SEO News

  1. Report: EU antitrust unit exploring broader local search complaint against Google – Search Engine Land

    12 Dec 2018 ...  

    The focus now moves to travel, hotels and restaurants.

    The European Commission is asking local search competitors in Europe whether Google’s algorithm changes and other practices are hurting them, according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters.

    If the answer is “yes,” the EC could bring what would be the fourth antitrust action against Google. Two of those cases have yielded nearly $8 billion in fines against the company. A third, involving AdSense agreements, is still pending.

    New focus on travel, hotels and restaurants. According to Reuters, the EC sent questionnaires to unnamed Google competitors in local search last month asking about the period from 2012 to 2017 with a focus on travel, hotels and restaurants. It reportedly asks about algorithm changes (e.g., Panda) and the local One Box and whether they’ve had an adverse impact on rivals’ businesses. The EC also has apparently asked whether Google is using any of their content (e.g., reviews) in the One Box.

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  2. The importance of understanding intent for SEO – Search Engine Land

    12 Dec 2018 ...  

    Search engines are getting more sophisticated at measuring how well a page matches intent so here are some tips on how to build a better strategy for it.

    Search is an exciting, ever-changing channel.

    Algorithm updates from Google, innovations in the way we search (mobile, voice search, etc.), and evolving user behavior all keep us on our toes as SEOs. The dynamic nature of our industry requires adaptable strategies and ongoing learning to be successful. However, we can’t become so wrapped up in chasing new strategies and advanced tactics that we overlook fundamental SEO principles.

    Recently, I’ve noticed a common thread of questioning coming from our clients and prospects around searcher intent, and I think it’s something worth revisiting here. In fact, searcher intent is such a complex topic it’s spawned multiple scientific studies (PDF) and research (PDF).

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  3. How to prepare for a JS migration – Search Engine Land

    12 Dec 2018 ...  

    Here are the steps to consider when migrating a website built with a static HTML to a JavaScript framework.

    An 80 percent decrease in organic traffic is the nightmare of every business. Unfortunately, such a nightmarish scenario may become reality if a website migration is done incorrectly; instead of improving the current situation it eventually leads to catastrophe.

    How to prepare for a JS migration - Search Engine Land

    How to prepare for a JS migration - Search Engine Land

    Source: http://take.ms/V6aDv

    There are many types of migrations, such as changing, merging or splitting the domains, redesigning the website or moving to a new framework.

    Web development trends are clearly showing that the use of JavaScript has been growing in recent years and JavaScript frameworks are becoming more and more popular. In the future, we can expect that more and more websites will be using JavaScript.

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  4. Voice search & virtual assistants – SMX Advanced Session Recap – Search Engine Land

    04 Jul 2018 ...  

    With over 420 million voice assistants sold, it’s clear that SEOs need to optimize their content for voice search. Contributor Eric Enge recaps the session and covers the opportunities and challenges voice search presents.

    Voice search & virtual assistants - SMX Advanced Session Recap - Search Engine Land

    Voice search is all the buzz out there, with some saying that by 2020, 50 percent of all queries could be by either image or voice. Personally, I think that estimate is aggressive, but the fact is that it’s a rapidly growing segment.

    It’s also important to be aware that “voice search” may not be the correct label. I say this because many of the “queries” are really commands, like “call mom.” That is not something you would ever have entered into a Google search box.

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  5. Bing visual search adds support for your camera and photos – Search Engine Land

    04 Jul 2018 ...  

    Bing unlocks new intelligent visual search features within the Bing app for iOS and Android.

    Bing visual search adds support for your camera and photos - Search Engine Land

    Bing has announced that you can now use Bing’s visual search features with your cameras and the photos on your device. If you are walking around, let’s say on vacation, and see a landmark, you can take a photo using one of the Bing apps or upload a picture from your camera roll, and Bing should return more information about what you are looking at.

    Here is a screen shot of how the feature looks after you snap a picture:

    Bing visual search adds support for your camera and photos - Search Engine Land

    This is now supported in the US on the Bing app for iOS and Android and for Microsoft Launcher (Android only). Here is where you can find the camera button in these apps:

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  6. Google changed the way it works, and no one really noticed – Search Engine Land

    04 Jul 2018 ...  

    If you missed the changes Google made late last year on labeling country services, you’re not alone. Contributor Patrick Stox goes through the update and explains why you’re seeing a better experience for local users.

