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 Launching a Q&A Series with John Mueller

In news you can file under “Google being a bro,” the search giant announced a new video series specifically for webmasters on their Twitter profile. The hokey video states that webmaster guru, John Mueller, will be directly answering questions from webmasters on topics like schema, canonicalization, rich results, and hot dogs. 

John Mueller has been hosting informal Hangouts with webmasters where he fields questions and answers them the best he can in an interactive Q&A environment. 

The new series will air on the webmaster Youtube channel, and questions can be submitted via the Twitter hashtag, #AskGoogleWebmasters.

Studio Takeaway: We’re looking forward to a more formal series of webmaster-related videos. John Mueller’s Hangouts Q&As have always been informative, so a more official format leads us to believe that this will be a consistent, ongoing effort. We’re expecting to see fully fleshed out answers and responses to vetted questions with this video series, unlike the previous Hangouts. A more formal tone and platform will do the industry some good. 

More Speculation on the Google June 2019 Broad Core Update & Health-related Sites

Google Medic, June 2019 Broad Core Update, Domain Diversity – all these recent changes to Google’s search platform have shaken up a lot of websites. Notably, health, medical, and YMOYL sites have been very vocal about drops in traffic from these recent updates. We’ve also seen some evidence that some online periodicals, like the UK’s Daily Mail, have seen issues with recent algorithm updates.

As the dust settles on the June 2019 update, SEOs are starting to get more perspective on what sites the update impacted and why. Search Engine Journal recently published an in depth article that analyzes the correlation between recent Google changes and health sites. Here are some major points of insight from the prominent SEOs interviewed in the article:

“Do we know for a fact that the update didn’t target health sites? I find Google’s language — while often accurate — to be very precise (almost to a fault). I believe that Google wasn’t hand-targeting specific medical sites, but we know that YMYL queries, for example, are very important to them. It’s possible this is even broader — mechanisms, for example, that try to analyze trust in verticals where trust is especially important (or where untrustworthy information is dangerous). Does that mean they “targeted” health sites? No, but they didn’t not target health queries 🙂

-Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

“Google may be demoting sites that it sees as dangerous if they disagree with standardized “facts” — such as those obtained from entity graphs. Sites such as Diet Doctor (promotes fasting) and Dr. Mercola (promotes anti-vax theories) disagree with conventional medical wisdom, and could thus be demoted.”

-Cyrus Shepard, Zyppy SEO & Moz Contributor

“Health/health care is 1/6 of the economy and deals with critical life-and-death issues. So while there are huge opportunities for fraud or quackery there is also massive amounts of research coupled with massive regulatory oversight.”

-Opinions from the SEO Signals Lab Facebook Group

Studio Takeaway: We work with quite a few medical and health-related websites – everything from supplements, to orthopedic supplies, bariatric supplies, to vet supplies and supplements. While we’ve always stressed the importance of authority and trustworthiness on behalf of our clients, it’s not always easy to write marketing and sales-focused copy for medical industry products. If you don’t have an SEO professional guiding your strategy, it would be easy to veer into territory Google might deem untrustworthy. Luckily, we’ve seen very few internal cases where the recent updates have had an impact on a client’s website performance.

For those interested in getting more perspective on the recent updates and exactly how they might be impacting health-related sites, we highly recommend reading through the comments in the SEJ article. If anything, this change should showcase to online merchants that authority should be top of their list when developing web content and determining how they want to position themselves in the market.

There’s a Bug with the New Google My Business Short Name Feature

Recently, Google launched a bunch of new features for their Google My Business platform, one of which allowed businesses to create “short names.” This feature would allow a business like Carpet Master Corporation, INC. make their username something a little more user-friendly, like @carpetmaster.

This week, some vigilant SEOs started reporting that businesses who were claiming their short names were getting random suspensions. There’s no correlation between the type of business and the short name they claimed. As of right now, there aren’t any details or guidelines for choosing your short names. 

According to reports, the suspensions were being levied out to legitimate businesses at random, and were lifted once the short name was removed from their Google My Business profile.

Search Engine Watch Published Annual Review of SERPs, Data Shows Trend Towards Products & Local Strategies

The folks at Search Engine Watch have been publishing an annual review of Google SERPs to track trends in where sites are displaying. They recently published a look at SERPs up through 2019, which we found quite interesting. In the post, the author breaks down their SERP data based on they type of industry and the different methods of display (i.e. paid, organic, local, shopping).

The data is pretty interesting, but what is notable is what the data is saying. In general, fewer sites appear in both paid and organic results on average in 2019. Looking all the way back to 2010, when the author started tracking this data, 2019 has the lowest average overall. They attribute this to changes in how search works, increased competition for paid and organic results, and the growing prominence of local results and paid ad modules.

Studio Takeaway: It’s no surprise that a site’s ability to show up for both paid and organic search results has diminished over the last year. Google’s constant updates to their search results page have pushed non-local organic results further down the page and diversified the many ways you can pay to show up for queries. The Studio team agrees with the recommendations in the post in general. Site owners and ecommerce merchants need to stay on top of how Google is delivering results and adopt new techniques as they become available, with local and product shopping features being the two biggest differentiators at the moment.

John Mueller Dished on a Couple Different Niche SEO Topics

John Mueller decided to talk about a couple of small, isolated topics related to search These nuggets just might impact how you go about structuring an SEO campaign, so here they are:

Relevant Links: