This Week In SEO: The Latest Web Industry Happenings
Over the past few weeks, we've seen more industry updates and trends. And as a way of keeping you know of these happenings, we've compiled another list of new releases and directions from Google and other web giants. We hope these titbits give you ideas on how to make some changes to your business for more growth opportunities. Let's check them out.
AHREFS ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR A NEW SEARCH ENGINE TO COMPETE WITH GOOGLE
The CEO of Ahrefs, Dmitry Gerasimenko, has made known Ahrefs' plan to build a new search engine to support content creators and protect users' privacy. Ahrefs is a leading SEO and content analysis company and would be competing with Google, according to Dmitry, who revealed the plan on Twitter. He raised concerns about Google's inability to fix users' privacy on the search engine and said their new search engine would address it. Again, the Ahrefs' CEO pointed out Google's revenue model, which doesn't favor content creators. He cited Wikipedia, which, though famous and helpful, struggles for financial support. He also believes Google is hoarding site visitors and showing them 'scraped' content to discourage them from visiting websites. And that this reduces the content creators' chance of monetizing. He stated that Ahrefs' new search engine would prioritize the interest of publishers and users.
GOOGLE UPDATES THE SITEMAPS REPORT & ADDS THE ABILITY TO DELETE SITEMAP
Google has updated its sitemaps report in the Search Console. The update will support these actions:
Ability to open the sitemap content in a new tab
Ability to delete a sitemap
Ability to review granular details for sitemaps with errors
Ability to present RSS and Atom feed sitemaps
Google announced on Twitter, with a screenshot shared as an example. Before the update, sitemaps could only be removed by using the classic Search Console version.
JOHN MUELLER EXPLAINS WHY GOOGLE RANKS SITES WITH SPAMMY LINKS
In a recent webmaster hangout, John Mueller of Google was asked why Google ranks sites that practice lousy linking. He explained how Google reacts to wrong links and the factors responsible for organizing such sites. Here's the question. A publisher asked it. "I see a disturbing amount of link networks and nefarious link-building schemes being used… I reported these as suggested but is there anything else we can do? This is frustrating." John responded to the question thus: "Reporting them in the… search console, the spam report form, the link spam report form, that's a good place to go. That helps us better understand that these are pages we need to review from a manual point of view." He further said that reporting spammy sites doesn't guarantee they will be dropped altogether. He gave reasons why a spam report doesn't instigate an automatic penalty: "…when it comes to competitive areas, we'll often see that some sites do some things really well and some sites do some things really bad. We try to take the overall picture and use that for ranking." According to John, here's the ranking factor responsible for spammy sites ranking. "For example, it might be that one site uses keyword stuffing, but actually, their business is fantastic, and people love going there, they love finding it in search, and we have lots of excellent signals for that site. So we might still show them at number one, even though we recognize they're doing keyword stuffing." What can be deduced here is that users' interactions with these spammy sites power them to appear on SERP.
INSTAGRAM INTRODUCES 'CHECKOUT': BRANDS TO SELL PRODUCTS INSIDE THE APP
Instagram has launched an in-app feature called Checkout to enable users to buy a product they love without leaving the app. When users view products put up by brands, they'll see a "Checkout on Instagram" button placed on the brand's product page. The button is to be tapped by users to make selections and then proceed with payment right there without leaving the Instagram app. Currently, the checkout feature is being tested with some selected brands and is only available to users in the US.
GOOGLE ADDS NEW FEATURE IN MOBILE-FRIENDLY AND AMP TEST TO SUPPORT CODE EDITING
Google announced that it had upgraded its mobile-friendly AMP test tools to allow users to edit code and also test it. Before the upgrade, the device only enabled live URLs to be tested. With this new feature, web admins can edit and sample code to see its impact before going live. Users must now choose whether to enter their site's URL or paste the raw code.
YOUTUBE ACCOUNTS FOR 37% OF ALL MOBILE TRAFFIC WORLDWIDE
According to a report by Sandvine, YouTube is responsible for the most downstream mobile traffic in the world, with 37% of the total market share.
Following on its heels is Facebook, with 8.4%. Snapchat is taking 3rd place with 8.3%. Snapchat is following Facebook closely despite the low number of users compared to Facebook's billions of users. Next on the report is Netflix, which generates the highest Internet traffic yet comes down to only 2.4%. With YouTube taking the lead, this report has shown the rising popularity of streaming service apps. See the complete list showing the apps mentioned in the study and the total amount of mobile traffic (in percentage) pulled up by each.
