Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Event Penalty, Speed & SEO, Audiobooks & New Google Finance

This week in search, I covered a Google warning about using incorrect event markup on your pages, how it can lead to a penalty. Matt Cutts is upset with how Google doesn’t directly link to the ten blue links in the search results. Google’s Paul Haahr explains why AI is complex for Google and other companies. Google said they do not use time to first byte for search rankings. Google said measure you page speed based on when your users can first interact with the page. We have a new method for hreflang with the mobile first index, check it out. Google says your structured data should be visible on your page. Google featured snippets are still important for Google. Google is testing longer snippets a lot this week. Matt Cutts did want Google to treat underscores as separators. Google Trends added news, shopping, images and YouTube as data sources. Google added donate buttons to Google for Nonprofits knowledge cards. Google has audiobooks in their book search results now. Google Assistant now serves up local services providers. Google added a view all feature on desktop for Google Posts. I explained how to directly link people to leave your reviews on Google Maps. Google Finance launched a new design this week, many are not happy. Google is testing personal tab filter fo search results again. This week the search community honored Jill Whalen, Ross Dunn, Marie Haynes, Alan Bleiweiss and Jim Hedger. That was this past week in search at the Search Engine Roundtable.
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Search Topics of Discussion:
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This post was scheduled to go live today but was written earlier – I am currently offline today.

Matt Cutts Dislikes How Google Links To Search Results

Matt Cutts, former Google executive and star amongst the SEO community, posted on Google+ how he is not happy with how Google is linking to the “10 blue links,” the core Google search results.
Matt showed how Google is not directly linking from the core search results to the site. Instead, they are adding a bunch of parameters to the URLs for tracking purposes. Matt wrote “I wish the “10 blue links” in Google’s search results were direct links instead of links like https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct= j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact= 8&ved=0ahUKEwjJpuvXgejXAhURSt8KHRUJDl8QFgg7MAM &url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.speedtest.net% 2F&usg=AOvVaw0szRo_9l-4_h8tA3oKB8NJ.” (note I broke up the URL a bit so it wraps in this blog post)
Instead, Matt wants the link to go direct to www.speedtest.net and not pass through all these parameters and redirects. I suspect this is a concern to Matt for a few reasons (a) speed to get to the URL (yes, humans cannot even see the speed issue) and (b) maybe a security issue with passing referrer information through a URL on the Google end. Maybe even more reasons, but now that Matt works for the Federal government, he sees things a big differently?
This is the second public complaint from Matt Cutts in the past couple weeks. The first was around a bug automatically expanding recent searches – remember, that incident turned my SEO world upside down?
This one I doubt is a bug, it is 100% intentional. This is something Google has been doing on and off throughout the years, more often recently. I wonder if Google will respond to this or not. I suspect if they do, they will go with the line that this makes their search results better, giving them more to track, better personalization and it is all over HTTPS anyway. But let’s see what Google does, if anything.
Forum discussion at Google+.

Matt Cutts Wanted Google To Treat URL Underscores As Separators

Last night, former Google executive said on Twitter that he tried to get the Google engineers to treat underscores in the URLs as separators, just like how they used hyphens as separators in the URLs. He said it never happened, at least while he was at the company.

For the historical record, I did try to get Google to index _ as a separator so we’d process the web as it existed. But it wasn’t a high priority request, so it didn’t make it across the finish line. πŸ™
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) December 1, 2017
This goes back to when in 2007 Matt Cutts posted on his blog about underscores vs hyphens, which of course we covered as did many other SEO blogs at that time. Now, Google says they don’t care – there is no difference, but I am not sure if that is 100% true or not.
That all being said, if you want to go back in histroy, check out this tweet from Anil Dash:

For years, @mattcutts was patient & wise as the most visible public ombudsman for Google. But what happened to the web (and to culture) when an entire industry started to obsess over every pronouncement from the company? Some necessary history here: https://t.co/cgmbH9Zjk5
— Anil Dash (@anildash) December 1, 2017
Make me feel like the past 14 or so years have been a waste here. πŸ™‚
Forum discussion at Twitter.

Google Assistant Helps You Find Local Service Providers: Electrician, Plumber, Cleaner, etc.

Google Assistant can now give you local results for service providers like electricians, plumbers, house cleaners and other local services you might need in your home or business. Google said this is rolling out to the Google Assistant, Google Home, etc over the coming week.
Here is how it looks like in the Google Assistant app but obviously, if you do it over voice search, Google will just talk to you and probably let you call the service provider from your device.

Google said they give you results first from service providers “that have been prescreened by Google and companies like HomeAdvisor and Porch so you can feel confident they’re ready to take on the job.” If there are none, Google will give you providers they did not prescreen.
Forum discussion at Twitter.

Google Shows Personal Search Filter Tab To Some Users

Eoghan O’Sullivan posted on Twitter that he is seeing the “personal” tab back in the Google search results, at least in his mobile Google search app. Here is his screen shot of the personal tab:

Here is another screen shot from him on desktop, not just the app:

Personalized results first appeared back in 2012 but then slowly disappeared over the years. We saw it come back this year, briefly, in May but then it disappeared again.
Personally, I cannot bring it up but this is what I saw in May:

This is what I see now:

Do you get the personal tab? Yes, I tried logged in – you need to be logged in to even hope to get personal results.
Forum discussion at Twitter.

