Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA)

December 31, 2022 is When Virginia's Privacy Law Takes Effect.

Second in the nation behind California to enact online privacy regulation, Virginia’s new law takes effect on January 1, 2023.

Similar to the law in California that is again similar in itself to the more stringent privacy regulations in the European Union, Virginia has new privacy rules now too.

What does this mean for US and Virginia-based businesses and those selling in Virginia?

First and foremost, if you do not have cookie notifications on your website, now is the time to implement this scripting. There are many online services that provide the scripts to meet the European Unions’ strict rules and can be used to meet both California and Virginia’s regulations. We use cookie-script.com for our privacy adherence needs.

For Virginia businesses and those that do business in Virginia, here’s what you need to know about this recently passed act.

First you must be in compliance by January 1, 2023.

“Virginia’s legislation has a carve-out for information collected in the employment context, whereas California’s law applies to some employment data.” Read the full article.

The CDPA applies to the following business types:

• Those that control or process the personal data of at least 100,000 consumers.

• Those that process the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers and derive more than 50 percent of their gross revenue from selling personal data.

Make sure to check this article for a number of exemptions. Virginia has made its law less stringent than California’s privacy law, but make sure you know what is covered and not covered.

What Are Your Rights in this New Law?

“Virginia’s law was modeled after California’s laws and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. Virginia’s law provides expansive consumer privacy rights, such as the right to access, right of rectification, right to delete, right to opt out, right of portability and right against automatic decision-making. The act includes a broad definition of “personal information,” a “sensitive data” category, and data-protection assessment requirements for businesses that control the data.”

“Consumers don’t have the right to bring a private lawsuit for violations of the act. Instead, the Virginia attorney general’s office will enforce the law. Entities will have the opportunity to cure violations or face a fine of $7,500 per violation.” Read more.

Most people expect other states to follow with restrictions similar to Virginia’s or California’s.

Our Recommendation

With privacy being in the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, it is time to look at adding a privacy statement and cookie setting acknowledgement script on your website.

When the EU rolled out it’s privacy regulation several years ago, many businesses opted to not update their site for cookie approval as they felt they were exempt (erroneously) by not selling services or products in the European Union. Now with expansion of similar regulations to California and Virginia, it is time to implement technology to be in compliance this year and at the minimum by December 31, 2022.

 

 

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Meta Title Tag Character Count Change

What to Know About the Meta Title Tag

Actually this is pretty big news! It used to be that the meta title tag needed to be crafted to be 80 characters long. Google was only showing 50 to 60 characters in the search results.

“Gary Illyes from Google said in last night’s Google Central Live event that there is a benefit, I assume an SEO benefit, to having title tags longer than what is displayed in the search. He later added that you should keep the title tag “precise” to the topic of the page and do not worry how long it is or if it is too long.” Full article.

We recommend crafting your meta title tag to be indicative of the page, precise, but no longer worry about the character count. That does not mean that you should have a paragraph of content, but can definitely go beyond 50 and even 80 characters in length.

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What to Know About Core Web Vitals

Be On Target

Be on target for the 2021 Google algorithm changes that reflect your core web vital score as found in the Google Search Console. In May 2020, Google announced that the index in 2021 would rank sites based on their approval scores of three important metrics.

The Metrics

LCP

Largest Contentful Paint – how long it takes the largest item in the viewport (screen to show). A measure of page speed. Shoot for 2.5 seconds.

FID

First Input Delay – how long it takes the site to respond to a user interaction. Shoot for less than 100 milliseconds.

CLS

Cumulative Layout Shift – visual stability. Does the page jump around when the user scrolls. Shoot for less than 0.1.

Read the full article here for a deeper understanding of these terms.

Google has also stated that the metrics should be in the “green zone” to earn special placement in the index, and that all metrics need to be green lighted for best performance.

What I have found is that although the developer’s Google pagespeed insights tool helps you to ID if you have a problem, solving where and what to update is a challenge.

It appears that developer extensions in the Chrome browser may be of help in identifying where the problems exist. As I uncover more details, I will share them here, but for now know that this algorithm update is coming and you may need assistance in fixing some site issues to see if you can “green-light” your website.

Other important updates this week:

It appears that there was a Google search algorithm update on or around February 17th.

Virginia is closer to creating privacy legislation that is similar but not exactly like the California privacy law that itself is similar to that used in the EU.

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Important News We Are Watching From This Week

Be in the Know

Be in the know! This week we have found a few nuggets that you may want to review or do a deeper dive into from our blog post.

Is It Worth Writing Website Meta Descriptions?

“Many SEOs debate the importance of creating unique meta descriptions. It can definitely help with click-through-rate from SERPs, but, for most, it’s often a low priority SEO task. Will the news that Google overwrites our work make us less likely to spend time on it?” Read the full article.

From our point of view, we do still recommend writing these to assist in click through rates from the search results. We have seen Google write there own before and then later roll back their action.  It makes sense to write them and if Google does or does not use them is a non-issue at this point.


