SEO News Recap – November 2018

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Are you ready to jump right in our SEO News Recap and read more about the latest updates that came to us in November? The guys from Google have made a lot of important Google My Business changes including the revamp of the GMB mobile app, the release of the latest version of GMB API, and the new sign-up process for service area businesses. Other Google updates include the rollout of new features prompting customers to interact more actively with your local business, for example the “Follow” button within the local Knowledge Panel and the clickable hashtags in Google reviews. During November Google also experimented with three new features to improve your Google Search Console experience. To learn more about the above-mentioned news and many more, continue reading…

GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS

IMPROVED GOOGLE MY BUSINESS FEATURES

Google is working hard to keep up with the constantly evolving requirements of business owners and agencies that are using its business solutions. Here are some of the latest Google My Business platform updates that might appear minor but will assist in your local SEO efforts:

  • You are no longer forced to stick to the primary set ratios for the images for your Google Posts. As Dana DiTomaso spotted if you want to crop your images narrowly, the cropping tool will add in black bars at the top and bottom of the images;
  • You are now able to see fresher data within the Google My Business Insights feature. The available data is now up to yesterday;
  • Communication Managers of a given GMB listings are now called “Site Managers”. The new user type enables you to edit business information like business name, address, phone number and hours of operation, as well as to manage Google Posts and edit business attributes of your listing;
  • The GMB API has been updated and now supports Questions & Answers management, an identification of unclaimed locations, an ability to report location issues and to read reviews in bulk;
  • A new version of the mobile application of GMB is out. Here are the new add-ons:
    • a “Post” button, allowing you to create and upload new posts like offers and events to your Google listing;
    • a “Profile” tab from where you can manage your current business details and make profile edits;
    • a “Customers” tab from where you can see the followers of your GMB profile as well as to manage your Google reviews and interact with your customers (soon you will be able to respond to customer messages right from the application);
    • An updated “Home” tab displaying how many people have stumbled upon your Google My Business profile and took actions like tapping on the “get directions” or “call” buttons.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS FOR SOON-TO-OPEN BUSINESSES

Google unveiled a new functionality allowing business owners to create a Google My Business listing for their business 90 days in advance of the future opening.

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The official opening date will be displayed in orange color just under the business category of your verified GMB listing.

NEW WAY TO JOIN THE GOOGLE MY BUSINESS FAMILY

Last month Google enabled service area business owners to remove the addresses they have added for their business listings and now the registration process is updated.

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When you sign up, you have the option to make or your business location to be visible on Google Maps or to hide it. It’s worth noting that you still need to enter a valid address to create your listing.

INCREASE YOUR ONLINE FOLLOWERSHIP

Customers using Google Maps on their Android devices are now able to follow your local business by hitting the brand new “Follow” button.

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The new feature allows users to stay up-to-date with your business’ updates and offers. They can see the updates in the “For You” tab of the Google Maps app. You are also able to see the public profile information of the followers of your business, unless they choose to follow you privately.

REDESIGNED HOTEL SEARCH EXPERIENCE

Google is now displaying 4 listings instead of 3 within the hotel local pack on desktop.

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Additional to the major change, the look of the local results is more compact by moving the map right next to the 4-pack. Google also added a carousel of 5 new filtering options to help you clear out the best possible choices. The available filters are “Top Choices”, “Guest Favorites“, “Budget Options“, “Luxury Stays“, and “For Tonight“. The new options replaced the previous filters for price, ratings, hotel class, and hotel facilities.

On the mobile search results, Google was spotted experimenting with a new carousel displaying expandable hotel highlights icons.

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When you click on a given icon a window opens with a detailed summary of the different highlights and amenities. Google is providing information about either the likelihood to find a particular facility in nearby hotels, or the average rating of a given highlight based on all customer reviews mentioning the highlight.

CHECK PRODUCT AVAILABILITY WITH THE LOCAL PACK

Google was spotted testing a new feature for product specific search queries within the local pack. The new feature identifies whether the product is sold within a given local store or whether it is mentioned within the local business’ website:

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According to Sergey Alakov’s observations the main source for the “Sold Here” feature are the product related questions asked by Google for a particular place.

HASHTAGIFY YOUR REVIEW

Google is taking local business listings in a more social direction by leveraging the well-known hashtags within reviews on Google Maps.

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The hashtags are clickable and aim to help people discover more local businesses that are recommended by other users for the same highlighted keywords, for example #vegan, #kidfriendly and #wheelchairaccessible. The hashtags are currently supported on the Google Maps app for Android devices.

GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS

A NEW INTERACTING FEATURE IS ON THE RISE

A new feature is allowing you to leave and read comments directly on search results. For now the feature is only available for sport games while those games are live.

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You are able to comment on a given game only when logged into your Google account. You can delete your comments directly on Google Search or from the “Your Contributions” page.  There is also an option to vote for published comments with ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ buttons or report comments that you believe are a spam or an abuse.

GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE REVAMPS

Google is experimenting with three new features to improve your Google Search Console experience and to make you more aware of your site’s search insights. Let’s take a look of them:

  • A new experimental “Domain properties” feature combines data of all protocols, subdomains, and paths for a particular domain. The new property is available to a limited number of users and if you are selected by Google to take part in the test, you will receive a special email invitation.
  • A brief dashboard summarizing your website performance statistics for a given query shows up directly in search results pages when you type the keyword in Google Search. By launching this dashboard Google aims to get you visit the Google Search Console and learn more about your web site’s performance.

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The new feature shows information about the clicks, impressions and the average position of your website for the given query for the past 7 or 28 days compared to the same previous time period.

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The position of the dashboard is not fixed. From the above examples, you can see that the dashboard appears just below the search box or between the paid and organic search results.  

  • A pack of new filters within the Performance report related to the event markup was added:

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You will see information about the number of clicks, impressions, the position, and the URL of the provider shown in both the Event Listing view and Details view.

OPTIMIZE YOUR SITE IMAGES

Google released a new image optimization tool called Squoosh. You can start making your images’ smaller while keeping their quality high by clicking here.

GOOGLE IN HELP OF WEB DEVELOPERS

Google rolled out two new updates to help website developers and SEOs improve the performance of their sites and applications:

  • A new tool at web.dev is aimed at developers to audit and guide them in order to optimize their web pages.

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The tool evaluates your page to identify areas in which it can be improved, for example HTTPs usage, image rations, the indexability of your pages, and the multiple page redirects usage.  For each issue, the tool provides tips and guidance on how to resolve it.

  • The PageSpeed Insights tool that analyzes the content of web pages now uses Lighthouse for analysis and includes data provided by the Chrome User Experience Report. The Lighthouse is automated tool that diagnose your pages for performance, accessibility and progressive web apps and provides suggestions for optimization to make your pages faster on all devices.

A NEW FORM OF FEATURED SNIPPETS GOING BROAD

Google was reported rolling out a new form of featured snippets on desktop SERPS to more users. It’s called “multifaceted”. Google considers the possible multiple intents behind a broad query and displays more than one featured snippet for it.

CHROME GOT YOU COVERED

Are you sick and tired of aggressive popups or fake malware warnings while browsing the web? Google is now taking care of this and will start removing all abusive ads in the upcoming version of Chrome. Google defines abusive experience as fake popup messages, phishing, auto-redirecting without user action. You can check the abusive experience status of your web pages here. In case of issues, you will have a 30-day period of time to take actions and resolve issues. Chrome 71 together with the new ad-blocking feature will be released in early December 2018.

INDUSTRY SURVEYS AND STUDIES

WHO GETS THE MOST GOOGLE REVIEWS

The guys from BrightLocal once again decided to deep dive into the world of local reviews and looked at more than 93 000 business reviews on Google. Their latest study examines how many Google reviews does local businesses have, what is the average Google Reviews star rating, which local businesses are reviewed the most, and what are the most review types. Here are some of the key findings from the study that will make you reconsider your online review gathering strategy in order to improve your online reputation and local rankings:

  • 74% of local businesses have at least one review on Google;
  • The average local business has 39 Google reviews which meets the average consumer expectations for a business to have at least 34 reviews before trusting its overall rating;
  • 61% of local businesses have an average star rating of 4 to 5 stars;
  • Businesses in the top 3 local positions have an average of 47 reviews and are more likely to have average star rating of 4-5 stars than those in positions 7 to 10;
  • 26% of local businesses in positions between 7 to 10 don’t have reviews in comparison to 20% of those in the top 3 local positions;
  • Businesses in the hospitality sector like bars, restaurants and hotels have the highest number of reviews on Google, while accountants, landscaping businesses, and senior living services are the least likely to have Google reviews;
  • Photographers, alternative therapy businesses, and businesses offering marketing services have the highest average star ratings, while businesses offering senior living services, car dealerships, and hotels have the lowest average star ratings.

Feel free to share your opinions or ask questions in the comment section. Don’t forget to hit the share buttons to share it with your friends and coworkers to help them get up to speed with the latest local digital marketing updates and Google announcements.