    Google changed the way it works, and no one really noticed - Search Engine Land

    In October 2017, Google announced it had updated the way it labeled country services on the mobile web, the Google app for iOS and desktop Search and Maps.

    From Google:

    Today, we’ve updated the way we label country services on the mobile web, the Google app for iOS, and desktop Search and Maps. Now the choice of country service will no longer be indicated by domain. Instead, by default, you’ll be served the country service that corresponds to your location. So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.

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  7. Should you keep your best content on your site or send it away? – Search Engine Land

    04 Jul 2018 ...  

    Contributor Julie Joyce looks at the pros and cons of keeping content on your site versus sending it away.

    Should you keep your best content on your site or send it away? - Search Engine Land

    Recently, I’ve had some very enjoyable discussions with other search engine optimization specialists (SEOs) about where to place promotional content.

    Opinions vary and are dependent on the goals of the webmaster. Some webmasters openly ask for guest bloggers since they need content and don’t have a writing staff.

    Others who are just starting out want to write guest posts or columns for sites other than their own as a way to boost their reputation and increase inbound link counts.

    Some newbie professionals ask more seasoned SEOs to participate in roundup posts as a way to build credibility for their sites. There are many reasons people ask for content or ask to place content.

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  8. Google replacing video boxes with video carousel on desktop search – Search Engine Land

    04 Jul 2018 ...  

    Notice a change to your video views on some of your more popular videos? Google made a change in search on how they display video boxes.

    Google replacing video boxes with video carousel on desktop search - Search Engine Land

    Over the past couple of weeks, Google has been replacing the video box in the desktop search results with a new carousel-formatted video box. First reports of this came as early as June 6, but the big change, according to RankRanger, was on June 15.

    The video carousel box gives searchers a way to click and toggle through more than just three videos by clicking on the right arrow on the last video on the right of the box. Here is a screen shot:

    Google replacing video boxes with video carousel on desktop search - Search Engine Land

    RankRanger said, “Video thumbnails had fallen to the point where they appeared on just .8% of all page one SERPS, a mighty 92% loss.” Here is a screen shot of their tracker tool showing the drop of the old formatted video thumbnails:

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  9. What is GS1 SmartSearch Schema markup and why should e-commerce sites use it?

    15 Mar 2018 ...  

    Contributor Tony Edward explains the new, more advanced schema markup for products called GS1 SmartSearch and how it helps listings gain visibility in the search results.

    What is GS1 SmartSearch Schema markup and why should e-commerce sites use it?

    By now most of us should be familiar with Schema Product markup which can be leveraged for listings on e-commerce sites.

    The benefits of implementing this are serving up your product data in a structured format that is search engine friendly and has the potential to gain rich results such as product rich snippets and rich cards for your product pages.

    Now there is a more advanced way to implement Schema Product markup which provides the benefits mentioned above and can also help your products gain additional visibility. Called GS1 SmartSearch, this advanced structured data type includes customer-facing attributes related to food, beverage, tobacco and healthcare, as well as to clothing and footwear.

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  10. Study: 11 voice search ranking factors analyzed

    15 Mar 2018 ...  

    Some of the findings confirm and some upend conventional wisdom.

    Study: 11 voice search ranking factors analyzed

    Backlinko has done an extensive analysis of “voice search ranking factors” and identified 11 variables tied to appearing in Google Home results. The company examined 10,000 results delivered over the smart speaker.

    What Backlinko found was consistent with what many others have been saying but there were also a few surprises. For example, the study discounts the impact of Schema to some degree and page authority.

    Here’s a partial, paraphrased list of the ranking factors:

    • PageSpeed is a significant factor; voice search results typically come from faster-loading pages.
    • Google relies heavily on very authoritative domains for results, but pages not as much.
    • Content that ranks well on the desktop tends to rank in voice search. This might be a correlation rather than causal however.
    • Schema may not be a factor: 36 percent of pages voice search results came from pages using Schema.
    • Roughly 41 percent of voice search results came from Featured Snippets.
    • Voice search results are generally 29 words; however Google sources voice results from long-form content.
    • HTTPS is critical.

