SEO News Recap – October 2018

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Hi friends, we got some hot digital marketing news for the SEO crew, the local business owners and the webmasters in our October’s SEO News Recap. Have you heard of Google My Business’ update for marketing agencies and that Google is testing your interest in receiving calls from Google Assistant for your business? Also, you will learn about the transformation of Google Plus into a new enterprise product, as well as the experiments Google is making within local Knowledge panels in order to help you easier sell your store’s products. If you want to stay in the loop regarding the latest Google’s update rolling to all service area businesses, together with the latest Chrome and reCAPTCHA updates and how they may impact your website, then continue reading …

GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS

LOCAL FINDER GETTING MORE VISUAL

Google is expanding the image slider design on the mobile version of the local finder to more business categories (till now it was only showing up for restaurant search results). The new layout is available for local 3-packs with images.

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Selecting the “More” button in the 3-pack triggers slideshow listings.

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The new carouse prompts you not to neglect the quality of your Google My Business images.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS UPDATES FOR AGENCIES

A new migration tool is now available to a limited number of agencies within the Google My Business Agency dashboard. The tool is aiming at merging all business listings of different GMB accounts into the agency’s main account.

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After clicking on the “Get Started”, you are able to login to the Google My Business accounts managed by your agency and transfer all listings from that accounts to your main GMB account.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS LISTINGS REVAMPS

Google was spotted testing a new “located within” option within GMB listings:

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Previously only available by contacting the GMB support, the new feature enables you to manually add the containing place, if a given business is located within another.    

KEEP YOUR GOOGLE POSTS SHORT AND SWEET

Google updated the Google Posts’ guidelines allowing you to use 1 500 characters when writing your Google Posts. However, the document is stating that creating posts with 150-300 characters is the better way to go:

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The change is maybe one more step toward turning GMB profiles into one main source of business information, eliminating the need of maintaining a business blog.

DISCOURAGING KNOWLEDGE PANEL CHANGES

Google upset the local SEO community by pushing Google Posts’ section down to the bottom of the Knowledge Panel.

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Previously the Google Posts feature was placed in the center of the Knowledge Panel. In the example above, you can see that the posts within this beauty studio’s KP are located below the “Reviews” section.

Some businesses also noticed a decrease in their posts impressions and a drop in the traffic to their websites by linking the results to the update.

GMB ATTRIBUTES UPDATES

A new attribute is now available within the Google My Business dashboard:

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You can now identify that your business is run by your family by activating the new “family-led” badge to the “Highlights” section in your business listing on Google Maps and Search.

Additionally, you are now allowed to clear all attributes that you have previously selected for your GMB listing. It is easy and you don’t need to select “yes” or “no” for every single attribute. Please note that the clear option in bulk is not available if the type of the attribute is not a “yes/no” or if the attribute is related to the following type of information: accessibility, sexual orientation, race, and religion.

THE RESERVE WITH GOOGLE’S INVASION IN THE LOCAL 3-PACK

Google’s Reserve with Google tool expanded and now is showing up in the 3-pack. The feature was previously available only within the Knowledge Panel of local businesses and on the Reserve with Google site.

 

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The “Schedule” Call-To-Action button is active only for local businesses that work with one of the 36 scheduling app partners, for example Booksy, Appointy, SeatGeek, Tiqets, and Rosy.  

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Currently the “Reserve with Google” program is available to fitness clubs, beauty salons, museums, galleries, and local attractions.

THE SWAN SONG OF GOOGLE PLUS

Google announced that they are officially retiring their social media platform for end-users after 7 years in action. The decision was taken due to unsatisfactorily low user engagement and security bugs. Google will provide users with a 10-month period (by the end of August 2019) to download and transfer their data. From business perspective, Google is constantly adding new social features to Google My Business listings, for example Google Posts and the Q&A section featuring customer questions and answers. Additionally, Google’s team informed that they will transform Google Plus into an entirely corporate social network, where team members can use it for internal communication tool.

A few days after this announcement, Google informed business owners that they can add a listing for their local business that is not open yet.

