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Google Search Central Unconference 2022: Quick Recap

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Mihai Aperghis (@mihaiaperghis), an SEO we reference here from time to time, is also a Google Product Expert and attended the Google Search Central Unconference the other week. He has written this blog post and I am posting it here as a super rare guest post on this site. Why? (1) Mihai rocks and (2) this site is about community and Product Experts are the essence of the Google community. I (Barry) personally was unable to attend due to a conflict. Note: Mihai did not ask for a link or a mention, but I added this so it is clear that he wrote this.

Google hosted the 2022 edition of the Search Central Virtual Unconference on April 27, making it the third global Google Unconference and fourth such event so far (counting the Japanese one that took place a few weeks earlier).

Quick Overview

For those unfamiliar with it, the Google Unconferences aim to provide discussion-focused sessions where participants (SEOs, developers, business owners, etc.) join online and share their experiences under a slightly more ‘informal’ structure, as opposed to traditional speaker events or even to Google office hours. The “facilitators” for each session (typically two people) have the sole responsibility of guiding discussions within the topic bounds, making sure all participants get heard and, since the sessions are not recorded, taking notes of the conversations that take place.

This year, the event was once again run by Martin Splitt, the Googler behind the Unconference idea, together with Cherry Sireetorn Prommawin from Google APAC.

Just as with editions from previous years (2021 and 2020), Product Experts such as myself were invited ahead of the event to propose session topics that they would then facilitate, should Martin and Cherry accept their proposals.

I won’t get into more details regarding the Unconference format, since I would probably just repeat what I covered in last year’s recap, so feel free to check that out if you’re curious.

One key difference for this year’s edition, however, was that the facilitator role was now open to everyone, thus allowing Product Experts to send the session proposal form to anyone they might see fit to moderate.

Sessions

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Since this year’s proposal form was opened to more people, the number of proposed sessions was likely much higher than in previous years. Martin and Cherry ultimately selected 25 of them, which were then voted by people who wanted to attend based on their topic of interest.

Also different from last year was the number of participants, which this time was limited to a maximum of about 14 people (as opposed to 20-25 people). This made it easier for more people to speak up during the 45 minute session, as well have an ice breaker or have everyone introduce themselves without taking too much time.

All 25 sessions were ultimately kept, given that there were at least 5-6 people interested in each one. As usual, the sessions were split into two 45-minute blocks, which meant people could only attend one session in each slot:

Session slot A:

  1. Tech SEO Q&A, all your questions answered.
  2. E-commerce SEO Challenges
  3. Making the best use of Search Intent Optimization (SIO)
  4. International SEO
  5. Schema: JSON Successes and Challenges
  6. Organic and Paid Growth Collaborations
  7. How can SEOs and Web developers work better together?
  8. Exploring Google Search Console APIs
  9. Video SEO – Best practices for optimizing videos on Google
  10. Let’s discuss spam and low quality results
  11. Let’s talk about Product review sites
  12. Webmaster & Podcaster
  13. Where do you find help?

Sessions slot B:

  1. SEO A/B split testing ideas
  2. Content: It’s All About Trust, Transparency and (Human) Typing
  3. Can Google See This? Rendering Q&A
  4. Core Web Vitals and how to approach it
  5. Project Management for Digital and SEO
  6. User Journey R&D Discussion
  7. Is Search Console working for you?
  8. Site Troubleshooting
  9. Google Business Profile: Myths and Guidance.
  10. Localization and its Peculiarities
  11. Working with Images on the Web
  12. A positive thing in 2022.. Unconference in Spanish!

There were also two conclusion blocks, one after each slot, in which facilitators presented the main conclusions for each session (thus being a good idea for one of the facilitators in each session to be taking notes). Everything was padded by a 15 minutes intro and a quick wrap-up at the end.

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If you’re curious about the full description for each session, you can find everything on the official event page.

The E-commerce SEO Challenges Session

Since people outside Google or the Product Experts program were able to join as facilitators, I decided to ask the wonderful Aleyda Solis to co-facilitate one of the sessions with me. Together we landed on a list of three potential topics, out of which the E-commerce SEO Challenges one was ultimately chosen and included in slot A.

Being such a popular topic, we managed to have a full room of outstanding people from highly diverse backgrounds. There were in-house SEOs, agency owners, webmasters and marketers, from highly experienced technical people to folks who only recently started learning the ropes.

With her vast experience running conversations on SEO topics, such as with the weekly #SEOFOMO Twitter chat, Aleyda skillfully guided the discussion around some of the popular E-commerce SEO issues, such as product variations and structured data, facets and navigation indexing, but also dealing with SEO implementation costs and getting buy-in from management or leadership people. I took the note-taking job this time, focusing on getting everyone’s opinion down in order to draft a few takeaways.

Since there will likely be an official Google blog post that will provide more details on each session’s conclusions, I won’t really delve into more details here.

