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Google’s John Mueller Confirms Core Updates Apply to Discover

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Google’s John Mueller says it’s common for broad core algorithm updates to impact Discover in addition to web search results.

Google sees Discover as part of search results, rather than a separate component. Since Discover is part of search it uses a number of the same quality algorithms, Muller says.

That means changes to Google’s web search algorithm will impact Discover. Or, as Mueller puts it, updates to Google’s search algorithm “commonly” impact Discover.

Mueller’s statement is clearer than previous messaging around Discover and core updates.

Google’s help document suggests core updates may affect Discover. Now we know it’s almost certain.

This is a topic of discussion in the Google Search Central office hours stream held on January 22. An SEO named Chandan Kumar asks John what the relation is between Search and Discover.

Kumar notes when his referral traffic from search is impacted by a core update there are fluctuations in Discover traffic at the same time.

Mueller then explains how Search and Discover are one and the same. Here’s his response.

Google’s John Mueller on Core Updates & Discover

SEOs and site owners have been told by Google up to this point that core algorithm updates “may” affect Google Discover.

Now there’s no question about it. Core algorithm updates do impact Discover and the likelihood of it happening is common.

Mueller says:

“We do use a number of the same quality algorithms in Discover as we use in web search. When a broad core update happens in web search it’s very common that you would also see changes in discover as well. So that’s certainly not totally unrelated.”

Discover is part of Google Search, Mueller goes on to say. Although it exists outside regular search results, it’s not an independent entity.

Content in Google Discover comes from the same index as web search. That’s important to note because other Google entities like Shopping and News have their own ways of grabbing content.

For SEOs and site owners that means there’s nothing extra to do in order to get content included in Discover. If the content is in Google’s search index it’s eligible to be featured in Discover.

“We see discover as almost a part of search. So it’s not something that we would say is completely independent and uses separate algorithms and everything. It does include a lot of similar things. Also the content, of course, is based on what we crawl and index for web search. It’s not a separate index or anything like that.”

Hear the full question and answer in the video below:

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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