Connect with us

GOOGLE

Google Shows Paywall Content in Featured Snippets

Published

on

A member of the search marketing community tweeted his surprise that Google ranked a paywalled web page in the featured snippets.  Google’s official description of featured snippets precludes content that cannot be clicked through to be read.

But other documentation states that paywalled content is acceptable for Google Search as well as Google News. In addition to requirements for structured data that is missing, it’s unclear if this featured snippet is a mistake or if Google meant to do that.

Screenshot of a tweet by @shendison

Scott Hendison (@shendison) tweeted his opinion that paywalled content does not belong in Google search results.

“I personally think paywalled content doesnt belong in @Google SERPs unless they’re marked, but I never realized they can even get featured snippets like this
@Salem_Statesman content.”

Screenshot of the featured snippet in Google's search result that contains a paywalled web page

This is a screenshot of the featured snippet that contains a paywalled web page that once clicked through does not display the content.

What is Paywalled Content?

Paywalled content is content that is available for the cost of a subscription. Only subscribers can read it.

Google shows paywalled content in Google News. The idea is that people who read the news will find value in subscribing to a newspaper to read the excellent content they are unable to see.

In Google’s Publisher Help Center Google has also said that paywalled content is allowed in Search and News.

So it appears that in fact, paywalled content is allowed to be shown in search. But there are rules that publishers are encouraged to follow.

What are the Rules for Paywalls?

According to Google, sites with Paywalls are encouraged to use structured data that indicates the content is paywalled.

Here is what Google’s official announcement from 2017 says of the structured data:

“Sites with paywalls are strongly encouraged to apply the new structured data to their pages, because without it, the paywall may be interpreted as a form of cloaking, and the pages would then be removed from search results.”

Google’s developer page for paywalled content and structured data says:

“This structured data helps Google differentiate paywalled content from the practice of cloaking, which violates our guidelines.”

Google recommends this section for the structured data that tells Google that a web page is behind a paywall:

“isAccessibleForFree”: “False”,
“hasPart”:
{
“@type”: “WebPageElement”,
“isAccessibleForFree”: “False”,
“cssSelector” : “.paywall”

That entire part of the code is “strongly encouraged” by Google to be in the structured data for paywalled content.

The news page that is ranking in Google’s featured snippets does not use the recommended structured data.

The structured data that is “strongly encouraged” is missing from the web page that is ranking in Google’s featured snippets. I visited the web page with  my browser set to emulate Googlebot and reviewed the structured data the web page shows to Google. The “isAccessibleForFree” part was missing.

Additionally, according to Google’s publisher center help page, the publisher must use a “Flexible Sampling model” which allows users to sample a news page. But that may not be happening.

I visited the web page and was immediately blocked, even though I’ve never visited the web page. I checked with different browsers and I received the same message telling me I did not have access to the page. I was not allowed to sample any page. I was blocked and solicited for money.

screenshot of a paywall

Here is what Google’s Publisher Help Center says:

“As a result of our learning, we decided to transition from our FCF program and its fixed, free-sampling requirement to a Flexible Sampling model. Publishers determine their own optimal rate of sampling based on their ongoing experience using free samples to attract new users and using the paywall to elicit user registration or subscription.”

According to Google’s 2017 announcement, web sites are strongly encouraged to use the structured data. But that does not explicitly say they required to. Nevertheless, the Google Developer page says that web pages that lack the structured data could be removed if they are perceived as “cloaking” which is the practice of showing one page to Google and a different page to users.

Are Paywalls Supposed to be In Featured Snippets?

According to Google’s Help Center page about how featured snippets work, featured snippets are meant to be read as well as clicked so that a user can read the web pages. Google does not make an exception for paywalled web pages.

Screenshot of Google's help page describing how featured snippets work

According to Google’s help page, a user is supposed to be able to click through the featured snippets and “read the page itself.”

A paywalled web page appears to be incompatible with featured snippets because a user cannot click through to read the web page.

Featured Snippets Issue is Complicated

  • Paywalled content is allowed in Google Search.
  • Paywalled content is does not conform with how featured snippets are supposed to work, by allowing users to click through and read the site.
  • Web pages with paywalled content are strongly encouraged to use structured data to tell Google their pages are paywalled.
  • But the paywalled web page in the featured snippets does not use the structured data, so that does that mean it’s presence is a mistake?

Lost in the confusion is the user experience. How do you feel about it? Should Google featured snippets allow paywalled content?

Searchenginejournal.com

GOOGLE

Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Published

on

Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Source link

Continue Reading

GOOGLE

5 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Search Strategy

Published

on

Student writing on computer

With the global economic downturn, inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, and uncertainty due to the Ukraine war, this year’s holiday shopping season promises to be very challenging. Will people be in the mood to spend despite the gloom? Or will they rein in their enthusiasm and save for the year ahead?

