This October, Google’s biggest update in probably 5 years – BERT, along with other core algorithm updates, stole the limelight. “Context” & “Accessibility” was the theme for October as Google released a few game changing updates to improve search, privacy and usability tools for retailers’, users, etc. Here’s our round-up of Google’s October Updates:
Google applies BERT to search algorithm to power context-based results
BERT is basically Google’s quest to fine tune natural language processing (NLP). In other words, search engine queries can now be conversational. Google will not just pick keywords of a query to deliver a result, rather, by applying BERT it will understand the context of the sequence of words and then deliver the result.
To pinpoint on how BERT will make a difference when it comes to search results, we’ll show you an example that Google displayed on their blog – before and after applying BERT to search.
The above question of “2019 brazil traveller to USA need a visa” basically meant that a Brazilian wished to travel to the USA and was enquiring about the need for a VISA and the VISA process. The search engine picked up the keywords “USA” and “VISA” of the query, ignored the preposition “to” and displayed a result of how Americans can travel to Brazil without the need of a visa – contrary to the search intent. However, following the BERT update, the search result was a lot more accurate as the context of the query was understood and it displayed a link of the US Embassy in Brazil.
Long story short, BERT will be a huge stepping-stone for Google to improve search almost to the fluency of human interactions.
Google rolls out ‘Search by Photo’ feature
While this feature does not have a fixed spot on SERPs, it has been found for select verticals below the local pack and organic results. ‘Search by photo’ is a new feature that Google has been talking about since September and it will give users another option of discovering new places. On the photo is displayed the rating of the service, distance from the user, and by clicking on the photo, the user will be redirected to the GMB profile of the business.
Google announces that it will not index and rank Adobe Flash pages
While this might not affect too many websites, Google has announced that they will stop indexing and ranking website that have Flash Content or Flash SWF files. The decision will be effective from December 2020.
Google Chrome to block mixed content
Google have announced that their Chrome browser will block mixed content in the future. Mixed content is basically when a secure website has links, scripts, styles or images from an unsecured website. Users can choose to ‘turn off’ the automatic block of mixed content by Chrome for now, but the option will be removed by Google early next year.
Web accessibility updates:
Image Descriptions from Google
While screen readers have created some sort of autonomy for those who are visually impaired as it describes videos, photos, text, etc., screen readers rely heavily on the descriptions of web authors or developers. Millions of websites do not have this ‘alt text’ that can be utilized by screen readers which would be unusable for those who are visually impaired. To bridge the gap, Google has rolled out the Image Descriptions. Using artificial intelligence, the image description by Google reads out the description of anything on the web that does not have an ‘alt text’ or descriptions. 10 million descriptions are added every day, and for now, the feature is limited to English.
Voice guidance on Google Maps
To help those visually impaired get around freely, Google has rolled out the voice guidance feature on Google Maps. The voice guidance will verbally guide the user from point A to point B, describe the route and direction needed to be taken, caution the user when he/she is reaching an intersection, and re-route the user if he/she goes off track.
Google rolls out Incognito mode for Google Maps
To promote trust with users, Google has rolled out the Incognito mode for Google Maps for users that are signed in. By choosing the Incognito mode, data of the searches and location history will not be saved for personalization.
Delete voice history for privacy
Users can choose to delete their voice history just by asking their Google Assistant to do so. However, one can ask the voice assistant to delete the history over a week, and more than a week will have to be done manually.
Manage Ad frequency
To respect the privacy of users, Google is rolling out the Display & Video 360 feature that will manage the frequency of Ads shown to the user by advertisers even when there are no third-party cookies.
Google Shopping Updates:
User experience upgrades for Google Shopping
Apart from the new design, users can now track the price of a particular product and will receive notifications when the price of the product dips. In addition, users can use filters to peek into local inventories and shops to find a product they wish for and can also choose to shop on Google Shopping with a seamless checkout facility warranty.
Cart metrics for retailers
Retailers running Google Ad shopping campaigns can use ‘Cart Metrics’ to assess which products are profitable for them and which are not over the course of the shopping campaign. The Cart Metric report will also display which product got the most clicks, drove sales and products that have underperformed.
Google Search Console Update
Google adds the Change of Address tool
Website owners who have shifted their website from one domain to another can now make use of Change of Address tool on the Google Search Console to let Google know that the website domain has been shifted.
When Google announced that they would be applying BERT to the search algorithm, experts across the globe said that the key approach would be to optimize website content to suit humans rather than search engines, emphasizing that Google is taking a massive leap towards being user centric. And, perhaps that’s also the reason why Google has emphasized on web accessibility this month. While brands worldwide are debating on how they should react to all these big changes, Milestone Inc’s customers need not worry.
We at Milestone track the latest trends and continue to implement the best practices. To know how we can help you stay ahead contact us at [email protected] OR call us at +1 408 200 2211