Optimizing for Hanukkah: Sometimes it’s still strings, not things

My wife came to me with a problem. She wanted festive, whimsical, and potentially matching Hanukkah pajamas. But there weren’t enough options coming up in Google under one spelling of the holiday’s name, so she told me she was systematically going through all spellings to compile her list of shopping items.
I was pretty surprised by this — I had expected Google to be smart enough to recognize that these were alternative spellings of the same thing, especially post-Hummingbird. Clearly, this was not the case.
Some background for those who don’t know: Hanukkah is actually a transliterated word from Hebrew. Since Hebrew has its own alphabet, there are numerous spellings that one can use to reference it: Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Channukah are all acceptable spellings of the same holiday.
So, when someone searches for “Hanukkah pajamas” or “Chanukah pajamas,” Google really should be smart enough to understand that they are different spellings of the same concept and provide nearly identical

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Google testing an answers carousel within the search results snippets

Google has started testing and potentially rolling out a new feature in search that shows a carousel with a list of answers directly within the search results snippets. It shows the main search result snippet, and below it, it shows a carousel of answers picked from the content on the page the snippet is linking to.
This comes in handy with forum-related threads where someone asks a question and multiple people give their answers. In addition, Google is labeling which answer is the “best” and shows that answer first in the search results.
Here is a picture from @glenngabe:

I suspect Google is picking the best answer from a label in the thread itself.
Of course, this can be a concern for those who run answer sites. Instead of a searcher clicking from Google’s search results to an answer site webpage, the searcher can quickly see a snippet or the full answer in these answer carousels.
The post Google testing an answers

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Google Manufacturer Center for product data expands scope, launches API

With the growing importance of Google Shopping campaigns in paid search results for brands and manufacturers, getting product data correct and consistent has become an increasingly urgent task. It’s been a somewhat sleepy product, but this week, Google announced new features and an expansion of Manufacturer Center.
Launched in 2015, Google Manufacturer Center was designed to be a central repository for the product data that powers Google Shopping campaigns. Now, Google is using that data in knowledge panels in the US, including product features, images and descriptions. Earlier this month, Google began showing much more content in knowledge panels on mobile, including product features as shown in the example below.

Google Manufacturer Center is now available in more countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
With the launch of a new Manufacturer Center API, brands and third-party data partners can add, update and delete products without having to rely on manual feed uploads.
In addition to streamlining product

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Google showing knowledge graph data in local panels

Google has started showing more information about local businesses in some local knowledge panel results. It is implementing this by showing additional tabs of information above the local panel for (a) locations (b) about, and sometimes (c) Google Posts.
Here is a screen shot showing a search for [kfc] which brings up locations for nearby KFCs and an “about” tab for knowledge panel information about the chain.

Sergey Alakov, who first spotted this, said it “looks like Google started combining knowledge panels and local packs in mobile search results for businesses that have a knowledge panel displayed for their brand name search and local presence in the user’s area.”
I cannot consistently bring this up, so it might be Google is testing this feature still or it is currently still rolling out to searchers.
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Google adds new knowledge panel to provide information about news publishers

Google has announced a new knowledge graph card for news publishers in which searchers can learn more about a specific news publication directly in the search results.
Google said this will help searchers learn about “a publication you’re not familiar with or one you wanted to learn more about.” The knowledge panels also give searchers faster access to information about a publisher and can help Google address the misinformation and fake news issues it has been fighting for some time now.
The news publisher knowledge graph will show topics the publisher commonly covers, major awards the publisher has won and claims the publisher has made that have been reviewed by third parties.
Here is a screen shot of this feature from Google:

Google explains there is no way to directly control which publishers are able to surface the new knowledge graphs and what information is shown but offers these tips:
Like search results, many factors go into what’s shown in the Knowledge

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Google adds booking for spa and salon appointments from Search & Maps

Consumers across the US can now book appointments with salons and spas through Google.
Beauty is the second category of appointment bookings available through Google in the US. In December 2016, consumers in select cities could book fitness classes through the Reserve with Google site, as well as Google Search and Maps. That functionality rolled out to the entire US in March.
Users can select their appointment time, see pricing and submit their information to reserve a time. Those with Google Wallet enabled can also pay for services if supported.
Google first started testing booking appointments right from a business listing in Search in 2015. Merchants must have a Google My Business account and be working with one of the booking partners to be eligible for Reserve with Google. Google already partners with MINDBODY, Full Slate, Front Desk, Appointy, zingFit, Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale and Wellness Living and will be adding many more partners, including Booksy, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon and TimeTrade.
Fitness

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How to monitor Google Knowledge Graph changes and performance

Google’s Knowledge Graph is a very prominent part of organic search results. By now, searchers are accustomed to seeing the panel that appears on the right side of the search result page that provides information about entities such as people, places and brands.
Individuals and companies alike are striving to acquire, maintain and monitor a Knowledge Graph listing. At the moment, however, there is no easy way to report on Knowledge Graph performance and changes. In 2016, Google’s John Mueller did mention that links in Knowledge Graph panels would be counted in the Search Analytics report in Google Search Console. However, this still does not give us insight into the algorithmic aspect of Knowledge Graph rankings and changes.
Why monitor your Knowledge Graph result?
So you may be wondering why should you should care about changes to your personal or company Knowledge Graph result. Here are a couple of reasons.
You (or your business) may share a name with another entity, or maybe

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Google local knowledge panel testing promotion box

Google seems to be testing a new box in the local knowledge box panel that allows Google My Business owners to post deals and promotions below their core listing. This was spotted by Mike Blumenthal and you can see it yourself for a search on [theme park collection orlando fl].
Here is a screen shot that shows “latest from the owner” followed by a message about saving 10 percent, then with a “learn more” button that takes the searcher to driving directions on Google Maps.

This looks similar to the Google Posts feature Google launched a while back, but I doubt this is the same platform.
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Brand vs. local Knowledge Graph result: Which is better?

Since the expansion of Google’s Knowledge Graph, I’ve been getting tons of questions around different Knowledge Graph results. One of the most frequent questions I get from my clients and business owners is regarding which Knowledge Graph result is best to have: a general brand or local panel.
Before going into the answer for this question, here are some examples of what a brand and local Knowledge Graph panel look like.
Brand

Local

The answer to which is preferable is not as simple as you would think. It very much depends on the type of business and how it’s operated. For example, here are four scenarios where the ideal Knowledge Graph result would differ.

Online-only business
Business with a few locations
Business with a high volume of locations nationwide
A business that has one location but has a strong brand

Here is a breakdown of each of the scenarios above, and examples of their Knowledge Graph results.
Online-only business
A business that is strictly online-only would, of course, not

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Google knowledge panel now showing videos from the web carousel

Google is now showing videos in the knowledge panel. The videos are showing up below the knowledge panel and they are titled “videos from the web.” The videos are related to the knowledge panel information that is triggered based on your query.
This was first spotted by @sergey_alakov. Here is his screen shot:

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