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: Sites Listed in Feature SERP Position Won’t Reappear on the Same Search Results Page
On the heels of the January Broad Core Algorithm Update, Google quietly rolled out a policy change to one of their big search features: the featured snippet.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s search laiason, announced via Tweet that they will no longer duplicate a search result if it is in the featured snippet position, sometimes referred to as position “0.”
When asked when this change wen’t live, Sullivan said it was completely rolled out globally on January 22, 2020. Google followed up with 7 facts about the change:
- Featured Snippets duplicate URL change is being called deduplication
- Deduplication is global
- The change does not affect video featured snippets
- Deduplication does not affects a featured snippets variant that resembles a knowledge panel. But it will affect it later this week.
- Deduplication does not affect:
– Top Stories
– Interesting Finds
- Duplicated URL moving to page two of the SERPs appears to be a bug of deduplication and is not a feature or by design. URLs in featured
snippets that are also ranking on page two of the search engine results pages (SERPs) may have that listing removed.
- There will be no change in Google Search Console (GSC) performance reports.
Studio Takeaway: Not so long ago, there was a big push to become the featured snippet. It was hallowed SEO ground. But studies have since shown that those results don’t get the CTR that traditional organic results get. Now that Google is removing the chance of appearing twice once you’ve got the featured snippet, we’re wondering if it’s even a benefit to be the featured snippet. Position #2 might actually drive more organic traffic to your site.
Google Agrees to Test Different Implementations of New SERP Layout After User Backlash
Remember last week when Google launched a new search results page layout? Well, now they’re getting heat for it and responding to those complaints by promising testing and (potentially) changes to the new design.
As a quick refresher, here’s what changed:
- Paid search results now have a black “Ad” icon next to the URL as opposed to the old light green outlined icons
- URLs moved to a new location above the Title Tag (previously, they were right below it)
- URL color changed from green to black
Here’s what results pages used to look like:
Many website owners were upset and inherently distrustful of the true reason behind the change. A lot of the issues revolve around the notion that paid results are less distinguishable from organic results.
Apparently, Google took notice and tweeted this yesterday:
Studio Takeaway: Ultimately, the belly-aching over the layout and whether it’s fair to organic results or not isn’t helpful. Google is going to do what it needs to do to ensure their search product works for both paid and organic search results.
That being said, it’s nice to see that Google is treating these complains with (what seems like) sincerity. Here’s their official statement:
“We’re dedicated to improving the desktop experience for Search, and as part of our efforts we rolled out a new design last week, mirroring the design that we’ve had for many months on mobile. The design has been well received by users on mobile screens, as it helps people more quickly see where information is coming from and they can see a prominent bolded ad label at the top. Web publishers have also told us they like having their brand iconography on the search results page. While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users. We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time.”
New Search Engine OneSearch.com Launches
It’s not every day we get to talk about a brand new search engine entering the market. Verizon Media has launched OneSearch.com, a fully secure search engine that boasts a lot of privacy features as well a weirdly alluring dark-themed design.
It feels minimal and carries a sense of privacy-protection gravitas about it.
From the company’s official announcement:
OneSearch’s privacy-focused features for consumers include:
- No cookie tracking, retargeting, or personal profiling
- No sharing of personal data with advertisers
- No storing of user search history
- Unbiased, unfiltered search results
- Encrypted search terms
There is also an Advanced Privacy mode that delivers your search results in an encrypted URL and then clears those results after an hour so no one can go in and see what you’ve been searching for. Give it a spin!
Studio Takeaway: Similar to Duck Duck Go in privacy, better looking than Bing. We did a few searches for some of our client sites and there’s some differences between what Google shows and what OneSearch shows, but if privacy is your #1 concern, this might be your new go-to search engine.
Google Launches Dataset Search from Beta
Google’s Dataset Search Engine is now officially out of beta and ready for users to find the snippets of data they need. Searchers can now filter down to specific datasets, and even use Dataset Search on mobile.
Check it out: https://datasetsearch.research.google.com/
Studio Takeaway: We don’t really use this too much!
Other Interesting Links:
- Google sunsets support for the data-vocabulary.org data set: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2020/01/data-vocabulary.html
- Search Engine Journal articles showcases different types of Machine Learning Spam that Google is ranking: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/machine-learning-spam-in-google/344359/
- New #AskGoogleWebmasters video on Image Search Optimization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR3KjgLpT7A
- Google has updated its Mobile-first indexing documentation: https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing
- Interesting test conducted on whether or not Google prioritizes certain TLD’s: https://www.hartzer.com/blog/tld-bias-search-engine-indexing-rankings/