Daily Archives: November 28, 2021

SERP News: Mobile Friendly Retired, AMP is Here

By | November 28, 2021


August SERP Features: Out with the Old, In with the New, and Then out with New Again

 

August was a month with SERP news aplenty. In fact, last month had everything you could possibly want, *** summer days, the coming of the school year (a parent’s best friend), and a multitude of SERP features coming and going.  At minimum it was everything a SERP Features Tracking Tool would want out of a SERP.  In any event, all of the news and happenings on the SERP last month made for quite a rich SERP experience, so without further adieu may I present to you the very much altered August 2016 SERP. 

The SERP last month was like a revolving door, some features came only to leave, others seem here to stay, while others are gone for good. This is in fact what made last month so unique, as to see so many SERP  feature gains and losses is a bit unusual, it’s certainly not par for the course.  


Google Removes Mobile-Friendly Label

Let’s begin with the most recent SERP feature movement news, the removal of the Mobile-friendly label. On August 23rd Google announced that its Mobile-friendly label would be removed from the SERP. Google explained the move saying that they “recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria [of being mobile friendly].” and that the label’s removal was part of an effort to tidy up the mobile SERP. True to their word, Rank Ranger’s own Mobile SERP Features Tracker caught the disappearance of the label from the mobile SERP just as August was about to leave us. 

Mobile-friendly Label Removed from Mobile SERP

Figure 1. The percentage of Page One results presenting at least one Mobile-friendly result drops drastically as the Mobile-friendly label is removed from the SERP

AMP to Enter Organic Results 

If you’re saddened by the departure of the Mobile-friendly label, take solace in knowing that your organic results will be gaining a new feature – AMP. While AMP has been limited essentially to publishers within the mobile SERP’s News Box, on August 2nd, Google made public that a page’s AMP status will now appear within organic results. Google has made it clear that AMP is not a ranking factor – as of now. While Google is saying that AMP per se is not a ranking factor, speed is, page speed that is. An AMP optimized page loads four times as fast as its “un-optimized” counterpart. I was never that great at math (though ironically I taught the subject, go figure), but I know enough to say that a + b = AMP indirectly impacts rank


Google Adds Tic Tac Toe and Solitaire to the SERP 

 

August saw Google playing games with us… literally. AMP was not the only thing Google announced would enter the SERP. On August 25th the search engine announced and indeed rolled-out the ability to play Tic Tac Toe and Solitaire right on the SERP. What am I talking about? OK, stop whatever you’re doing (which is obviously reading this), go to Google and type in Tic Tac Toe and enter into 4th grade heaven once again… Now that you’re back (I’m estimating a good 20 minutes later), you’ll have noticed that yes, you can play Tic Tac Toe right on the results page (playtictactoe.org must be wondering why their traffic has fallen off a cliff since the 25th). 

Tic-Tac-Toe on the SERP

Figure 2. Google’s SERP now offers the ability to play games such as Tic Tac Toe directly on the SERP 

Phone Icon Moves Beyond the USA 

Phone Icon, an exclusively mobile SERP feature entered a new market last month. The feature that allows you to call an establishment from within a mobile organic result via a gray phone icon was until now solely relegated to the United States. All of that changed between August 8 – 10 when the feature began to display in earnest in Canada as well (until then the feature would appear as part of a one or two day test, and even then only at the most minimal of levels). 

Phone Icon Data for Canada

Figure 3. Google’s gray phone icon rolls-out in Canada appearing in roughly 1.5% of Page One results 

Google Olympic Games SERP Feature 

Google went for the gold last month by introducing one of the most unique SERP features I’ve ever encountered. In order to help fans of the Games in Rio keep track of events, Google launched an impressive “new” Olympics SERP feature that tracked events, countries, athletes, sports, medal counts, etc. The feature was unique in that it functioned on desktop like a mobile Knowledge Panel, but with deeper information capabilities. 

Olympic Knowledge Panel - Destop

Figure 4. Google’s Olympic Games SERP feature on desktop displaying mobile Knowledge Panel functionality 

Although the Olympics are over, the feature still appears when entering queries related to the 2016 Olympics, but does not contain live and continuously updated content. As such, we wrap up August’s SERP additions and removals with the feature that was added, but removed for all intents and purposes. After all, what is an Olympic-sized SERP feature without the Olympics? I would go into more detail on the feature, as it is quite novel and presents interesting implications, but I have already discussed the feature in-depth upon its release and in the context of Knowledge Panel functionality. 

