When it comes to ranking a website in Google, most people agree that high-quality content is essential. But, what exactly is quality content? 

For a number of reasons, most online marketers agreed that Google defined high-quality content as something very specific: text-based content which clearly and engagingly communicated valuable information to readers.

Recently, though, Google’s John Mueller shot down that assumption during a video chat. 

While he still emphasizes that great content should inform or entertain viewers, Mueller explained that the search engine actually has a much broader view of “content quality” than most thought.

What Google Means When They Say “Quality Content”

In response to a question about whether SEO content creators should prioritize technical improvements to content or expand the scope of content, Mueller took a moment to talk about what content quality means to Google.

“When it comes to the quality of the content, we don’t mean like just the text of your articles. It’s really the quality of your overall website, and that includes everything from the layout to the design.

This is especially notable, as Mueller specifically highlights two factors that many continue to ignore – images and page speed. 

“How you have things presented on your pages? How you integrate images? How you work with speed? All of those factors, they kind of come into play there.”

Ultimately, Mueller’s response emphasizes taking a much more holistic view of your content and focusing on providing an all-around great experience for users on your website. 

There is an unspoken aspect to what Mueller says which should be mentioned. Mueller subtly shows that Google still prefers text-based content rather than videos or audio-only formats. While the company wants to integrate even more types of content, the simple fact is that the search engine still struggles to parse these formats without additional information.

Still, Mueller’s statement broadens the concept of “quality content” from what is often understood. 

“So it’s not the case that we would look at just purely the text of the article and ignore everything else around it and say, oh this is high-quality text. We really want to look at the website overall.”

Google has released an unofficial new tool to help save advertisers from being suspended for violating its new Three Strikes policy for policy violations. 

The tool, which comes in the form of a short python script, helps identify and remove ads that violate the terms and conditions for advertising.

How The Three Strikes Policy Works

As announced in July 2021, Google is now using a “Three Strikes” policy to suspend or ban repeat violators.

After the first violation of any type, the advertiser is given a warning. After that, they are allowed three strikes for each kind of violation.

If an advertiser account receives all three strikes, they are then suspended unless they win an appeal through the company.

As the announcement described the system:

“To help ensure a safe and positive experience for users, Google requires advertisers to comply with Google Ads policies.

“As a part of the Google Ads enforcement system, Google will begin issuing strikes to advertisers, which will be accompanied by email notifications and in-account notifications to encourage compliance and deter repeat violations of our policies.”

Google’s Bowling Tool To Remove Disapproved Ads

This week, the company’s developer blog announced a new tool called “bowling” that is designed to assist advertisers in spotting and removing any problematic ads. 

The announcement described the tool’s purpose by saying:

“…Bowling is a mitigation tool allowing clients to act and remove disapproved ads before risking account suspension.

“The tool audits (and offers the option to delete) disapproved ads that may lead eventually to account suspension in perpetuity.”

Despite being announced on the developer blog, however, the python script includes a disclaimer explicitly stating it is not an official product.

As the disclaimer says:

“This is not an officially supported Google product. Copyright 2021 Google LLC. This solution, including any related sample code or data, is made available on an “as is,” “as available,” and “with all faults” basis, solely for illustrative purposes, and without warranty or representation of any kind. This solution is experimental, unsupported and provided solely for your convenience.”

It is no secret that Google knows the price you, your competitors, and even the shady third-party companies charge for your products or services. In some cases, you might even directly tell the company how much you charge through Google’s Merchant Center. So, it is reasonable to think that the search engine might also use that information when it is ranking brands or product pages in search results.

In a recent livestream, however, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, denied the idea.

What John Mueller Has To Say About Price as a Google Ranking Signal

The question arose during an SEO Office-Hours hangout on October 8, which led to Mueller explaining that while Google can access this information, it does not use it when ranking traditional search results.

As he says in the recording of the discussion:

“Purely from a web search point of view, no, it’s not the case that we would try to recognize the price on a page and use that as a ranking factor.

“So it’s not the case that we would say we’ll take the cheaper one and rank that higher. I don’t think that would really make sense.”

At the same time, Mueller says he can’t speak on how products in shopping results (which may be shown in regular search results) are ranked. 

Within shopping search results, users can manually select to sort their results by price. Whether it is used as a factor the rest of the time isn’t something Mueller can answer:

“A lot of these products also end up in the product search results, which could be because you submit a feed, or maybe because we recognize the product information on these pages, and the product search results I don’t know how they’re ordered.

