In big win, Apple hires Google AI chief John Giannandrea away from Google

Earlier this week, we reported on personnel changes within Google’s search organization: Ben Gomes will now be in charge of all search, and Jeff Dean is taking on leadership of Google Brain and AI. The changes come as Google SVP of Engineering John Giannandrea moves to Apple to run AI efforts there.
Giannandrea “will run Apple’s machine learning and AI strategy,” according to reports. He will also report directly to the company’s CEO, Tim Cook.
While Google has a “deep bench” in AI, the move is still a loss for Google and a win for Apple. Giannandrea was instrumental in infusing AI into all of Google’s main products, including search. He came originally from Metaweb when Google acquired the company in 2010.
Google’s focus and emphasis on AI is such that at an event last year in San Francisco, CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We’re moving from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world.”
It’s not clear from statements and published reports

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How to use the Knowledge Graph for higher rankings

Google has been on a mission to transform search from “strings to things.” This mission was one of the many reasons for the Hummingbird update and the rise of RankBrain.
To pull off this extraordinary feat, Google and its team of engineers needed to create connections between their data using “real world context.” This resulted in what we now know as “The Knowledge Graph.”

Google’s goal is to create a “massive graph of real-world things and their connections, to bring more meaningful results.” When searching for information, users are no longer constrained by 10 blue links; instead, Google now displays relevant content that adds to the content of the user’s search.
For example, let’s say you want to learn more about Abraham Lincoln. After typing in the query, “Abraham Lincoln,” Google will show a “card” on the right side of your search with interesting information about Honest Abe.

Here is what the Knowledge Graph gives us inside Abe’s card:

Name.
Multiple head shots.
Title.
Short

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Google’s AMP Project announces new consent component ahead of GDPR compliance deadline

With the deadline for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) fast approaching, Google’s AMP team has announced a component to enable publishers to surface a user consent notification for sites using the mobile-friendly framework.
From the announcement:
The features to be launched include the ability to show choices in user interface notices via “accept” and “reject” semantics, and configuration of AMP element behaviors in response to users’ choices.
The GitHub issue page details the component’s format and configuration options, along with future feature suggestions. As the issues surrounding GDPR consent and compliance are complicated — including acquiring per-usage consent (e.g., publishers need to acquire separate consent for users being tracked for both first-party and third-party purposes) — the project team is encouraging publishers and vendors to participate in the component’s development so that support will be available for as many integrations as possible. They particularly note existing support within AMP for these types of features and state that user consent may need

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Search Engine Land’s Community Corner: Charity selected for 2018 Search Engine Land Awards

It’s hard to imagine the search community evolving as it has without the support and active participation of Matt Cutts. Those newer to search marketing may never have had the opportunity to meet Google’s Distinguished Engineer and get to know what a thoughtful, kind and open participant he was with the SEO community in particular. I’m honored to have been able to get to know and spend as much time with him as I did while he was still with Google. He suffered an unimaginable tragedy last week, and we as a community rallied around him to help in ways large and small and let him know he remains an important part our industry.
Following the unexpected passing of Matt’s beloved wife Cindy, our community immediately offered heartfelt support for Matt in a tremendously difficult time, with search professionals around the globe letting Matt know just how much he has meant to our industry at large. Dixon Jones,

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Google Images update: Captions added to images, pulled from the page title tag

Google Images search results continue to evolve — from the rollout of badges last summer to the related searches box this past December and the removal of the “view image” and “search by image” buttons last month. Google has been rapidly expanding visual search features.
Beginning today, Google Images results will now include captions for each image. The rollout is global and will be available for mobile browsers and the Google app (iOS and Android). The caption displayed with an image will be pulled from the title of the page that features the image.
As shown in the image below, the caption will be shown below the image and above the page URL.
Google Images: without captions / with captions
From the announcement:
This extra piece of information gives you more context so you can easily find out what the image is about and whether the website would contain more relevant content for your needs.
When asked if these titles might be rewritten

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Google working to integrate AMP benefits into future open web standards

Google continues to make major investments in improving the performance of and user experience on the web. This has been primarily through the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework, which was first launched in 2015 and has been aggressively developed, promoted, and integrated into publishing platforms ever since.
Initially viewed as another proprietary format (even though it is open source), in addition to only providing a limited feature set at launch, the AMP framework has struggled with widespread adoption. Support for AMP across the entire web currently stands at less than .1%.
However, sites that have adopted AMP have seen encouraging gains in site performance and conversions (which presumes a correlating better site user experience). These and other noted benefits have led Google to begin working toward taking the technologies utilized by AMP and folding them into open web standards.
From the announcement today:
“The standardization work motivated by AMP is well under way through various WICG projects. Google’s goal is to

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Google AMP team launches ‘Render on Idle’ to load ads faster when browsers sit idle

Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) team has launched a new feature called Render on Idle that is designed to increase ad impressions per page by speeding up ad load when a user isn’t taking any action in a browser.
Render on Idle is available to publishers using the DoubleClick AMP ad tag or any ad network that implements Fast Fetch, an AMP-specific mechanism that lowers the likelihood users will see empty ad slots by allowing ad requests to happen as page content is rendering. Ads render just before the ad slot is in view.
From the announcement:
With Render on Idle, ads load 12 viewports from the user’s scroll position (as opposed to 3) when the browser is idle, no other page content is being retrieved or rendered. This delivers better ad performance by loading ads earlier in the page lifecycle.
More from the Github page:
[Ad] Slots not marked with data-loading-strategy attribute that are more than 3 viewports but less

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Google’s antitrust infringement continues ‘unabated’, Google Shopping competitors tell European Commission

Comparison shopping engines aren’t satisfied with Google’s response to the European Commission’s demand that the search giant give equal treatment to competitors.
“Google’s current remedy proposal has been in operation for more than four months, and the harm to competition, consumers and innovation caused by the infringement established by the Decision has continued unabated,” a group of Google competitors wrote in an open letter [pdf] to Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager at the European Commission this week.
After the European Commission levied a record nearly $3 billion fine against Google in an antitrust ruling for favoring its own Shopping ads and squeezing out rivals, Google established Google Shopping as a separate business unit to compete in the ad auction against other comparison shopping engines (CSEs).
That change was supposed to take effect last fall, but ads from competitors have been slow to appear and remain scarce. We’ve recently reported on competitor ads beginning to show occasionally in the UK. In

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Keyword infringement: Edible Arrangements files $209M trademark suit against Google

Google is being sued in federal district court in Connecticut by the company behind Edible Arrangements for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The central claim is that when users search for “Edible Arrangements” (or versions of that name), they’re seeing product ads for competitors, such as 1-800-Flowers.
The company is seeking more than $200 million in damages for lost profits and trademark infringement. The company claims that consumers are confused about which results are genuinely associated with Edible Arrangements and says it has received phone calls supporting that contention.
I have not seen the specific allegations in the complaint, and I was not able to replicate the allegedly infringing search results. It does not appear that the term “Edible Arrangements” appears in ad text for competing advertisers.
Google will review and restrict use of trademark terms in ad text where there is a dispute. However, it does not restrict use of trademarks as keywords: “We don’t investigate or restrict trademarks as

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