SERP Feature Data Trends for August 2016 

 

With the SERP having undergone so many alterations via new and lost features it’s easy to forget cold, hard SERP features data. While not as drastic as July’s SERP data trends, August had its own share of SERP features data drama.

August SERP Fluctuations 

July saw some unprecedented SERP fluctuations that had some folks, myself included wondering if an undisclosed algorithm update had occurred. August, relatively speaking, was a quiet month for SERP fluctuations. Though quiet, the month did have a “fluctuation event” as the month rolled in.  In specific, the Rank Risk Index, measuring SERP fluctuations, saw an early month, multiple day, spike on both desktop and mobile. Some in the industry speculated that the fluctuations were a reversal of the “update” Google made in July.   

Desktop and Mobile Rank Risk Index - August 2016

Figure 5. August 2016 desktop and mobile SERP fluctuations as presented on the Rank Risk Index

Changes in Organic Results on Mobile

Though the fluctuations noted above seemed to be significant based on industry chatter, the SERP features themselves did not show much movement. The one noticeable exception were the number of organic results displaying on Page One of the mobile SERP. 

July saw organic results on mobile take a step away from traditional behavior with 9 organic results spiking while 10 results dipped. In conjunction with the early August SERP fluctuations, the average number of Page One organic results on mobile returned to more traditional levels with the percentage of results showing 9 organic links falling over 2 percentage points while the percentage of results pages showing 10 organic results jumped over 2 points.

Figure 6. Organic results on mobile undergo a lasting mid-month shift

The changes in the number mobile organic results were not limited to the beginning of the month. Between August 9th and 10th the percentage of mobile Page Ones showing 9 organic results spiked again while the percentage showing 10 results dipped roughly 5 percentage points. Parenthetically, this data occurrence coincided with raised mobile SERP fluctuations as seen in Figure 5. However, by 11th the data returned to its previous pattern. That is until August 15th arrived. On the 15th we saw the beginning of yet another rise in the percentage of Page One results showing 9 organic results and a dip in those showing 10. By the time the 18th rolled around, 10 results saw an approximate 5 percentage point decline while 9 results saw close to a 1.5 percentage point increase.  

The percentage of Page One results on mobile showing 9 and 10 organic results were not the only organic numbers to shift. On August 10th there was a one day uptick in both 7 and 8 organic results, with 8 results showing an unheard of 3 percentage point jump. What’s more is that the same shift occurred again the 16th, simultaneous to the shift in 9 and 10 organic results. The most interesting facet of this organically shifting story is that neither 7, 8, 9, nor 10 organic results shifted back to their normal data patterns. By August 31st, this new organic results trend was still in effect. 


Uptick in HTTPS Results 

 

No month would be complete without addressing at least one SERP feature data change on desktop. Though, to be honest, this one was on both desktop and mobile (it counts anyway). Starting on August 9th, the SERP Features Tool caught HTTPS taking a nice uptick, one far steeper than the feature usually sees. Between the 9th and 14th there was a solid two percentage point increase in the number of Page One results showing with at least one HTTPS site. The same held true on mobile, where the there was a roughly 2.5 percentage point increase. 

HTTPS Uptick - August 2016

Figure 7. HTTPS on both desktop and mobile show a significant uptick that began on August 9

You might say that this doesn’t sound like much of an increase. Well, everything is relative and this increase had the SEO community asking Google if it boosted the ranking signal for HTTPS. As an aside, Google quickly laid the theory to rest when Gary Illyes responded with a simple “no” on Twitter. 

Plenty of Changes on the SERP for Everyone

Whether you’re a sports fan or just like to play cards, there was something on the August SERP for everyone. Which sporting event will Google show its deep Knowledge Panel for next? What card or childhood game will you be able to play right on the SERP next month? 

On a more serious note, though your website’s rankings may not have changed, with all of the organic shifts on mobile are you still on Page One? As the mobile SERP continues to show increased preference towards 7, 8, and 9 organic results how many of you ranking in position #10 in the organic results will still be listed on Page One? 

As always, I look forward to hearing your insights and answers! 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!



