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A COVID-19 cornucopia, Google’s secrets and online reading patterns: What we read this week (4/10)

Another week, another round of COVID-19 news. The pandemic still dominates headlines across News Dashboard customers. Now, however, headlines seem to be moving away from the incremental updates of the virus’ spread toward look-backs, explainers and social safety net stories.

Search Engine Optimization remains an important tool to make sure ALL of those stories reach an audience. Below are five SEO stories that caught our eye this week.

Google Searches and COVID-19 Outbreaks

It’s fair to say that Google knows more about us than our colleagues, family members or spouses. And, now, maybe our doctor. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are,” wrote a length piece in the “New York Times” examining the correlation between symptom searches (via Google trends) and possible outbreaks of COVID-19 across the world.

We embedded one example below.

Read his full column and where he thinks another outbreak is brewing here.

Google Provides Clarity on Latest COVID-19 SERP Changes

The News Dashboard discovered last week that Google was favoring local news and government sources over international news sources for coronavirus coverage. On April 6, Google detailed the new COVID-19 experience on Google News. In the post, Google confirmed it was surfacing local news more often. Google also highlighted several other features it added to, and changed, within the SERPs (including Google Assistant) to help keep its users informed.

From a news SEO perspective, it’s been interesting to watch Google quickly modify its platforms to put legitimate and fact-based information to the forefront. What will happen once the pandemic dies down? Your guess is as good as ours.

Fact Checks and Schema: What News Orgs Should Know

Oh, the dreaded markup. Fact checks are prominently featured on Google News desktop as well as in Google Search. With so much bad info floating about related to COVID-19, now is probably a good time to make sure your schema markup is correct. John E. Lincoln over at Search Engine Land posted this handy guide on fact check markup. Check it out!

Will Google Reveal Its Search Secrets?

Google’s search algorithm has been a black box, well, forever. This forces SEOs to experiment and make educated guesses as to what exactly Google wants from us in terms of optimization. But, a long-running lawsuit in the UK may force the search giant to finally reveal its secret recipe…to a very small group.

People Scan Online. Not Much Has Changed in 23 Years.

The Nielsen Norman Group recently published the 2nd edition of their “How People Read Online report.” What are the findings? Well, people still scan even though web design have changed a lot since its last report.

What’s most interesting to us is their eye-scan analysis of SERPs. Because SERPs have many more features than they used, users now scan the pages less linearly than they used to in what the Norman Group describes as a “pinball pattern.”

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