With Google's Rich Results Test moving out of beta, thumbnail images being tested in the SERP's and Twitter being removed from Google's results pages momentarily, August has already been a very busy month for the search engine. This month, our SEO Executive Joe Potter, also shares some useful industry guides and tips to keep you up to speed.

Rich Results Test Out of Beta – Structured Data Testing Tool Discontinued

Google has been developing their rich results test over the last few years to help webmasters with their structured data. They've just announced that this test is out of beta and fully supports all Google search rich results features. At the same time they're preparing to depreciate the structured data testing tool although it will still be avaliable for those who want it. The tool should serve sites better for a number of reasons:

  • Enhancements to search features.
  • Ability to handle dynamically loaded structure data.
  • Renders both desktop and mobile versions.
  • Aligned with search console.

Source: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2020/07/rich-results-test-out-of-beta.html

Google Thumbnail Images in the SERPs

Google is also testing the use of thumbnail images in different search contexts. The first version is in the search engine results page (SERP), and the second version uses thumbnail images in the Google suggest drop down. This is what we know so far:

  • Not all results have an image.
  • Similar to mobile format or Google News.
  • Seems to come from structured markup or OG tags.
  • Currently only appearing for English keywords.

For websites going forward, it would be ideal to check if the Open Graph Protocol or JSON-LD schema is implemented.

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-thumbnail-images-in-serps/373783/

How to show up on Google Discover: Google’s latest guidance

Google’s new guidance for Discover recommends focusing on the following elements:

  • Having page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.
  • Avoiding tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.
  • Avoiding tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.
  • Having content that is timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.
  • Providing clear dates, by-lines, information about authors, the publication, the publisher, company or network behind it, and contact information to better build trust and transparency with visitors.
  • Include compelling, high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover.

Source: https://searchengineland.com/how-to-show-up-on-google-discover-googles-latest-guidance-337707

Congress’ Big Tech CEO Hearing: Google Focus

Documents from the Hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are avaliable to view online. It's no surprise that Google are testifying. With such a dominant position in so many different areas of the internet economy, the case against it might be both the strongest and the hardest to explain.

Google is a dominant player not just in search, but also in digital advertising, cell phone operating systems, navigation, email, video sharing—it’s almost easier to name parts of the internet infrastructure in which Google doesn’t play an outsized role. And, like Facebook, the company has built that dominance through an array of acquisitions, including YouTube, Android, and DoubleClick.

Increasingly, businesses and rivals complain that Google has designed its search engine in ways that benefit Google at their expense. Today, ads dominate the top of search results like never before, which puts pressure on companies to pay to be seen. Organic results meanwhile appear to favour Google’s own properties: Google reviews instead of Yelp, YouTube instead of Vimeo, and so on. And the answer box, which pulls information from other websites, keeps users on Google, rather than clicking away, which in turn, means more opportunities for them to click on ads.

Source: https://judiciary.house.gov/online-platforms-and-market-power/#4

Google and the URL parameters tool

Recent articles suggest that Google doesn't appear to respect the URL parameters tool in Search Console. Sites should not make assumptions about Google’s crawling parameter and check the log files to confirm activity. If you’re looking to limit the crawl of a particular parameter, you should rely on the robots.txt first and foremost.

Source: https://searchengineland.com/does-google-respect-the-url-parameters-tool-337656

Mobile App Usage Growing as Users Spend 3 Hours Per Day in Apps

It's no surprise that the mobile app economy is growing in terms of downloads, total sessions, and total time spent within apps. People are downloading more apps, adopting new apps at a faster rate, and spending more time within apps according to data from a new report.

Commissioned by Facebook, App Annie published a comprehensive report which investigated the evolution of the mobile app market throughout the past 5 years. Growth has been extortionate; the average user now spends over one-fourth of their life in apps and 2020 is shaping up to be the biggest year yet for app usage.

The market is also extremely diverse, the top 100 apps consist of various new entrants, categories and companies. New apps are gaining traction quicker than ever before and more apps are achieving one million monthly active users and achieving one million downloads at a rapid rate.

In 2019, the average global consumer had 93 apps installed on their phone and used 41 apps per month, up from 85 and 35 respectively in 2015.

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/mobile-app-daily-usage/375636/

Twitter is now back in Google

After Twitter was hacked, Google removed the Twitter carousel from search, however, four days later, it returned.

At the time a Google spokesperson said: “we can confirm we have temporarily removed the Twitter carousel from Search following Twitter’s security issues. Before restoring the feature, we will carry out a careful review.” SimilarWeb shared data and showed that Twitter did not see a decline in traffic from Google during that time.

But, it is rare for Google to remove a feature in its search results because of a hack and hard to say how this may have impacted your site’s traffic or brand reputation. The good news is, you can now leverage this Twitter carousel in Google again.

Source: https://searchengineland.com/twitter-is-now-back-in-google-337888

Mobile-First Indexing Delay

Mobile-first indexing has been an ongoing effort of Google for several years. They have enabled mobile-first indexing for most currently crawled sites and enabled it by default for all new sites. The initial plan was to enable mobile-first indexing for all sites in Search in September 2020 but the timeframe has now been extend to the end of March 2021.

Google has listed a few tips to ensure that your website meets mobile first indexing practice, including:

  • Make sure Googlebot can see your content: including Robots meta tags on mobile version & ensuring lazy-loading on mobile version best practice is adhered to.
  • Make sure primary content is the same on desktop and mobile: Ensure there are no differences in content due to mobile styling.
  • Check your images and videos for:
    o Image quality.
    o Alt attributes for images.
    o Different image URLs between desktop and mobile version.
    o Video and image placement.

Source: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2020/07/prepare-for-mobile-first-indexing-with.html

Keep an eye on our blog and social channels for next months update. Catch up on previous posts by viewing Joe's profile at https://www.stickyeyes.com/staff/joepotter/