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Keyword Planner is Altering Keyword Queries

By | November 28, 2021


On August 22nd I presented you with a timeline of changes Google made to Keyword Planner’s search results. At the time, Keyword Planner has shifted to showing many users search volume ranges, as opposed to specific search volume numbers. Today we can add a new change to that timeline in what I would consider to be an even bigger adjustment to Keyword Planner that has set a new precedent. The Rank Ranger team has discovered that Google’s keyword research tool is now altering search queries, presenting results that don’t exactly match the initial phrase. As a result, Keyword Planner is at times showing results that not only don’t match the query exactly, but seriously deviate from the possible intent behind it. 

Small Keyword Planner Result Changes Can Make a Big Difference

One of the first keyword searches we caught displaying results for a different search term related to car dealerships. We found that often enough Keyword Planner would show the results for the term “dealers”, instead of the the original search term “dealership.”

Keyword Planner Changes

Keyword Planner substitutes the keyword “dealers” instead of the original search term “dealership”  


In the above case, “seattle ford dealership” and “new york ford dealership” returned results that read “seattle ford dealers‘ and “new york ford dealers” respectively. While this may not seem like a major change that would have much impact, the truth is that a simple alteration like the one shown here can significantly affect the relevancy and meaning of a keyword search term. 

In fact, having received this from our team, I decided to search for another auto maker, Mitsubishi. Why Mitsubishi? Well, because Mitsubishi is famous for selling a variety of products from TVs to air conditioning units. Here, the change from “dealership” to “dealers” is a significant change. The term “dealership” is generally reserved for car sales. That is, the term inherently connotes cars, whereas the term “dealer” could refer to a variety of industries. Google’s alteration was not cataclysmic in the first example because the Ford brand is naturally and primarily associated with the auto industry. Not so with Mitsubishi. When I did enter “Mitsubishi dealership” indeed Keyword Planner yet again altered the results to show “Mitsubishi dealers.” 

AdWords Changes Keyword Search Phrase in Results

Substituting the term “dealership” with “dealers” presents real implications when the auto brand is changed to Mitsubishi 

However, as opposed to the search for “Ford” the meaning associated with “Mitsubishi dealer” does not connote the same meaning as its American auto-making counterpart. As such, the result Google has supplied me with may not align with my initial search and this little change does at the of the day make a big difference when carrying out keyword research. 

Keyword Planner’s Altering of the Search Term Changes the Meaning 

 

Keyword Planner showing keyword results that are not aligned with the original query term can result in the initial intent of the keyword term becoming lost, and its meaning changed. This is self-evidently significant and can make things a bit more complicated for users trying to find data related to their intended search term. By way of example I searched for the phrase “apartment rental” and Keyword Planner showed me “apartment rent.”

Search Term Within Keyword Planner and Result Term Don't Match

Keyword Planner changes the keyword query from “apartment rental” to “apartment rent” thereby changing the query’s original intention 

Rent and a rental are clearly not the same thing. A rental refers to the entity that is the apartment itself and its status as a rental (as opposed to it being a condominium for example). In contradistinction, the term “apartment rent” refers to the payment a tenant living in an apartment is obligated to pay. 

Keeping within the housing industry, take the keyword search phrase “contracting home.” My intent when entering the term related to the contracting stage of buying or selling a home. 

Keyword Planner Changes Meaning of Search Term

By changing the keyword phrase to “contractor home,” Keyword Planner has moved away from the subjective meaning presented in the original search term


Google however returned a result that related to home improvement, “contractor home.” Thus, the initial intent of my query has been lost and the term presented within the result is rendered meaningless as it does not align to the nature of my search at all. Simply, by altering the keyword term, I did not obtain the search volume for the keyword I was searching for. 

Search Results on the SERP Do Not Align to Keyword Planner Phrase Alterations 

 

As frustrating as I found the above examples I was simply baffled when I compared Keyword Planner’s search term alterations to actual results on the SERP. I theorized that if Google was altering and adjusting my search phrases that there would be some sort of continuity between the keyword research tool and the actual SERP results. In other words, if Google was interchanging terminology on its keyword research tool, it would only make sense that those terms would be interchangeable regarding the search results as well. If the keyword term Google morphed my initial query into is not synonymous with how search results on the SERP display, then why should Keyword Planner alter my keyword phrase to begin with?  

As part of my tour through Google’s keyword phrase transformations I searched for the term “home decoration” and was supplied with the phrase “home decor” instead. 

