Google announced earlier this month that from July 2018 any webpage served over the HTTP protocol will be marked as “not secure” in the Google Chrome Browser bar.
Google has been pushing towards a safer internet for years, announcing back in September 2016 that any webpage which enabled the input of passwords or credit card details would be marked in the Chrome browser as “not secure” if the page is not being served over HTTPS.
Google tightened the requirements for “secure content” in October 2017 with pages that collect any data over a HTTP connection or any HTTP page viewed in “incognito” mode displaying the “not secure” warning.
This latest development was an obvious next step for the search giant and should really be the final warning for any website owner that hasn’t migrated their site over to HTTPS. Internet users are increasingly more concerned over the security of their personal data and how susceptible to third parties they are when using websites. Any indication that a webpage they are visiting is not secure may be enough for them to leave the site.
Google has introduced swipe-able, tap-able cards, similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories that use the AMP functionality into their SERPs. Google describes them as a "mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories."
These AMP stories will bring news in an easily digestible format to the search results without users having to click through to another source. They have the possibility of winning publishers more visibility in the search results, however, the usual issues of potentially fewer clicks through to websites will likely apply.
From what Google has shown us so far it looks like the stories will be very visual with not much text content. They will, however, bring about a new method of engaging viewers in content. We’re getting more used to receiving our updates and news in bite-sized amounts like Tweets and Instagram Stories, therefore this new development will likely appeal to the growing demographic of people who don’t want to read through an article or visit a website to get information but like the ease of small amounts of information from a range of sources being available to view quickly and visually.
A few select publishers such as CNN, Conde Nast and Mashable have been trialling it already. AMP has not gone without criticism from publishers but this new development appears to have been met with positivity.
Google announced on the 15th of February that they would be making some changes on Google Images to “help connect users and useful websites”. This included removing the “View Image” button from image results. Google has also made the copyright disclaimer for each result much more prominent.
Google usually makes changes in favour of users, allowing them to find information more easily, however they have been criticised with this latest move of making it harder for searchers to view the images they are after. For instance, it used to be that once you had found an image that you liked you could view it in isolation via the “View Image” button, however now you can only visit the webpage the image is on and then it’s up to you to find it amongst the other content.
It might be a small change but it appears to have sparked a lot of outrage from the general public. Some of this anger seems to be directed at the motivation behind the change rather than the change itself.
The removal of the “View Image” button and the accentuating of the copyright disclaimer has come about, Google admits, due to a legal settlement with Getty Images. Publishers and photographers have long been frustrated at Google for making their copyrighted images too easy to steal. This move appears to be Google’s answer to this issue by making it one step harder for images to be copied from other sources.
Although this move might be benefiting publishers, it does make it more difficult for people intending to use images for legal and legitimate reasons to find suitable images, and they are annoyed. So, Google tries to please one group and seems to have annoyed another. Sometimes it’s hard being at the top.