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Weekly Update - September 18, 2021: YouTube, AdSense, Google Search

This week there are tips and updates for YouTubers, AdSense Publishers, website owners and more.


  • There is a free AdSense ad-serving webinar on September 23 that will cover topics such as the Ads.txt and Sellers.json files, how to fix broken ads, native ads and matched content, sticky ads and more. The webinar will include a live Q&A session. If you are unable to attend live, the recording will be available on the official AdSense YouTube channel.
  • Google Cloud Next is October 12-14. It is virtual, free and you can now build a playlist of the presentations you want to see. Learn about machine learning, data analytics, databases, Google Workspace and more for your business.

This Week's Top Updates

  • There is now a “translate” button for YouTube comments in the Android and iOS YouTube mobile apps. More than 100 languages are supported. YouTube will translate the comments into the language it thinks you want, not necessarily the main language you have set. The language is determined by your language settings, your location and the language of recently watched videos. Learn more.
  • If you are an AdSense publisher, you can learn more about Google’s Publisher Policies around Misrepresentative Content on the AdSense YouTube channel: Deceptive practices, Unreliable and harmful claims, Misleading representation, and Manipulated media
  • Google has caused consternation (and real problems) by retitling web pages in the Search results. Now Google has provided more information about why they change titles and guidance for website owners. Currently Google uses “title elements” 87% of the time. But that remaining 13% represents a large number of web pages, and it’s clear that at least sometimes the title Google uses is not an improvement.
  • YouTube’s VP of Engineering Christos Goodrow has provided insights into how YouTube’s recommendation system’s work. They consider what you watch, how long you watch it, and whether you share or like it. Plus they take into account what other people like: if you watch a lot of skiing videos, and other people who also like those videos also like jazz videos, you might get jazz videos recommended to you too.

    Of particular interest is how YouTube handles what they call “borderline” content. This doesn’t quite violate YouTube’s policies, but is non-authoritative and in some cases potentially harmful. Think conspiracy theories, tabloid-style content, misinformation, content that is insensitive or intolerant and the like. In 2019 YouTube started demoting such content in recommendations, and watchtime on those videos from recommendations dropped 70%. Today borderline content gets most of its views from other platforms that link to YouTube. 

    Is this the best solution to help stop the spread of potentially harmful content? It certainly sounds like it's working on YouTube, but they are still hosting the content that may get recommended on Facebook or other platforms.

YouTube and Video

Web Publishers


  • If you use Google Tasks keep an eye out for the new logo, which better matches other Google Workspace products like Gmail, Chat, Meet, and Drive. The only apps that haven’t gotten the new logo design are Google Keep (which is integrated with other products) and Currents (which hasn’t been updated in over a year). I expect a new logo for Keep next.


  • Microsoft accounts can now be made passwordless. Instead of a password you can choose to sign in with the Microsoft Authenticator app, Windows Hello, a security key or a verification code (SMS or email). Google and Apple are also starting to rely less on passwords.
  • Casey Newton reflects on his past year publishing a newsletter on Substack. His experience is far from average, since he started with 26,000 subscribers from his previous newsletter. But it’s interesting that a “value added” that convinces free subscribers to pay is access to the Sidechannel Discord community (which is hosted by 8 independent journalists). People are looking for quality communities.
That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get it here.

Image: Water drops on grass. Photo by Diana Chaplin from Pexels (free to use commercially).