Auditing customer reviews for organic traffic growth without losing speed or attracting penalties

User-generated content on product or service pages can be key to driving conversions and a fantastic way to add unique content to a page.  
If you don’t have the resources to write good content yourself, user-generated content can be especially helpful. However, if your customer review content isn’t optimized for search engines, it can work against you and delay or obstruct your marketing efforts instead of driving more business.
Below are four common issues (and a bonus) I have come across when auditing retailer product pages and the workarounds I’ve used for each.  
1. Page speed
This is a much-discussed subject, and as of late, it is a mobile search ranking factor coming July 2018. It is key to sync with your web developers on the optimal page load speed, as images, related products and content will impact load times for this critical part of the purchase funnel.
Customer review content is best when optimized for both Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

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Law firm that used contest to solicit Google reviews sees all but one disappear

Reviews are an essential part of doing business online. They heavily influence consumer buying and local rankings. But as Joy Hawkins points out, using rewards or other incentives to help generate them is a bad idea.
A law firm in Louisville, Kentucky, Winton & Hiestand Law Group, had the vast majority of its reviews on Google removed after it was discovered that the firm was incentivizing people to review the business with contests and giveaways.
The firm had roughly 100 reviews on Google before the matter was reported in Google My Business forums. As of this moment, the firm has a single review on Google (albeit five stars). The firm was giving out family zoo passes as the incentive in this case.

On Facebook, the firm has 1,000 five-star reviews. It may well be that a high percentage of these are the byproduct of contests and incentives. Google previously stated this policy against using financial incentives to generate reviews:
Don’t offer or accept

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Making your first AMP Story: Google’s answer to Snapchat and Instagram

Among the many exciting announcements during AMP Conf 2018 in Amsterdam was the introduction of AMP Stories, a new format similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, implemented via a new accelerated mobile pages (AMP) component.
Unlike Snapchat and Instagram Stories, which are features within their own respective platforms, AMP Stories are going to be found in a mobile Google search engine results page (SERP). As with the rest of the AMP Project, other platforms are to leverage the format as well. These provide users with a highly engaging slideshow experience with rich media features such as video, audio, pictures and text in a format that mobile users have been known to love.
Here’s a one-minute video introducing the accelerated mobile pages (AMP) story format:

Excited yet? I am, but alas, it hasn’t rolled out to the public as of this writing. The amp-story component is still in “experimental” and development mode, and it must be enabled for the user within the AMP

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Enterprise SEO and cross-channel performance: Activation and integration

In 2018, more and more enterprise brands are beginning to build their marketing technology stacks.
In parallel, over the last year, we have witnessed the convergence of content and search engine optimization (SEO).
Intelligent marketers are utilizing these trends and building integrated marketing frameworks to provide marketing benefits far beyond the organic channel. Early adopters of these smart SEO and content frameworks are successfully implementing optimized content in paid search, email and social media campaigns and utilizing SEO insights to drive cross-channel performance.
Many enterprise brands still struggle to make their regular content highly visible in organic listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). The core challenge of marketers today is something I like to call “content congestion” — the deluge of articles, blog posts, social posts, emails, videos, glossaries and other types of content vying for customers’ attention online.
Building intelligent and smart content frameworks provides something akin to a fast lane: It packs SEO and mobile-friendliness best practices into

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Google Image Search removes View Image button and Search by Image feature

Google has removed the View Image button and the Search by Image feature when viewing an individual image within Google Image Search. Google announced this change on Twitter, saying:
Today we’re launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the webpages they’re on.
The Search by Image button is also being removed. Reverse image search *still works* through the way most people use it, from the search bar of Google Images.
This seems to be in direct response to the concession Google made with Getty Images a few days ago around helping reduce copyright infringement through the popular search engine.
Here is how the feature looked before the change:

Here is what it will look like when this fully rolls out:

Also, notice how the “copyright” disclaimer is more visible within the search results.
Here is Google’s tweet:

Today

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Monitoring web migrations: A checklist for moving from one site to another

