Who’s afraid of a little phantom update? Not you, I hope. There’s lots to discuss in the land of search, social and content, so let’s get to it.
On March’s edition of 30|30:
- Surprise! Google keeps updating its algorithm
- RIP DMOZ, another internet relic closes
- Did you know voice search pulls from answer box results?
- Google Launches Hotel Rich Cards
- There’s a bug in AMP reporting, Google knows about it and will fix it “one day”
- Google local pack showing “Near You XX Minutes Ago”
Want more details? Learn even more by watching the full webinar recording for March’s edition.
Surprise! Google keeps updating its algorithm
It looks like the day before I did this webcast — March 8 — Google did a rather large algorithm update. They will neither confirm nor deny, but if you check out Search Engine Roundtable, they’re saying that update was links-related, not content quality-related. I will look into it and report back in next month’s 30|30.
But for now, here’s what we do know: Google did one of their “phantom” quality updates on Feb. 7. According to this deep dive analysis by Glenn Gabe, the update targets:
- Low quality content
- Low quality user engagement
- Ad aggressiveness
- UX barriers
Not a whole bunch of surprises here; Google does quality updates all the time. If you were affected, let this serve as further warning to you: It’s time to fix your course, because these algorithm updates are never going to stop.
Indulge me this one, because it’s really a love letter to the SEO days of yore: DMOZ closed up shop on March 14.
Also known as The Open Directory Project, DMOZ was one of the oldest and most trusted web directories. Back in the day, people used directories to find stuff on the web, and it was standard practice for SEOs like myself to list their sites with them.
Directories became obsolete after Google and other search engines started to sort, filter and categorize sites for us.
So why does this matter? It doesn’t, really. This one is mostly for posterity’s sake, for all the other old school SEOs out there like me. RIP, DMOZ.
A lot of people didn’t know this, but: Digital assistants like Alexa, Google Home, Cortana and Echo pull their answers from Google’s answer box.
What!? Yes, it’s true. A few 30|30’s ago I talked about a study that projects the use of voice recognition will double in the next five years. That’s huge! Voice search is the future, folks.
Of course, you should already be optimizing your content for the answer boxes, and now you have even more reason to do so.
Google Launches Hotel Rich Cards
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If you’re in the hospitality industry, this one is especially important: Google has launched a carousel which displays rich cards on mobile devices.
This means you can now display such things as ratings and reviews, your address, what kinds of rooms you have, if you’re pet-friendly, etc.
I know what you’re thinking — didn’t Google launch something like this a few months ago? Not quite. Those were AMP-based hotel listings; these are non-AMP, standard listings based on structured data that you add to your pages.
Bug in AMP Reporting
There’s a lot of talk about this next one: AMP reporting is all screwed up.There’s a bug within Google AMP reporting that can cause AMP numbers to be super bloated, among other issues.
Technical SEO consultant Christian Oliveira gave a more comprehensive explanation of the problems on his blog, but here is the quick version (again, courtesy of Oliveira):
- A unique visitor potentially can be reported as up to four different people, when accessing AMP pages.
- When a visitor navigates from an AMP page to a regular page in a site, that causes a new session to be generated, even though technically, it was the same session.
- Bounce rate will appear higher than normal when AMP pages are involved, because since new sessions are generated as described above, it appears as if visitors are leaving quickly when they are not.
- Pageviews per session will appear lower, when an AMP person moves from an AMP page to a regular page in a single session.
- Visitors who come to AMP page from search and then goes to another page will appear as if they are new visitors coming from referral traffic, rather than search.
Be aware of this, if you’re using AMP. Google knows it’s a problem, but they’ve also said it won’t be fixed anytime soon. My bet is this problem will persist for months.
Google local pack showing ‘Near You XX Minutes Ago’
This one is a little weird to me, honestly: Google is showing local pack results based on knowing your location a certain number of minutes ago. So, for example, Google could show you that, “These bars were near you 12 minutes ago.”
Why would I want to know what was near me 12 minutes ago? I want to know what’s near me now.
Now, you can manually update your location, but knowing how hyper-local and UX-centric Google is, this is an oddity to me. It makes me think it’s a test to see if people interact with it.