Google published a report of its webspam fighting efforts last year, which includes sending 4.3 million manual action notices to webmasters. In our review of Google’s webspam report, we explain what to do if you received one of those manual action penalties.
Google raised the mobile-friendly ranking boost in May, as it promised back in March. This change shouldn’t impact sites that already passed Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, but web pages that are not mobile-friendly will find themselves showing up lower in mobile search results.
Google increased the width of its main search results column from 512 pixels wide to about 600. This means that organic results may display higher on the page, and title and description text can be longer. Titles can show up to about 70 characters (rather than the previous 55 to 60), and description text can also be 16–20 characters longer per line. The width change also affects featured snippets, local pack results and AdWords ads that appear in the main column. Google's John Mueller confirmed that there was a corresponding increase to mobile title tag lengths, as well.
Google News search results now show new features for AMP pages, including an expanded AMP carousel and a lightning symbol to make them stand out in the vertical results. (See the “Hot Topic” for more AMP news.)
Rich cards are a new search results format, an enhanced form of rich snippets that show up as a carousel of visual cards in mobile results. Existing schema.org markup for rich snippets can work for the new rich cards, though Google strongly recommends using JSON-LD code. Rich cards are initially available for English queries on google.com for recipes and movies.
Google Search Console has had some major enhancements this month. 1. A new Rich Cards report (under Search Appearance) shows you how many pages on your site have rich cards and any errors your site has with structured data in general. 2. AMP analytics have been added as a filter in the Search Analytics report. 3. You can now group multiple web properties (such as a desktop site, a mobile site and an app) as a property set so that you can track their statistical data together in Search Console reports.
Google shows no signs of backing down in its six-year battle with the European Commission, though the company may face its first antitrust fine in 2016 over the Google shopping service. The EU also leveled a second antitrust charge in April over Google's dominant Android mobile operating system squeezing out rivals.
Google may be planning to extend AMP to local results sooner rather than later. The search engine's Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative (which webmasters can apply to web pages so they'll display quickly on mobile devices) so far shows only news items in the AMP carousel format.
Google News launched a new "Local Source" tag to surface local coverage of news stories and not just the well-known news publishers. As Barry Schwartz points out, it's interesting that the tag is being applied automatically rather than requiring publishers to add markup code to their content. Google says it identifies a publisher's geographic location based on its history of published stories.
Google Search Console was updated to show clicks and impressions to an associated app separately from website activity. In addition, Google's John Mueller explained: "Other changes include how we count links shown in the Knowledge Panel, in various Rich Snippets, and in the local results in Search (which are now all counted as URL impressions)." You'll notice an "Update" demarcation in your Search Analytics report timelines.
Facebook has quietly changed its 20% text rule that limits how much of an image can contain text in a promoted post. The handy grid tool is also gone. Now the rules are muddier, with images being assigned a grade of OK, Low, Medium or High depending on how much text is visible, and these grades now affect how much reach the post can have. So while there’s more flexibility without the strict 20% limit, there’s now more incentive to reduce the amount of text in order to boost reach.
Twitter users can now fit more actual text within the 140-character tweet limit. Twitter announced that images and other attached media no longer count as characters; neither do @names in a reply. Another rule change is that starting a tweet with "@name" now reaches all of your followers (so no more need to type ".@"), and you can now retweet your own tweets.
Twitter added a "Go Live" button in its main app to let users easily start a Periscope live-stream video. In the wake of competitor Facebook Live’s recent updates, Twitter announced other changes to Periscope, its live video-streaming service. Periscope will make video broadcasts permanent by default, rather than disappearing after 24 hours. In addition, Periscope will let users search for videos by topic and create a broadcast that includes a video feed from a supported DJI drone.
Social networks will need parental permission for users under age 16, according to a new ruling by the EU. By 2018, networks must take "reasonable" measures to make sure users are of age or have their parents permission; otherwise, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the other networks will face fines of up to 4 percent of global turnover. The ruling allows individual European countries to lower the minimum age from 16 to 13.
In China, Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on MSN China, the company’s longtime Chinese portal for search, newsfeeds and lifestyle information. Reasons include stiff competition from local services and the difficulty of operating within the Chinese government's strict censorship requirements.
A controversial report published by Gizmodo stated that Facebook’s Trending Topics list has news curators who have censored many conservative discussion topics that were actually trending and injected other topics that were not trending within the social platform. Facebook’s Tom Stocky published a response the same day denying these “anonymous allegations.” Yet the issue only heated up, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation sent a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to respond by May 24, 2016 with a copy of the guidelines Facebook uses to prevent the suppression of political perspectives and other information.
Instagram rolled out a new look for its app, making the icons and other elements less eye-catching to put more emphasis on the photo content. Also, the company introduced a new logo design that’s simpler and more colorful. No changes to how you use Instagram were announced.