the same time, and there’s no harm to your reporting. You will still see the UA property, but after July 1st there will no longer be data being populated there.
May Algorithm “Update”
Recent updates have not been officially announced by Google, but earlier this month SEO experts and creators reported signs of a massive ranking update that has affected a lot of websites.
Some agencies reported about 30% of their sites saw position decreases anywhere from 5-30 or more spots. If you had a page in the coveted top 3, you could very well now be on page 7 as a result of this update.
If any of your pages were impacted, the best thing to do is hang tight until we’re able to find out what happened.
Google’s AI Search Feature
AI is busting down the door and soon we’ll all be able to use it in our Google searches.
Search Generative Experience (SGE for short) is part of a new function within Google Search Labs.
But what does that mean for us food bloggers?
It’s hard to say how AI will impact SERPs for food blogs & recipe sites.
Based on what I’ve researched, AI answers won't be generated for every search query (at least for now). Google's algorithms only trigger the AI when it is deemed more beneficial than traditional results.
If we think about that concept in connection to recipes, we can ask ourselves as a user, “what is more beneficial than traditional results?”
The first thing that comes to my mind is well, the recipe!
We always hear users complain about “I just want the recipe”, and, “There’s too many ads/too many words - just give me the recipe!!!”
One possibility is, Google will begin to show the full recipe so that the user can skip going to the website entirely, which would put our revenue at serious risk.
That’s a scary possibility.
But at the same time, what would happen to Google AdSense if no one visited websites anymore? What would happen to influential partners like Mediavine and AdThrive? I doubt Google will leave a huge sector of businesses in the dust.
Based on what I’ve seen from other test users, traditional links won’t go away - like everything else that Google has enhanced their searches with, the links will still be there but they’ll get pushed further and further down the search page (still not a great scenario).
Mainly though, SGE is here to fit the queries that pose multiple questions that we haven’t been able to effectively use Google for in the past.
Things like, "Is [a certain software or product] worth it?”, “Where do I do for a romantic weekend in The Poconos” - something that is more opinion related vs. a singular answer (i.e. what temperature to cook steak for medium rare)
Get in on Early Testing
I’ve seen some screenshots from other people testing the new AI search feature but I haven’t seen anyone do a deep dive search for anything recipe-related yet.
I’ve gone ahead and signed up to become a test user so once I’m approved, I will report back. 🙂
If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, you can sign up here.
This article has some great screenshots to get a feel for the new tool while you wait.
Master Your Mindset
Needless to say, Google is keeping us busy.
Adding GA4 is a pain, but OK. We can manage that.
And at least Google has announced a delay in third party cookie depreciation until next year (phew!) That’s another topic for a different day. 😉
As for the AI stuff, that has many of us feeling nervous.
We are experiencing a new first for our blogs - a complete shift that will alter Google searches as we know it. The integration with AI is something we all will need to pioneer together - even for million dollar bloggers.
Just remember - we are in the early stages of all this, and what we’re seeing now is going to continue to evolve and adapt many times over.
For me, I am nervous if Google will be bypassing our other content to just pull up the recipe.
At the same time, I take comfort in the fact that for most recipes out there, you can’t simple just look at a list of ingredients and know what to do (i.e. we still get traffic even though we have Rich Pins on Pinterest enabled). Most users need to refer to our content to grasp the instructions and steps on how to prepare the recipe.
But, as we’ve learned, Google always has big plans cooking behind the scenes and the best we can do is go with the flow.
Remember, Google’s core mission is to provide users with the most relevant and helpful results, so Google needs content. Google will always need content.
Other Helpful Sources