This Week in SEO: The Latest Web Industry Happenings and How They'll Affect Your Business (Ep. 001)
The online industry keeps waking up to new trends and industry updates. Google for one is constantly evolving and investing in its system to provide users with an improved experience. And as an SEO practitioner and a website owner, it becomes important that you stay abreast of current trends and happenings in the industry as well as adapting to changes to be on top of the waves.
It's certain that getting to know upcoming trends and industry updates will help you gain knowledge, give you a competitive edge, and identify opportunities for growth in your online business.
To that effect, let’s check out the latest web industry updates from Google and other web companies as they've happened these past few days.
VOICE SEARCH USAGE LEVEL DECLINES IN 2019, A NEW STUDY REVEALS
Voice search usage is declining based on how likely it will be used by people as a medium for sourcing for information.
Remember, last year we published an article on which we mentioned that voice search was rising. Those claims were based on our latest findings back then.
A new study released by Stone Temple shows voice search taking the fourth place, from a survey of 1,719 people who were asked to state how they look for information with their phone.
Here's the phrasing used:
"When I need to look up information, I am most likely to...
(Please rank your top three choices)"
And the choices given were:
Use voice search.
Type the question into the search window of my phone.
Type the question into search engine apps.
Open a mobile browser such as Safari or Google Chrome, and type the question.
Ask a friend via text or messaging app.
Here's what the results showed:
Mobile browsers were people's first choice for performing searches on their phone. Search engine app took the second place and the third place went to phone's search window, while voice search was placed fourth.
In comparing this year's survey to last year, voice search came third for the most popular means used by people to conduct mobile searches in 2018.
For 2019 study, voice search was picked by 25% of participants as their first choice when compared to the 15% that picked it in 2018.
And now, going over to the people who have engaged with voice commands for their online search, the study showed that out of the 11 choices listed, online search took sixth place. And 20% of the participants said they had used voice commands for their online search.
GOOGLE ADDS TRAVEL PRICE FEATURES TO HELP USERS ON A BUDGET
Google launched a new travel price insight feature to help searchers find budget-friendly travel options on flights and hotels. Google's price insight feature will be showing the price range for most trips, whether it's high, typical or low to help you make better decisions on which to settle for.
This feature will also show if there's going to be an increase or decrease in the price. In the past, the price insight was only made available for searches on holiday dates. But now you can use it to search for prices of flights based on your budget and find hotels with the best deal.
GOOGLE: PUBLISHERS SHOULD INCLUDE SUPPORTED WRITTEN CONTENT WHEN POSTING VIDEOS ON A WEB PAGE
John Mueller, Webmaster Trend Analyst at Google, has advised publishers and website owners to always make available written content to support a video when posting it on a web page.
In essence, what he's saying is a web page shouldn't be embedded with just a video and title only. A video isn't the main content and shouldn't be used as one. Rather, it should be used to support the main written content.
Mueller gave this advice at Google Webmaster hangout, on March 5th, when a participant asked a question on using Google's video.
The Web Analyst went ahead to say it's always difficult for Google to determine the usefulness of a video and why the video should appear in search results. He recommends that contents such as a video transcript, should be built around the video and the comments about the video added as well.
GOOGLE LAUNCHES SHOPPING ADS ON GOOGLE IMAGE
Google will be rolling out a new ad format to enable advertisers to reach out to shoppers. This ad format allows advertisers to feature many of their products that are available for sale on their sponsored ad.
Google's shopping ads will be shown in the image search results with a label "sponsored" and a price tag icon. And when you hover your cursor over the price tag icon, the prices of the products will be revealed, together with its brand name. At the moment, the new ad format is being tested on a little fraction of the traffic, with selected retailers.
Retailers are also reminded about Google's expansion of merchant center, which will enable online sellers to provide updated information about their products.
INSTAGRAM: SET TO LAUNCH A NEW AD UNIT FOR SPONSORED POST
Instagram is working on a new ad format that will enable brands to sponsor posts published by Instagram influencers.
According to AdAge, Instagram calls the new format ad “Branded content ads.” This new ad unit will aim at promoting a brand and creator partnership.
Ashley Yuki, product management lead at Instagram says the testing of the ads began since last year.
This branded content program is available for all Instagram users who wish to join it. Influencer marketing on Instagram is on the increase and a report by Mediakix says the market will rise to $2 billion in 2019.
GOOGLE RECONSTRUCTS 'TEST MY SITE' TOOL FROM TOP TO BOTTOM
Google has rebuilt its test my site tool from top to bottom to enable website owners to get more done on their sites. This tool was created in 2016 to help site owners check their site's mobile page speed and with the updated version, website owners can now do more.