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Thus, your business listing will appear in Search and Maps up to 3 months in advance of the future opening.

Together with that Google included a new feature to business listings prompting customers to “Follow” their favourite places in order to receive updates related to the location in the “For you” news feed.

GOOGLE ADS WITH AUTOMATED LOCATIONS

Till October 22, 2018 you were able to opt out of linking your Google My Business account to the Google Ads accounts that you are managing or stop using the location extensions feature. Google is now automating the process of connecting both platforms and activating the location extension feature for Google ads. Thus, Google aims to help you increase the foot traffic to your local business as well as to assist consumers into finding more easily your business address.

EASIER REVIEW SEARCH ON DESKTOP

Google now allows you to search for certain piece of information within the reviews of a given local business on the mobile and desktop versions of Google Maps. The feature has been available on mobile from May 2018. On desktop the “Search reviews” box is placed just beneath the review summary section. By typing a certain keyword within the search bar the feature filters out all reviews containing that word.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS INSIGHTS REPORT ENHANCEMENTS

Google added a new metric to the Google My Business reporting. Now you can see within the Insights report how many customers have found your GMB listing in Search and Maps by searching for a brand related to your business. The branded search includes keywords containing brands related to your business. For example, when a person is searching for dental services and types the name of a dental practice in your area that search provokes your dental business’ listing to show up. The new metric is available in the Insights report if your GMB listing has showed up at least once for a branded search.

NEW WAY TO DISPLAY YOUR PRODUCT CATALOGUES

Google was spotted testing a new section within the Google My Business dashboard, entitled “Products (Beta)”. The new feature allows you to upload collections of products you sell at your store.

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The product items you entered are then visualized within the “Product” tab of your listing, where Product Posts are already showing up.

GET GOOGLE ASSISTANT CALLS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Google is making test to a limited number of businesses with Google My Business profiles to see whether they are willing to receive calls from Google Assistant. If you are okay with that you will enable customers to make appointments for your services via Google Assistant as well as you will be able to quickly update your listing information by receiving calls to confirm your business’ factual data.

SERVICE AREA BUSINESS OWNERS, BE AWARE OF THE NEW GMB UPDATE

A new Google update is rolling to all service area business listings. Here are a few things to take into account regarding this update:

  • You are now able to create a Google My Business listing without selecting a specific address (however, you are still required to provide an address for verification);
  • If you already have a GMB listing for your service area business, you are now allowed to remove the address you have designated. Also, you are able to update the “Address” and “Service Area” fields separately;
  • You are no longer able to select a radius for the area, you are providing services. You will need to specify cities, regions, states, or ZIP codes and translate your existing radius areas to a one of the above destinations;
  • If you need to provide an address for a post card verification, the address will not show on Google Maps;
  • If you select multiple service areas, they will rank equally on Google.

GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS

CHROME UPDATES FRESH FROM THE OVEN

Google released Chrome 70 on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Considering the negative feedback from Chrome 69 regarding privacy issues, you are now able to deactivate the automatically linked log-ins. Previously you were auto-signed into Chrome when you add your login information while using any other Google products. It’s worth noting that the new setting option named “Allow Chrome sign-in” is enabled by default and you need to opt out manually. Here are the other key changes of the latest browser update:

  • support for Desktop Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) on Windows, so PWAs can be activated from the taskbar or Windows desktop like a traditional app;
  • support for Public Key Credentials to the Credential Management API;
  • support for the new AV1 video decoder;
  • support for Web Bluetooth, allowing websites to communicate with nearby user-selected devices;
  • a red warning sign will show for HTTP websites when you enter personal data;
  • an option for Android to be asked where you want the browser to save your downloaded files on your phone.

NEW WAY TO GET DIRECTIONS 

Google added a new feature in Search results to help you find the fastest route to a given location. By entering one of the given keywords “navigate”, “navigation” or “directions” in the search box, you will trigger a new feature asking you “Where do you want go?”.

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When you select your starting point and end destination and click on the “Get directions” button, a map with a list of available routes will appear.