What I can say though is that it was an excellent session. Almost everyone that joined had a story, a perspective or an opinion they wanted to share, which made for a really pleasant conversation.

After the session timer ran out, everybody was moved back to the main room to listen to all of the slot A session conclusions, where I was happy to present our own.

Slot B and Wrap Up

Since I had no session to facilitate in slot B, I happily chose to attend the Working with Images on the Web one, which was masterfully moderated by Roxana Stingu and Olesia Korobka.

The topics discussed ranged from image indexing and meta data, to AI, MUM and other cutting-edge info that I was completely unaware of up until then (seems it’s harder to keep up with everything in SEO nowadays!).

After the session ended, facilitators from all slot B sessions presented their takeaways, after which we bidded farewell to everyone and called it an evening (or morning, or night, depending on where everyone was joining from).

All in all, I’m really happy for how the event turned out and very grateful to Martin and the Google team for giving SEO enthusiasts the opportunity to facilitate sessions. If you haven’t joined any of the Unconference events so far, I highly recommend you keep an eye out for the next one. Something tells me there will be (hopefully many) more editions coming soon.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: www.seroundtable.com

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Google Search Bard, It’s ChatGPT Feature, To Trusted Testers

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Google Bard Butler Graphic

Well, we knew it was coming and here it is, Bard – Google’s answer to ChatGPT. Google is now having its trusted testers test out Bard and will soon roll it out more widely to users in Google Search and others products in the coming weeks, Google announced. It is not called Apprectice Bard but rather Bard.

I covered this when the news broke at Search Engine Land and as I pointed out, right now, Google does not have an answer for how to attribute or link to answers Bard generates – yet. But I do suspect Google will have some answer for it. I also mentioned that Google has been writing knowledge panels using AI and other methods since 2018 and said then it is not stealing. So it will be interesting to see what Google ends up doing here.

Bard is Google’s experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA, where Google can answer questions that might not have one right answer. Google said they will roll this out more widely in the coming weeks but for now, only trusted testers (who is outsourced to a third-party company) will be able to play with it.

Google said, “Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner. These new AI features will begin rolling out on Google Search soon.”

Here is a screenshot they shared of how it might look in Google Search:

Google Bard in Google Search

This is how it might look like in Google Search (without the attribution part…).

This is the Bard direct interface, not in search:

Google Bard GIF

I am super excited to see how this evolves at Google, Bing and others.

It is not too far off from the leaks of the Bing ChatGPT interface.

Here is Sundar Pichai’s tweets:

Here is some of the SEO community reaction:

Also, make sure to check out the roundup at Techmeme.

Forum discussion at Twitter, WebmasterWorld.



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Most SEOs Think Yahoo Won’t Be Able To Compete In Search

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Yahoo 404 Baseball Sign

As you know, Yahoo is planning a come back to search with a new way of thinking about Yahoo Search. What that means, we don’t know yet, but we do know Yahoo is thinking hard about how they can compete. Greg Sterling ran a Twitter poll asking if Yahoo has a shot at it, and most say, nope – Yahoo Search is dead on arrival.

The poll on Twitter asked, “Yahoo is planning to “relaunch” search. Is there a chance to revive it?” It received a nice number of responses, 631 responses. The results were not too optimistic.

  • 43.7% said nope, dead on arrival
  • 26.6% said depends on the UI/UX
  • 29.6% said yes, now is the time

Here is that poll:

Personally, I think Yahoo has a good shot at it, better than most other companies. But time will tell and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Yahoo Search comes out with.

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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Google Clarifies JSON-LD, Microdata & RDFa Are All Supported For Structured Data

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Google Schema

Google has clarified in its search developer documents that JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa are all fully supported forms for structured data and Google Search. Google wrote, “all three supported formats are equally fine for Google, as long as they are valid and implemented properly per the feature’s documentation.”

The old paragraph in the documentation read:

Google Search supports structured data in the following formats, unless documented otherwise:

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The new paragraph in the documentation now reads:

Google Search supports structured data in the following formats, unless documented otherwise. In general, we recommend using a format that’s easiest for you to implement and maintain (in most cases, that’s JSON-LD); all 3 formats are equally fine for Google, as long as the markup is valid and properly implemented per the feature’s documentation.

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This was updated because Google’s Ryan Levering spotted the embedded tweet below, that shows there is confusion on which Google may or may not prefer. Ryan said, “We might need to tweak the wording for Google’s main structured data page.”

He said that Google “primarily recommend JSON-LD because sites screw up Microdata a lot more than they do JSON-LD because it’s embedded. We don’t have some secret plans to remove support for Microdata. Particularly for schema that is either very annotation/text heavy or very simple (so you don’t need to do meta tag gymnastics), Microdata can make more sense.”

So Lizzi Sassman updated the docs to reflect this.

Forum discussion at Mastodon.



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