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November Roundup: The News in Search

Check out the latest industry news in the world of SEO.

Written by Jarrod Miller-Dean
on 12.11.18

Google PageSpeed Insights Tool Gets A Major Update From Lighthouse

Summary:

Google recently slipped one past marketers, quietly rolling out an updated version of PageSpeed Insights.

Released in November of 2018, Version 5 (v5) uses Lighthouse (an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages) as its analysis engine and incorporates field data from the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). It breaks down reports into several categories including: field data, lab data, opportunities, diagnostics and audits.

Upon releasing the update, Google stated that all previous versions of the application program interface (API) will depreciate by May 2019.

*Google PageSpeed Insights before the update.

*Google PageSpeed Insights after the update.

Impact:

Ensuring that your website is running at peak performance is a “make or break” factor, when it comes to ranking on search engine pages. It affects site speed, user experience and potential conversions. The new update for PageSpeed Insights gives marketers a better understanding of potential issues and recommendations to ensure optimal website performance.

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Google Is Testing Google Assistant Phone Calls with Small Business Owners

Summary:

Google is performing a single market test and asking Google My Business profile owners (small business owners), if they’re willing to accept calls from Google Assistant.

Using the natural language platform will have two initial primary benefits:

  • Lets consumers use Google Assistant to book reservations and appointments.
  • Allows Google Assistant to confirm factual information about the business.

Google unveiled its new platform, Duplex, at a developer conference in May. Duplex is an AI-powered, phone-based system for booking appointments with local businesses. The human sounding robot will make conversational experiences as natural as possible. People will be able to speak in a normal cadence, unlike many automated systems on the market today.

There is potential for pushback from business owners, due to the rise of automated-dialer phone scams. However, Google explained that the markets where Duplex will be utilized, require phone interaction as a critical component to completing transactions. A California law will go into effect in mid 2019 that requires companies using artificial intelligence agents and robots, to inform callers that it’s not a human contacting them. To add, businesses will have an option to “opt out” of receiving calls.

Google will be testing Duplex in restaurant markets in New York, Phoenix, Atlanta and San Francisco in the near future.

Impact:

Using AI-generated technology to make calls and interact with consumers will create new avenues in marketing, sales, law and other industries. Processes have the potential to be streamlined and allow for businesses to dedicate human efforts towards other pertinent tasks.

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SEO For Holiday Shoppers

Summary:

The holidays are knocking at your door, but is your website optimized for the rush? Search Engine Land, released their top tips that will take your SEO strategy to the next level this holiday season.

Title Tags and Descriptions – Modify title tags and descriptions for search engine ranking pages (SERPS). Make sure that descriptions standout to searchers with “holiday specific” keywords and phrases (products, special promotions, etc.).

Featured Snippets and Voice Search – Gaining placement in featured snippets has been a goal of many SEOs this year. Take this a step further and optimize content for voice search. Voice search has grown at rapid rates this year. To add, 1 in 4 shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season. Expect this number to double during the holiday season.

Updating URLs – Update URLs to include phrases like “Top 10,” “2018,” reviews and guides to catch the eyes of searchers. This content can also be refreshed for the following year.

Re-target keywords and phrases to be more long-tail and focused on popular products and “holiday specific” topics.

Impact:

The time to take action is now. The next few weeks will be a sprint to the finish line. Implementing these SEO tactics will help optimize your website, raise visibility and gain conversions during the holiday madness.

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Bing Gets A New Redesign For The Upcoming Season

Summary:

Bing’s redesign highlights new and existing features that streamline user experience.

Election Results – During the elections, Bing showed multi perspective answers for different ballot initiatives. It also gave breakdowns on the US Senate and House and state-level races.

Refreshed Image Searches – The new redesign will make it easier to highlight new and relevant images as well as generate related data (i.e. images of food will generate popular recipes). In addition, “object detection features” allow for smoother zooming options on images.

Expanded NFL Answers – Bing will streamline NFL searches and consolidate data, giving a full rundown report including: stats, schedules, viewing information, injury reports, news and predictions.

“Word of the Day” Feature – Expand your vocabulary with this fun feature. It generates a new word everyday and includes the definition, pronunciation and context.

Impact:

Bing is stepping up its game in the search engine world. The new features are geared towards streamlining searches, aggregating data and consolidating information. How will Bing’s new features rival against Google? Is this a novel approach for Bing to gain attention, or the beginning of something larger?

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Chrome 71 Targets Abusive Experiences

Summary:

Google’s Chrome blog has set a December 2018 deadline, for publishers to take down abusive ad experiences on their websites. The tech giant encourages publishers to use its Abusive Experiences Report tool, to identify such experiences and remove them. Failure to follow through will result in Chrome blocking all ads on their websites.

“What’s an abusive ad experience?” Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the pop-up or bumper ads that appear on your YouTube channel. Rather, Google defines abusive experience advertising as, “Ads that trick users into clicking on a button or downloading unwanted content.” This includes “system warning” pop-ups, “close” buttons that don’t close, and links that deceptively redirect users. These tactics are often used by scammers and phishing schemes to steal personal information.

Google hasn’t mentioned how the update will affect rankings, or disciplinary action beyond blocking all onsite advertising. Algorithmic penalties may be applied, but Google has yet to confirm.

Impact:

The update will slow down scammers and hold website publishers accountable for tending to their gardens. It will create a hassle-free experience for users, potentially resulting in increased website traffic, stickiness factor and conversions.

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