Roundup: What’s Happening in SEO?

Posted by on September 22, 2017

Google is Including Reviews in Local Search

Google is Including Reviews in Local Search

You’ve probably seen Google reviews before—local businesses can all be ranked on a one to five star scale, and customers can leave their honest feedback. And you probably also know how important reviews are, not only for online reputation but for SEO, as well. Ideally, local businesses will have a lot of positive Google reviews. That’s the best case scenario, both in terms of reputation and search engine visibility.

Now, Google is experimenting with a new way to make those reviews more crucial than ever. Specifically, some users have seen review snippets—just a few words of text, from actual Google reviews—appearing alongside business information in the local search listings. So, in addition to displaying the business name, location, hours of operation, and average star rating, Google may soon display review text, too.

Right now, this is purely in the testing stage, so don’t be surprised if you don’t notice it in your own search results for a while. If nothing else, though, it proves that reviews matter, and that Google wants businesses to take them seriously. Soon, your company’s reviews could be more prominent and more impactful than ever before—so make sure you’re generating some good ones!

Google Issues Warning About Pages with Forms

A few days ago, website owners and SEOs were caught off guard when Google sent notification—via the Google Search Console—about HTTP Web pages that include forms. Starting in October, Google warned, these pages would be marked as “Not secure.” (To be fair, people shouldn’t have been caught off guard by this; Google sent a similar warning several months ago.)

Here’s what the Google notification said: “Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the ‘Not secure’ warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.”

To be clear, this impacts website that have any kind of input fields, such as customer logins—but there is a way to resolve the issue: Migrating to the more-secure HTTPS can help website owners steer clear of Google’s warnings. This is definitely something to think about. As consumers become increasingly concerned over issues like privacy and security, Google will only step up the regulatory hoops it expects website owners to jump through.

Consumer Attention Spans Dwindle

Online experience is one of the key factors that consumers consider when evaluating your brand—and if recent research is to be believed, the average person is less tolerant than ever of clumsy or time-consuming online encounters. As Search Engine Land notes, consumers are getting less patient even as more brands are falling behind—a volatile mix, but one that leaves an opening for companies that really take online experience seriously.

One example of this trend: The average retail mobile website takes just shy of seven seconds to load—which may not seem like much, except the average customer is only willing to wait three seconds, at which point he or she will leave the site if it isn’t fully loaded. According to the same study, a full 79 percent of consumers say that, if they don’t like a company’s website performance, they are less likely to purchase from that brand again.

The bottom line: Consumers expect that their online experience will be positive, and yield them the information they want in a timely manner. As part of this, they anticipate that companies will invest in sound SEO and in robust customer experience. Companies that don’t do this can expect their traffic to taper off as customers lose their patience and head for greener pastures.

57 Percent of Traffic Now Comes from Tablets and Phones

57 Percent of Traffic Now Comes from Tablets and Phones

A couple of years ago, Google announced that search queries now come from mobile devices more often than they come from desktops; in other words, phones and tablets have overtaken desktop computers in terms of search engine use. Since then, Google has indicated that this trend continues, with the “vast majority” of online searches coming from mobile. Curiously, though, it hasn’t offered concrete numbers.

Now, thanks to BrightEdge, we do have some data—and what the data shows is that 57 percent of searches are now mobile-based. And in some categories—most notably restaurants—that number is even higher.

Another curious finding from BrightEdge: Desktop and mobile search queries don’t always produce the same results. Specifically: “BrightEdge research found that the same query on the same search engine generated different rank in mobile and desktop 79 percent of the time.”

The implication for businesses? It’s never been more important to optimize for both mobile and desktop users, and to track results across these different devices.

Or, as BrightEdge puts it: “If brands do not track and optimize for both device channels, they are likely to misunderstand the opportunities and threats affecting them.”

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