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 Publishes Helpful Resources for Health Organizations
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Google has been quickly developing new resources for those on the front lines. Last week, they provided guidelines on how to temporarily pause your business online. The week before that, they added additional schema types for Events. This week, Google has published some guidance for health companies and SEO as well as created a technical support group that allows members of health organizations to get guidance on SEO best practices.
Here are the particular resources:
The guide provides health and government site webmasters tips on how to see if your site is indexing properly, and gives an outline of best practices, including a highlight to FAQ Schema.
Studio Takeaway: As COVID-19 continues, I fully expect more and more companies to publish resources designed to help small businesses. I’m not sure any of us expected Google to open itself up as health and governmental business consultants. I hope to see the internal workings of that group at some point.
It’s also interesting to note that one of the main components Google points out in their resources are FAQ schema.
Google Published New Guide on Dynamic Structured Data
If you’re familiar with structured data and schema, it’s a way to catalog specific pieces of data and send them in a “structured” way to Google where they then display them in search in a format called “rich results.”
Studio Takeaway: The benefits of dynamically-generated schema are obvious. To be honest, this SEO did not know that Google Tag Manager was a method by which you could facilitate this sort of implementation.
Google Search Console Announces BETA COVID-19 Announcement Tool
For websites that cannot utilize structured data, Search Console has announced that they have a BETA tool that allows businesses to push out COVID-19 related announcements.
This tool is specifically for the following types of announcements:
- COVID-19 Testing Facility
- School Closure
- Shelter-in-place Orders
- Disease Spread Statistics
- Travel Bans
- Other or General Announcements
Google says the following: “Authority websites, such as government agencies, official health authority, and schools, can use this tool to submit an important COVID-19 announcement on their site, particularly if they are unable to use structured data.”
Studio Takeaway: More great resources for websites to continue to communicate with the public about COVID-19 details.
Google Says It Is Doing a Certain Level of Filtering of Search Results During COVID-19 Outbreak
For weeks, SEOs have been speculating that Google is toying with their search algorithms amid the coronavirus outbreak. After weeks of tumultuous search patterns, Google officials have finally given the SEO community a direct answer to whether or not they are adjusting search results to cater to COVID-19.
In a Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller stated the following:
“So I’m not aware of anything where we’re manually filtering out sites specifically around health terms.
I do know that specifically around health people have very high expectations of search results and therefor we work really hard to make sure that the search results that we provide there are of the highest quality possible.
So it’s not so much that we need to filter things out but rather that we need to make sure that our algorithms are really working as as well as they should be. And having good algorithms that figure out what content is relevant for users or not, that’s something that makes sense across the board. So it’s not like we would only need to do that for one specific query but rather we can use these algorithms and use them everywhere. So whenever someone is searching for something and we have algorithm that helps us to better understand what they’re searching for and to better show search results for that and we will try to do.
That so from that point of view it’s not that we’re doing anything really special for for these kind of terms. Maybe apart from the various kind of one boxes that we have in search where we try to kind of highlight the more current information a little bit better. But apart from that it’s it’s not that we’re doing anything that we wouldn’t otherwise want to do elsewhere in search.”
You can watch the answer at the 14:20 minute mark here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n_4B7ZXjjI&feature=youtu.be&t=860
Other Interesting Links
- Google Webmasters Youtube channel publishes a video detailing the evolution of the search results page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezLO7yC4aFo&feature=emb_title
- SERoundtable reporting a lot of search volatility over the last week: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-search-volatility-fluctuations-super-weird-29235.html
- Google publishes all of the Webmaster Product videos from November 2019: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-webmaster-conference-product-summit-videos-29239.html
- Featured Snippet results are now showing in positions besides #1: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-featured-snippets-not-in-position-one-29255.html