Keyword Planner Result with the Search Phrase Changed to Rent from Rental

A change in keyword phraseology from “home decoration” to “home decor” obviously alters the meaning of the keyword 

The obvious difference between the two terms is that “home decoration” refers to the act of decorating one’s home whereas “home decor,” is more a type of object, or a reference to the finished product of decorating one’s home. If I were to imagine a SERP that showed results for my original keyword I would expect to find tips about how to go about home decoration, perhaps a list of magazines that discuss the topic, etc., which is pretty much what I saw when I did a Google search for home decoration.

Search Results for Home Decoration

 

The Google SERP for the search query “home decoration” produces results that deal with how to decorate a home 


Doing a Google search for “home decor” I also got what I expected to see, websites that offered products within the home decor category. 

Home Decor Results on the SERP

A search for “home decor” produces only one shared result with a search for “home decoration” and deal with home furnishings per se


So, if Google search knows the difference between the two terms, as evidenced by its two vastly different SERPs, why is it trying to throw an unwanted term on me within Keyword Planner? 

Just to accentuate the point I did a search for the term “online banker,” banking on the fact Keyword Planner would show me results for the term “online banking.” Terrible puns aside, Google did exactly that, and Keyword Planner decided that I was not looking for an online banker, but was looking to do some online banking (why do I feel like Google is becoming my mother?). 

Online Banker Keyword Planner Result

Keyword Planner alters a search for “online banker” and displays a result for “online banking” 

Turns out that there is such a thing as an online banker, it’s the name of an online banking tool NBT Bank offers its customers. Suppose I wanted to name a tool “Online Banker” to compete with NBT, with Google showering me with the results it thinks I want, I’m left in the dark. I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but maybe I have a crazy idea for an online banking consulting firm, and I want to see if people are looking for the term “online banker,” wouldn’t seeing that there is no search volume at all be helpful to me? Why is Keyword Planner taking that away? 

Online Banker SERP Results

The search results page for “online banker” yields a result directly related to the keyword

Might I add that the SERP for “online banking” is very much different than the SERP for “online banker,” which means Google does see a difference between the terms and thus I’m again feeling bewildered as I just don’t understand where Google is going with all of this. 

Online Banking SERP Result

Search results for “online banking” do not present results related to “online banker”

Keyword Bucket Disorientation

Keyword Planner’s new term swapping presents another problem. As is well known, Google had begun to categorize similar keywords together by search volume, showing each synonymous keyword with the same volume, though listing each keyword independently. Now, as Keyword Planner swaps your original keyword term with another (which as an aside, is often not very synonymous, see above), how do you know which “bucket” your keyword falls into?

Group Keyword Search

As Keyword Planner shows variant terms in results, deciphering a multi-keyword search becomes more difficult





Using the above image as an example, it’s entirely possible that “search engine optimizer” falls under the search engine engineer “bucket.” It’s also equally possible that it’s a part of the seo bucket. Outside of searching for each keyword separately, how are you to know? Does this in turn make searching for a mass of keywords at once obsolete?

Why Is Keyword Planner Taking My Keyword Phrase Choice Away? 

The real question is: Why is Google doing this? I understand that Google may want to offer suggestions in the SERP for related searches that perhaps I didn’t think of, that are perhaps more on target. That’s all fine and good, but why does Google think, I don’t know what I want and what I’m talking about (again, I’ll just ask, does Google know mother, because this is getting freakishly too similar). All-in-all I found this user experience very frustrating. At a certain point, I just couldn’t get Google to give me the keyword information that I wanted. I for one want to know if my keyword choice is stupid, off target, and irrelevant, but when Google decides to take the words out of my mouth, ultimately I’m left not getting what I came to Google for.

Cry Baby

Worst off all, Google is often supplying me with alterations to my search that misrepresent my intent, leaving my keyword research off-kilter. So, I’ll ask it again, why? Because it truly makes very little sense to me. It almost feels like I’ve been “RankBrained.” Is this Google testing out RankBrain in some backhanded way? If so, the results I got ironically took me further away from my true intent. Bottom line, I’m left feeling dazed and confused by the recent adjustment to Keyword Planner, how about you? 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!



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Why Did Google Remove 50% of Image Boxes From Page One?

