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Weekly Update - September 14, 2019: Blogger, Google Search, Photos

This week there are a heap of updates for bloggers, webmasters, YouTubers, business owners and much more.
  • If you use Blogger in Draft, you should see a “Try the New Blogger” button on the left menu. If you opt in, you can try out a new mobile-friendly design for the Blogger Comments and Stats pages. You can switch back to Classic Blogger at any time, so there’s no reason not to give it a whirl. I’ve written up an overview of the changes. Will there be more? The message you see after opting in says “Blogger is gradually introducing some fresh pages that work well on mobile. Keep an eye in the coming months as these are rolled out.”
  • Google Photos now shows story-like “Memories” at the top of your gallery, with machine-learning curated photos and videos from previous years. Ane in near future you will see the photos and videos you’ve shared with friends or family - and that they have shared with you - as an ongoing private conversation (yes, another way to message on Google) making it easier to share with each other.
  • Google Photos also now officially supports searching for text within your photos, which is a very useful tool if you take photos of menus, posters, labels, notes, receipts or other objects with text.
  • If you are in the US, Google Photos now lets you order photo prints, including regular 4x6 photos and larger canvas prints.
  • The old Google Search Console has been retired. There are still a few legacy tools and reports, but those are in the process of being moved over to the new Google Search Console.
  • If you are a webmaster or blogger, you have probably used the “nofollow” tag to mark advertising links, or links you didn’t want to endorse. This week Google announced two new tags: sponsored (for tagging ads or sponsored links) and “ugc” (for User Generated Content). These can - totally optionally - be used in place of “nofollow” to provide better hints to Google about the nature of the links. And “hint” is the operative word here. The big change is not so much the new tags, but rather that Google will no longer use nofollow as a directive to ignore the link. Instead “”nofollow, “sponsored” and “ugc” are now treated as a hint about which links to consider or exclude within Search.
  • You can now import your verified websites from Google Search Console into Bing Webmaster Tools. That should make it much easier to get your account set up if you are interested in how your site is doing in Bing Search.
  • Google Search has make ranking changes and updated their search rater guidelines to give a boost to original reporting. Original reporting “provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it.”
  • Starting October 10th, you will only have 30 days to use Google Takeout to download a copy your original YouTube video uploads. After 30 days, your download may be a high quality compressed version (MP4 file with H264 video and AAC audio). Since October 2018, the original upload has been available for download in Takeout for 6 months, so this will be a significant change.
  • YouTube is testing out a new way to learn more about commenters on YouTube videos. If your account is in the test, you will be able to tap on the profile photo of a commenter, and a screen with public information about that channel will pop up. That will include name, photo, recent comments, and possibly subscriptions and other public details. Sounds like a much easier way to get to know about someone than checking out their channel. And it will be painfully obvious if you have posted the same comment on a dozen videos.
  • YouTube is no longer counting paid advertising views on YouTube when calculating the rankings on the YouTube Music Charts or 24-hour record debuts. This will hopefully make the charts more accurately reflect music video popularity. This comes after a recent controversy where Indian rapper Badshah beat BTS’s record for most views in 24 hours, a feat apparently driven by purchased ads.
  • If you’re a writer, you may appreciate that Google Docs now lets you view your word count as you’re typing.
  • If you have Google One membership, which comes with purchase of Google Drive space in most countries, you now have access to improved Android phone backup. You can manage your phone’s backups in the Google One app, including Android data (app data, call history, contacts, settings, and SMS messages), MMS messages (including photos, videos and audio files), and Google Photos. RCS messages may (or may not) be saved.
  • Kickstarter launched “Students of Art”, with resources for art students, both for launching Kickstarter campaigns and for offline resources like workshops, grant writing tips and more.
  • At this week’s Apple Event, they announced the iPhone 11 (with dual cameras) and iPhone 11 Pro (triple camera), Apple Watch Series 5, and the 7th generation iPad. For your entertainment, you can subscribe to Apple TV ($4.99/month), which launches November 1st or Apple Arcade (also $4.99/month, which lets you subscribe for unlimited access to over 100 games There is also a new Research app, that lets iPhone and Apple Watch users participate in medical studies.
  • Read on for more news, updates and tips for YouTubers, business owners, webmasters and more.
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Image: Did you see the Friday the 13th Harvest Moon?  I'm not sure if that's luck or unlucky. Full Moon Image by István Mihály from Pixabay

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