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Google on Using CSS to Hide Internal Links

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Google’s John Mueller answered a question in a Google SEO Office Hours hangout about hidden internal links in the footer. He explained why it’s not a big deal in terms of getting penalized but that it’s more an issue of site improvement.

That’s a little surprising because hidden links have traditionally been seen as a big issue.

Hiding Links is Not Cloaking

The person asking the question appears to have misunderstood what the word cloaking meant as he used that word to describe internal links that were hidden by the use of CSS.

Typically this can be done with the CSS display property that can make an HTML element completely disappear from a web page and not affect the layout.

The display:none CSS declaration can be used to hide links anywhere on a web page.

Screenshot of Google’s John Mueller Discussing Hidden Links

Google's John Mueller discussing hidden links

The person asking the question was concerned about a new client who he said was cloaking links on the website.

The SEO related that he was surprised that the site was able to hide links in the footer for at least nine months without Google issuing a penalty for them.

His concern was that the client won’t be motivated to do anything about the hidden links since it’s been that way for so long and the site was not penalized.

He wanted clarification about the lack of penalization and whether this is something to fix right away.

Cloaking is Not the Same as Hiding an Internal Link

John Mueller asked the SEO what kind of cloaking was involved and the SEO shared that the client was hiding internal links in the footer with CSS.

Mueller correctly responded that hiding links is not cloaking.

Cloaking means showing one kind of content to Google (for ranking purposes) and a different version of the content for users.

The word cloaking denotes when the real content is hidden from Google, usually by the use of a script that detects when Googlebot visits and switches the content to something else. That’s cloaking.

So Mueller first clarified that what the SEO was dealing with was hidden internal links and not cloaking.

Google Theoretically Dislikes Hidden Links But…

Regarding the footer links hidden with CSS, Mueller expressed that it’s not necessarily something the Google web spam team would be concerned about.

Mueller said:

“I think that’s something that theoretically we don’t like that.

But I don’t see the web spam team taking action on that. Because especially when it comes to internal linking like that, it’s something that has quite a subtle effect within the website and you’re just essentially just shuffling things around within your own website.

I think it would be trickier if they were …buying links somewhere else and then hiding them.

That would be problematic, that might be something that our algorithms pick up on or that even the web spam team at some point might manually look at.”

Spam Team Won’t Take Action for Hidden Internal Links

Mueller explained why the Google web spam team probably wouldn’t take action against hidden internal links.

John Mueller:

“But if it’s within the same website, if it’s set to display none then …”

Mueller paused a moment to think then continued:

“I don’t think it’s a great practice. If you think it’s an important link then kind of like make it visible to people.

But it’s not going to be something where the web spam team is going to take action and remove the site or do anything crazy.”

Hidden Links Are an Opportunity to Improve the Site

In response to a follow up question John Mueller expanded on his answer to explain how he sees this as an opportunity to make the site better.

The person asking the question followed up to ask if Mueller was advising him to leave it as it is.

Mueller responded:

“Well I wouldn’t leave it as it is. I would see it as something to try to improve for the long run in the sense of like if you think this is an important link to an important page then it’s like… just be straightforward about it.

Because users are going to use it too or maybe if users don’t care about it maybe it isn’t actually an important link.

But I wouldn’t see it as something where I like drop everything, we need to fix this, this week kind of thing.”

Insights

The Value of Re-framing Question Around Site Visitors

John Mueller employed a nice trick for solving an SEO problem by reflecting on how it affects site visitors.

For example, if the links aren’t useful for site visitors on the web page then they’re probably not good for SEO purposes either.

Presumably the site owner is concerned that the links might affect web page conversions and that’s why the links are hidden so that users focus on completing a purchase.

From an SEO perspective that page is about selling a product so internal links to some other products might not be altogether relevant anyway for SEO purposes.

But if they are relevant to users then they may be relevant for SEO purposes.

Identifying whether something is good for SEO can often be solved by asking how it affects site visitors.

Google Not Overly Concerned About Hidden Internal Links?

The other interesting insight is that the web spam team is not overly concerned about internal hidden links

It appears to be more a matter of poor insight into what’s good for SEO than getting away with something at the expense of Google’s algorithm.

Citation

Hiding Internal Links with CSS

Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 17:09 minute mark:

Searchenginejournal.com

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Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

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A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


Source: https://www.pcmag.com/articles/google-translate-vs-chatgpt-which-is-the-best-language-translator

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GOOGLE

Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users

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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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GOOGLE

Google’s Next-Gen AI Chatbot, Gemini, Faces Delays: What to Expect When It Finally Launches

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Google AI Chatbot Gemini

In an unexpected turn of events, Google has chosen to postpone the much-anticipated debut of its revolutionary generative AI model, Gemini. Initially poised to make waves this week, the unveiling has now been rescheduled for early next year, specifically in January.

Gemini is set to redefine the landscape of conversational AI, representing Google’s most potent endeavor in this domain to date. Positioned as a multimodal AI chatbot, Gemini boasts the capability to process diverse data types. This includes a unique proficiency in comprehending and generating text, images, and various content formats, even going so far as to create an entire website based on a combination of sketches and written descriptions.

Originally, Google had planned an elaborate series of launch events spanning California, New York, and Washington. Regrettably, these events have been canceled due to concerns about Gemini’s responsiveness to non-English prompts. According to anonymous sources cited by The Information, Google’s Chief Executive, Sundar Pichai, personally decided to postpone the launch, acknowledging the importance of global support as a key feature of Gemini’s capabilities.

Gemini is expected to surpass the renowned ChatGPT, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, and preliminary private tests have shown promising results. Fueled by significantly enhanced computing power, Gemini has outperformed GPT-4, particularly in FLOPS (Floating Point Operations Per Second), owing to its access to a multitude of high-end AI accelerators through the Google Cloud platform.

SemiAnalysis, a research firm affiliated with Substack Inc., expressed in an August blog post that Gemini appears poised to “blow OpenAI’s model out of the water.” The extensive compute power at Google’s disposal has evidently contributed to Gemini’s superior performance.

Google’s Vice President and Manager of Bard and Google Assistant, Sissie Hsiao, offered insights into Gemini’s capabilities, citing examples like generating novel images in response to specific requests, such as illustrating the steps to ice a three-layer cake.

While Google’s current generative AI offering, Bard, has showcased noteworthy accomplishments, it has struggled to achieve the same level of consumer awareness as ChatGPT. Gemini, with its unparalleled capabilities, is expected to be a game-changer, demonstrating impressive multimodal functionalities never seen before.

During the initial announcement at Google’s I/O developer conference in May, the company emphasized Gemini’s multimodal prowess and its developer-friendly nature. An application programming interface (API) is under development, allowing developers to seamlessly integrate Gemini into third-party applications.

As the world awaits the delayed unveiling of Gemini, the stakes are high, with Google aiming to revolutionize the AI landscape and solidify its position as a leader in generative artificial intelligence. The postponed launch only adds to the anticipation surrounding Gemini’s eventual debut in the coming year.

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