The Week in Search is a weekly column produced by the Studio team to keep marketing professionals and ecommerce merchants up to date on changes in the search industry, and provide valuable context on what it all means. If you have questions or think we missed something, email us directly.

Google Launches New Blog Post Series to Showcase the Value of SEO

This week, Google posted an interesting blog on the webmaster blog announcing the launch of a new series of blog posts dedicated to telling the success stories of SEO.

Inspired by the stories that they hear in webmaster conferences and hangouts, this series is designed to share those stories. From the post:

“We want people to hear about these success stories, so we’re starting a new blog post series that features case studies. They may, for example, help with convincing a boss’ boss that investing in SEO or implementing structured data can be good for the business.”

The first post details the story of Saramin, a hiring website in South Korea, and how the implemented strategic changes to improve SEO, resulting in higher-quality traffic and a better conversion rate.

Studio Takeaway: I personally love this initiative. Google spends a lot of time creating technical resources for experts and developers, but there’s always been the other side of the coin to SEO: demonstrating it’s value to business stakeholders. A lot of people have the impression that SEO is just a matter of adding a few keywords. I can’t recall how many times we get websites in for review where the client thinks they’ve got SEO under control, when they really don’t.

I’m looking forward to more posts in this series.

Google May Be Forced to Reveal Their Search Algorithm in Lawsuit with UK Search Engine

European shopping sites sue Google for abuse of position ...
photo from the Financial Times

According to Search Engine Land’s Matt Southern, Google may be forced to reveal the inner workings of their search algorithm in order to prove that they did not artificially deflate a competing product’s rankings.

The company called FoundEm alleges that Google ranked Google products above FoundEm causing them to lose revenue. Their lawsuit has been in litigation since 2012.

As part of evidence, Google has actually revealed some of the technical aspects of their search technology and at this point, lawyers for FoundEm are looking to get the assistance of a 3rd party SEO expert to look through the documents Google has provided since it would be too technical for the lawyers to parse.

According to SERoundtable, Google says that they will never allow that to happen.

Studio Takeaway: The SEO Expert, Philipp Kloeckner, might be the first SEO outside of the Google organization to get an in depth look at Google’s search algorithm. We don’t think Google will ultimately allow the reveal of their search algorithms, but it’s an interesting story nonetheless.

Google Shares What COVID-19 Snippets Look Like in Search

Google has shared what their new COVID-19 updates will look like in search. If you’ve been keeping up with the column here, we’ve been covering all of the updates that Google has been making to their structured data search products to allow website owners a better way to communicate with their customers.

Google has also provided additional details on how to submit COVID-19 announcements and manage your COVID structured data here.

Studio Takeaway: Priceless information for website owners at this point in time. If you are not utilizing COVID-19 markup to communicate with customers, start doing it now.

Google Pauses Chrome’s SameSite Cookie Update

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, Google has decided to roll back a major Chrome browser update that would limit 3rd party cookies being able to track users across other sites.

Here’s the announcement:

“In light of the extraordinary global circumstances due to COVID-19, we’ve decided to temporarily roll back the enforcement of SameSite cookie labeling on Chrome 80 stable. We recognize the efforts of sites and individual developers who prepared for this change as part of our ongoing effort to improve privacy and security across the web. We appreciate the feedback from across the web ecosystem which has helped inform this decision. We will provide advance notice on here and the Chromium blog when we plan to resume the gradual rollout, which we’re now aiming for over the summer.”

This update was designed to give users greater privacy and make it harder for advertisers to track their movements across other domains. It would have had a major impact on remarketing capabilities.

Bing Now Allows Site Owners to Control Snippets in Search with New Tools

Bing adds search snippet controls
photo from SERoundtable

Bing has announced new ways for users to manage their website snippets at the Bing Webmaster blog.

“The webmasters owning these sites have had some control over these text snippets; for example, if they think the information they’re providing might be fragmented or confusing when condensed into a snippet, they may ask search engines to show no snippet at all so users click through to the site and see the information in its full context. Now, with these new features, webmasters will have more control than ever before to determine how their site is represented on the Bing search results page.”

The Bing search update allows users to control the following aspects of their search result snippet:

  • The maximum character length of snippet descriptions in search
  • Maximum size of image preview in search results
  • Length in time of a video preview in search results

Studio Takeaway: I like this update because it gives Bing users just a little bit more control over their SERP look than Google does and it is updates like these that are going to bring clout back to Bing.

Other Interesting Links