YouTube - 37%
Facebook - 8.4%
Snapchat - 8.3%
Instagram - 5.7%
Web browsing - 4.6%
WhatsApp - 3.7%
Facebook video - 2.5%
Netflix - 2.4%
App store - 2.1%
Google Play - 1.9%
Others - 23.4%
GOOGLE RELEASED ANOTHER BROAD CORE ALGORITHM UPDATE CALLED MARCH 2019 CORE UPDATE
Danny Sullivan of Google disclosed this on Twitter. Each year, Google makes many changes to its algorithm, each addressing a specific issue. For instance, the Penguin algorithm update was for link spam, while the Pigeon update addressed local SEO spam. But with a broad core update, it's different. A comprehensive core update doesn't target any website or niche and isn't directed at an issue. Another tweet by Danny said updates come with some sites dropping or gaining in ranking, but this doesn't mean something is wrong with the web pages. He told publishers to focus on creating great content as always. So, what is a broad core update? Google general core updates are changes set at improving its algorithm to help understand user queries and web pages better. It's aimed at improving user satisfaction.
GOOGLE MAPS INTRODUCES A NEW PUBLIC EVENTS FEATURE
Google Maps' new public events will enable users to create a public event to invite people based on a specific location. Android Police first saw this feature, and it has already gone live. It's similar to Facebook's events feature. The new public event feature hasn't been officially announced to the public, but a Google support page has already been created. When creating a public event, options for adding an event's name, location, start date and start time, end time, description, and photos are provided. Google says this feature isn't available in every region.
BING INTRODUCES TEXT-TO-SPEECH FOR SEARCH RESULTS
Bing updated its app, adding new search features, including a text-to-speech AI, expanded intelligent answers, and enhanced visual search engine. Here's a brief description of what these terms mean:
Text-to-speech: It implies that Bing can now speak out the answers to any query you make with a voice that can almost pass as human.
Intelligent answers: Bing now pulls out summarized content from different sources as answers to queries. The new improvement will now provide solutions to complex questions.
Visual search: Bing allows users to conduct a search using an image on its search engine. With the update, users can see more objects auto-detected within an image.
GOOGLE WEBSPAM REPORT 2018: BAD LINKING PRACTICES MADE LESS EFFECTIVE AT MANIPULATING RANKINGS
Google recently released its webspam report for 2018, showing how it tackled webspam last year — yes, this is 2019:-)As you know, Google is all out to protect users and fight webspam, which bad linking practices are one. And to that effect, Google reduced the spammy pages visited by users to 1%, thus, making destructive linking methods less effective. Other web spam mentioned in their report was spam on the hacked website and user-generated spam, which was reduced by 80%. Google went further to tell web admins to avoid link-building practices to rank better and not be penalized for link spamming.
LINKEDIN NOW ALLOWS MARKETERS TO TARGET THE RIGHT AUDIENCE EASILY
LinkedIn has released three updates to its platform to help businesses target the right audience. They are lookalike audience, interest targeting, and audience template.
Lookalike audience: LinkedIn combines its members' information with your ideal customer profile to help you market your services to new audiences with similar customer interests to your existing customers. With the lookalike audience, advertisers can reach high-converting audiences, get scale results, and engage new target accounts.
Interest targeting: This feature was rolled out in January and allowed advertisers to reach LinkedIn members with relevant ads that match their professional interests. And now, the upgraded version will also enable businesses to target members based on the content they engage with via the Bing search engine (remember, Microsoft owns both LinkedIn and Bing).
Audience template: This feature will help marketers choose from more than 20 predefined B2B audiences to help reduce ad set-up time and build more substantial audiences. The template includes audience characteristics such as skills, job titles, etc.
GOOGLE EXPANDS TRAVEL SEARCH RESULTS TO INCLUDE VACATION RENTAL PROPERTIES
Previously, Google provided users with travel options by helping them find hotels based on their prices, location, and ratings. Now, Google has expanded its hotel search experience by giving users a broader choice of where to lodge, like vacation rental properties. Google also went ahead to list its travel partners that users can check out, including Expedia, HomeAway, Hotels.com, NextPax, and more. Users can narrow their search results with price and amenity filters.
TWITTER TO ROLL OUT A "SUBSCRIBE TO CONVERSATION" FEATURE
Twitter is developing a feature that will let users subscribe to a conversation without liking or replying. Here, users don't have to engage with the conversation directly but will only use the "Subscribe to the conversation" button to be notified about the conversation. At the moment, it's being tested. This new feature was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong and shared on her Twitter page. Jane is known for spotting upcoming features before they are rolled out.
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