“It might be that they take the price into account, or things like availability, all of the other factors that kind of come in as attributes in product search.”

Price Is And Isn’t A Ranking Factor

At the end of the day, Mueller doesn’t work in the areas related to product search so he really can’t say whether price is a ranking factor within those areas of Google. This potentially includes when they are shown within normal search results pages.

What he can say for sure, is that within traditional web search results, Google does not use price to rank results:

“So, from a web search point of view, we don’t take price into account. From a product search point of view it’s possible.

“The tricky part, I think, as an SEO, is these different aspects of search are often combined in one search results page. Where you’ll see normal web results, and maybe you’ll see some product review results on the side, or maybe you’ll see some mix of that.”

You can hear Mueller’s full response in the recording from the October 8, 2021, Google SEO Office Hours hangout below:

With Halloween getting closer, everyone – including Google – is getting into the holiday spirit.

As the company does every year, Google is sharing the biggest search trends related to Halloween 2021, including the most popular scary movies, haunted houses, trending costumes, pumpkin patches, and more.

While some topics like the most popular movies stay largely the same year to year, other areas like popular costumes may provide a little more insight into the current trends and interests right now.

Getting out and enjoying seasonal in-person events like corn mazes and pumpkin patches also seems to be of particular interest this year, after the more subdued (if not completely canceled) Halloween during the peak of 2020’s Covid pandemic.

Let’s recap some of the top trends for Halloween 2021:

Top Halloween Movies

Unsurprisingly, the list of top Halloween movies includes a mix of horror classics and seasonal family staples which have lasted for decades since their original release.

  • Halloween (1978)
  • Friday the 13th
  • Hocus Pocus
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Halloweentown

Top Halloween Costumes

Based on early indications, the latest movies are mixing with a Halloween classic and a beloved celebrity to fill out the most popular costumes this year. Meanwhile, the couples costumes are a mix of famous couples from both screen and history, including a fair number of cartoon characters.

Trending Individual Halloween Costumes:

  • Squid Game
  • Gorilla
  • Britney Spears
  • Carnage
  • Venom

Trending couples costumes:

  • Trixie and Timmy Turner
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Skid and Pump
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  • Cosmo and Wanda

Trending dog costumes:

  • Squid Game
  • Race car
  • Vampire
  • Donkey
  • Lobster

Top Halloween Drinks and Candy By State

Lastly, Google highlighted the top festive treats for both trick-or-treaters and adults. Specifically, the list collected the top Halloween-related drinks by state:

For more, check out the full Google Halloween Trends and Google Maps Halloween Guides.

Google says it is going to be radically updating its search engine by integrating its new “MUM” algorithm into its systems. 

This will allow Google’s search engines to better understand topics, find better answers and sources, and provide more intuitive ways to explore ideas.

Accompanying these new search systems, Google is going to be redesigning its search pages with new features that provide new ways to discover information and conduct searches that are more visual.

What is the MUM Algorithm?

Introduced earlier this year, the Multitask Unified Model algorithm, or MUM, allowed Google to better find information using images and across multiple languages. 

The main purpose of the algorithm is to improve Google’s ability to search with images and other types of visual content, rather than just text.

Three Ways MUM Is Changing Search

While it is hard to know exactly how transformative the introduction of the MUM algorithm will be before it arrives, Google did highlight three key features which will be coming with the change.

  1. “Things to know”
  2. Topic Zoom
  3. Visual Topic Exploration

Google’s “Things to Know”

Using predictive models, Google’s search engine will soon intuit the most likely steps you will take after an initial search and deliver websites that will facilitate those actions.

To help illustrate this process, the announcement uses the example of a user searching for “acrylic painting”.

According to the search engine’s data, there are more than 350 topics associated with that specific keyword phrase.

Using this knowledge, the “things to know” feature will then identify the most relevant or popular “paths” users are likely to take to further explore that topic and find content relating to that.

Topic Exploration

The next feature piggybacks on the last by making it easy to dive into related topics or find more in-depth information.

Using the feature, users can quickly broaden the topic they are looking at to find more general information, or zoom in to more detailed resources.

Visual Exploration

The last update enabled by MUM is actually already live on the search engine, providing a new way to visually explore topics.

Specifically, the visual search results page will appear for searches where a user is “looking for inspiration.”

As Google explains it:

“This new visual results page is designed for searches that are looking for inspiration, like ‘Halloween decorating ideas’ or ‘indoor vertical garden ideas,’ and you can try it today.”


