Links from the show:
- Much better GPS chips are coming in 2018
- You can now “snooze” instead of “unfollow” people on Facebook
- ProsperWorks raises another $53M in funding
- Twitter is testing a 280 character limit
- Material design and some new features coming to Gmail on the web
- 57% of smart speaker owners have bought something with their voice
- You can export index coverage report in Google Search Console beta
- Does Google check for spam patterns between Search Console accounts?
- When migrating to HTTPS, do the whole site at once
- Google is now the default search provider on more Apple products
- Google still supports PubSubHubbub, now known as WebSub
- No, Google doesn’t rank m-dot domains higher than responsive sites
- How Google determines what a “low quality” site is
- Google is now serving more AMP content in the mobile search results
- Google Photos directly integrated with WordPress
- Related, a new gallery widget is coming
- Try a Chromebook. My thoughts from 2010, 2015 and 2016.
In May of 2000, President Bill Clinton issued an order for the US military to stop scrambling GPS signals so that citizens could begin to make use of that technology. As all of you know, having GPS available to everyone has been an amazing thing. What you may not know, however, is it’s going to get a whole lot better in 2018.
Before we get into that, though, I’m Mickey Mellen and this is A Brighter Web episode number 19, brought to you by all of us GreenMellen. Our goal of this podcast is to give you quick weekly insights for news, products, and ideas, so we can all make the web a brighter place to be. These might be actual web tips talking about strategy, search engines, WordPress, plugins, and UX, or might be productivity ideas to help you get more done and free up your time to do great things. We also want to thank your sponsor, clickhost.com. ClickHOST provides top web posting at prices as low as $5 a month. Visit clickhost.com/abw for an exclusive 20 percent off discount for listeners for A Brighter Web.
Today we’ll talk more about improved GPS coming soon, snoozing in Facebook and Gmail, Twitter doubling your post limits, and lots of news from Google. Let’s begin.
As we mentioned at the top of the show, a new GPS chip is coming in 2018 that’s going be a whole lot better for your mobile devises. This new chip from Broadcom will be much more accurate and will use roughly 50 percent less battery power. Current chips in your phones are accurate to within about five meters, which is pretty good. But the new chips will be accurate within about 30 centimeters, so about a foot. This new technology should also perform much better in urban areas with tall buildings and other concrete structures where today’s GPS often has trouble. No word on what phone will be the first to have it, but much of 2018’s lineup should include the new chip.
Facebook has a new feature in testing right now that could be very valuable, called snoozing. And it’s what you think it is. Rather than unfollow or unfriend a person, you can now snooze a page, person, or group, for either 24 hours, seven days, or 30 days. So for example, if someone’s on vacation, and you’re tired of seeing their pictures, just snooze them for a week and their stuff won’t come up anymore but you don’t have to unfollow or remember to re-follow later. Could be a nice little update. Again, it’s in testing now but I suspect that’s the kind of thing that’ll roll out eventually to everyone. So we’ll keep an eye on that.
ProsperWorks just raised another 53 million dollars in funding, but we don’t use it currently at GreenMellen. We’ve used the ProsperWorks CRM in the past to help manage our client relationships, and it’s a great tool. They’ve just announced they’ve raised a 53 million dollar series C round of funding, which will be used to double their engineering team. ProsperWorks is a great product and this product helps ensure they won’t be going away anytime soon. If you’re looking for good CRM, they’re certainly one you should be checking out.
Twitter is testing a 280 character limit. Right now, as most of you probably know, you’re limited to 140 characters on Twitter. And they’re looking to double that. Some people love the idea, some people hate it, but it looks likely it’s going to go through. Their internal stats have shown that people tweet much more frequently in languages where twice the information can be conveyed in a single tweet, such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. So they’re thinking to roll that out to the rest of the world in the hopes if increasing tweet rates. The original limit was put in place based on the limitations of SMS, which really doesn’t apply anymore, so they’ve been rethinking what would make the most sense. Now this isn’t a sure thing to happen but seems quite likely given that it’s not sure though, there’s no idea and time table when it might roll out. I suspect we’ll see it out to everyone probably before the end of the year, but we’ll keep an eye on that and see what Twitter decides to do.
