Hello, SEO enthusiasts! In this SEO News Recap we’ll go over some of the most important announcements made by Google in February. We’ll walk you through the recent updates of Google My Business, the local Knowledge Panel, and Google Image search. There are also several official releases worth noticing including the beta version of the Search Console and the new site audit feature to Google’s Lighthouse Chrome plugin. Dive in and learn all the exciting SEO news from the past month.
GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS
SHOWCASE YOUR MENU
Google My Business now allows restaurant owners to add their menus to the console and have them displayed as a featured snippet both in mobile and desktop searches.
In case you haven’t published your restaurant menu on a 3rd party website this new GMB feature is a good fit for your business. Otherwise the menu shared on the given third party provider website will be the one showing in your Google listing.
At the moment the new editor is available to English speaking local businesses.
GET NOTIFIED ABOUT NEW Q&As LEFT ON YOUR GMB LISTING
Mike Blumenthal reported that business owners can now get notifications when a Google user leaves a question or an answer on their Google Business listing. You can enable this option in the preference settings in the Google My Business dashboard.
Additionally, Google pimped up their Messaging tab in the GMB dashboard. You can now turn the “top questions from customers” feature on and allow your customers to easily find info that might have already been answered.
You can see the suggestions in the “Messaging” card in the Home menu of your Google My Business
GODADDY INTEGRATES WITH GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Small business owners can easily create a business website and a Google My Business listing at the same time thanks to the GMB integration with GoDaddy’s website builder, GoCentral. Тhis is the first website builder tool that integrates Google My Business in their platform, allowing users to easily create and verify their listing directly from their dashboard. Business owners are also able to monitor and respond to Google reviews directly in GoCentral.
SHOPPING CENTER DIRECTORY WITHIN LOCAL PANELS
Google added a new tab for shopping centers within the local Knowledge Panel called “Directory”. You can use its search to locate a specific store in the given mall or you can browse the shops by category:
REAL-TIME INFORMATION WITHIN GOOGLE MAPS FOR iOS
Google updated its Google Maps app for iOS and added three new tabs that show real-time information about nearby businesses and places, driving directions, traffic conditions and public transit schedules.
The Explore tab shows you a list of nearby restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, pharmacies, post offices, groceries, and convenience stores. The Driving tab informs you about the traffic conditions in your area, and the Transit tab helps you check the bus and train schedules for your location.
GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS
GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE BETA IS NOW LIVE
Now all Google Search Console users have access to the new version of the Search Console. Google announced that webmasters will have access the old version until the new version gets fully released.
Based on user feedback Google made the following design improvements:
- The Error and Coverage reports are now united;
- The “filter” and “compare” functionalities are now consolidated into a dialogue box:
Google also updated their Help document on how many URLs you can submit to the search engine via the Fetch as Google tool in the Search Console. You can “submit up to 10 individual URLs”, or 2 recrawl requests if you select the option “Crawl this URL and its direct links per day”. The decision for the quota change was taken after Google detected a huge number of attempts for misusing the URL submit feature.
GOOGLE IMAGES PROTECTED AGAINST COPYWRIGHT INFRIDGEMENT
The “view image” button and the “search by image” functionality in Google Image Search are no longer available. The decision for the removal came as a result of Google’s recent partnership with Getty Images, who had concerns that both features allowed for copyright abuses that harm web publishers and copyright holders.
MAKE YOUR WEB APPS SHINE BRIGHTER THANKS TO AN UPDATED CHROME EXTENSION
Google added a new SEO Audit feature to its Lighthouse Chrome Extension. The new addition helps webmasters improve the performance of their Progressive Web Applications by generating reports about how their apps respond when loaded both online and offline. It also informs whether the app design is mobile-friendly or not. The Audit offers actionable tips and best practices on how to improve the load speed and how to avoid performance and accessibility pitfalls. It also helps developers find which pages are loaded using HTTP, and which of those are ready to be moved to a HTTPS version.
IMPROVE YOUR MOBILE SITE WITH SPEED SCORECARD
At Mobile World Congress Google introduced two new tools to help you improve the user experience of your mobile website. The first one is called “Speed Scorecard”. It helps you compare the loading speed of your site with the that of your competitors’. The second one aims to calculate the monetary impact of your website speed. It estimates the revenue that could be generated by improving your website’s speed.
Google announced two new updates to its open-source framework called accelerated mobile pages:
- “AMP for Email” is an open specification that enables businesses and web developers to build more interactive and actionable emails. For example, your email recipients will be able to quickly respond to your event, schedule an appointment, or complete your questionnaire right within their email. You can get access to the Gmail Developer Preview of AMP for Email by signing up here.
- AMP Stories is a new format helping publishers to deliver news in a new, visually-rich and more engaging way to their mobile readers.
Screenshots showing different designs of AMP Stories on smartphones.
MORE WEBSITES BEING MOVED TO MOBILE-FIRST INDEX
Gary Illyes stated at the latest Pubcon conference that Google is going to move many sites to the mobile-first index “in the next month and a half or so.” He also informed that site owners shouldn’t worry about drops in traffic.
You can check whether your mobile site has been moved by checking your server logs. If Googlebot mobile is crawling the site more often, chances are your site has been added to the mobile-first index.
SEND RICH MESSAGES TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
Google is now partnering with 43 carriers and device manufacturers to help businesses send more effective messages to Android users. You can create visually rich and engaging messages to your clients if you take part in RCS (Rich Communications Services) business messaging. One of the advantages of the project is that you can send images of your products to your customers and they can buy them without even leaving the messaging app.
The program is currently only available to companies in the food, travel, retail and delivery industry within U.S. and Mexico.
INDUSTRY SURVEYS AND STUDIES
YELP ADS VS ADWORDS
Joy Hawkins’ latest study raises a flag on how efficient Yelp ads are in comparison to AdWords. She shared that the cost per lead on Yelp (for the purpose of the study she took mobile calls, clicks to website and messages as a lead) was nearly 3 times higher than Google AdWords.
FIND YOUR NEXT GREAT EMPLOYEE THROUGH FACEBOOK
Since Facebook launched their jobs posting feature for businesses operating in the U.S. and Canada, the social media has been further improving it by adding the opportunity to: create job posts on mobile, manage received job applications by assigning a status to each one, schedule interviews, and send automated reminders to applicants directly through Messenger. The functionality is now available to businesses in more than 40 countries.
From the “Jobs” tab within your business Facebook Page you can fill in the following information: job title, job type (full-time, intern, part-time), job description, and salary. Оnce created your job posts will appear in the Jobs dashboard, in Marketplace, and in the News Feed.
HELP LOCAL COMMUNITIES DURING A CRISIS
The Facebook feature “Crisis Response”, which was initially designed to help Facebook users inform their friends and families that they’re safe during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, is now available to organizations and businesses like Direct Relief, Lyft, Chase, Feeding America, International Medical Corps, The California Department of Forestry and Fire and Save the Children. Facebook promised that within the following weeks they will roll it out to more organizations. By using “Crisis Response”, you will be able provide crucial information and urgent help to people in your area.
This update will help you show commitment to your community and build more interactive relationships with locals.
WHEN WORK MEETS PLEASURE
TEST YOUR LOCAL SEO KNOWLEDGE
The guys from BrightLocal created a funny game challenging you to test your SEO knowledge on keyword research. BrightLocal’s team gathered 4000 local business keywords and their search volume for 4 English-speaking countries. The game rules are simple – you need to compare the search volume of two local search queries within 10 seconds. Current top score is 48 – good luck!
That’s it for this SEO News Recap, but be sure to check in in the beginning of the next month for a new portion of news from the SEO and local digital marketing world!