By | November 28, 2021


Late last week our SERP Feature tool tracked an odd shift in the number of Image Boxes appearing on Page One of the SERP. Taking place on the desktop SERP (to the exclusion of mobile), that little row of pictures, known commonly as Image Box fell from showing within 24.2% of Page One results to just 11.9% in a single day. 

Such an unusual spike left us wondering, where have all the images gone? Did they just fall off the face of the Earth? Did they get pushed down? Were they replaced with another feature? Were all Image Boxes affected or simply those that related to certain topics or categories? 

Image Box Results Drop off

Image Box is removed from over 50% of Page One results within a one day span

A Snapshot of Image Box’s New Placement

 

Before I get into the whole story of Google’s new Image Box placement trends, allow me to just put out there what we found in a clear and entirely concise manner.

  • Between September 13th and 14th 50% of Page One Image Boxes no longer displayed.
  • There was a 57% migration of Image Boxes off Page One of the SERP and either onto Page Two or removed altogether.
  • A query that produced a Page Two Image Box, had a Page One knowledge Panel. As such, it appears Google is using the images within Knowledge Panel as substitute for a Page One Image Box. 
  • Those queries that had both a Page One Image Box, as well as a Knowledge Panel, presented content that was strongly related to or associated with an image.

Image Boxes Move to Page Two 

 

If you could count on Image Box to do one thing, it was to always show pictures of all the beautiful people, actors, actresses… as well as some not so beautiful people like famous hockey players without any teeth. Fearing we would never be able to gaze upon such glorious, as well as gruesome faces, our development team and I started manually testing keywords related to celebrities. We very quickly found that many Image Boxes were appearing, but not on Page One of the SERP… they were shifted to Page Two. 

Image Box on Page Two

Image Boxes related to famous persons within pop culture were moved to Page Two of the results 


Image Box Data Experiment 



Having seen this Page Two Image Box push we put together an extensive list of keywords that related to celebrities and the arts. We also included various public, business, and political figures within our keyword set. Lastly, we included keywords related to products, objects, locations, and landmarks that previously showed Image Boxes on Page One. 

When we first looked at the percentage of all results that showed an Image Box on Page One of the SERP versus those with the feature on Page Two or without an Image Box at all we found:  

Percentage of Image Box on Page One, Page Two, or Removed from Results

This is certainly an interesting number as between the 13th and 14th we saw Image Box lose about 50% of its Page One results. However, we were still left with a question as to what was the deciding factor that determined if an Image Box remained on Page One or was shifted to Page Two. 

Album Title Show Image Box on Page Two

Queries for movie and album titles also showed with an Image Box that had migrated from Page One of the SERP to Page Two 

By way of example, the chart below illustrates select keywords that showed with Image Boxes on Page One and those with Image Boxes on Page Two:

Keyword Placement for Page One and Two Image Boxes

Bringing Politics Into the Matter

Interestingly enough, we saw a trend where some politicians would not appear with an Image Box at all anymore. For example, searches for Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, and current US Senator, Ben Cardin, did not display with an Image Box on Page One or Page Two. 

No Image Box- Politicians

The trend appears to be that Image Box will not appear at all, even on Page Two, for queries related to some politicians 

Coincidentally, all of the politicians that did not have an Image Box tied to them in the results had a form of Knowledge Panel that presented a multitude of images. It would appear that the images displayed within Knowledge Panel are meant to act as a substitute. 

Knowledge Panel as Image Box Substitute

When a query that had an Image Box previously shows without one, a Knowledge Panel containing images will generally appear on Page One of the SERP 


Knowledge Panel Images Replace Page One Image Boxes

When we looked at all of our results, we found that this “Knowledge Panel correlation” held true all the way through. All of the results that had an Image Box on Page Two, had a Knowledge Panel on Page One. It became very clear to us that Google, when serving images within a Knowledge Panel, deemed the images within the Image Box as redundant and as such moved the box to Page Two of the SERP.



Image Box Without Knowledge Panel

Queries that brought up an Image Box previously but not a Knowledge Panel continue to produce an Image Box on Page One 

When it came to searches for apps, it appeared that when the keyword did not include the word “app” in it, the Image Box was on Page Two of the SERP. 

Page Two Image Box with Term App Included

Queries related to popular apps, but without the exact phrase “app” display with a Knowledge Panel on Page One and an Image Box that has been pushed to Page Two

Taking a closer look, those keywords related to an app, but that did include the term “app”, not only appeared on Page One of the SERP, but had no Knowledge Panel, thus corroborating our theory. 

