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Google ‘people cards,’ a paywalled content alert app and what a world without cookies could look like (8/14)

Without further ado, take a look at the SEO news, tips and intriguing tidbits we read this week.

‘People cards’ appear on SERPs (in India)

People in India now have access to public search profile cards (known as “People Cards”) on Google SERP, the company said on Tuesday.

The module gives non-public figure or celebrity folks to have a chance to show up on the SERP when someone Google’s their name.

Google describes the new feature as “… like a virtual visiting card, where you can highlight your existing website or social profiles you want people to visit, plus other information about yourself that you want others to know.”

Google doesn’t mention if or when the feature will roll out to U.S. users.

Our thoughts: We like Google’s intent here, but we can’t help but wonder if it’s yet another feature that will take up valuable real estate for publishers on the SERP.

Mythbusting Canonicalization

In this episode of Google Webmasters’ SEO Mythbusting, Martin Splitt, developer advocate at Google, and Rachel Costello, a technical SEO consultant for Builtvisible, break down some of the misconceptions surrounding canonicalization.

Check it out:

Labeling subscription content from the SERPs?

Casual news readers may grumble when they click a headline on Google and are taken to paywalled content. But that’s the way it’s always been. And so far Google has seemingly been uninterested in labeling subscription-only content.

Dan Petrovic, managing director of DEJAN Marketing, took matters into his own hands. His team built a Chrome extension that lets users label paywalled publishers right on the SERP. The labels are only user-facing however and are not shared with others.

Our thoughts: It’s a fun experiment. However, the app’s function is far too specific to truly be useful. Labeling premium or paywalled content on the SERP would make for a better user experience. But if it’s labeled premium, we’d argue that users should be able to purchase that content directly within the SERP. Publishers might see some subscription growth if that were the case.

Could the end of cookies actually help publishers?

Context: In early January Google announced its Chrome browser would stop supporting third-party cookies over the next two years. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers already block them.

Third-party cookies are a cornerstone of digital advertising. As the era of cookies comes to an end, much has been written about what affect this new, upcoming paradigm may have on advertisers and, by extension, advertising revenue.

Google released a report in August 2019 that concluded publishers could expect a 50% drop in ad revenue when third-party cookies go kaput.

What are cookies, exactly? Cookies were invented by Lou Montulli in 1994 as a way to help commercialize websites. Cookies are little bits of information about a user’s online activity that are stored locally. Advertisers use these bits of info to serve users targeted ads. The Wall Street Journal has a nice explainer video on the topic.

The good news: However, according to a recent story by Gilad Edelman at Wired, the loss of the cookie may not be all doom-and-gloom.

A publisher in the Netherlands, Nederlandse Publieke Omroep, rid itself of advertising cookies after the General Data Protection Regulation law went into effect.

The publisher moved from Google’s advertising system to an in-house system that differs from Google’s in one big way: It doesn’t give advertisers info on users. Instead, it gives them info on what the user is looking at. In other words: contextual advertising.

The switch has been good for NPO, “The results have been striking. In January and February of this year, NPO says, its digital ad revenue was up 62 percent and 79 percent, respectively, compared to last year,” Edelman writes.

Our thoughts: What’s old is new again? With consumers becoming more keen to protect their privacy it’s not baseless suggest a European-style privacy law is somewhere in America’s future. Nixing programmatic ads in the short term may not be a wise play, but expect some major publishers to move in that direction in the next few years.

5 accounts to follow this week:

  • @iqseo – Andy Drinkwater, Freelance SEO consultant
  • @cshel – Carolyn Shelby, Technical SEO for ESPN
  • @brian_mcdowell – Brian McDowell, SEO and digital strategist
  • @Matt_Siltala – Matt Siltala, Digital Marketer and podcaster
  • @robdwoods – Rob Woods, SEO Consultant


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