Local Memo: Altman Restored as OpenAI CEO
In this week’s update, learn about Sam Altman’s return to OpenAi; Google’s continued rollout of the November updates; how to move your service area business in GBP; follower counts in SERPs; third-party justifications in Google profiles; and the new small business filter.
Altman Restored as OpenAI CEO
Last Tuesday night, a highly volatile news cycle for OpenAI came to an apparent conclusion when the company announced that Sam Altman was returning as CEO. The news followed Altman’s firing by the OpenAI board the previous Friday, which kicked off several days of intense negotiations, employee consternation, tech press scrutiny, and even the extremely temporary tenure of two other CEOs. During this period, Sam Altman and others who had departed the company in his wake momentarily joined Microsoft to start a new AI division, but the news of his return to OpenAI was welcomed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
In the midst of its leadership crisis, OpenAI released ChatGPT Voice to the public for free. Launched in September to paid subscribers, the feature enables the ChatGPT chatbot to interact using natural sounding human speech.
Google Updates Continue to Roll Out
For unknown reasons, the November 2023 Core Update, which launched on November 2, has exceeded the rollout duration of any previous core update. Now Google is saying there is no estimated completion date for the update, nor for the November Reviews Update which launched later and is rolling out in parallel. Google’s John Mueller in a statement said that the duration of algorithm updates can vary due to “a mix of various internal factors, including the desire to do things incrementally for safety.”
How to Move Your Service Business in GBP
Sterling Sky’s Joy Hawkins has advice for service area businesses who are moving to a new location and don’t want their Google rankings to drop. Moving a service area business can present various challenges, including a bug whereby Google continues to show the business in the old location. Hawkins suggests that service area businesses create a new Google Business profile for the new location, rather than trying to change the address of the old profile. Business owners can then contact Google and notify them that the business has moved from the location in the old profile to the new location. This should cause the business to rank in the new location in a matter of weeks.
Google Rolls Out Follower Counts in SERPs
Google has begun to display follower counts for search result snippets from social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, and X. The counts appear on both desktop and mobile. Some users are noting that Google may also display like counts for posts from platforms like X. Google has stated that follower count is not a ranking factor, so presumably the metrics act more as reassurance to users that the content Google chooses to show is popular with others.
Follower count in YouTube result, courtesy Barry Schwartz / Search Engine Roundtable
Google Profiles Showing Third-Party Justifications
Users are spotting long text snippets in public Google profiles from third-party sources. Miriam Ellis shared on X a screenshot of a Google profile for The Bourbon Street Barrel Room, a restaurant in Cleveland, which displayed this text in the position where one would usually see justifications from sources like the business website or a customer review: “The 25 most photographed restaurants in Greater Cleveland, according to Yelp.” As indicated by the accompanying icon, the source is not Yelp itself but rather an article at Cleveland.com. It’s unknown which other press sources Google might use to pull in similar justifications.
Image courtesy Miriam Ellis
Google Confirms Small Business Attribute Filters Results
Google has confirmed that the recently launched small business attribute can act as a filter in product searches, allowing users to specify that they are looking for a small business. The option is shown as an actual filter button at the top of the shopping result page, alongside other filters for deals or fast shipping. When enabled, the filter modifies shopping results so that only those from small businesses are shown. It isn’t known whether the attribute will also act as a filter in Google Business Profiles, although as I mentioned when the feature went live, it belongs to a group called identity attributes that do act as de facto search filters.
Courtesy Google / Search Engine Roundtable