Google’s adding some pretty cool new features to Gmail on the web pretty soon. They have a new material design looking coming soon, matching updates we’ve seen on other services. They also have a few new features they’re pulling over from Google Inbox, including Smart Reply, Smart Groupings, and Snoozing. Of everything they’ve announced, the snoozing is my favorite. I sometimes switch back over to Google Inbox for a little while simply for the snoozing features is has, where when an email comes in, you can make it disappear from your inbox for a set period of time and come back up when you want. For example, last week while I was out of town, I switched to Inbox on my phone so during the day I could quickly deal with emails and push them off to next week and today it’s going to be killer for me because I have a lot of emails I pushed off to this morning. Having this built directly into Gmail is going to be awesome. Really no time frame on when we can expect any of this though. I would guess we’re probably a few months away still.
A survey from NPR and Edison Research found that 57 percent of smart speaker owners, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, have ordered something using the device. In addition, 65 percent of smart speaker owners said they would not want to go back to their lives before getting one of these devices. And 42 percent said they were now essential to daily life. The bottom line here is smart speakers aren’t going anywhere.
Lot of little things came out about Google in the past week, so let’s dig into some of those. The first is in the beta version of Google Search Console, their index coverage report now has the ability to export the content from that report. You pull that into Excel, to dig deeper into your stats. It’s a handy report to have anyhow and being able to export will let you dig even deeper if those numbers interest you.
Also, related to Search Console, someone asked if Google checks for spam patterns between search console accounts that are linked together. You know in your Google Search Console, you can add a bunch of different sites that you manage all in one place, and people are wondering if Google looks at that and says, hey this person owns all these sites, is there any weird patterns between them? In particular, a question asked of Google’s John Mueller was, “we have five properties in our Google search console account. If one of them gets penalized, will the others also face some issues?” John’s response was, “if they’re five, random, unconnected sites, and they don’t show the same kinds of issues, then no.”
Now he could have just said no, but he worded it very carefully. This isn’t something most of us have to worry about since we play by the rules, but its interesting to think that Google might look at an array of sites across a Google Search Console account to see if they’re all doing something similarly suspicious. And John didn’t rule it out completely, so keep an eye on that.
Another piece of news from Google’s John Mueller is his suggestion on what to do if you’re moving from a standard site to an https site. And they say, just move it all at once. In particular he says, “in general, what I would do with a move to https is just move everything at once. We do try to recognize site moves like this where you’re moving a bigger part of your website to a new setup. We try to process that a little faster and it helps us to really know the whole website is actually moved. So if you’re doing this in steps, what generally happens is it takes a lot longer, and there’s a bit more room for error because we might miss something, we might assume you’re only moving part of the website, and the next month the next part comes. How and where do we combine these things? My recommendation would be to bite the bullet and just do that change completely.”
So, coming from Google, they’re saying if you’re going to switch to https, you should do it all at once. And really, most plugins and setups make it easier to do it all at once, anyhow. So no reason not to do that in most cases.
We’ve talked before about how Google is the default search provider on certain Apple products, and they’ve actually just become the default provider on more products. They were already the default search on much of the iPhone, and now they’re the default for Siri results, for iOS search, and for Spotlight search on macOS. Apple says this is for the sake of consistency so that people get the same kind of results across all devices, which I certainly can see. But it also seems that Google’s probably paying more for this privilege as well and it benefits both companies to do that.
Someone asked Google about their current support for PubSubHubbub, and John Mueller confirmed that they still support it. It’s now known as WebSub, formerly known as PubSubHubbub. And this is a protocol to help you quickly notify Google of changes to your site. Google’s crawling speed aided by XML site maps is pretty much made this a non issue. It was a great technology a decade ago, not used as much anymore. But interesting to know they still support it if it’s something you use, and it’s one more way to Google about updates to your site so they get those changes done instantly rather than hoping they’ll come along and find it in the coming hours or days.