Image Box on Page One When

Indicating Google’s trigger for Page Two Image Box placement, app related queries that do include the term “app” show with an Image Box on Page One, but without a Knowledge Panel

Image Box Exceptions 

  

Based on the data we saw thus far, we thought there to be a very simply formula, a Knowledge Panel on Page One meant either no Image Box or an Image Box on Page Two. As such, we expected to see no results showing both an Image Box and a Knowledge Panel on Page One. However, in reality around 40% of keywords that showed a Page One Image Box also had a Knowledge Panel. 

 

However, we found that overwhelmingly the appearance of both an Image Box and Knowledge Panel related to when the keyword was associated with a specific brand product or location/landmark. 

For example, keywords such as Statue of Liberty and Space Needle produced SERPs that included both an Image Box and Knowledge Panel. 

Location Associated Result with Image Box on Page One



Queries related to locations or landmarks display with both a Page One Image Box and a Knowledge Panel 

This makes good and obvious sense. When an image has a deep and almost intrinsic relationship to understanding the keyword, Google keeps the Image Box on Page One. The example of the Statue of Liberty is a perfect illustration as the image itself has far reaching recognition and forms a part of a user’s understanding. 

Further support to this is illustrated by the Louis Vuitton example. Here the Knowledge Panel refers to the corporation, person, and history, while the Image Box presents actual products. When Google notices that the Knowledge Panel and the Image Box serve different functions, it keeps both present on Page One. 

Knowledge-Panel-with_Image-Box-Page-One

When an Image Box reflects a keyword from a secondary perspective, both it and a Knowledge Panel appear on Page One

Our Image Box Experience Summary and Conclusions 

When you need them, Google Image Boxes are there. However, when an Image Box is superfluous, when in a sense it is duplicate content in that a Knowledge Panel is present, Image Box exits stage left to Page Two of the SERP (if at all). All of the keywords we tested that resulted in Image Box showing on Page Two had a Knowledge Panel that went with it on Page One of the SERP. Of the cases where both an Image Box and Knowledge Panel appeared on Page One of the SERP, the overwhelming majority of those keywords either had strong association to an image, were not fully explained without the image, or had images that related to a different aspect of the keyword. Thus, the fact that there are keywords bringing both features up, only bolsters what our experiment showed…  when only ancillary, Image Box is pushed off Page One. The question is, will Image Box remain on its new Page Two home, or will Google drop it altogether… time will tell. 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!



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Is Your Usage Of Google Ads An Organic Search Ranking Factor?

By | November 28, 2021


Does Google favor advertisers by giving those who use paid ads a ranking advantage in organic search results?

It’s a topic that’s been hotly debated over the years.

Let’s take a look at why people have believed this to be true – and whether Google Ads can really help you rank higher in organic search.

The Claim: Google Ads As A Ranking Factor

This one stems from an ongoing distrust of Google the Mega Corporation. It suggests that if you spend money in one division (in this case, Google Ads), you’ll enjoy benefits in another (Search).

The Evidence for Google Ads As A Ranking Factor

Every so often, an SEO professional pops up to share anecdotal evidence around rankings dropping in correlation with a Google Ads campaign (see an example in the next section).

But that’s just what it is – there’s no evidence of causation there, and the plural of anecdote is not data.

Early in 2021, a member of the search marketing community fired off a series of tweets accusing Google of not only using Ads campaign spend to influence organic search rankings but of attempting to extort business owners with the practice.

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In one, she wrote:

“I’m not sure yet how to process the fact that Google just did a shakedown of one of our clients. In essence, they were told to spend more on paid ads in order to improve organic search *for their brand name.*”

As expected, chaos ensued. Those who’d harbored a belief in the Google Ads/organic rankings cheered in vindication. SEO pros shook their proverbial fists at the Twitter sky.

Google tricked us again!

Others argued that it wasn’t possible; that the intent of the sales rep’s message had been lost in translation.

Upon questioning, she insisted it was not a miscommunication and that the Google Ads sales rep had even sent written confirmation that increasing ad spend would improve branded organic rankings.

Was Google caught out with a smoking gun, accepting money in exchange for rankings?

The Evidence Against Google Ads As A Ranking Factor

Google’s Danny Sullivan caught wind of the conversation above and was clear in denying any connection between the two:

Screenshot taken by AuthorGoogle Ads Tweet from Danny Sullivan

This isn’t surprising, as Google has long held that there’s no connection between advertising and organic search.

