Happy New Year, SEO addicts! We’ve got a smaller SEO News Recap for December as Google has been relatively quiet during the holidays. However, in this edition we will cover the latest Google My Business advancements like the new Product Editor, the new chat feature, and the new user interface design of GMB listings’ photos on mobile. During December Google officially released the Chrome 72 beta, as well as a “Stories” feature and a new way of presenting the hotel highlights. The guys from Facebook were also active with several new tests regarding their Story feature and advertising platform. To learn more about the above-mentioned news, keep reading…
GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS
ACCELARETED GOOGLE+ SHUTDOWN
A new bug in Google+ affected nearly 52.5 million users by granting access to their account information to third-party developers, including user name, email address, occupation, and age. As a result, Google announced that they will force the closure of the consumer version of Google+ four months earlier (in April 2019 instead of August 2019). Google gave assurance that more sensitive information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data wasn’t exposed to the developers. As covered in October, the social network will be transformed and available only to enterprise clients.
A NEW WAY FOR CLIENTS TO REACH YOU
You can now let customers contact your local business directly in a new way by activating the new “Message” button on your Google My Business listing.
You have to download the latest version of the GMB application on your mobile in order to activate and manage the messaging feature for your business as it’s currently only available through SMS and the app. When ready with the download go to the “Customers” tab and select the “Messages” option within the GMB dashboard of your location to turn on the feature. Customers will be then able to reach you at any time.
The update allows you to customize the automated primary message that people will receive right after clicking on the “Message” button.
Moreover, a limited number of users have access to a functionality called “Spam protection”. The feature prompts you to provide information to Google regarding your messages, aiming to fight spam by identifying spammers. The collected data includes phone numbers of people sending and receiving messages with you and the times they chatted with you.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS PIMPUPS
Google was spotted experimenting with a new user interface design of GMB listings’ photos on mobile:
The update includes a carousel of photo albums entitled “All”, “Inside”, and “By Owner” with cover images. Customers are still prompted by Google to submit images to business listings.
PRODUCT EDITOR RETOUCHING
The Product Editor feature within the GMB dashboard get fresh new design and is now available to more retail merchants. Right now, if you list a product through the feature, it will show up in your business profile on the mobile version of Google Search. At the moment those items won’t appear in Search directly and have no influence on your rankings.
NIFTY UNICODE FONT IN LOCAL RESULTS
Google was spotted using specific characters for a business name in the local search results.
The Unicode font as supported in the search field, the map, and in the main description.
HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS ARE LIVE
Google released a new UI for hotels highlights by turning them into expandable icons which contain more information about different hotel facilities. Depending on the highlight Google will provide information whether the given facility is available in the hotel, or show the average rating for a particular amenity based on all client reviews related to it.
GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS
WELCOME CHROME 72
Google released the latest version of Chrome – Chrome 72. Add-ons that are worth to mention here are:
- the browser won’t allow popups during page load whether the Chrome popup blocker is activated or not;
- practices like “history manipulations” that don’t let users go back on web pages by clicking on the back button won’t be allowed.
GOOGLE STORIES ARE LIVE
As we mentioned in our September edition of SEO News Recap, Google was planning to implement the “Story” trend within its search results. It seems that they already started with the tests as users reported seeing the new future while browsing:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, MOBILE FIRST INDEXING
Google recently celebrated the second birthday of the mobile first indexing process. In a blog post they announced that more than 50% of the pages in Google Search are now on mobile first indexing. For webmaster who haven’t applied the responsive web design approach to their online properties, Google once again shared the main issues that keep the web pages from being moved to mobile-first indexing:
- Not using structured data on mobile pages;
- Not using alt attributes for images on mobile pages.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LINKLESS MENTIONS
In a recent Google Webmaster hangout John Mueller from Google slightly discussed the impact of mentions of your website without links on your search rankings. He confirmed that Google takes into consideration non-linked mentions. However, he didn’t explain how Google associate mentions without links and stated that they are not as strong signal as regular mentions with links pointing to your website.
GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE REPORTING CHANGES
Google decided to stop supporting a bunch of reports on the old version of the Search Console. The above listed reports are now only available to the new Search Console:
- Index Status
- Manual Actions
- Mobile Usability
- Rich Cards
- Search Analytics
SCHEMA.ORG EXPANDS FOR QUESTION &ANSWERS PAGES
Google released a new rich result type for sites that contain data in a Q&A format. Search results now show a preview of the top questions and answers for eligible Q&A pages. To take advantage of this feature for your pages you should mark up your Q&A content with the schema.org “QAPage”, “Question”, and “Answer” types.
IMPROVED GOOGLE PRODUCTS
Two Google products have gone through a major redesign:
· A new search bar was launched. It sticks on the top while scrolling down the search results:
· You are now able to upload and see the translation of entire documents, as well to view translation history, save phrases and contribute to Google Translate:
The supported document formats include .doc, .docx, .odf, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .ps, .rtf, .txt, .xls, or .xlsx.
TELL THE STORY OF YOUR BUSINESS ON FACEBOOK
Did you notice that you are now able to add a Story to your Facebook Business Page via the new blue cross next to your page’s profile photo.
Stories are very compelling right now and have a huge presence as a section at the top of customers’ News Feeds so don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of this feature.
NEW ADVERTISING PLACEMENTS ON FACEBOOK
Facebook was spotted experimenting with new placements where they show ads:
Hopefully soon your ads will be eligible to appear in Groups and in Facebook’s search results for terms related to your business.
NEW WAY TO SHOWCASE YOUR PRODUCTS ON FACEBOOK
A new live video mode enables you to more efficiently demonstrate and sell your products online. While broadcasting your products on Facebook, viewers will be able to send you direct messages with screenshots of the products they are interested in. Thus, the selling process will be much quicker as you can request payments from your inbox. The new feature is currently available to a limited number of business page owners.
Thanks for reading and for sharing our December SEO News Recap with your friends and colleagues to help them get up to speed with the latest SEO and social media marketing updates.