Jim Hedger – The Search Community Honors You

This is part of the say something nice about an SEO/SEM series – feel free to nominate someone over here.
Jim Hedger, 49 years old, has worked as a SEO for about 20 years now. Jim to me symbolizes kindness, he is simply a kind and generous man. He cohosts the Webcology podcast, giving webmasters and SEO advice on a regular basis there. He is extremely active on social media, offering not just valuable SEO tips but also encouragement and mentorship to many.
Based in Toronto, Jim Hedger has been one of those individuals that doesn’t sit idly by. He has written at many publications, some of which are no longer around today. He jumps at opportunity to educate, for free, the younger and less informed SEO industry.
Melissa Fach from SEO Aware nominated Jim, she wrote:

I was a new SEO. I read everything and started blogging and tried to prove I knew my stuff. One day Jim calls me and asks me if he can publish my post on Site Pro News. I was so excited! It helped me out a lot. At my first conference he introduced me to a lot of folks. If it wasn’t for Jim I don’t know where I would be. I love the guy πŸ™‚

Jim is simply a good, smart and caring man.
Jim Hedger Bio: Jim Hedger is a writer, SEO, broadcaster, and an activist. Based in Toronto, Jim has worked as a SEO for nearly 20 years. In that time he has spoken at most major conferences, written for many of the major SEO trade journals, worked with countless clients, and tried to help other SEOs with their careers. Jim is also cohost of the popular Webcology podcast featured at WebmasterRadio.FM, on iTunes, at iHeartRadio, and available at all fine podcasting distribution outlets near you.
Favorite thing about the SEO community? My favourite thing about the SEO community is the community itself. We’re always willing and eager to help each other and lifelong friendships have formed through it.
One piece of advice to the SEOs out there? First rule, do no harm to a client’s site. If you’re not sure of the outcome, don’t do it.
Favorite things in general? I like green. All things green. From environmental activism to the pursuit of instant happiness, I love all things green.
What you want to be known for in the SEO space? My writing, Webcology.. Ultimately for helping others and perhaps for pioneering parts of it. Wow. I have no idea. Lots of stuff I guess but I never really kept track of it. I’d bet some of it’s just over to the left… No, the other left. Yeah, there.
You can learn more about Jim at his web site, on LinkedIn and on his show Webcology.
This is part of the say something nice about an SEO/SEM series – feel free to nominate someone over here.

Google Paris Earthy Lobby

Huseyin Savas from Google posted a picture of an area at the Google Paris office. Check out how earthy that office looks. You can the Google logo mounted in the setting of a garden with the Os using old fashion wheels. You got mushrooms growing out of control. Flowers, leaves, grass and more all inside. Then outside, you see this cow standing there.
Fun look.
This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.

Daily Search Forum Recap: November 30, 2017

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.
Search Engine Roundtable Stories:
Google: We Do Not Use Time To First Byte For Search RankingsGoogle’s John Mueller said on Twitter that time to first byte, as a page speed metric, is not used at all by Google in search or search rankings. John said “AFAIK we currently don’t use TTFB for anything in search/ranking…
Google Adds Donate Button To Google For Nonprofits In SearchGoogle announced that they have added a “Donate” button to some non profits in their knowledge cards in the search results. The donate button lets searchers quickly give to the charity they searched for…
Direct Link To Write A Google Local Review For Your BusinessDo you want to provide an easy way for your customers to quickly drop a review for your business on Google Maps…
View All Google Posts On DesktopPreviously, the only way to see a company’s Google Posts, all of them…
New Audiobooks In The Google Book Knowledge CardsNow if you search on your mobile device for a book, if there is an audio version of that book, let’s say on Audible, Google will let you click on that as an option to get the book…
Alan Bleiweiss – The Search Community Honors YouThis is part of the say something nice about an SEO/SEM series – feel free to nominate someone over here. Alan Bleiweiss, who has been in the internet marketing space since the mid-90s, is the next individual we would like to take the time to honor…
Google Brain Light FixturesHere is a photo of a game room in the Google Dublin office showing off a pool table, fancy carpet and very interesting light fixture covers/shades. They look like they are in the form of a brain? M
Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Google: We Do Not Use Time To First Byte For Search Rankings

Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that time to first byte, as a page speed metric, is not used at all by Google in search or search rankings. John said “AFAIK we currently don’t use TTFB for anything in search/ranking.” “It can be a good proxy for user-facing speed, but like other metrics, don’t blindly focus on it,” he added.
Time to first byte (TTFB) is a measurement used as an indication of the responsiveness of a web server or other network resource. TTFB measures the duration from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page being received by the client’s browser.
Again, page speed is one of those things that many webmasters and SEOs obsess about. But most of them obsess about them because of rankings in Google. To see a negative ranking factor for site speed, your site has to be really really slow. I am not saying you should not be concerned with site speed, you should, it has huge influence on conversion metrics. But from a Google ranking perspective, chill out.

AFAIK we currently don’t use TTFB for anything in search/ranking. It can be a good proxy for user-facing speed, but like other metrics, don’t blindly focus on it.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) November 30, 2017
Forum discussion at Twitter.

Google Brain Light Fixtures

Here is a photo of a game room in the Google Dublin office showing off a pool table, fancy carpet and very interesting light fixture covers/shades. They look like they are in the form of a brain?
Maybe only those who work with the Google Brain team are allowed to play in this room? Or maybe I am seeing things?
Alessandro De Vietro posted this on Instagram the other day.
This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.