SEO News Recap – April 2019

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Hi guys! Over the month of April, the web has witnessed Google making a stream of announcements regarding updates to its products including short names for Google My Business listings, new actions supported by the latest version of GMP API, Duplex expanding to more users, new type of suggested posts appearing in the GMB dashboard, and many more. Also, Facebook undertook a complete makeover of its app and Instagram that will mostly affect business owners and advertisers. We’ve gathered up those essential changes and tests in this SEO News Recap, so keep reading it to stay “in the know”.

GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS

GOOGLE PLUS OFFICIALLY RESTS IN PEACE

Google+ is now only available for G Suite accounts using it for work or educational purposes. April 2nd, 2019 was a milestone date as all consumer Google+ accounts were shut down. The decision was taken by Google due to low product usage. Now the content including photos, text posts, and videos from consumer Google+ accounts is being deleted. Google announced that this process will take a few months and that some parts of Google+ profiles will still be visible during this period.

Additionally, Google is now testing a beta version of a new G Suite app named Currents. The product is for business use and is developed in replacement of Google+. The previously posted posts on your Google+ business account are automatically transferred to Currents. If you are admin to the Google+ page of your organization, you can access the beta program for your business by sending a request email at CurrentsBeta@google.com.

GMB PRODUCTS VISIBLE ON DESKTOP

The Google My Business product catalog is now available within Business profiles on both desktop and mobile versions of Google Search. The feature is currently in a beta testing mode with a full launch planned in the coming months. The catalog enables you to showcase the products you sell at your physical store on the “Products” tab of your Google My Business profile. It’s worth noting that customers can also engage with your product content through the Product Posts.

NEW WAYS TO GET MORE ENGAGEMENT ON YOUR GMB LISTING

A recently launched GMB feature makes it easy for you to popularize your Google My Business listing. You can create a short name and a short URL by using the following format g.page/[yourcustomname] for marketing materials like flyers, business cards and posters. You are required to use at least five characters when creating your short name. It’s recommended the name to represent your brand and location. You have an option to change it 3 times per year. However, keep in mind that after updating your name, there is a chance your initially chosen name not to be available later. The short URL sends out customers to your business profile on Google Maps. If you include “/review” to the end of your URL, people will be redirected to a page where they can directly rate your business.

For now if you’re managing more than one listing, you are not allowed to claim short names in bulk.

In addition to this update, Google announced the official release of a new type of “What’s new posts”. They are automatically generated and display 4 or 5-star customer reviews. The new feature is available within the Home tab of the GMB dashboard:

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You are able to customize these suggested posts by by clicking on the “Create this post” button. From there you can edit the Call-to-Action button and the description .

NEW GMB API

Google rolled out a new version of the GMB API adding the following new features:

  • the ability to generate and verify service-area business listings;
  • the option to create user and location groups;
  • the capability to display the upcoming opening date of your location on your GMB listing. You are allowed to set up dates up to a year in advance.

EASING THE SEARCH EXPERIENCE

A new feature within the Q&A section of the mobile Local Knowledge panels is auto suggesting relevant answers as you type a question.

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Tests show that Google seems to be prioritizing displaying answers from the actual Q&A section. If there is no relevant answer there, then they would pull answers from the Reviews section.

READY FOR PAYING FOR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS FEATURES?

The word got out about Google’s latest survey on GMB owners’ attitudes towards monetizing features in Google My Business and Google Maps such as “Book” button, verified reviews, automated response for reviews, the background check, etc. Attendees were asked to choose one of the below subscription packages:

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Also, according to the survey Google may charge business owners from $10 to up to $70 per month in order their businesses to be listed in the local search results.

RESERVE WITH GOOGLE FEATURES NEW PARTNERS

Google was reported partnering with TripAdvisor in order to enable customers to buy tickets directly from Knowledge Panels.

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GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS

A NEW SEARCH COMMANDS

Google brought out a set of new commands that allow you to filter your searches based on a specific time frame. To see documents published before a given date or a year, add “before:YYYY-MM-DD”/”before:YYYY” to your search query. By using “after:YYYY:MM:DD””/”after:YYYY”  you will get results after a specific date. Also, you can use either dashes or slashes in dates as both of these are valid.

