SEO News Recap – June 2017

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It’s time for your monthly dose of SEO news from OptiLocal. In this edition of our SEO news recap we will cover the worldwide launch of Google Website Builder, some Google local tests that you should watch out for, a few Facebook’s experiments and new features of their business pages, SEMrush’s latest study on Google’s ranking factors, and the key insights from SMX Advanced 2017 and the SearchLove Conference.

GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS

GOOGLE POSTS FINALLY ROLLED OUT GLOBALLY

Recently Google seems to be actively releasing some extra features for Google My Business. One of the new additions to its dashboard is Google Posts. The feature allows business owners to post content directly to their Knowledge Panel both on desktop and mobile:

Google Posts-junzi-kitchen

We first mentioned the Google Posts feature back in March 2016 again in our monthly SEO news recap when it was introduced as a test for few selected local businesses in the US. More than a year later Google Posts have been rolled out globally.

You should keep your posts fresh, because they have a life span of a single week. After that period Google will remove them from its search results (except posts related to events as they remain visible till the beginning of the event).

TESTS IN LOCAL SERP FOR HOTEL QUERIES CONTINUE

In our latest SEO news recap we wrote about the recent tests in the local search results for the hotel niche, namely how raters are associated with the specific hotels. Google is now testing an improved functionality of the previous experiment that is a slide bar and carousel with prices allowing mobile users to refine their results by price. The new design makes the map look less cluttered while the price tags are more visible.

А new look of the mobile knowledge panel for hotels is another experiment spotted recently. The updated KP features 3 new tabs – “Overview”, “Rates”, and “Reviews”.

THE GLOBAL LAUNCH OF GOOGLE WEBSITE BUILDER

Small business owners who have created their Google My Business listings but don’t have a website for their business yet are now officially able to create one for free. 6 months after the introduction of the new Google web builder  in India and Australia, it has already launched globally.

The single-page website brings together all the important business information about the local business, which is stripped directly from its GMB profile: contact information, working hours, driving directions, an embedded Google map, and photos.

google website builder

Even though it’s a valuable solution for SMBs who lack necessary resources to invest and run a full stack website, business owners should also consider the following tool’s disadvantages:

  • You can’t do on-site SEO tweaks like changing the title tags/meta descriptions and using schema markup;
  • You can’t measure website data because the tool is not connected to Google Analytics;
  • You are not able to create custom calls to action and social sharing buttons;
  • You can’t upload animated gifs and videos;
  • If by any chance your listing becomes somebody else’s property, the new listing owner also takes control over the website.

GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS

IMPROVING ONLINE ADVERTISING

Google announced that Brotli, its open-source data compression algorithm, is now being used to compress its own display ads. According to Google the data usage is reduced by 15% to 40%. The decreased size of ads results in faster loading times and decreased the battery consumption rates of the mobile devices.

This is part of Google’s latest initiatives to help improve the overall quality of online advertising and to provide better ad experience. The company recently joined the Coalition for Better Ads and confirmed its plans to roll out a Chrome ad blocker. From early 2018 Google will stop showing ads on Chrome that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards.

INNOVATIONS

BING UPGRADES ITS VISUAL SEARCH

Last month Bing introduced a new product that allows users to search the net for a specific element of a given image. When conducting a search on Bing Images a small magnifying glass icon appears in the upper left corner of any selected image. By clicking on the icon, the new tool prompts you to filter the viewing area in order to see relevant results:

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Bing Visual Search is accessible both on desktop and mobile versions. The tool is also available to developers, who can integrate the functionality into their apps by using Bing’s API.

SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK PAGE UPDATES

Here are some of the recently launched features and tests that will help you engage with your customers:

  • Facebook users are now being alerted when Page admins are online and are prompted to message them directly;

facebook message button

(Image by Matt Navarra)

  • When setting up an event you are now capable to add multiple dates or time for repeating events. Facebook updated its Help Center page on how to create an event, stating that the new feature is recently available only for Pages;

facebook create events multiple times

  • You are now able to upload videos in stead of photos to your profile “Cover image”. You can use a 20- to 90- seconds video with resolution that is at least 820×312 pixels;

facebook cover photo - video upload

  • Facebook rolled out two new advertising tools – “Value Optimization”, which allows advertisers to optimize their ad campaigns using the purchase value data gathered through the Facebook pixel and “Value-based Lookalike Audiences”, which enables businesses to reach new prospects who look like their top spending customers.
  • Facebook started showing businesses’ star ratings in ads. Owners of pages that are part of the test can opt in or out of the new feature via their Page Settings:

facebook star rating experiment

INDUSTRY SURVEYS AND STUDIES

SEMRUSH’S RANKING FACTORS STUDY

 After analyzing 600 000+ keywords SEMrush released their first study on Google’s ranking factors. Here are some of the key insights they presented in the report:

  • The number of direct website visits is one the most important page-ranking factors. Higher authority websites have better traffic and as a result tend to rank in the top positions on Google;
  • Time spent on site, pages viewed per session and bounce rate mark the authority of a website and have a direct impact on its rankings;
  • The number of website’s referring domains is also important for its authority and ranking;
  • Having an HTTPS version of your website doesn’t have strong influence on your ranking position However, 65% of domains ranking in the top 3 for high volume keywords are HTTPS;
  • The following on-page elements – keywords in the body, title tags, meta descriptions, keyword density, and video on page, are minor ranking factors;
  • 1 minutes is the average time spent on site for the domains ranking in the top 3 in Google for high volume keywords;
  • 45% is the difference in content length between top the 3rd and the 20th site in the SERPs;
  • 18% of domains ranking for high volume keywords don’t have that keyword in the body;
  • 3-3.5 pages are visited per one session when user lands on the website from search and users tend to visit more pages on websites that are in the top of organic search results.

INDUSTRY CONFERENCES/EVENTS

GOOGLE’S MOBILE-FIRST RELEASE LIKELY NOT HAPPEN UNTIL 2018  

At the latest edition of SMX Advanced, Google’s employee Gary Illyes revealed that they are working hard on moving towards the mobile-first index. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, this means that Google’s algo will rank web pages and show results predominantly based on the content on the mobile version of a given website. During the presentations Gary shared some useful recommendations to help SEOs and webmasters prepare for the change:

  • Make sure that the mobile version of your website has structured data, rel annotations, and less content and links;
  • To rank for a certain content, make sure that you have it on both versions of your site, because you won’t rank for it on desktop if it is not available on the mobile site as wellö
  • Google is working on a new webmasters tool that will show you how your website would perform in the mobile-first index even before the website launch.

LOCAL MARKETING SIGNALS

During the SearchLove conference the speaker, Dana DiTomaso revealed that social media engagements are in fact true search ranking signals and she offered some optimization tips for local search. She highlighted that together with the search history, location, reviews, social media interactions (e.g. Facebook reviews) and mobile actions should also be considered as engagements.

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SearchLove-Dana-DiTomaso-engagements-future

Dana defined the Knowledge Panel as improvised Engagement Health Check and recommended local business owners to regularly monitor engagements on their GMB listings:

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Well, there you have it, the June SEO news digest comes to an end. We hope you enjoyed it and look forward to your comments below. We wish you great summer days and stay tuned from more blog posts!