Hi SEO fans! Here comes the SEO News Recap for March 2018. As always, Google are aggressively updating their products. Below we’ll cover some big news including the official rollout of the mobile-first index, the latest improvements to the Google My Business dashboard and the Search Console, the chatter around the recent Google algorithm update, as well as some interesting insights on local search based on a couple of new industry surveys.
GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS
EASIER NAVIGATION WITHIN YOUR GMB DASHBOARD
Mike Blumenthal reported that the updated interface of GMB dashboard is now available to more accounts. The new version of the dashboard was firstly introduced in November 2017. Some of the latest features most beneficial for users with multiple listings include:
- You can easily navigate within your dashboard by selecting and editing your listings within a single window;
- You can access Google Posts and Insights from the navigation panel of the main page;
- You are able to organize a specific group of listings and then share it easily with other GMB users by using the new functionality “Create location group”.
FILTER OUT THE LESS IMPORTANT GMB ALERTS
A new functionality is available within the classic GMB dashboard. It’s called “Secondary Google updates” and it aims to ease the work of users who manage a lot of listings and get tones of notifications on a daily basis. The feature separates the minor changes, made by Google, from the updates that are more important to review. You won’t be notified about updates that don’t affect your business directly or you haven’t added a value to, though you’ll be able to review them by selecting the ‘Secondary updates’ tab in the “Google updates” section.
TRACK THE LOCATION OF YOUR CUSTOMERS
The Insights analytics tool within Google My Business now allows you to track the location of the online users, who have ask for directions to your business. The data is visualized via a heatmap. You can check the total number of direction requests broken down by city or neighborhood.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR WOMEN-RUN BUSINESS
If your business is owned or led by women, you can now add an attribute to indicate that in Google Maps and your Local Knowledge Panel. The new Google My Business’ feature was announced in honor of International Women’s Day.
MORE NATIVE LANGUAGES IN GOOGLE MAPS
Google Maps now supports additionally 39 languages. The update enables around 1.25 billion people worldwide to use Google Maps on both desktop and mobile.
SAY GOODBAY TO THE INACTIVE GOOGLE PLUS PAGES
If you don’t keep your Google+ business page active, Google will delete it for good. Google started sending emails to business owners who have not been active on Google Plus, warning that their pages will be removed within a 30 day-period after receiving the alert. The ongoing shut-down of inactive Google+ pages won’t have an impact on your Google listing and your business will still be found on Google Search and Google Maps.
DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS IN THE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE PANNEL
You are now able to add a brief story of your business to your Local Knowledge Panel. The description appears within a section called “From the Business” in your GMB listing. Keep in mind that the business summary has a 750-character limit and does not allow inserting URLs or HTML code in it.
TELL THE STORY OF YOUR BUSINESS WITH VIDEOS
Google was noticed testing a new feature within Google Posts, which are showing directly in Google Search and Maps. You can now promote your service or increase your brand awareness by adding video clips to your otherwise textual content in your Google Posts.
GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS
A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE TO GOOGLE’S CORE QUALITY ALGORITHM
Google confirmed that some sites might have been impacted by a “broad core algorithm update” in the beginning of March. The fellows at Sistrix noticed that the websites that gained a noticeable amount of visibility were YouTube and DailyMotion, while the biggest losers were Etsy and Wikipedia. Although it’s still not clear what exactly does the update affect, Google advised SEOs to remain focused on creating unique and user-friendly content in order to keep their sites’ online visibility up.
MIGRATING OF MORE SITES TO THE MOBILE-FIRST INDEX
Google’s mobile-first index went officially live and Google started alerting webmasters via the Search Console whether their mobile site has been moved to the index. While Google keeps a single index, there is a two-way approach what to include in it. Depending on the quality of your mobile site, they can choose to keep its desktop version or to substitute it for its mobile version in their search index. Google clearly state that they are currently only migrating websites that follow their guidelines for mobile-first indexing.
ADWORDS TO BAN ADS FOR CRYPTOCURRENCIES
Starting in June 2018, Google will no longer show ads for cryptocurrencies. They are taking these precautions in response to the rise of cryptocurrency frauds. Additionally, ads for the following financial products will also be restricted:
- Contracts for Difference;
- Rolling spot forex;
- Financial spread betting;
- Binary options and synonymous products.
INCREASE THE SUBSCRIBERS BASE OF YOUR NEWS SITE
Google is testing a couple of new features in order to help news organizations to gain more subscribers. They are part of Google’s framework for working with publishers, called Google News Initiative:
- “Subscribe with Google” allows you to purchase subscriptions directly through Google, if you have saved your payment details in your Google account. You can use any credit card you’ve operated with Google in the past to buy publisher’s products and to be automatically signed in to their news site.