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You can combine both commands to search within a date range. For example, searching “the best sushi bar in New York before:2011-02-01 after:2011-01-01” will narrow down results from January 2011.

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Google also discontinued the “Sorted-by-date” option, except for “News” searches. Previously, the option was accessible only if someone selected date filtering and was predominantly used for searching news.

AMP PROJECT UPDATES

Here are the most essential improvements around the AMP project that came out of April 2019:

  • Google officially brought AMP for email to Gmail. This feature makes your emails more interactive within your inbox and enables you to respond to an event, complete a questionnaire, browse through a store’s catalog, or reply to a comment without leaving your Inbox. The functionality will be supported by Yahoo Mail, Outlook, and Mail.ru, too.
  • AMP Stories now have a dedicated section in the search results for general search queries. Initially AMP Stories will be available for travel-related searches conducted in the U.S. Check out this guide on how to create an AMP Story.
  • You are now able to display your own URLs on AMP pages (previously, the links started with google.com/amp). Keep in mind that the update is currently available in Google Chrome.
  • AMP documents now support custom JavaScipt to improve the user experience.

A NEW GOOGLEBOT ON THE HORIZONЕ

Google confirmed testing a new GoogleBot that renders web pages using more advanced JavaScript and web applications.

NEW SEARCH CONSOLE CAPABILITIES

Over the last couple of weeks, Google introduced a bunch of new Google Search Console updates. Let’s deep dive into them:

  • The new Discover report includes data for website traffic from Google Discover like number of clicks, impressions and CTR. You can access the report from the Performance section within the Search Console. Keep in mind that the feature is currently available to properties that have “accumulated meaningful visibility in Discover, with the data shown back to March 2019”;
  • Google Search Console now has data for AMP Stories from Google Search and Discover:

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The data is visible by applying the “AMP Stories” filter available within the “Search appearance” section.

  • The Performance report now has data related to your Android app including clicks to the app, impressions, CTR, and position with a separate search appearance.

NEW TYPE OF ANSWERS FROM GOOGLE ASSISTANT

Google launched a new interface for answers provided by Google Assistant on Android phones. The updated responses now have cards, more images, links to a different web sources, and ads.

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You can also use new tools like the tip calculator, mortgage calculator, metronome music pacer, and a bubble level app.

SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK’S COMPLETE MAKEOVER

At Facebook’s this year annual developer conference F8, the company revealed that they will launch a revamp of its main app with a new look and improvements of its features in the coming months. Here are the most important changes that are going to have an impact on the way business page owners and advertisers do their jobs:

·         Facebook puts the spotlight on communities, known as Facebook Groups with the launch of a new post composer feature that suggests users to share an update simultaneously to their profile and public or private groups, they are part of:

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·         Facebook is planning to enable advertising within the following apps: Facebook Watch, Marketplace, and Dating.

·         Instagram’s recently launched shopping feature, allowing customers to purchase the whole look without leaving the app is expanding. People will be able to buy products in an instant shared by not only brands, but also public figures, influencers, and publishers:

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·         Instagram is testing not displaying engagement metrics like number of photo likes and video views. The data will still be tracked and will only be available to account owners.

·         Instagram is also debuting a new “Create Mode” functionality allowing you to share an update without a photo or video by only using the effects and stickers tools.

·         You are now able to include a Donate button to your Instagram Stories. For now, the feature is limited to U.S. accounts.

·         Lead generation ad templates for Messenger will be available in Facebook’s Ads Manager.

·         Customers will be able to make bookings with service providers like beauty salons, dentists, and cleaning crews directly in Messenger.

·         Business owners using WhatsApp to communicate with their clients will be able to showcase their product catalogs to potential customers within the app.

·         Facebook’s AR platform Spark is opening up to more creators.

THE PERSONALIZATION OF FACEBOOK NEWS FEEDS AND ADS

Facebook’s new feature clarifies why specific posts and ads are appearing in users’ News Feeds. The “Why am I seeing this post” feature includes detailed information on how often you interact with the given creator of the post, the specific type of content, as well as the post’s popularity.
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The “Why am seeing this ad” feature which previously showed only information about how advertisers targeted their ads based on customers’ age, gender, location, interests or website interactions is now expanding. Users will be able to see when advertisers uploaded targeting information like emails or phone numbers or if they partnered with another business to manage the ad.