Google Updates SEO Local User Experience Changes Feb and March 2020

The recent and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown life out of gear and probably for the first time in history, humanity is fighting against a common enemy – as one.

NB: This is an article from Milestone

To those affected by the virus, our thoughts and prayers are with you. To the rest of our readers, stay safe and stay indoors, and be rest assured, we will get through this together.

Having said that, let’s take you through some of Google’s updates over the last couple of months and how the search engine giant is moving towards making search even more convenient by improving the experience for users online, and the cool features that they have rolled out.

Google My Business Functionality Limited

Before we get into the key updates made in Feb & March, we’d like to bring to your notice Google’s statement on the company limiting the functioning of GMB due to the pandemic. Understandably so, they have limited staff coming into their offices as a health measure and for the time being, only reviewal of business details of businesses in the health industry will be prioritized. To know more, check our blog Google My Business Limiting Functionality Due to COVID-19: What It Means for Milestone Clients

Google Algorithm Updates:

  • Unconfirmed algorithm update

Though there was no confirmation on this update, a number of business experienced a drastic spike or drop in rankings, and SEO experts believed that it was yet another algorithm update carried out – one that reinstates the effect of BERT and a measure to filter the visibility of content that has quality, is conversational and relatable. However, when asked, Google’s search advisor, Danny Sullivan quipped “we make updates all the time”.

Google SEO Updates:

  • NoFollow change

Google announced that from 1 March 2020, they will consider even NoFollow pages as a hint to crawl and index the page. However, they also indicated that there will be no immediate change to page rankings following this change.

  • FAQ rich result guideline

The search engine updated its guidelines for FAQ rich results. As per the guideline, if a business has the same FAQ across multiple pages, markup should be added for only one instance of that FAQ across the whole website and not for every instance or repetition of that FAQ on the website.

  • Preview How-to rich results

Adding another feature to Google Home Hub, you can now preview how the How-to rich result will be displayed on search using the Google rich results testing tool.

  • AMP custom CSS limit increased to 75KB

To improve the user experience of Accelerated Mobile Pages, Google’s AMP team has increased the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) limit from 50KB to 75KB.

Google Search Console Update

  • Redirect validation and reminders

A feature added to the address tool of GSC, Google will now validate the redirection of the top 5 URLs of the domain and will send reminders that the redirection is taking place from one domain to another.

Google Images Update

  • Image dimensions to be replaced by useful information

Rather than display the dimensions of a photo as an icon, Google will now display useful information such as whether the photo will redirect the user to a product, a recipe or video, etc.

Google Local Updates

  • Upload multiple photos and videos to your Posts at a time

Unlike before where you could add just one photo or video to your Google Post, now GMB bloggers can add up to 10 photos and videos per post and can even crop the photos before publishing it on the post.

  • Notification for deletion of review

A sigh of relief for business owners, Google will now send a notification to the GMB administrator if a review on their profile was deleted by them.

Google User Interface Update

  • Displays featured snippet image carousel

Especially for how-to steps, Google has started displaying rich results in the form of an image carousel. Users can now scroll through the whole process with images and can click on the images to be redirected to the article for an in-depth description of the step-by-step process.

Google Product Releases:

  • Camera Go app

Giving those with affordable devices the chance to click professional photos and not worry about speed and storage, Google launched the Camera Go app predominately for first-time smartphone users. With a simple interface, the app will notify users of the storage left on their device and they can choose to clear the space to capture more memories.

  • Transcribe real-time speech

Bridging the language barrier, using Google Translate, users can now transcribe speech in other languages to one’s preferred language in real-time. Available on the Google Android App, the feature is now available in English, Hindi, German, Portuguese, French, Russian, Thai and Spanish.

  • 5 languages added to Translate

Their first additions to Google Translate in 4 years, Google added Kinyarwanda, Odia (Oriya), Tatar, Turkmen and Uyghur to their Google Translate dictionary.

  • Google rolls out the ‘Focus’ mode

To help people block out distractions during work hours, Google rolled out the ‘Focus’ mode that will temporarily hide notifications from apps and social media, and users can create schedules that include breaks and dedicated work hours. On weekends, holidays or post-work hours, users can also use the ‘Focus’ mode to hide work-related notifications from select work apps.

Read more articles from Milestone