DuckDuckGo Announces Plans to Block Google’s FLoC

DuckDuckGo announced plans to block FLoC, Google’s new way of tracking users’ web browsing activity in Chrome. As Google transitions away from using third-party cookies in Chrome, it’s developing a new technology called FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts).

Google claims FLoC offers more privacy than third-party cookies because it monitors activity at a group level rather than an individual level. With FLoC, browsing activity cannot be tied to any individual user. Though it does aim to collect enough data to serve personalized ads.

DuckDuckGo is already planning to block it in the DuckDuckGo search engine and Chrome browser extension. DuckDuckGo is updating its Chrome browser extension with the ability to block FLoC interactions on websites.

Other than FLoC, Google has said it will not develop new ways to track users after it phases out third-party cookies.

How Often Will Core Web Vitals Ranking Factor Be Calculated?

In a Google SEO office-hours hangout, someone asked John Mueller about the update schedule for the ranking factor associated with the Core Web Vitals (CWV) scores. Will the ranking factor be updated in real-time or every 28 days?

Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… I don’t know if that’s uh… decided completely yet.

I mean… part of that is also that there is just a general lag for the data anyway.

…We kind of have to wait that period of time until we have collected enough data.”

“So I suspect it’s not something that will be optimized for… speedy updates but more kind of to have a clear understanding of the overall picture.

…my guess is it’ll be more something of a slow thing rather than a real-time change.”

UX: an important SEO ranking factor

  • UX is a critical ranking factor for SEO
  • If you’ve exhausted all your SEO techniques but still don’t see a considerable movement on your website or rankings – you’re probably losing at user experience (UX)

Providing a rich user experience is always helpful for visitors and encourages them to stay longer and engage more on your website. That sends positive quality signals that show your website the best result to Google. And as a result of that Google rewards you with top spots.

Understanding your audience’s buying intent and analyzing their search queries will lead to refined and sustainable results.

  • Understand Your Audience
  • Conduct Keyword Research
  • Set Up a Solid Site Architecture
  • Make Sure Your Site Has a Mobile-Responsive Design

Good SEO and UX together include some of the following: domain name, informational content, internal links, optimizing meta tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, headings, and page titles to make the entire experience worthwhile.

Google: After Rendering; Focus On If Your Site Adds Value Over Others

Gary Illyes from Google said when it comes to ranking in Google, it is often not about your core web vital scores, if you are using AMP, nor your database size. After you know that Google can access and render your pages, the next step is making sure your content adds value over the competition.

Google Product Reviews Update Was Really Big For Affiliates & Review Sites

Google said this update started rolling out Thursday (April 8) afternoon and could take about two weeks to fully roll out, but it seemed to really start in a big way early on, as early as Friday (April 9). This update really shook up the product reviews category, and it seems to have had a big impact on affiliate websites with a lot of product reviews.

Google Assistant / Duplex Can Complete Your Restaurant Takeout Orders

Assistant can now help you complete your purchase in only a few steps powered by Duplex on the web. You find a restaurant that supports this and when viewing the local panel result for that local restaurant, you click on “Order Online” or “Order Pickup.” Then you go through the steps to finish your online takeout order from a restaurant that Google partners with and click the “check out” button. Then Google Assistant can automatically navigate the site and fill out your contact and payment details saved in Google Pay and synced to Chrome Autofill.

Google Local Inventory Snippets Tests Store Location

Google Search can now not only show product results with images, and not only the ratings, pricing and if the product in stock, but now Google is also showing if there is a nearby store that is open with that product.

Google Soft 404 Detection Bug May Be Causing Ranking Issues In Google Search

Beginning around April 9, Google made some changes to how it detects soft 404s and that change may be causing ranking issues for some sites in Google Search.

A soft 404 is when Google sees a page that returns a 200 (everything is normal) status code but Google thinks the page should return a 404 (page not found) status code.

John Mueller of Google confirmed the issue in last Friday’s video hangout: “As far as I could tell from the information I have so far is it’s essentially a small change we made in the soft 404 detection and how that’s picking things up in weird ways.”

Google Research Paper Reveals a Shortcoming in Search

A recent Google research paper on Long Form Question Answering illustrates how difficult it is to answer questions that need longer and nuanced answers. The research paper states that Long-form Question Answering (LFQA) is important but a challenge and that progress in being able to achieve this kind of question answering is not as far along as Open-domain Question Answering. Long Form Question Answering is harder because the questions demand answers in the form of paragraphs, not short texts.

Google and Bing have a difficult time answering these long form types of questions. This may impact their ability to surface content that provides complex answers for complex questions. Passage ranking (ranking long web pages that contain the short answers for normal short queries needing an objective answer) cannot solve the hard questions that Google currently cannot answer. Both Google and Bing generally fail to answer LFQA type queries because this is an area that search engines still need to improve.

Some publishers mistakenly overwrite their articles in a quest to be authoritative. It’s possible that those publishers are overwriting themselves out of search traffic from queries that demand shorter answers since search engines can’t deliver nuanced answers available in longer documents.

How Important Are XML & Image Sitemaps To Google?

Contrary to popular belief, XML sitemaps are not an SEO ranking factor. If you’re doing SEO correctly, you really don’t need an XML sitemap.

If your images are coded in a crawler-friendly way and the pages they’re on are easily discoverable and crawlable, too, you really don’t need an image sitemap. Image sitemaps can be invaluable for getting your images indexed and included in search results, but they are not 100% necessary.

For sites that have issues and large sites with crawl concerns, XML sitemaps can be a useful bandaid. For most sites though, fix the crawl issues, if possible, and don’t just rely on an XML sitemap.