Every fortnight the Croud SEO team collate the latest news from relevant sources around the web so you don’t have to. Read through the top SEO news stories for this week below and follow us on Twitter or sign up to our newsletter.
New open source robots.txt projects
Google has released the source code for its robots.txt parser validation testing framework, which is used to check whether results meet the official robots.txt specification, in addition to validating parsers written in other languages. The port to Java was also released, which is a more widely used language than C++. This allows Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) experts and developers, who have developed robots.txt parsers, to determine the worth of using Google’s parser in Java, C++ or another language.
New Schema.org support for retailer shipping data
Google now supports shipping details schema for product results, including cost and expected delivery time for varying options across each product. This appears in the overview and store tabs for specific Google product results, and allows businesses to communicate shipping details clearly on their website.
Google rolling out video appointments, online classes to local business profiles
Google has launched its video appointments and classes to Google My Business (GMB). Users can access booking options within the profile, while the online classes are conducted through other services, including Google Meet, Webex, Zoom or Skype. This could help improve how local businesses affected by the pandemic operate in areas where face-to-face interaction is still heavily restricted.
Introducing the next wave of AI at Scale innovations in Bing
Bing has announced it is now using natural language generation models to improve its auto suggest and People Also Ask features. The search engine will also be expanding its use of natural language models to question answering and semantic highlighting features across the globe. This will help the search engines better understand how content relates to a query, delivering better search results for users.
How to audit sites inside corporate networks
Search Engine Land (SEL) looks at how to audit sites that are behind Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which typically limits crawlers like Screaming Frog and Uniform Resource Locator (URL) Inspections tool. This includes introducing some SEO admin tools that can turn private URLs into temporary ones, while hiding public ones to allow for analysis.
The rise of reputation experience management
SEL argues that as reviews and ratings can influence search rankings and conversion rates, they need to be considered when planning SEO strategies. Businesses must consider their customer feedback through three particular lenses: how they are getting found across digital spaces, how customers are making purchase decisions when choosing to engage with the business, and how to improve the customer experience by taking onboard feedback from reviews.
Pages dropping out of Google’s index with more Google ranking fluctuations?
Google’s index appears to be fluctuating, with the usual benchmarking tools showing changes in ranking position – this may be related to an unconfirmed Google canonical issue. It is important to bear this in mind for any reporting conducted over the past week, as this may have affected traffic.
Google: the context around links is secondary but anchor text is primary
Google’s John Mueller has stated that Google gets context about a link from its surrounding text, though this is secondary to the link anchor. This was in response to a question regarding links that include non-descriptive text such as “click here”.