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Will Google’s Next Update Be a Business-Breaker or Business as Usual?

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Major Google updates are like Marvel movies. They are often announced well in advance. And those announcements immediately spawn thousands of blogs and videos full of theories.

Google’s next big update arrives in May of 2021 (just ahead of summer blockbuster season) and they have given the world’s webmasters and marketers a full year to prepare themselves.

What’s going to happen? At the risk of oversimplifying the process, you can expect 3 things to happen after any major update:

  1. Some businesses will rise in the rankings
  2. Some businesses will plummet in the rankings
  3. Some will remain essentially where they are

Even the most experienced SEO professionals can’t definitively say who will fall into each category. However, the ones that have studied Google’s many updates over the last decade have predicted that we will likely see the following things.

Organic SEO Tactics Will Continue to Provide the Best Results

What are organic SEO tactics? Basically, it’s putting in the hard work to:

  •   Write quality content that human users find engaging, linkable, and sharable
  •   Use keywords strategically, without stuffing or spamming
  •   Earn quality links on respected site

If you have been doing these 3 things for the last few years, you’re probably ranking reasonably well right now, and you will probably continue to do so after the Core Web Vitals Update.

“When you put in the work and follow proven organic SEO tactics, you probably don’t need to be afraid of Google’s updates,” said Paul Teitelman, owner of PaulTeitelman.com.

“But, if you’ve been using shortcuts or out-dated SEO tactics, you should probably be very nervous.”

A New Need for Speed

A fast site has always been a crucial part of your SEO success. But the Core Web Vitals are going to take things to the next level.

Google’s announcement told webmasters to pay close attention to three new metrics:

  •   How long it takes for a page to completely load (Largest Contentful Paint)
  •   How long it takes for a page to become interactive (First Input Delay)
  •   How long it takes for a page’s elements to stop shifting while loading (Cumulative Layout Shift)

Fast performance will be more important than ever, with a more specific definition than ever.

It Will Remain a Mobile-First World

Google’s search algorithm started shifting towards mobile-first indexing a few years ago, meaning they would look at a domain’s mobile site before they looked at the desktop site when crawling.

The Core Web Vitals will use mobile-friendliness as a major ranking signal and continue to reward the sites that provide the best mobile experiences.

Of course, your mobile site needs to be fast, according to all of the metrics we covered in the previous section. But you also need to ensure that your mobile users aren’t running into things like cumbersome interstitial ads that prevent them from being able to use your site.

Is this update a big deal? Yes, and it will likely impact millions of websites. Will it be a big deal for your business? That probably depends on what you’ve been doing for the last few years.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Canada’s top doctor said nationally there are 964 reported cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa, and two cases of the version first found in Brazil.

“The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains,” Tam said. “At the same time new variants continue to emerge … and can become predominant.”

Tam added that daily COVID-19 case counts are nearly 75 per cent higher than they were last spring, and that the average daily case counts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have increased between eight and 14 per cent over the previous week.

While Tam warned that variants can spread more quickly and easily become dominant, progress on the vaccine front is a source of optimism, she noted.

“To date, over 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across Canada. And there are early indications of high vaccine efficacy.”

On Friday, Health Canada regulators approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in Canada — clearing the way for millions more inoculations in the months ahead.

The department’s regulators concluded the shot has an efficacy rate of 62 per cent and have authorized it for use in all adults 18 and older.

While it’s less effective than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at preventing infection, the shot is 100 per cent effective in preventing the severe outcomes of COVID-19 — including serious illness, hospitalizations and death — the regulators said.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 860,888 cases of COVID-19, with 30,343 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,908.

Alberta announced 356 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths on Friday.

Saskatchewan registered 153 new cases but no new deaths.

Manitoba confirmed 64 new cases and one death. The province’s test positivity rate is now at 3.9 per cent, its lowest point in more than four months.

WATCH | Manitoba government considers relaxing COVID-19 rules:

Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Thursday, February 25, 2021. 28:23

Ontario reported 1,258 new cases on Friday, its highest daily case count since Feb. 13, as well as 28 new deaths. The seven-day average of daily cases climbed to 1,114, marking a sixth straight day of increases.