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Matt Cutts dispelled this myth in a 2014 video, characterizing the ongoing insistence that Google Ads (AdWords, at the time) were in any way related to organic search performance as the stuff of conspiracy theories:

“…there are a lot of SEO myths. So one of the biggest that we always hear is, ‘If you buy ads, you’ll rank higher on Google.’ And then there’s an opposing conspiracy theory which is, ‘If you don’t buy ads, you’ll rank better on Google.’

And we sort of feel like we should get those two conspiracy camps together and let them fight it all out. And then whoever emerges from that one room, we can just debunk that one conspiracy theory.”

Another conspiracy theory, he said, was that Google makes algorithm changes to try to make people buy ads.

“We want to return really good search results to users so they’re happy, so they’ll keep coming back. That’s basically it.”

More recently, John Mueller addressed the topic in a Google Office Hours hangout.

A viewer said they noticed a rankings drop on a specific keyword when they started running Google Ads, and their rankings returned when they stopped advertising.

Mueller explained:

“…these systems are completely separate on our side. The ranking within the ads, the ranking within search are completely separate systems and there’s essentially no real connection there.

…So the ranking change that you saw there seems like something that would be totally unrelated to the ads.”

Google Ads As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Definitely Not

 

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Google is a massive organization more than capable of keeping these two divisions separate.

What’s more, allowing ad spend to influence organic rankings would surely result in less useful results and a poorer user experience. It would counteract everything else Google is trying to do with search.

You may not believe everything Google says.

But in this case, I believe we would have seen a good deal more concrete evidence over the last 20+ years if you could simply buy your way to the top of organic search rankings through ads.

This one is clear: Google does not use Google Ads as a search ranking signal.

What else is true about Google: the layout of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) clearly emphasizes ads (traditional text, Shopping, Hotels, etc.).

So while buying an ad isn’t an organic search ranking factor, Google’s ads absolutely can impact the visibility and placement of your site on the SERPs.


Featured image: Paulo Bobita

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Source link : Searchenginejournal.com

Swimming **** filtration plants

By | November 28, 2021

The water filled in the swimming **** is continuously drawn through multiple suction points at various locations in the ****. This water is then passed through.

Google Search Console: Is It a Ranking Factor?

By | November 28, 2021


For years, SEO professionals have lived inside Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) almost as if we’re building our own Sims world for SEO.

If you’ve mastered the art of optimizing your website with the help of Google Search Console, you most likely have your site on lock.

But does Google Search Console play a role in Google’s ranking factors? Can you benefit directly from connecting your site to Google Search Console?

Let’s get those questions answered below.

The Claim: Google Search Console As A Ranking Factor

At one point or another, I’m sure you’ve heard the myth that using Google Search Console can improve your rankings. It’s the same with other Google products (e.g., Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google AdSense).

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But is that all a rumor?

Let’s put this myth to rest officially.

The Evidence of Google Search Console As A Ranking Factor

Is Google Search Console A Ranking Factor?

I hate to break it to you, but Google Search Console is not a ranking factor.

You can determine this based on past information Google has confirmed related to Google Analytics and Google Ads not being a ranking factor.

This is such an obvious no that no one even talks about it.

The closest I’ve seen Google address this is Google’s John Mueller responding to a Reddit thread from 2018, which asked:

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“How important if at all is it to run different websites on different search console and analytic accounts?”

John’s reply:

GoogleSearchCondsole_JohnMuScreenshot by author, July 2021

“There’s no ranking advantage from using separate accounts.”

Google Search Console should be used as a data source to help savvy SEO pros make data-driven decisions about their SEO strategy.

Do I Have To Use Google Search Console To Be Seen In The SERPs?

No, you do not need to use Google Search Console to be shown in the search results.

Google stakes its claim in the sand in its support documentation:

GoogleSearchConsoleScreenshot by author, July 2021

You don’t have to sign up for Search Console to be included in Google Search results, but Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site.

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Can I Use Google Search Console To Rank Higher?

Yes and no.

Just implementing Google Search Console on your website won’t automatically spring you to position #1. But you can use the data from Google Search Console to improve your SEO.

For instance, you can use Google Search Console to:

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I like to think of Google Search Console as a gift from Google to help uncover potential issues with my website.

