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 Ranking Update & Indexing Issues
This week, there has been chatter about some tumultuous changes in search rankings. Most of the SERP trackers, like Mozcast, noted a particularly tumultuous spike in rankings around late last weekend/early this week.
There’s no official statement from Google, but the SEO community has already named the update the “Back to School” update based on insider information in the comments from a guy named Bill Lambert on this post. Does he work for Google? Not sure.
The feedback on the update is mixed. There seem to be folks on both the good and bad side of the update.
Additionally, issues are continuing with Google’s ability to index new content for certain sites. This issue was originally reported back in April of this year and keeps popping back up from time to time.
Studio Takeaway: Google has historically said that it’s always making algorithm changes. Along with the June 2019 core update and Medic last fall, it’s been a continuous game of Google making changes and website owners reacting. I suspect this week’s update is a continuation of the rankings update they launched back in June.
Google Go is Now Available to All Android Users
Google’s super lightweight mobile web browser, Google Go, has been rolled out to all Android users. Previously, it was only available to select countries where phone tech was lacking and internet connection was unreliable. This app uses less storage and memory than competing mobile browsers, so it keeps your phone running smoothly.
Google Go also has some interesting features such as in-app language translation, visual search with Google Lens, voice search capability, an AI-enabled read-out-loud feature that will read content to you, and the ability to save and resume your web page in the event of a spotty connection.
Studio Takeaway: This search app is packed with search features that website owners should keep an eye on. The abundance of hands-free, virtual assistant capabilities is an indication that Google is continuing to pursue the path of becoming the all-knowing answer engine no matter where or what you’re looking for. For ecommerce site owners, ensuring that you’ve got all the appropriate local business and product schema as well as a healthy FAQ and customer resource page will help your site leverage these features.
Bing Webmaster Tools Makes Site Verification Easier
This week, Bing announced that you can now verify websites using domain connection in their webmaster tools dashboard. Previously, you could only do it by XML file authentication, adding a meta tag to your site or adding a CNAME record to your DNS.
Now you can simply register your domain by logging and connecting to your domain provider. At the moment, this method is supported by GoDaddy, 1&1 Ionos, Media Temple, and Plesk.
Studio Takeaway: Yay Bing!
Google Expands the Capabilities of “People Also” SERP Features
Google has two big SERP features that help users see what others are also searching for: “People also search for” and “People also ask.” This week, there have been two changes changes to both of those enhanced snippets.
Google is now showing video directly in “People also ask” answer boxes where they traditionally showed text and links to the relevant web page. You can see an example in the tweet above.
SEO Roundtable also reported this week that Google is testing expanded carousels for their “People also search for” feature similar to the way you would expand a Google Shopping product carousel. See screenshot above.
Studio Takeaway: The expanded carousels aren’t really a game changer, but the videos in the “People also ask” feature are interesting. To take advantage of that, website owners should attempt to “transform” their content to multiple media formats. If you have a resource page or blog post that gets regularly visited, it might be smart to create a video version, image-based version, and more.
Other Interesting Links
- You can now see image search data in Google Search Console: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-search-console-now-shows-image-search-data-for-amp-pages/322091/
- Google seems to have completely switched over to showing breadcrumbs in SERPs as opposed to URLs (content hierarchy, people!): https://www.seroundtable.com/google-dropping-urls-for-breadcrumbs-on-desktop-28100.html
- Google lifts the veil on ways you can combat Medic update: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-recommends-you-specify-if-a-doctor-reviewed-your-medical-content-28083.html
- John Mueller says that if you want to showcase a piece of content’s “evergreen-ness,” why not add a post date in the meta data? https://www.seroundtable.com/google-dates-on-articles-quality-content-28084.html
- John Mueller says it’s completely normal for a site to rank really well for a search term for a short period of time, and then not: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-rank-well-for-a-short-period-of-time-28085.html
- Google issues a manual action against an SEO expert, indicates that bad link profiles can still hurt you: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-unnatural-links-manual-actions-penalty-28106.html
- Google testing out new featured snippet anchor links: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-featured-snippet-highlight-content-28105.html
- Google is testing out different SERP layout that shows website favicons: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-expands-favicon-black-breadcrumb-at-top-test-28104.html