Three big online marketing stories from January 2021 all businesses should read

The start of 2021 saw plenty of SEO activity emerge that businesses should be aware of. One important trend was the launch of testing phases for new Google Ads and social media brand safety features, as well as the beginning of the roll-out of a new interface design for search results. 

New Mobile Design and Interface for Google Search

Google Search underwent a redesign for its mobile search results in January which should make them easier to read and use. Changes include updates to the fonts, shapes and colours of the mobile search results, as well as a redesign of the knowledge panels and main search result snippets.

The changes were in the testing phase throughout the latter part of 2020 and began officially rolling out during the last couple of weeks. Some users may have seen a few of the updates appearing during searches last year as Google tested the waters. Now the tests are complete the rollout will continue expanding until completion.

Google say the mobile search results will be easier to read because the sections and labels will be larger and clearer so users can find what they’re looking for faster. The design is intended to be cleaner and simpler, with Google making improvements to the various sections and results card designs. 

Aileen Cheng is the visual design lead at Google and said: “We wanted to take a step back to simplify a bit so people could find what they’re looking for faster and more easily. I find it really refreshing. To me, it’s a breath of fresh air!”

Testing for Google Ads Third-Party Cookies Alternative Announced

Google’s plan to offer an alternative to third-party cookies will become available for advertiser testing during the second quarter of 2021, the company announced in January. Google say the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) will provide more protection to the privacy of users, while simultaneously providing advertisers with the attribution data they need.

The official announcement of FLoC testing stated that it will effectively hide individuals ‘in the crowd’ by using on-device processing to keep a user’s web history private on the browser. The statement added: “Chrome intends to make FLoC-based cohorts available for public testing through origin trials with its next release in March and we expect to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in Q2.”

The user testing phase will provide Google with the necessary feedback they need to fine-tune the third-party cookies alternative.

Facebook to Test Brand Safety Topic Exclusions

January also saw Facebook announce a testing phase for news feed topic exclusions for advertisers. Addressing brand safety concerns, the social media giant intends the new feature to allow marketers to choose certain topics that their ads will not appear beside. 

Facebook use the example of a children’s toy company not wanting their ads to appear alongside crime-related content, so they could select the ‘Crime and Tragedy’ topic to prevent their ads appearing beside related news.

Other current topics to be tested include News and Politics and Social Issues, though more exclusions may be added as a result of the testing feedback.

If you would benefit from advice on creating compelling content to improve your business SERP or would like to develop a new online marketing strategy that maximises your brand’s visibility, call Effective Internet on 0113 2549 314 or email