    Google has made page speed an explicit mobile ranking factor. Backlinko found that the page-load time for a voice result was almost 2X faster than traditional webpages. Not a surprise. What may be a surprise are the findings around Schema.

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  11. Multifaceted featured snippets begin rolling out in Google search results

    15 Mar 2018 ...  

    Google updates the search results features with an expanded featured snippet targeting broad, nuanced queries

    Multifaceted featured snippets begin rolling out in Google search results

    Google has been rolling out many new search features over the past few months related to images, featured snippets, and the knowledge graph. Today the search giant released another feature called “multifaceted featured snippets.”

    Multifaceted featured snippets will be surfaced for queries that are sufficiently broad enough to allow for more than one interpretation of what was submitted. In these instances, the SERP returned will include more than one featured snippet, with the original query rewritten as the questions the algorithm assumes the user may have intended, and the results displayed in the multifaceted snippet will reflect those new questions.

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  12. Google removes tappable shortcuts from search app

    14 Feb 2018 ...  

    Less than a year after launching this feature, Google has removed the shortcuts offering quick answers on weather, sports & entertainment info.

    Google removes tappable shortcuts from search app

    ouh_desire / Shutterstock.com

    Google has quietly dropped the tappable shortcuts feature the company released just about a year ago in the Google search app. That feature aimed at giving you a quick way to access Google features without having to search for them.

    Andy B. from the Google Search & Assistant team wrote in a Google help thread that the feature was indeed removed to give more prominence to the new feed experience in the search app, which will make it “easier than ever to discover and explore what matters to you,” he added.

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  13. Google adds new SEO Audit category to Chrome’s Lighthouse extension

    14 Feb 2018 ...  

    The popular auditing tool used by developers and search marketers now enables users to run basic SEO checks against site pages.

    Google adds new SEO Audit category to Chrome's Lighthouse extension

    Webmasters, web developers and SEOs are getting a new feature in the widely used website auditing tool Lighthouse. Google announced today the addition of an “SEO Audits” category to the Chrome extension. You can access the new audit category via the “Options” button in the extension.

    By no means a replacement for a comprehensive SEO audit, the new feature does provide feedback on basic/fundamental SEO best practices, returning a report that checks for:

    • Descriptive anchor text.
    • Titles, description.
    • If the page can be crawled by Google.
    • HTTP status code.
    • Valid hreflang and rel=canonical tags.
    • UX — legible font sizes, plugins.
    • … and makes recommendations for additional reports.

    From a sample report I ran against Starbucks.com:

    Google adds new SEO Audit category to Chrome's Lighthouse extension

    SEO Audit Report from Lighthouse Extension

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  14. The need for speed: Google dedicates engineering team to accelerate development of WordPress ecosystem

    14 Feb 2018 ...  

    Google’s partnership with WordPress aims to jump-start the platform’s support of the latest web technologies — particularly those involving performance & mobile experience. And they’re hiring WordPress experts.

    The need for speed: Google dedicates engineering team to accelerate development of WordPress ecosystem

    Google has invested heavily in shaping the architecture of the web, working with developers, the open-source community and the SEO community to ensure adoption of technologies and practices as part of its mission “to contribute to the prevalence of a healthy, flourishing, and vibrant web.”

    Most recently, Google has partnered with open-source content management system (CMS) WordPress, arguably the largest, with market share nearing 59 percent and an estimated 1/3 of all web content published through the platform — including our three publications.

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  15. Google launches new Rich Results testing tool with some rebranding

    20 Dec 2017 ...  

    In addition to the new testing tool, Google is grouping all the names for these types of search results into the name ‘Rich Results.’

    Google launches new Rich Results testing tool with some rebranding

    Google has announced it has launched a new version of a structured data testing tool for rich results at https://search.google.com/test/rich-results.

    The company also said it will be calling rich snippets, rich cards or enriched results “Rich results” from now on and group them all together.

    Google said the new testing tool “focuses on the structured data types that are eligible to be shown as rich results.” This new version enables you to test all data sources on your pages, including the recommended JSON-LD, Microdata or RDFa. Google said this new version is a “more accurate reflection of the page’s appearance on Search and includes improved handling for Structured Data found on dynamically loaded content.”

