Google launches new effort to flag upsetting or offensive content in search

Google is undertaking a new effort to better identify content that is potentially upsetting or offensive to searchers. It hopes this will prevent such content from crowding out factual, accurate and trustworthy information in the top search results.
“We’re explicitly avoiding the term ‘fake news,’ because we think it is too vague,” said Paul Haahr, one of Google’s senior engineers who is involved with search quality. “Demonstrably inaccurate information, however, we want to target.”
New role for Google’s army of ‘quality raters’
The effort revolves around Google’s quality raters, over 10,000 contractors that Google uses worldwide to evaluate search results. These raters are given actual searches to conduct, drawn from real searches that Google sees. They then rate pages that appear in the top results as to how good those seem as answers.
Quality raters do not have the power to alter Google’s results directly. A rater marking a particular result as low quality will not cause that page to plunge in rankings. Instead, the data

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Google begins rolling out a new desktop search user interface

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they have begun rolling out a new design and look for their desktop search results page. The new design has a more boxy look resembling a mobile user interface.
I believe the official rollout began yesterday, but I spotted tests of this new design a few weeks ago.
Here is a screen shot of the new design:

It is unclear how long this new design will take to full roll out to all searchers, but I am personally able to replicate this across dozens of desktop browsers and operating systems.
The post Google begins rolling out a new desktop search user interface appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google begins mobile-first indexing, using mobile content for all search rankings

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Google has begun testing its mobile-first index, which will primarily look at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.
We expected this was coming and even heard about it over a year ago, but this is the first time Google has posted details about the mobile-first index on their own blog.
Most of Google searches are mobile, but Google’s index is desktop
Google explained that it sees more mobile searches than desktop searches on a daily basis. But when Google looks to evaluate a page’s ranking in Google, it currently looks at the desktop version of the site — an issue we pointed out over a year ago. To fix this, Google will look at the content, links and structured data of the mobile version of your site if one is available.
Google wrote:
To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to

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Google updates Penguin, says now runs in real-time within the core search algorithm

After a nearly two year wait, Google’s Penguin algorithm has finally been updated again. It’s the fourth major release, making this Penguin 4.0. It’s also the last release of this type, as Google now says Penguin is a real-time signal processed within its core search algorithm.
Penguin goes real-time
Penguin is a filter designed to capture sites that are spamming Google’s search results in ways that Google’s regular spamming systems might not detect. Introduced in 2012, it has operated on a periodic basis.
In other words, the Penguin filter would run and catch sites deemed spammy. Those sites would remain penalized even if they improved and changed until the next time the filter ran, which could take months.
The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, happened on October 17, 2014. Any sites hit by it have waited nearly two years for the chance to be free.
Those long delays are now to be a thing of the past, according to Google. With this latest release, Penguin

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Google dropping “Mobile-friendly” label from search results

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Google says it is doing away with the mobile-friendly label that appears in search results. That does not mean that the mobile-friendly algorithm is dead, it just means Google is removing the label.
In its announcement, Google said that “85% of all pages in the mobile search results” now are mobile-friendly by Google’s criteria and thus they decided to declutter the search results by removing the label. The label launched officially in November 2014.
If you do not see your site with the mobile-friendly label, there is no need to worry. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool and/or check your mobile usability report in the Google Search Console.
Here is a screen shot of what the mobile-friendly label looked like up until today in the Google mobile search results:

The post Google dropping “Mobile-friendly” label from search results appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google warns it will crack down on “intrusive interstitials” in January

Google has announced that it will begin cracking down on “intrusive interstitials” on January 10, 2017, because this type of ad “can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”
Google will be potentially penalizing — i.e., lowering the rankings — of these web pages. Google said “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
Google explained which types of interstitials are going to be problematic, including:

Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Here is a diagram from Google to

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AMP breaks out of news into the main Google search results

Google is taking Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) beyond the “Top Stories” and into the main organic mobile search results. Today the company has announced a developer preview (g.co/ampdemo), with a general Google.com roll out to follow in the near future.
What this means is that mobile search users will soon start to content in search results with the AMP lightning bolt logo, indicating the content is available in the mobile format — comparable to “mobile friendly.”
I spoke with Google’s VP of Engineering David Besbris yesterday. He told me that AMP pages will not receive a ranking boost, though Google has suggested in the past load time and page speed are (or will become) mobile ranking factors. Besbris explained, however, that where there are two identical pages, one AMP and one mobile-friendly, Google will serve the AMP page.

In February, Google introduced AMP content into the Top Stories carousel in mobile results. Since AMP’s introduction last year, Besbris indicated that

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Google to boost mobile-friendly algorithm this May

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Google announced on the Webmaster blog that they are going to be boosting the effects of the mobile-friendly algorithm they launched back on April 21, 2015.
Google said the update will happen “beginning in May,” and it “increases the effect of the [mobile-friendly] ranking signal.” Google said if you are already mobile-friendly, you do not have to worry, because “you will not be impacted by this update.”
When the update happens, it will roll out gradually, so you won’t see a major drop-off on non-mobile-friendly websites when the algorithm is pushed out. This kind of sounds like the slow Panda 4.2 rollout, but it is unclear if the rollout will take weeks or months. Google just said it would “start rolling out” the update in the beginning of May.
The mobile-friendly algorithm is a page-by-page signal, so it can take time for Google to asses each page, and that may be why it will be a gradual rollout.

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Confirmed: Google To Stop Showing Ads On Right Side Of Desktop Search Results Worldwide

Google is rolling out a dramatic change that removes ads from the right side of its desktop search results, and places ads only at the top and/or bottom of the page. At the same time, the company says it may show an additional ad — four, not three — above the search results for what it calls “highly commercial queries.”
All of this represents the conclusion of a test that began all the way back in 2010, and has been tweaked over the years since then. Search Engine Land readers — particularly some outside the U.S. — notified us late last year that they were seeing the top-only ads more frequently.
A Google spokesperson has confirmed to Search Engine Land that the change is now rolling out to all searches in all languages worldwide. Ads will not appear on the right side of desktop search results, with one exception: Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes will continue to show both

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Facebook Now Using Google App Indexing To Drive Visitors From Search Into Its App

Facebook has long opened up some of its walled garden to Google, in order to gain Google traffic. Now Facebook is stepping up its search engine optimization game by implementing Google App Indexing to ensure it continues to get that traffic as the shift to mobile continues.
Facebook Loves Google Traffic
Facebook has allowed Google to index some of its content going back to at least 2007, when Facebook profile pages were opened up to Google and other search engines. “Indexing” means that Google can read all the content on these pages. In turn, when people search, these pages might appear in Google’s search results.
This indexing — known so well to search engine optimization (SEO) professionals — has benefits to both Google and Facebook. Google has more content that might satisfy what people are searching for. Facebook gets traffic from Google for free.
Over time, Facebook has opened up more of the content is has to Google, such as Facebook Comments in 2011. The

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