Google says having a great mobile experience begins with a fast mobile experience. The assertion was confirmed by a State of Online Retail Performance report cited:
This new Test My Site Tool will deliver the best mobile experience expected by users in 2019.
TWITTER IS DEVELOPING A TWEET REPLY MODERATION FEATURE TO HIDE REPLIES TO USERS TWEETS
Twitter is working on producing a 'Hide reply' tweet feature to protect users conversation on Twitter. By default, the feature hides people's reply to a tweet so no one will see it but it provides an option for the hidden replies to be shown.
This feature was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, a software expert. And she took to her Twitter handle to share some of the screenshots. Michelle Yasmeen Haq, senior product manager at Twitter verified it on his handle and added more context on it.
This new feature will enable users to control the conversations going on around their tweets. Twitter intends testing the feature in upcoming months.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS TOOL INITIATES A NEW WAY TO REPORT FRAUDULENT ACTIVITIES
Google has found a new way for users to report fraudulent activities found on Google My Business and Maps.
A complaint form has been created where users can now submit complaints about misleading information noticed on Google Maps listing. These complaints are going to be reviewed in line with guidelines provided by Google for representing a business on Google.
These complaints should be about the name of a business, phone number or business's URL. Any complaint outside these options won't be reviewed.
GOOGLE NOW ALLOWS ONLINE SELLERS TO UPLOAD THEIR PRODUCT INFORMATION TO
Google made a post announcing its expanding capabilities to online sellers, where provisions were made to help them connect to their potential customers. Online retailers are to provide an accurate up to date information on their products in search console, merchant center, and manufacture center.
The search console has a new report for products which will notify site owners of any issue regarding mark up in their site. Product data feed of online retailers will be uploaded to the merchant center tool where it will be available for display in search results. You need a merchant center account to use the tool.
GOOGLE'S NEW FEATURED SNIPPETS DISPLAY COMBINED CONTENT FROM VARIOUS PUBLISHERS
Google is now showing featured snippets which takes content from various publishers and puts them together under one result. The results generated for searchers are displayed in a list form.
Cyrus Shepard shared an example of this and pointed out that the featured snippet doesn't provide links to the sites where the content was curated from. This is a concern for publishers as they won't be getting any credit.
However, Danny Sullivan of Google responded to this concern in some tweets he made. See them:
“Since I got asked about this, a couple of things.
Most important, the future of Google Search is to continue supporting the ecosystem. We don’t thrive & users don’t thrive unless the ecosystem thrives.
Support of the ecosystem is constantly raised in meetings I’m in. It always comes up. It is a front-line concern with everyone involved with search. Any feature you see, impact on ecosystem has been considered. The hope is that overall, as Google grows, so does the ecosystem….
For everyone to grow, search has to keep evolving. While I think SEOs are fair to raise concerns about new formats, I also think they should recognize that new formats bring in new and often welcomed opportunities. Which leads back to this particular feature….”
GOOGLE ROLLS OUT 3 NEW FEATURES FOR RESPONSIVE DISPLAY ADS
Google has introduced three new features to help advertisers improve their Google ads. These features include:
Video assets: This feature enables videos to be integrated into ads for responsive display ads. This is in response to a study where 60% of shoppers stated that online videos serve as an inspiration for making a purchase.
Combination report: Combination report shows insights into which asset combination is performing the most in responsive ad display.
Ad strength scorecard: Ad scorecard helps advertisers create relevant responsive display ads. It’s a way of improving the ad strength of an ad.
GOOGLE SAYS THE USE OF HIDDEN TEXT FOR SCREEN READERS WON'T HURT RANKINGS
John Mueller of Google stated that when hidden text is used to provide extra context for screen readers, it won't hurt ranking on search engine.
A Twitter user had asked Mueller the question about the implications of using hidden text.
And here was Mueller’s response:
“That's not a problem as far as I've seen. The content is generally equivalent to other parts of the page (describing functionality/images, etc), and is not placed there for search ranking purposes. Making things accessible to screen reader users is always a good idea.”
Hidden text is often seen as a black hat tactic to trick the search engine just to rank high. However, if it's used to provide extra context for enhanced user experience, it won't have any negative impact on ranking.
READ MORE ON OUR BLOG
Industry trends and SEO updates will keep evolving. And what’s more important is that you stay on the lookout for industry trends in your NICHE. We keep bringing you the latest updates in the online industry, so be sure to always check back on our blog to get the latest and most helpful information.