It’s a new year and a new opportunity to catch up on the latest digital marketing headlines, which is why we include a news roundup segment in each episode of the EDGE. The latest features host Erin Sparks and Creative Studio Producer Jacob Mann along with special guest George Nguyen, Associate Editor at Third Door Media. Here’s the news roundup from Episode 337 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast: 


Google New Year’s Search Algorithm Update? Mixed Signals

Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable explores the question: Google New Year’s Search Algorithm Update? Mixed Signals. There is some significant chatter in the SEO industry around a possible new year update that started late December 31, 2019, and throughout January 1, 2020.

  • Erin Sparks: Barry always does a good job keeping an eye on the chatter around possible Google algorithm updates. What do you think about this most recent bit of news here that there was yet again another update in play there?
  • George Nguyen: In terms of the people I’m in touch with, nobody has voiced much about their clients or any hits in terms of visibility or traffic. What I do hear them say is how people don’t exhibit the same type of search behavior around the holidays as they do at other times of the year. So this is a manifestation of that. Google does minor tweaks and updates all the time, but I find it hard to believe they would do anything major during the holidays. 
  • Erin Sparks: And that makes sense to me as well, as in “Sorry, got to skip the eggnog here because we’ve got rankings going down in flames!” That would be a bad play on Google’s part, wouldn’t it?
  • George Nguyen: What they really want to convey is that wherever the user is, that’s where their algorithm is headed. If they can keep us in the loop, then they will. But otherwise, they’re always going to continue to move towards whatever they think they user wants.
  • Erin Sparks: But they keep hitting us with so many updates so often that it’s hard for SEOs to keep up and get things stabilized. 
  • George Nguyen: True, but you also have to keep in mind with a company so prominent as Google that affects everyone’s lives all around the world, you can’t really expect them to put everything on hold just because there’s a holiday someplace in the world. The frequency of updates lately keeps me busy, seeing as I write about search! For me, it’s an hour to keep people informed of these things in a timely manner.
  • Erin Sparks: Yes, and we certainly appreciate all the work done by companies like Third Door Media and its different news sites. There are still so many myths out there that still need to be debunked, and reporters like you play a key role in doing that.


Microsoft Advertising Launches Sweepstakes for Advertisers

According to Ginny Marvin on Search Engine Land, Microsoft Advertising Launches Sweepstakes for Advertisers. To enter the Microsoft Advertising Sweepstakes, you’ll need to complete the Microsoft Advertising Certified Professional (MACP) certification, add a new Microsoft Advertising account, or enroll in the Microsoft Advertising Partner Program.

  • Erin Sparks: What’s going on with these sweepstakes? What can you get if you are actually entering?
  • George Nguyen: At the base level, the first 30 entrants get a $50 Starbucks gift card. And I think that’s just enough to prompt people to enter. It’s just an interesting way for Microsoft to get more people to try their advertising platform, and they’re offering some interesting prize choices, like an Xbox One. That seems oddly specific to me.
  • Erin Sparks: There’s a grand prize trip for two individuals of the winning company to the Microsoft Advertising Elevate, previously known as the Partner Summit, on March 30th and April 1st at the Microsoft Headquarters.
  • George Nguyen: What strikes me as strange is that an agency has to get some of their clients on board for this to work. Clients have to want to advertise on Bing, which may or may not be their preference. It’s odd, but it’s also fresh. And Microsoft needs fresh. Sometimes they miss out on opportunities by not making enough noise. Like when Google started talking about BERT, Microsoft said they’d been incorporating BERT for six months before that. Why didn’t they say anything about it?


Google Explains How to Use Headings for SEO

On Search Engine Journal, Roger Montti reports Google Explains How to Use Headings for SEO. Google’s John Mueller offered a clear explanation of how Google uses H1, H2, HTML headings. This explanation shows the role heading elements play in ranking and how you should use them.

  • Erin Sparks: Mueller had to clarify this because just a little while ago he said it doesn’t really matter how many H1 headings you use because Google doesn’t really look at those in the way so many SEOs think they do. This really blew up in the SEO community, which is used to using these headings in certain ways. Mueller came along and said Google looks more at the syntax of things, not the actual heading levels. He explained the way to use them is to provide a user-friendly structure to a page’s content. What’s your take on what John was actually explaining here?
  • George Nguyen: It’s tough because SEOs are so invested in getting good results for their clients that we can’t help but always want things to be clearer, to dig deeper. It just doesn’t feel helpful in the SEO community when Mueller says things like “Hey, relax, don’t worry about it so much. We’ll figure it out.” SEOs with clients depending on them can’t just relax! But his explanation means that while the use of heading tags doesn’t affect SEO the way most SEOs believe it does, he’s saying it does matter in terms of making the content user-friendly. The one thing you can be sure of, though, is that just because Google says something is not important doesn’t automatically mean you should abandon it. In other words, if you do something for SEO purposes that also helps users, and then you find out it really has no SEO value, you should still keep doing it because it’s good for people using your content, right? You don’t run through stop signs just because you know there are no cops around. You obey stop signs because it’s the right thing to do.

Connect with George Nguyen and Third Door Media

Twitter: @geochingu (


George on Search Engine Land:

George on Marketing Land:

Third Door Media Twitter: @thirddoormedia (

Third Door Media Website:

Marketing Land’s SMX West in February:

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