The Latest Google Updates into 2024
The last few years have brought a ton of announcements from Google about improvements, new features, and sunsetting long-standing products. It’s no surprise that most of us — even the experts — feel like we went from the kiddie pool to the deep end, with no life jacket, quite quickly.
For a nod to Google, some of the improvements are turning out great. Others, we’re scratching our heads on if it will actually improve our performance or experience.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s going on with the Googs.
Hello, It’s Me, Google Analytics
Google debuted the fourth version of Google Analytics, called GA4. (Apparently, they couldn’t come up with anything snappy.)
If you are reading this article and haven’t set up your GA4 account yet, stop reading and set it up right now. We’ll be here when you get back.
(Want help? Let us do it for you.)
The biggest reason you need to do it now is to compare data. While it won’t be exactly the same, data should be similar. As of July 1, 2024, all customers will lost access to Universal Analytics.
Here are some of the biggest features GA4 has that Universal Analytics does not.
Universal Analytics tracks based on sessions whereas GA4 is based on events. This allows you to see and track engagement better. From this information, Google is also able to build stronger audiences through machine learning.
Google wasn’t going to include bounce rate at first, but it has since been reinstated. The bounce rate essentially shows the lack of an event, so it should have been included from the get-go.
In Universal Analytics, tracking an app versus a website had to be done in separate properties. With GA4, you can track both in one property.
Having these two features in one property is good, since it allows you to see how users interact when they are on their phones and then on a tablet or desktop.
Transition to a Cookie-less World
The tasty edible cookies aren’t going away, but third-party cookies on websites will soon be a thing of the past. The transition deadline has rolled back several times, but the biggest thing to know from this is users will have more privacy controls — as will the GA4 property.
Depending on where you are based, you may be familiar with extra data protections already in place. Google will continue to improve the GA4 features in order to be compliant with state and federal regulations.
You Need to Calm Down, Google Ads
So. Much. Change. While we won’t cover everything, here’s a quick recap of the big stuff.
Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are no longer supported.
If you have these still running, ensure the copy and URL are still how you want them, as these will continue to run for the time being. Cover your bases, and if you haven’t created Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) yet, do so. RSAs are the preferred search ad of Google now.
Say “hi” to Performance Max campaigns and “goodbye” to smart shopping and local campaigns.
If you haven’t already transitioned to Performance Max (PMax), Google probably did it for you in 2023.
The campaign is similar to what Local and Smart Shopping campaigns offered beforehand, but it hits all of the platforms — including display, search, YouTube and partner sites.
We’ve seen the best success with e-commerce or inventory-based businesses, but it performs well for other service-based accounts. Google recommends you run a PMax campaign alongside a search campaign.
Shop for Vehicles on Google
Thankfully, Vehicle Listing Ads (VLA) were rolled out to all advertisers meeting specific criteria.
VLAs are inventory-based shopping campaigns allowing a dealership’s inventory to be displayed when a user searches for the same or very similar vehicle.
Dealerships must request to be enrolled in the program, which has a tendency to be slow for approvals. If this is something on your radar, we encourage you to start the process sooner rather than later. It is free to initiate and receive all of the approvals. The cost comes in the form of ad spending.
Sayonara Similar Audiences
Finally, the end of similar audiences. Advertisers will no longer be able to use similar audiences in Google Ads. If you are more familiar with Facebook lingo, think of this as a lookalike audience (or Special Ads Audience — which also ended).
Whew, that’s a lot to share. Google Ads had a lot of changes recently, and it’s expected to be just as busy in the coming year. If you want to stay up to date on what’s coming, changing or going, read Google Ads’ blog on features and announcements.
The Program Formally Called Google My Business
Overall, the biggest change we’ve seen is Google pushing GBP users to edit business information directly in a Google search or in Google Maps. Anyone with access can still log into business.google.com and find all of their listings.
With the changes Google is making to GBP, we expect that Google will someday move away from having a separate subdomain and make marketers just edit the information directly on Google. Our concern then is for advertisers who have dozens — or hundreds — of locations to monitor and update.
We’ll Get Through the Latest Google News
If you looked at the bookmarks saved on my computer, you’d know we keep up to date on the latest things happening in search engine optimization and search engine marketing platforms. The plethora of updates announced every month can be overwhelming.
That’s where 9 Clouds fits into our clients’ businesses.
Our team stays up to date on the latest and greatest, the disappointing news, and the major changes all digital platforms are announcing. We really focus on being an ally — as if you have a few more members on your marketing team.
Want help wrangling all your digital advertising and ensuring it’s up to date? Need an outside perspective to see where your digital opportunities lie? Reach out today.Get Your Digital Assessment »