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A “Directions” button redirects you to Google Maps for driving instructions for the route you have chosen.

THE MONETIZATION OF GOOGLE ASSISTANT

To catch up with Amazon’s Alexa monetization, Google is now enabling developers to make money by selling digital products via Assistant Actions. The eligible types of digital content include:

  • one-time purchases, e.g. paid upgrades to a premium, ad-free app experience or a game expansion;
  • subscriptions, e.g. monthly fees.

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Companies like Starbucks, Volley and Headspace have been testing the new tool to allow their customers to access their new apps or to upgrade their current plans via Google Assistant.

WELCOME DISCOVER FEED

The search box on the mobile version of Google.com is now accompanied by the new feature “Google Discover”. It is a place for videos and news articles that are most relevant to your interests. The news feed is based on your top searches and your behavior across the web. Introduced for the first time this September the customized feed seems to be currently available on google.com on smart phones in the U.S. and as Google promised it will be rolled out to all mobile browsers in the next few weeks.

NEW SEARCH CONSOLE BUG FIXES

Here is a list of the latest most important updates and user experience improvements made within the new Search Console:

    • The scorecards within the report summaries display the number of issues:

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  • The feature showing you the number of links from and to the Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool remembers your selected language automatically;
  • The first significant event is the start point of dashboard charts;
  • All filters and selected options within your Performance reports are now saved when switching between your web properties;
  • The filter by query is now ignoring any differences in letter cases;
  • When there is no relevant data for a given date within the overtime graph of the Performance report no points will be displayed.

BETTER IMAGE SEARCH EXPERIENCE

Google officially brought the Lens feature that enables you to select certain objects that you are curious to find out more about within an image. For example, if you want to explore more about a given product, simply click on the “Google Lens” button and select the item. Then relevant images and information will appear together with places from where you can purchase similar items. The feature is currently available for U.S users of the mobile version of Google Images.

BETTER PROTECTION FOR YOUR WEBSITE VISITORS

The latest version of reCAPTCHA helps you protect your website from spam and abuse without requiring users to do certain action to determine whether those users are robots. The previous version (reCAPTCHA v2) tracked the user interactions (scrolling, clicking) while the user solved the captcha (he needed to click on the “I’m not a robot” button). The new version (v3) does the same, but there is just no button to click on. The API analyses the user behavior and determines whether the interactions on your web pages are controlled by a human. If there is a suspicious traffic, the system will provide you with three ways to fight abuse:

  • You can set a threshold that determines when a user is let through or when further verification needs to be done, for example, using two-factor authentication and phone verification;
  • You can use the score provided by reCAPTCHA together with your own signals that reCAPTCHA can’t access, for example user profiles or transaction histories;
  • You can use the reCAPTCHA score as a signal to improve your machine learning model to fight spam.

INDUSTRY “OUT-OF-THE-BLUE”

NEW LOCAL RANKINGS VISUALIZATION

The SEO specialist Yan Gilbert released a new Google Maps local ranking tracker that shows your business rankings in a new way. The new tool creates a “heat map” with your business’ local rankings for a given search term and selected distance.

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SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK’S NEW AD DIAGNOSTIC TOOL

During Facebook’s annual Global Partner Summit in New York, Facebook announced the launch of a new tool, called Creative Compass. It aims to help agencies, participating in Facebook’s Marketing Partners program, to better evaluate the effectiveness of their ads.

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The tool features a scorecard of ad qualities such as ad’s noticeability, message comprehension, believability, differentiation, emotional reward, brand association and how likely is the targeted audience to take actions after seeing the given ad.

Together with that Facebook rolled out two new categories to its partner program:

  • “Facebook Marketing Consultants” targeting individual marketing experts (currently the feature is available to professionals in U.S., UK, France, and Germany);
  • “Facebook PRO” including smaller marketing agencies, who previously weren’t able to meet Facebook Marketing Partners program’s eligibility requirements.

Do you have any digital marketing news to add to our October’s SEO News Recap? Let us know in the comments or email us at news@optilocal.org.  Also, don’t forget to share the post with your mates!