Every month Joe, one of our SEO Executives shares the latest news from the world of search with our internal team. As always, lots going on so, we thought we'd share Joe's updates further afield and help you keep up with the news that matters to you.
In July, Google launches a number of new features for 'featured snippets', Google My Business and combined reporting whilst Bing introduces site scan to check for technical SEO issues and image-based shopping. Catch up now.
Google launches new ‘featured snippet’ feature
This new feature means that when you search and click on a featured snippet, Google may anchor you down to that part of the page where the text sits. Or it may highlight that specific piece of text on the page when you are on it.
Danny Sullivan from Google said that this now happens automatically, and there is no markup needed by webmasters. He also said, if a browser doesn’t support the underlying technology needed, or if Google’s systems can’t confidently determine exactly where within a page to direct a click, then clicking the featured snippet will take users to the top of the page.
Bing Webmaster Tools new Site Scan feature can find SEO issues
Site Scan is a site audit tool which crawls your site and checks for common technical SEO issues. This tool is intended to help improve website performance, not only on Bing, but on other search engines and can tell you:
- Number of pages scanned
- Number of errors
- Number of warnings
- Issues found (the severity of the issues and the number of pages affected).
The report is also broken down into sections:
- Errors – The most critical issues found on the site which should be prioritised, for example, these issues may directly impact indexability.
- Warnings – Issues with medium severity could impact SEO health.
- Notices – The lowest severity issues which you can investigate after solving errors and warnings.
Will publishers drop AMP when it’s no longer a requirement for Top Stories?
Google is removing one of the biggest incentives for publishers to use AMP and as a result SEOs are deciding whether its worth maintaining optimising their mobile experience.
AMP is still valuable for user experience. For some publishers, “the Top Stories requirement on mobile was an important factor in the decision, while others wanted to move to AMP for the performance increase”. AMP still gives users the speed that they're looking for which was one of the main reasons behind moving to them.
People like Matt Dorville, SEO Manager at BuzzFeed said they're going to wait and test. “We’re planning to watch and see how the SERP changes with the new competition and how competitors that don’t have AMP perform”. Indeed, it's expected that many publishers will wait until their sites move to the next phase of their development whether it's a CMS update or redesign and then make a decision. The industry seems to be waiting for now and will continue checking and montioring to see if the results are dominated by AMP pages.
Cumulative Layout Shift – 2021 Ranking Factor
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is a Google metric that measures a user experience metric. This metric is said to become a ranking factor in 2021.
CLS is the unexpected shifting of web page elements while the page is still downloading. The kinds of elements that tend to cause shift are fonts, images, videos, contact forms, buttons and other kinds of content.
Minimising CLS is important because pages that shift around can cause a poor user experience and, a poor CLS score is indicative of coding issues that can be solved. It’s important for brands to to understand CLS but, it's not necessary to understand how to do the calculations yourself. But just knowing about it and what it is important will help to ensure you're fit for purpose when the metric becomes a ranking factor next year.
Google Finds Over 25 Billion Spammy Pages Every Day
Google has published it's latest webspam report announcing that over 99% of Google’s search results are spam-free, and the company continues it's fight to ensure that remains the case.
Google had nearly 230,000 reports of search spam in 2019 and took action on over 82% of those reports. User-generated spam reduced by 80% in 2018 and didn't see any increase in 2019.
Site owners are alerted to spam via their Search Console and last eyar, over 90 million messages were sent by Google. Of all 90 million messages, about 4.3 million were related to manual actions resulting from violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Google gives out a warning on guest posting for links
John Mueller has said that guest posting for links are defined by Google as ‘unnatural’ and by default devalue the worth of them. There are no penalisations in place for this, however they carry little to no weighting (or share any link juice).
This is the first time that Goggle (or a representative of) has publicly denounced the technique of gaining links through guest posts. His comments are a continuation on the SEMrush guest article link building outreach service. Since Mueller called this out SEMrush no longer offer the service.
Mueller was quoted as saying: “The other thing is that because this is so old, we have a lot of training data for our algorithms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the largest part of those links are just ignored automatically. If all that work is for ignored links, why not just do something useful instead?”
Bing image-based shopping improves how consumers shop online
Bing has introduced image-based product search where users have 3 ways of discovering products without the use of keywords:
- Product discovery by images, not keywords. A user can search for a general term like “shoes”. They then click into the shopping section and they can select an image of a product that looks like what they’re looking for to then discover similar products. Or, shoppers can crop the images to highlight a feature of a product that they like, this will then help them discover more products that have that specific feature.
- Search by uploading an image. Consumers can upload an image from the web or an image from the store and this will help find the product at a better price and other products that are similar. Users click on the camera icon which engages an image uploader.
- Bing suggests complementary products. Bing has called this the “Goes Well With” feature. For example, when a shopper is viewing dresses, Bing will suggest some shoes that “go well with” the selected dress.
Bing’s image shopping search evolves away from keyword-based search to a way of shopping to closely approximate the way consumers shop in the real world and could help stores with a web presence gain shopping traffic and help lead to more product discovery and sales.
Google combining Search Console and Analytics data into one report
Google is working on a way to combine data from GSC and GA together into one report that will be accessible from either service. Site owners have been receiving email notices via search console with information about an upcoming trial for the new report saying that Google will begin allowing the export of data from Analytics and a linked Search Console property. It is a trial experience that only affects one Search Console property, which will be indicated in the email.
Site owners will receive another notification when the new report becomes available with Google estimating that the report is a few weeks out from being ready to launch. There are a number of benefits to the combined report including:
- Easier to identify correlations by having both sets of data side-by-side.
- GA tracks activity on a website and GSC tracks user activity in SERPs, so the potential use cases with combining the data is nearly endless.
- Correlations between pages that saw traffic increases and keywords that your site was ranking for will be able to be made easier.
There are still a lot of unknowns at this point, as Google hasn’t provided any further information about this feature. As it relates to the trial period, we don’t know if it will be limited to a select audience or if everyone will get an opportunity to participate. We suspect we’ll learn more in the coming weeks as Google gets closer to launching the integrated report.
Google has quietly rolled out a total of four new attributes businesses can add to their GMB listing.
The following four attributes have started appearing in business’s knowledge panels:
- Online care
- Online appointment
- Online estimates
- Online classes
Businesses can add these, and any other existing attributes, to their GMB profile and Google may show in them in search results for relevant queries. With many businesses still being forced to remain closed, there’s been a shift toward offering online services and, in some cases, businesses are serving clients online for the first time ever.
Similarly, people are seeking online alternatives to services they can no longer access in person including doctors, fitness instructors, therapists, and others. Given the sudden change in services businesses are offering, and the change in services people are looking for, it’s time for Google My Business to be updated accordingly.
Keep an eye on our blog and social channels for next months update.