The province also announced it is activating an “emergency brake” in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka, sending the regions back into lockdown to “immediately interrupt transmission and contain community spread.”

The two regions will move into the grey lockdown level of Ontario’s COVID-19 restriction plan effective 12:01 a.m. ET Monday, March 1. 

Workers with face masks are seen in Toronto on Friday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Quebec reported 815 new cases and 11 new deaths on Friday, a day after long-awaited vaccinations of the general population got underway.

Gisèle Fortaich, 86, was among those to receive the vaccine at Laval’s mass vaccination centre Thursday, telling reporters she wanted to be sure to get the vaccine after a harrowing experience at the hospital with COVID-19 some months ago.

“It wasn’t easy to stay at the hospital that long,” Fortaich said. “What I went through, I’m telling myself it’s over now and I’m looking to the future.”

WATCH | Quebec plans for COVID-19 ‘immunity passports’:

Quebec plans to introduce ‘immunity passports’ at some point, which will allow people to prove they’ve been vaccinated and make it simpler to travel and perhaps even open some sectors of the economy. The concept is controversial, however, with some leaders calling it divisive and discriminatory. 4:41

New Brunswick is just over a week away from rolling into the less-restrictive yellow phase, says the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.

Newfoundland and Labrador‘s active caseload dropped again as the province reported 52 new recoveries — a single-day record — and four new cases.

Nova Scotia is introducing new restrictions as it tries to stem an increase in COVID-19 cases. The province reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday after reporting eight the day before.

Beginning Saturday, restaurants and bars in the Halifax area must stop serving food and drink by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m. Restrictions are also being placed on sports, arts and culture events.

WATCH | Nova Scotia imposes new COVID-19 restrictions:

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced new COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus. 4:10

In Prince Edward Island, all young people in Summerside age 14 to 29 are being urged to get tested immediately, whether or not they have any symptoms, after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced a cluster of new cases there.

In Nunavut, authorities have identified another case in the hamlet of Arviat, a community of about 3,000 people where 312 cases have been confirmed since November. Active cases there are now at 26.

In the Northwest Territories, a Gahcho Kué mine worker who contracted COVID-19 is in critical condition, health authorities confirmed Friday. The territory has seen four people total hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19, with three connected to the Gahcho Kué mine. All but one have recovered.

What’s happening around the world

As of Friday, more than 113.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 63.8 million of them listed as recovered on a tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, according to the U.S.-based university.

In Asia, South Korea administered its first available shots of COVID-19 vaccines to people at long-term care facilities, launching a mass immunization campaign that health authorities hope will restore some level of normalcy by the end of the year.

A nurse administers a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Goyang, South Korea, on Friday. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

In Europe, French authorities have ordered a local weekend lockdown starting on Friday evening in the French Riviera city of Nice and the surrounding coastal area to try to curb the spread of the virus.

In the Americas, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to pass a $1.9 trillion US COVID-19 relief package on Friday.

In Africa, Ivory Coast has become the second country in the world, after Ghana, to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the global COVAX initiative. It has received 504,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India.

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COVID-19 warning: BC called 'the Florida of Canada' by epidemiologist – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
A Harvard-educated epidemiologist with a massive social media following is getting a fresh wave of attention for calling B.C. “the Florida of Canada.”

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding made the comparison in a tweet Wednesday about mask mandates for elementary school students. He’s in favour of them.

B.C. health officials are not, despite several recent exposures to the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus that originated in the U.K. in Lower Mainland schools.

Feigl-Ding was one of the first to warn about COVID-19 and its potential to become a global pandemic. His “Holy Mother of God” tweet in January 2020 was seen as alarmism by many, but he says it was intended as a call for vigilance.

He says his “Florida of Canada” tweet is meant to serve a similar purpose.

“I’m trying to warn people to be vigilant, not trying to mock any location,” Feigl-Ding told CTV News Vancouver in a Zoom interview.

“I want people to be recognizing that there is a concern of rising cases,” he said.

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry dismissed the comparison during her news conference on the coronavirus Thursday.

“I think in some ways we’re the Florida of Canada in that we have milder winters, but I don’t think in terms of the pandemic that we have many comparisons,” Henry said.

The reaction to the tweet has mostly followed that humorous tone, something Feigl-Ding said he enjoys.