It is likely that these new features are just the start of Google’s introduction of the MUM algorithm to revamp how it does search. Since its start, the search engine has struggled to understand visual content, but MUM finally provides a path to not only understand but deliver visual content across the entire Google platform.

Google has confirmed that it is sometimes replacing page titles in search results with other copy it finds more relevant. As public liaison for Google Search, Danny Sullivan, explains:

“Last week, we introduced a new system of generating titles for web pages. Before this, titles might change based on the query issued. This generally will no longer happen with our new system. This is because we think our new system is producing titles that work better for documents overall, to describe what they are about, regardless of the particular query.”

In plain English, this means that Google is rewriting the title tags accompanying web pages in some search results – often replacing it with other text from your page. This is not the first time Google has made adjustments to title tags being shown in search results, but it is definitely the most extensive rewriting the search engine has done. 

According to Sullivan, the goal of this is to highlight the most relevant content for users and focus on content that users can “visually see”: 

“Also, while we’ve gone beyond HTML text to create titles for over a decade, our new system is making even more use of such text. In particular, we are making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. We consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags, within other header tags, or which is made large and prominent through the use of style treatments.”

Does This Mean HTML Title Tags Don’t Matter?

If Google is going to just replace the tags put on pages, why should we even bother? The answer is for a few reasons. 

Firstly, the title tags will still provide their traditional SEO value by helping the search engine understand your page.

Secondly, Google is not rewriting the majority of search results titles. According to Sullivan, Google will show the original HTML title tags in more than 80% of cases. The system will only revise title tags if it believes the current tags are either too long, stuffed with irrelevant keywords, or a generic boilerplate.

“In some cases, we may add site names where that is seen as helpful. In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, we might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts.”

What This Means For You

Since there is no way of opting out of this system, there is nothing for brands to change moving forward. 

The biggest changes from this will instead be in reporting, where some pages may see increased or decreased click-through rates due to changed titles in search results. 

For more, read the full statement from Google and Danny Sullivan here.

In just 2020, Google has changed its search engine more than 4,500 times, according to the newly updated “How Search Works” site. 

Or, as Google puts it, “There have been 4,500 such improvements in 2020 alone.”

Whether you agree with Google’s description of their changes as “improvements”, the disclosure is interesting because it shows that the search engine continued to ramp up how frequently it updates parts of its system – even during the initial outbreak of the COVID pandemic. 

In comparison, Google made 3,200 changes to its search engine in 2019, the year before. At the same time, the company said this was nearly a 10x increase from a decade before. In 2009, the search engine reported just 350-400 changes.

What Do These Changes Include?

Google’s 2020 ‘improvements’ can include anything from updates to its user interface, changes to search results, and adjustments to how specific carousels or sub-sections like “news” function. 

As such, it isn’t all that surprising that Google is making significantly more updates to its systems than it was a decade ago. The search engine is considerably more complex and multifaceted these days compared to its 2009 counterpart. 

Still, I think many expected to see a relative slowdown to these updates as many workers began working remotely and the country braced for the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

“How Search Works” Site Gets a Redesign

This info was revealed as part of a much larger redesign of the search engine’s ‘How Search Works’ website, which “explains the ins and outs of search.”

Since 2013, Google has used the portal to help educate users about the broad principles Google uses to rank sites and filter out spam or inappropriate content. 

With the latest update, the company has “updated the site with fresh information, made it easier to navigate and bookmark sections and added links to additional resources that share how Search works and answer common questions.” 

“The website gives you a window into what happens from the moment you start typing in the search bar to the moment you get your search results. It gives an overview of the technology and work that goes into organizing the world’s information, understanding what you’re looking for and then connecting you with the most relevant, helpful information,” Google added.

Between virtual schooling, social media, and video streaming platforms, kids are more online than ever. Though children are growing up using the internet from their earliest ages, however, most evidence suggests they are more at risk for being targeted through advertising and other forms of online marketing. Now, Google is taking action to protect them.

In one recent study from SafeAtLast, upwards of 75% of children are willing to share personal information in exchange for goods or services. This obviously raises concerns about the long-term implications of gathering data from and targeting ads towards children.

As a result, Google is changing its policies regarding minors online, including removing ad targeting for those under 18 and allowing underage individuals to request for any images of them to be removed from search results. 

These are all the latest changes:

Allowing Minors To Remove Images From Google Search

“Children are at particular risk when it comes to controlling their imagery on the internet. In the coming weeks, we’ll introduce a new policy that enables anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google Image results,” explains Mindy Brooks, product and UX director for kids and families at Google.