- “Propensity to Subscribe” signal within the ad platform DoubleClick will help publishers to target potential subscribers and to show them the right subscription-related offer at the right time thanks to machine learning technology;
- News Consumer Insights Dashboard is based on Google Analytics and provides publishers with insights regarding user engagement data.
UPGRADES TO SEARCH CONSOLE’S USER INTERFACE
Google updated the design of Search Console in attempt to make it more user-friendly and to bring additional context to the data being analyzed. The visual improvements include:
- Annotation cards within the error report displaying information about the issue detected on a particular date:
- “Difference column” allowing you to see data changes over time;
- Redesigned filter/compare feature with pre-default values:
- New date picker and comparison view:
FIND THE GIF THAT MATCHES YOUR MOOD
Sending animated GIFs is becoming more and more popular form of communication. In order to keep up with the latest trends, Google decided to invest in the GIF technology and acquired Tenor, one of the largest mobile GIF search engines. The Tenor’s service will be integrated into Google Images and other Google’s products that use GIFs, like Gboard.
TITLE TAGS WITHIN GOOGLE IMAGES
Google will start using web page titles within Google Images for mobile searches. The extra piece of information will appear just above the website’s domain of each result:
To help mobile users select and further explore your site when skimming through image results, try to pimp up the title tags on your pages – make them more informative and appealing.
THE SWAN SONG OF GOOGLE.GL
Google started phasing out its URL shortening service. From April 13, new and anonymous users won’t be able to create short links on the google.gl console. Existing users of google.gl will be able to use all features like creation, management, and analytics until March 30, 2019, when the console will be completely shut down. From then on, all existing links will still be active and will continue to redirect to the intended web pages. Developers are prompted to switch over to Firebase Dynamic Links that detect users’ device and redirect them either to the desktop or the mobile version of the site. Although, the already created short links won’t be moved automatically to the Firebase console, developers will have the option to export link data from the goo.gl console.
SURVEY YOUR CUSTOMERS WORLDWIDE
Google are rolling out their surveying services Google Surveys and Surveys 360 to more than 50 countries. The update allows you to target markets that you weren’t able to explore previously due to lack of resources for remote data collection.
INDUSTRY SURVEYS AND STUDIES
Below we have summed up the major insights from a couple of industry studies that will help you improve the online visibility and reputation of your local business:
- The Local Search Association’s 2017 Local Media Tracking Study reveals that although 63% of consumers start a local search without having a particular brand in mind, 58% of those searches end up with a contact, a store visit, or a purchase. Consider what a huge opportunity for your local business it is to rank well locally and win those searches on your side;
- Chatmeter’s recent report highlights how retailers managed to improve their online reputation. By providing engaging in-store experiences as well as fast and friendly customer service, they received a high number of online reviews. Activities like demo parties, showroom events, “buy online pick up at store” are proven ways of attracting the shoppers’ attention and turning the positive experience into favorable reviews. However, store owners should encourage their customers to leave them a full review rather than having them just rate the business. Often the lack of a written review is considered spammy and less trustworthy.
LOCAL CONTENT FOR MORE FACEBOOK USERS
Initially, tested in U.S. cities, Facebook is expanding their latest News Feed update. All Facebook users can now see more news from local pages. Additionally, the tweak is intended to help local publishers who cover topics that are relevant to multiple locations and publish high quality content to expand their reach to local communities.
GROW YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WITH A COMMUNITY BOOST
Facebook is rolling out their “Community Boost” initiative to more US cities, including Buffalo, Columbus, Hampton, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Helena, Denver, and East Palo Alto. During the campaign Facebook teams of digital experts will visit small cities and meet with local business owners to train them how to effectively build online presence with limited budget, boost their online visibility, find new customers, and engage with local communities on Facebook.
THE SUNSET OF FACEBOOK’S PARTNER CATEGORIES
In response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and in an attempt to protect its users’ privacy, Facebook decided to remove their targeting filter called Partner Categories from their advertising platform. Partner Categories allowed third-party data providers like Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian, Quantium, and Oracle Data Cloud, to pass to Facebook demographic and behavioral information on people based on their actions outside of Facebook. The feature was a good option for advertisers, who wanted to refine their targeting but weren’t able to build their own customer data. Partner Categories will be shut down within the following six months
We hope you all enjoyed our March SEO News Recap. We are looking for you to share your take on the recent SEO news in the comments below.