With these issues in mind, here are five considerations to support your search engine optimization strategy this holiday shopping season:

1. Start early.

Rising prices are likely to mean shoppers will start researching their holiday spending earlier than ever to nab the best bargains. Therefore, retailers must roll out their holiday product and category pages — and launch any promotions — sooner to ensure their pages get crawled and indexed by search engines in good time.

Some e-commerce stores manage to get their pages ranking early by updating and reusing the same section of the website for holiday content and promotions, rotating between content for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. This approach can help you retain the momentum, links and authority you build up with Google and get your holiday pages visible and ranking quickly.

2. Make research an even bigger priority.

With all the uncertainty this year, it’s vital to use SEO research to identify the trending seasonal keywords and search phrases in your retail vertical — and then optimize content accordingly.

With tools such as Google Trends you can extract helpful insights based on the types of searches people are making. For example, with many fashion retailers now charging for product returns, will prioritizing keywords such as “free returns” get more search traction? And with money being tighter, will consumers stick with brands they trust rather than anything new — meaning brand searches might be higher?

3. Make greater use of Google Shopping.

To get the most out of their holiday spending, consumers are more likely to turn to online marketplaces such as Google Shopping as they make it easier to compare products, features and prices, as well as to identify the best deals both online and in nearby stores.

Therefore, take a combined approach which includes listing in Google Shopping and at the same time optimizing product detail pages on your e-commerce site to ensure they’re unique and provide more value than competitors’ pages. Be precise with product names on Google Shopping (e.g., do the names contain the words people are searching for?); ensure you provide all the must-have information Google requires; and set a price that’s not too far from the competition. 

4. Give other search sources the attention they deserve.

Earlier this year Google itself acknowledged that consumers — especially younger consumers — are starting to use TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites for search. In fact, research suggests 11 percent of product searches now start on TikTok and 15 percent on Instagram. Younger consumers in particular are more engaged by visual content, which may explain why they’re embracing visually focused social sites for search. So, as part of your search strategy, create and share content on popular social media sites that your target customers visit.

Similarly, with people starting their shopping searches on marketplaces such as Amazon.com, optimizing any listings you have on the site should be part of your strategy. And thankfully, the better optimized your product detail pages are for Amazon (with unique, useful content), the better they will rank on Google as well!

5. Hold paid budget for late opportunities.

The greater uncertainty and volatility this holiday season mean you must keep a close eye on shopper behavior and be ready to embrace opportunities that emerge later on. Getting high organic rankings for late promotions is always more challenging, so hold some paid search budget back to help drive traffic to those pages — via Google Ads, for example. Important keywords to include in late season search ad campaigns include “delivery before Christmas” and “same-day-delivery.” For locally targeted search ads, consider “pick up any time before Christmas.”

The prospect of a tough, unpredictable holiday shopping season means search teams must roll out seasonal SEO plans early, closely track shoppers’ behavior, and be ready to adapt as things change.

Marcus Pentzek is chief SEO consultant at Searchmetrics, the global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions.

Source link

Continue Reading

GOOGLE

Google Home App Gets an Overhaul, Rolling Out Soon

Published

on

Google Home app

Google refreshes its Home app with a slew of new features after launching a new Nest gear. This makes it faster and easier to pair smart devices with Matter, adds customization and personalization options, an enhanced Nest camera experience, and better intercommunication between devices.

This revamped Home app utilizes Google’s Matter smart home standard – launching later this year – especially the Fast Pair functionality. On an Android phone, it will instantly recognize a Matter device and allow you to easily set it up, bypassing the current procedure that is often slow and difficult. Google is also updating its Nest speakers, displays, and routers – to control Matter devices better.

Google Home App New Features

  • Spaces: This feature allows you to control multiple devices in different rooms. Google has listed a few things by room: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc., although it’s pretty limited right now. Spaces let you organize devices how you see fit. For instance, you can set up a baby monitor in one room and set a different room’s camera to focus on an area the baby often plays. With Spaces, you can categorize these two devices into one Space category called ‘Baby.’

Google Home app Spaces

  • Favorites: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to make certain gears as a favorite that you frequently use. Doing so will bring those devices into the limelight within the Google Home app for easier access. 

Google Home app

  • Media: Google adds a new media widget at the bottom of your Home feed. This will automatically determine what media is playing in your home and provide you with the appropriate controls as and when needed. There will be song controls if you listen to music on your speakers. There will be television remote controls if you’re watching TV. 

Google probably won’t roll out this Home app makeover anytime soon. But you can try it for yourself in the coming week by enrolling in the public preview, available in select areas.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

en_USEnglish