The search engine is unable to go further in removing the images from the internet entirely, but it can certainly make it more difficult to find those images. 

Changing Default Settings For Minors

Google is making underage users’ information more private by default across its multiple platforms. That includes changing the default upload mode on YouTube to private for users under 18 and automatically enabling SafeSearch for minors on Google Search. 

Location History Is Disabled

By default, Google had already turned off location history for users between 13 and 17. Now, it has gone further by making it entirely disabled. On one hand, this may lead to less relevant search results, but also prevents excessive tracking of children through Google. 

Removing Ad Targeting For Minors 

In the upcoming months, Google Ads says it will be “expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens, and we will block ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18.”

New Tools For Parents

Lastly, the company is introducing a number of new tools and features for parents across its entire product line. For example, the company is introducing Digital Wellbeing tools within the Google Home app, allowing parents to manage their children’s use of smart assistants. On YouTube, the company is also turning on ‘take a break’ and bedtime reminders by default, while turning off autoplay.

For more on Google’s latest efforts to protect the private data of children across its services and platforms, check out the full blog post here.

Starting earlier this week, Google Ads has implemented new rules for advertisers promoting cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency-related services across its platform. 

Under the new rules, only those registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a money services business and with at least one state or federal entity, or with a state or federally chartered bank can run ads. Additionally, crypto advertisers must have completed the most recent verification process on Google.

With the massive explosion in interest around Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies, Google Ads has also seen an increase in fraudulent ads or outright scams using its advertising service. 

Requirements for Cryptocurrency-Related Ads

If a cryptocurrency exchange or wallet service wishes to advertise on Google Ads, they must be registered with FinCEN as a Money Services Business and with at least one state as a money transmitter. The only exception to this is those registered with a federal or state-chartered bank.

Advertisers must also go through the latest Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Wallets verification process on Google.  

Lastly, cryptocurrency advertisers must comply with all legal requirements and are expected to follow Google Ads guidelines and policies. 

Other Restrictions

Along with these new restrictions, cryptocurrency advertisers should be aware of the already established rules for crypto-related ads. For example, advertisers cannot promote pages or sites which aggregate or compare issues of cryptocurrencies. Advertisers are also forbidden from advertising initial coin offerings.

For more information, check out Google’s latest advertising guidelines for cryptocurrencies and other financial services.

As concerns about the COVID virus and its variants start to rise again, parents once again find themselves preparing for both in-person classes and potential virtual schooling while doing their back-to-school shopping this year. 

To help brands reach these parents and ensure they have everything their kids need to face the school year, Google has put together a short guide of tips and suggestions for running local ads right now. 

Put Your Products Online

The first step to reaching parents shopping online is to actually have your products online. According to Google’s own polling, more than half of all back-to-school shoppers are using the internet to check in-store inventories and find new products. Slightly less than half (48%) are specifically looking for stores that are providing safe shopping options like curbside pickup or contactless shopping. 

Thankfully, putting your inventory on Google has gotten easier and easier over time. Even better, one of the fastest and easiest ways is currently free for many retailers in the U.S. 

Until September 30th, Google is offering free trials of Pointy, a tool that attaches to POS barcode scanners to quickly add products to your online shop. 

Local Inventory Ads

Many retailers think that online product ads are strictly for online shoppers who want products delivered to their door. This isn’t entirely the case, though. 

Brick-and-mortar stores can also advertise the products available in your stores with local inventory ads. 

These make it possible to showcase products you have available for store pickup, curbside pickup, and more – meeting the diverse needs of shoppers today.

Highlight Your Local Store

With up to 60% of back-to-school shoppers planning to do at least some of their shopping at local businesses this year, it is more important than ever to be sure people can find information about your store online. 

Google recommends using Local Campaigns to not only reach local shoppers, but specifically drive store visits, calls, and other actions with high local-shopping intent. 

As their guide says:

“Local campaigns are a simple yet powerful solution for retailers of all sizes to promote their locations across Google Maps, Search, YouTube, Gmail and the Google Display Network. You can drive foot traffic for store reopenings, special in-store promotions, updated business hours and specific products that are available in nearby stores.”


The distinction between online and in-store shopping is getting more blurry with every year, as people use Google to find local stores, local products, pickup options, and more. As a local business, it is essential to be prepared for these mixed shopping methods and be able to reach your customers no matter where they are looking for your products.