Another question recently asked of Google is whether they give some kind of special privilege to m-dot domains rather than their sponsor sites. These are sites that have their desktop site at domain.com and then their mobile site at m.domain.com. John Mueller confirmed that no boost exists by saying, “we’re not special casing them. Sometimes they rank well, sometimes they don’t.” In general, a mobile responsive site is probably going to help you rank better. Not magically because it’s responsive because Google doesn’t just give you a magic boost for that, but by virtue of what it means with identical content across different devices. So, no worries that Google’s giving special treatment to any of those. Your best bet probably is to keep your site mobile responsive. You should do pretty well.
Much has been made this year about making sure you don’t have a “low quality website”. And Google Search Quality Guidelines help outline what those kind of sites look like. In an article from Search Engine Journal lays this out, and a few of the notes in there they have are, one, you should avoid excessive and unnatural internal structural links. This is where you see sites that have lots of links on the sidebars, in footers of their site, you know, tons of links to other areas of the site. You should really use those with caution a bit. They warn against over-monetization of content. This is largely what the Fred update addresses, ads everywhere on the site, there’s not going to be good for Google. Related ads and affiliate links. Users shouldn’t have to scroll past affiliated links and ads or interact with intrusive overlays before they get to the main content.
Google wants sites where when they come to the result, they have the content they’re looking for is pretty easy to find right away. Google also looks at financial transaction pages. Anything that allows the user to purchase an item or add to cart, should have other standard e-commerce hygiene pages on there as well, such as refund and return policies, delivery information, terms and conditions, those sorts of things. There’s a lot more to it than that, those are some of the big ones. And we have a link to that full article on Search Engine Journal in our show notes.
In the past week or so, Google started serving a lot more AMP content in the mobile search results. According to the folks at RankRanger, their tracking tool’s showing a pretty big spike in how often AMP pages show up in the mobile search result. In the US, they’re up about 17 percent. In other countries they’re seeing similar jumps. As we’ve said before, you can argue about the effectiveness of AMP pages, but Google is certainly showing them increasingly often, and you’d be foolish to ignore them completely.
Google Photos is not directly integrated with WordPress. When adding media on wordpress.com you can now pull directly from your Google Photos account, which is very handy. Note that this only works on wordpress.com. This includes self-hosted sites, like many of you have, but only if you have Jetpack enabled, which most of you do, and you edit your site through the wordpress.com interface, which most of you do not. So hopefully this will land directly in self hosted sites eventually but it’s not been promised and that could be a while off. But in any case, you can still go to wordpress.com and work with your site and have that direct connection to Google Photos if that’s something you often use when working on your posts.
Related to that, a new gallery widgets coming in WordPress 4.9. So, in WordPress 4.8 that came out, they added media widgets for images, video, and audio. And in WordPress 4.9 you’ll be able to add photo gallery widgets. This will be fairly useless in its initial state. You know, who wants to add a photo gallery just to a little side bar widget area? But really it’s intended for use with the Gutenberg editor, which is coming out later in the year. So you’ll very easy to drop a photo gallery into a Gutenberg powered page. So, it’s a little messy for now, but as that new editor comes out with things like this, it should be a pretty good combination. You’ll have some awesome editing powers around the turn of the year when all of this stuff gets released.
And lastly, for our tip of the week, which we’ve talked about a little bit before, but try a Chromebook. So I was at Disney all of last week working minimally, and the only actual computer I touched the entire week was a Chromebook. I had a Windows machine I brought in case of emergency, but really the only thing I could possibly need it for is FTP. Literally everything else is in the Chromebook. I was able to take care of a lot of email, stay on top of things a bit, so this week won’t be too bad trying to catch up.
If you’re a designer, the lack of Adobe’s creative cloud could be tough, but for most of us, it works great. I was just catching up on email and Feedly and Slack and Asana, and they all worked awesome in there and made it great to keep up with everything. I encourage you to give it a try.
And that’s all we have for this week. You can find me on Twitter at @MickMel (m-i-c-k-m-e-l), or learn lots more at greenmellenmedia.com. You can find more about the podcast, including show notes and links, as well as video tutorials, and many other resources over at abrighterweb.com.
If you’re in the Atlanta area, come check out our Meetup, held three times each month. If you’re not in the Atlanta area, we post recaps on the site soon after each Meetup. Either way, you can learn more about that at abrighterweb.com/meetup. Thanks for listening.