Google is Tweaking the Layout of Google Local or Google Maps Listings

We are seeing the removal of addresses in Google Maps listing tests by Google. See pic.

Google also appears to be listing the years in business in some Google Maps listings. Read the article and see the pic.


Google Ads Does Away with Broad Match Modifiers

Google has announced that it will no longer honor broad match modifier keywords and will instead merge the broad match modifier into phrase match. For now if there are broad match modifier keywords in the account, Google will simply deliver them as phrase match.

How do we feel about this? Well, we expect to spend more time on negative keywords list creation to sculpt ad results. We are not terribly worried about this due to the extensive use of machine learning used in ad delivery. We do expect broad match modifier keywords in the account to start to receive fewer and fewer impressions over time. We will no longer add broad match modifier  to ad accounts. Read the full article for more details.

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Your Privacy – What Are You Doing About It?

Your Privacy - It is a Commodity

Read any newspaper like the Wall Street Journal and you’ll see conversations about privacy and the changes that are happening soon with Apple, Facebook, and now with Google Chrome. You have a right to be concerned about how big business is working to continue to make money off of serving you ads with persistent tracking cookies.

Apple and Facebook are in a finger pointing game with Apple rolling our new privacy updates in a new iOS roll out and Facebook putting up a wall to garner your tracking approval for ads. Add to this Google’s change to the Chrome browser which will block third party tracking cookies and now group your data in audiences for proprietary ad targeting and you will see that big business considers your online activity a goldmine for their own purposes – to make money by serving you ads.

These internet behemoths do not have your best interest at heart – protecting your privacy. Their interest is in making money off of the information you share or share unwittingly. Case in point, have you looked at something online and then in minutes seen the product appear in your Facebook feed? Of concern to me is voice conversations had near an Alexa, and then ads appearing for that item in Facebook shortly there after. Could it possibly be that Alexa is now involved in ad targeting or was this just  a fluke?

Google knows everything that I do and I am starting to get uneasy with that knowledge. As my firm work for a cancer treatment firm, for criminal lawyers, and for bed bug exterminators, and we do a wealth of research for them, Google now thinks that I have cancer, am embroiled in criminal enterprises, and have bed bugs at my home.

I personally have started to take action to minimize my online data footprint out of exhaustion with targeted advertising and the inherent loss of control and incessant “watching”.

Here’s what I am doing right now to try to get back in control of my data.

• I have minimized all activity on Facebook. I am testing out MeWe.com as they voice that they do not collect data or (at this time) use my data from the platform for advertising. But, no friends or family members are using this platform except my husband. I may simply abandon Facebook.

• I use only the Microsoft Edge browser and do not use Google Chrome except for a narrow work purpose. Edge has better privacy control and on top of that is super fast. A win-win in my eyes. Google knows too much about me and I am not willing to supply more information at this point. I may even start using secure private browsing just to stop tracking.

• DuckDuckGo – is the search engine that powers my own website searches and I have recently downloaded their mobile browsing app and am considering using the desktop version as my search engine of choice. They now show ads, but still claim to protect a user’s privacy.

I have previously felt that the more Google knew about me the better it was for me, as search results and ads were always tailored to things I thought I wanted. But now, I am more wary.

My privacy is starting to be a commodity that I am unwilling to share freely. I am now wanting more control over who knows what about me and who uses my information for ad targeting and how.

 

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12-14-20 The Google Week in Review

Mobile is now more than a part of the funnel.

There have been a number of interesting developments in the world of Google this week – from updates to lawsuits. Read my comments below to stay up-to-date.

Mobile is No Longer Just Part of the Purchase Path

Now, mobile activity actually is a place where users will buy, no longer just a step to a purchase on desktop. With the advent of increase security and better website solutions that allow for purchases right from a phone, mobile is no longer considered top of funnel only. Read more…


LinkedIn is Testing Ads in the Data Feed

Everyone has to get into the act now with ads. LinkedIn just announced that it is beta testing digital ads in Stories. “We are currently testing Stories Ads with a beta group of advertisers, with plans to launch more broadly in 2021” Read more…


Google is Potentially Tied to Collusion with Facebook

Announced just this morning in the Wall Street Journal, Google has now been tied to a possible collusion with Facebook in the delivery of digital advertising. This is a still evolving story, but one that will surely impact current pending litigation against Google and Facebook in the months to come.


Google Provides Site Guidance from December Rollout

This interesting article works to address the December rollout of an algorithm update for website owners. The tips offer advice on how to update your website to improve your ranking with the current update and pending future updates to the Google Search algorithm. Read more…


Google Maps is Now Showing Web Listings

Google continues to tweak search format and now has started to tinker with the Google Maps format. In some of the screenshots you can now see website listings as organic results. These results are location specific for relevancy. Location related keywords in your website are now more important than ever.  Read more…


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