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  16. Data bug with Google Search Console’s Search Analytics report

    20 Dec 2017 ...  

    The AMP filter, specifically for AMP non-rich results impressions and clicks, may show incorrect data for your site.

    Data bug with Google Search Console's Search Analytics report

    Google has posted about a data anomalies bug with the Search Analytics report found in the Google Search Console. The specific issue shows up when you use the “AMP non-rich results” search appearance filter and look at the clicks and impressions between December 14, 2017, and December 18, 2017.

    Google said there “was an error in counting AMP non-rich results impressions and clicks” between those dates and you “might see a drop in your data during this period.” It did not impact the actual search results; it was just an analytics bug.

    Here is what the report might look like for you:

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  17. Google offers advice on how to get ready for the mobile-first index

    18 Dec 2017 ...  

    Check your log files to see if you see an increase in smartphone Googlebot activity, it may be a sign your site is now in the Google mobile first index.

    Google offers advice on how to get ready for the mobile-first index

    Image Credit: Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com

    Google has posted on the webmaster blog more advice around getting ready for the mobile-first index.

    Google confirmed it has rolled out the mobile-first index “for a handful of sites” and said the search team is “closely” monitoring those sites for testing purposes.

    You will know when your site moved over by checking to see a significantly increased crawling rate by the Smartphone Googlebot in your log files and the snippets in the results, as well as the content on the Google cache pages, will be from the mobile version of your web pages. Again, Google said only a small number of sites have migrated.

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  18. Optimizing for Hanukkah: Sometimes it’s still strings, not things

    17 Dec 2017 ...  

    Google has grown smarter at recognizing variant spellings of the same entity, but columnist Paul Shapiro observes that it’s not perfect yet.

    Optimizing for Hanukkah: Sometimes it’s still strings, not things

    My wife came to me with a problem. She wanted festive, whimsical, and potentially matching Hanukkah pajamas. But there weren’t enough options coming up in Google under one spelling of the holiday’s name, so she told me she was systematically going through all spellings to compile her list of shopping items.

    I was pretty surprised by this — I had expected Google to be smart enough to recognize that these were alternative spellings of the same thing, especially post-Hummingbird. Clearly, this was not the case.

    Some background for those who don’t know: Hanukkah is actually a transliterated word from Hebrew. Since Hebrew has its own alphabet, there are numerous spellings that one can use to reference it: Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Channukah are all acceptable spellings of the same holiday.

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  19. How to generate links that drive traffic, not just ranking

    17 Dec 2017 ...  

    Links are a crucial element of search engine optimization, and columnist Kevin Rowe believes that long-term SEO success relies on building links that drive real traffic.

    How to generate links that drive traffic, not just ranking

    Many people see link building as a way to drive rankings. But, when done correctly, it can (and should) also drive traffic.

    Driving traffic has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious potential increase in leads and sales. More website traffic can provide valuable analytics data about what users are looking for and what confuses them. It can also help grow engagement and potentially referral links on social media as others begin to share our content.

    In this column, I’ll explain how to identify sources of links that drive actual traffic and how to evaluate your progress so that you can focus your efforts where they will have the greatest impact.

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  20. Google: Fundamentals of writing meta descriptions don’t change with longer search snippets

    15 Dec 2017 ...  

    Google has officially commented about what webmasters should focus on when writing meta descriptions after Google extended their search result snippets.

    Google: Fundamentals of writing meta descriptions don't change with longer search snippets

    Earlier this month, Google confirmed they have extended the search results snippets from 160 characters all the way to a maximum of 320 characters long. Google told Search Engine Land that even though the snippets can be longer, the “fundamentals of writing a description tag” have not changed.

    Google may or may not show 320 characters; Google may or may not show your meta description; and Google may or may not show content from your page. A lot of how Google decides what search result snippet to show is based on the searchers’ query and the content on your page. A Google spokesperson told us “there’s no need for publishers to suddenly expand their meta description tags, if they feel their current ones are adequate. … We now display slightly longer snippets, which means we might display more of a meta description tag.”

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