Whether it is a website rebranding, a consolidation of different web properties or an HTTP to HTTPs migration, when you are implementing a structural web change, it is critical to monitor the crawling, indexing, rankings, traffic and organic search conversions on both the old and new web locations. Careful tracking will enable you to fix any potential problem as they arise.
Besides establishing a relevant strategy to follow that include search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, here are the most important areas and steps to monitor during the web migration stages.  Be ready to identify any issues that could cause a negative impact, while also identifying opportunities.
Getting started
Start tracking your organic search visibility on the old and new web locations at least a couple of months before the migration takes place.  This will make it easier to identify any unexpected and inconsistent behavior when the change happens.

Old vs. new web crawling
Let’s start with the most fundamental aspects to

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Google, Getty Images enter a multi-year global licensing partnership

Late last week, Google parent Alphabet and Getty Images announced a sweeping partnership that effectively ends a long-standing copyright and antitrust dispute between Getty and Google, which was filed in early 2016.
The newly announced deal was characterized by Getty as “a multi-year global licensing partnership, enabling Google to use Getty Images’ content within its various products and services.” As part of that deal, Google will be using Getty images across many of its “products and services.”
Another change, according to The Verge, is that Google will make copyright attribution and disclaimers more prominent in image search results and will remove view links to stand-alone URLs for Getty photographs.
Getty’s complaint against Google alleged traffic and revenue losses to its customers’ sites because users could see (and potentially copy) images directly from Google Image Search results. Getty claimed that the ability to save and download images promoted copyright infringement and “piracy.” Getty is not the only party to have made

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Google now wants larger images for AMP articles

Google has updated its article schema document for AMP articles to require larger images in your markup. Previously, the minimum requirement for your image sizes was 696 pixels wide and 300,000 pixels in total, but now it is 1,200 pixels wide and 800,000 pixels in total.
This is specific to the markup you use for your AMP articles so that they can appear in the Google search results top stories carousel. If you are currently serving content and getting traffic from that carousel, you may want to make sure your images meet these new requirements.
Here is a screen shot of the old requirements from the Articles schema developer document:

Here is a screen shot of the new requirements that are live now:

Hat tip to Aaron Bradley for spotting this.
The post Google now wants larger images for AMP articles appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google adds new SEO Audit category to Chrome’s Lighthouse extension

Webmasters, web developers and SEOs are getting a new feature in the widely used website auditing tool Lighthouse. Google announced today the addition of an “SEO Audits” category to the Chrome extension. You can access the new audit category via the “Options” button in the extension.
By no means a replacement for a comprehensive SEO audit, the new feature does provide feedback on basic/fundamental SEO best practices, returning a report that checks for:

Descriptive anchor text.
Titles, description.
If the page can be crawled by Google.
HTTP status code.
Valid hreflang and rel=canonical tags.
UX — legible font sizes, plugins.
… and makes recommendations for additional reports.

From a sample report I ran against Starbucks.com:
SEO Audit Report from Lighthouse Extension
According to the post, they’ll be adding more features to the SEO audit, and they are actively soliciting user feedback in the Github project and webmaster forum.
The post Google adds new SEO Audit category to Chrome’s Lighthouse extension appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google’s Page Speed Update does not impact indexing

Google’s Page Speed Update won’t impact how Google indexes your mobile or desktop content; it will only affect how the mobile pages are ranked in the Google mobile search results. To be clear, indexing and ranking are two separate things, as Google explains clearly in the How Search Works portal.
We are covering this again because there appears to be some confusion around the Page Speed Update and whether it will impact indexing. Both John Mueller and Gary Illyes of Google chimed in to explain that this specific algorithm will have no impact on indexing.
Here are those tweets:

The mobile speed update affects only ranking in mobile search results; it’s independent of the indexing.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) January 31, 2018

Why would indexing be related to speed? (I’m kinda confused how this was connected, wonder if we need to update something on our side to make it clearer)
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) January 31, 2018

Slow pages can get into the index.

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