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 Adds New Event Schema Amid COVID-19 Cancellations

Event example in search results

Google announced the addition of new event schema properties this week to help website owners communicate better with their customers about changes to event schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak. Now if an event has been cancelled, postponed, rescheduled, or moved from in-person to online, webmasters can now include that information as an event property in their schema. Here are the new properties

  • If the event has been canceled: Set the eventStatus property to EventCancelled and keep the original date in the startDate of the event.
  • If the event has been postponed (but the date isn’t known yet): Keep the original date in the startDate of the event until you know when the event will take place and update the eventStatus to EventPostponed. The startDate property is required to help identify the unique event, and we need the date original startDate until you know the new date. Once you know the new date information, change the eventStatus to EventRescheduled and update the startDate and endDate with the new date information.
  • If the event has been rescheduled to a later date: Update the startDate and endDate with the relevant new dates. Optionally, you can also mark the eventStatus field as EventRescheduled and add the previousStartDate.
  • If the event has moved from in-person to online-only: Optionally update the eventStatus field to indicate the change with EventMovedOnline. 

Studio Takeaway: Right now, the best thing businesses can do is clearly communicate with their customers and enabling webmasters to be more descriptive their event description through schema is a great way to clearly and quickly communicate changes.

Google Acting Glitchy?

This week, the folks over at Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Roundtable both reported on some search glitches that users found in Google. One of the most striking and glaring issues was the knowledge panel for the Democratic Party showed a patriotic rat instead of a donkey.

click for full size

Additionally, some users reported what seemed to be Google misinterpreting search queries, taking questions at face value instead of attempting to interpret meaning the way BERT was designed to do.

Screenshot of taking kids to Google.

Other folks have reported an influx of conspiracy theory content showing up in search as well as basic inconsistencies with Google’s knowledge panel info. Google has only directly addressed the Democratic Party rat image, by tweeting this link.

Studio Takeaway: Glitches like these are always interesting. It’s like a peek behind the curtain. In the past, inconsistencies like this have proceeded updates to Google Search. Previously, before Google launched the favicon SERP results layout, users were reporting glitches with how Google was displaying their search results. With this many issues being reported this week, it leads me to believe that Google is testing out changes to their search algorithm.

Bing Launched an Interactive COVID-19 Tracking Map

In an effort to contribute to transparency amid the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Bing has launched an interactive coronavirus tracking map. This map gives you world-wide information as well as country by country stats.

All information included here is being pulled from CDC, WHO, European CDC, and Wikipedia.

Studio Takeaway: Bing doing their part to help keep the public updated about the spread of COVID-19. Love it.

New Study Shows 1 in 4 Business Owners & 2 in 5 Non-Business Owners are Not Familiar with SEO

Market research company Fractl released the results of a new study this week that showcased how familiar (or unfamiliar) business owners and non-business owners are with SEO.

They surveyed over 900 people and some of the findings were surprising.

  • 1 in 3 business owners had little or no understanding of how Google determines search rankings
  • On average business owners received a 48% on an 8 question quiz about SEO basics
  • 27% of non-business owners said they were not at all familiar with SEO, compared to about 10% of business owners

You can see the survey results here.

Studio Takeaway: This honestly doesn’t surprise us much. When we work with clients, we spend a good amount of time on coaching on the SEO process. It’s not expected that you understand what SEO is and how it works in order to benefit from it – it can help to know what you’re getting into, but it’s certainly not a requirement.

Should Google Continue Improving Search Results Amid Coronavirus Outbreak?

There’s a fresh controversy making it’s way through the SEO world right now: should Google stop messing with search algorithms while we deal with COVID-19?

Many SEOs would like the big G to stop fussing with their algorithm and let things cool down. In fact, SERoundtable conducted a short poll on their Twitter asking whether or not SEOs would like Google to pause algorithm updates during COVID-19.

But Google’s John Mueller makes a case for continuing to improve search algorithms:

Studio Takeaway: If you’ve been adhering to Google’s content guidelines, then any algorithm update should help you in rankings not hurt you. During this pandemic, there are going to be certain industries that are hurt (i.e. sporting goods, luxury goods) and others that are going to see a bump (i.e. sanitization products, home goods essentials, food delivery).

Other Interesting Links