Local Memo: Google Limits How To and FAQ Rich Results
In this week’s update, learn about Google’s new limits on How To and FAQ results; Google’s emphasis on human oversight for AI content; Amazon and NewEgg’s experiments with generative AI; Instagram’s new collaborative posting feature; Google’s new “fix photo” appeal form option; and new features in the Threads app.
Google Limits How To and FAQ Rich Results
Google has made a global change to the rich results in SERPs, reducing the number of FAQ results overall and limiting How To rich results to desktop browsers. The change for FAQ content is severe in its scope: from now on, according to Google’s statement, “rich results will only be shown for well-known, authoritative government and health websites. For all other sites, this rich result will no longer be shown regularly. Sites may automatically be considered for this treatment depending on their eligibility.”
As for How To results, Google notes that although these will only be displayed on desktop, the primary Google search index looks at the mobile version of a website, so mobile sites should still contain How To schema markup if they want to be eligible for inclusion in desktop results. Schema markup for FAQ content can be removed but Google says this is not necessary.
The SEO community has noted an immediate and drastic decline in appearances of these rich results in the wake of Google’s announcement, as noted in a post on X by Brodie Clark shown below.
Google wasn’t messing around.
That’s a decline for how-to rich results on mobile down to zero. And as promised by Google, desktop how-to rich results remain.
FAQ rich results are on the decline too. Check GSC search appearance & read Google’s announcement if you missed it. pic.twitter.com/qMY8qpY9Gi
— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) August 10, 2023
Google Emphasizes Importance of Oversight for AI Content
Google spokesman Danny Sullivan has reiterated that human oversight is extremely important in the current era of generative AI, stating on X that “right now, there are well-recognized issues with AI-generated content, so human oversight is important if using it to create content.” Sullivan’s comments were made in the wake of a Google Search Central Live event in San Francisco where he stated that one day AI would be capable of creating expert content as though written by someone with a PhD.
Amazon, NewEgg Experiment with Generative AI for Products
Amazon is reportedly testing an AI tool that helps sellers craft product titles and descriptions, with similar announcements coming from ecommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Shopify, and Wix. Amazon sellers enter a list of keywords and the AI tool creates proposed descriptions of the products. Sellers are still expected to publish accurate product descriptions, which will also be reviewed by Amazon. The other named ecommerce platforms have launched or are working on similar tools, in addition to AI tools for marketing automation, logo creation, blog posts, and other tasks.
Meanwhile, ecommerce site NewEgg is using ChatGPT to summarize customer product reviews in a feature called Review Bytes, which highlights the pros and cons of products sold on the site as reflected in reviews. According to the company, this new feature is designed to help consumers “understand key aspects without having to read reviews.”
Instagram Tests Collaborative Posting
Instagram is experimenting with a new feature that allows users to add images and videos to a published post. Additions to published posts must be approved by the original creator. According to Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today, the new feature allows for “curated group photo albums and shared experiences”; he likens it to TikTok duets and remixes, which have boosted engagement on the platform. Hutchinson notes that brands might make use of collaborative posting, encouraging fans to post content in response to a prompt which would then be included as an extension of the original post.
Courtesy Social Media Today
Google Adds “Fix Photo” Option to Appeal Form
Google has added a new option in the Google Business Profiles appeal form to address the issue that images and videos are sometimes rejected in error. According to Mike Blumenthal, Google has recently clarified that such content might be rejected “if your listing is not fully verified, your personal account is disabled, your profile is disabled/suspended or if the content is duplicative.” When content is rejected and users believe it did not violate any of Google’s guidelines, they can now select “Fix photo that doesn’t show” in the support form. Blumenthal’s post notes additional options for appealing or escalating the issue if this option doesn’t produce the desired result.
Threads App Launches New Features
Meta’s new Threads app has launched six new features in a recent update. These include:
- The option to share Threads posts as Instagram direct messages
- A Your Likes page where you can view all posts you’ve recently liked
- Ability to sort the accounts you follow by how recently you followed them
- Ability to add alt text to images
- Rel=me links allowing users to verify their identity on platforms like Mastodon
- A “Mention” button to add mentions of specific users
In recent weeks, the growth of the Threads app has slowed significantly, with growth down 90% from the meteoric rise that caused it to be the fastest growing app in history. Its future as a legitimate X competitor is still uncertain.