The epidemiologist said he doesn’t regret making the comparison, but is frustrated by what he sees as the misinterpretation of his warning.

“The implication is, how aggressively are we moving?” Feigl-Ding said.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Bhinder Sajan 

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Coronavirus: Health Canada approves two AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Health Canada has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and a related shot by the Serum Institute of India for use in this country with the first doses expected to arrive soon.

Canada joins more than a dozen other countries that have given the green light to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the shot from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which was among the first buzzed-about vaccine candidates in 2020.

A version of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the Indian pharmaceutical company Serum Institute of India and sponsored by Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Canada has also been approved for use and is considered a separate vaccine by Health Canada.

The two-dose vaccines have been approved for use in people 18 years of age and older, including seniors, with the recommendation that the second dose be administered between four and 12 weeks after the first, officials said Friday.

“This is very encouraging news. It means more people vaccinated and sooner,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a press conference on Friday.

“We’re ready to get doses rolling… With Pfizer, Moderna and now AstraZeneca, Canada will get to more than 6.5 million doses by the end of March.”​

AstraZeneca has promised 20 million doses to Canada, with the federal government saying it’s been in talks with AstraZeneca about locking in shipments as soon as the regulatory green light was given.

As well, up to 500,000 doses could be sent to Canada by the end of March as part of the global vaccine-sharing program known as COVAX.

The inoculants, which are the third and fourth approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, is considered to be relatively cheap and easy-to-store, a factor that sets it apart from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already in circulation. AstraZeneca has reached agreements with international health bodies and governments to price each dose at about US$2.50. Doses of the AstraZeneca shot can be stored at temperatures between 2 C to 8 C, while the other two require ultra-cold freezers.

“The big, big thing that makes this different than other vaccines, which is a huge, huge advantage, is that it can be stored at refrigeration temperature,” Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at McMaster University, told CTV News Channel on Friday. 

“For a vaccine rollout to go to remote areas, to go to homeless shelters, to go to places that can’t tolerate even a -20 C fridge, this is going to be an incredible tool.”

The newly approved vaccines are the first “viral vector-based vaccines” for COVID-19 to be approved in Canada. This type of vaccine, which uses a modified cold virus commonly found in chimpanzees, has been in use for decades, said Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, on Friday.

Viral vector vaccines use a “harmless modified version of a different virus — the vector — to deliver instructions to our cells,” she said. “The cells begin to mark proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19, which then prompts the body to develop an immune response.”

The Pfizer and Moderna shots are both messenger RNA technology, which provide a kind of “instruction booklet” for cells to make antigens.

EFFICACY CONCERNS

The AstraZeneca vaccine has already faced efficacy concerns as variants of the novel coronavirus pop up around the world. In South Africa, officials suspended plans to use the shot on health-care workers after a clinical trial indicated it is less effective against the B.1.351 variant predominant in that country.

In France, the vaccine is only being administered to people under the age of 65, as officials cited a lack of data about its efficacy for older people. While Health Canada acknowledged Friday that the clinical trial data was limited for seniors, officials said blood tests showed people over 65 still produced COVID-19 antibodies after vaccination. Plus, the “real world evidence and post-market experience” in countries that have been using the AstraZeneca vaccine showed “a potential benefit and no safety concerns” in seniors.

CTV News Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said people concerned about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccines should look to a regular flu season for some “perspective.”

“A great match between a circulating flu strain and the vaccine in a given year might not exceed 60 per cent. If the flu vaccine is delivered widely in the community, we see dramatic reduction in every bad outcome,” he told CTV News Channel on Friday.

“This [AstraZeneca trial] was a multinational trial in five countries and there wasn’t a single death or a single episode of really severe disease really attributable to the vaccine, [which] did a great job in reducing both of those very important metrics. 

While federal health regulators received the application for authorization from Verity and Serum Institute on Jan. 23, they were reviewing the AstraZeneca vaccine for nearly five months in collaboration with the European Medicines Agency. In early February, health officials said they were going back and forth with AstraZeneca about what information the vaccine label will include and cited ongoing trials in the U.S. as one of the reasons the review process for the jab had been “complicated.”

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV’s Rachel Aiello 

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