Google Search Console As A Ranking Signal: Our Verdict

Definitely Not

Google Search Console isn’t usually associated with ranking factors. But now we can officially put this ranking factor myth to rest.

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It turns out that Google Search Console is not the culprit of your ranking drops.

But even better?

It’s an awesome tool that can help you understand how Google ranks your site. It paints a vivid picture of how Google views your site.


Featured image: Paulo Bobita





Source link : Searchenginejournal.com

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By | November 28, 2021

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Tracking AMP in Organic Mobile Results

By | November 28, 2021


Google is one step closer to fostering an era of a faster, more nimble mobile web experience. True to its word, the search engine has placed AMP pages within the blue organic results. As speedier pages with their lightning bolt icons began to appear within organic links, Rank Ranger began working on tracking it with our Mobile SERP Feature Tracker. We are happy to announce that Rank Ranger is now monitoring AMP within both news and organic results on mobile. 

An Insight Graph showing a variety of organic AMP data


Mobile-Friendly Out & AMP In

 

Just recently Google retracted its Mobile-friendly label from within organic results. Looking back at the label’s removal within the current context, it would appear that Google removed it to pave the way for the AMP indicator within the blue links. In fact, Google’s reasoning behind the mobile-friendly label’s retirement was specifically to make the mobile SERP less cramped. This statement is all the more logical considering Google planned to insert the AMP icon within organic results (and now officially has). Could you imagine how oddly stuffed an organic result on mobile would appear with both labels present?


Rank Ranger – The First to Track AMP in Organic Results

 

We’ve been tracking AMP within news results for a few months now, and upon seeing the rollout of AMP within organic results we worked to incorporate the new data into our tracking tool. With lightning speed (pun intended) our development team quickly began tracking AMP within organic mobile results. As a result of their quick action and late hours, I am proud to inform you that the Mobile SERP Feature Tracker is now the only SERP tool tracking AMP according to a variety of metrics that includes organic appearances as well. 

We are tracking AMP in a variety of ways in order to offer a comprehensive picture of AMP performance on Page One of the SERP. 

Percentage of Page One SERPs with an AMP Result 

We are tracking the percentage of Page One SERPs that include at least one AMP result within them. This percentage includes any form of AMP results, either as part of a News Box or within organic results. So long as an AMP result of any kind appears on Page One of the mobile SERP, it’s counted.  

Page One AMP - All Results

The percentage of Page One SERPs presenting either a news or organic AMP result 

The Percentage of Page One SERPs with an Organic AMP Result

Once the tracker shows you how many Page One SERPs include at least one AMP result in any form, you are able to then hone in on just “organic AMP.” The AMP – Organic % metric presents how many mobile Page Ones had at least one organic AMP result on it.  

Page One SERPS with Organic AMP Percent

The Mobile SERP Feature Tracker showing the percentage of Page One SERPs with at least one organic AMP result 

Average Organic AMP Results

Our AMP data collection continues with a tracking of the Page One results themselves. Once we know the percentage of Page One SERPs showing an organic AMP result, it would of course then make sense to tell you how many of the organic results, on average are AMP and how many are not AMP. 

Average AMP in Organic Results

The average number of organic AMP results on Page One SERPs displaying organic AMP 




The Percentage of News Results that are AMP

This is the original metric the tracker has monitored over the last few months in regards to AMP. Since AMP originally rolled-out within News Box, the Mobile SERP Feature Tracker tells you the percentage of articles within News Box that are AMP optimized. 

Percentage of AMP in News Box

The percentage of news articles within News Box that are AMP as displayed on the Mobile SERP Feature Tracker 

Worldwide Organic AMP Results

The recent rollout of AMP in mobile organic results has been a worldwide event. As such, we are tracking AMP within organic results globally. The Global Stats on Mobile SERP Features aspect of our tracking tool monitors how AMP within organic results performance across the globe.

Global Organic AMP

A global breakdown of AMP within organic results on Page One of the SERP

A Thing About Organic AMP Results

  

Our tracking of AMP within mobile organic results has shown us that AMP optimization has sped across a variety of industries. When we first starting recording results, we quite expectantly saw organic AMP results in relation to keywords associated with the news. Keywords like hillary extends lead, obama un, and s&p pattern resulted in a SERP with an organic AMP result on it.

Organic AMP Result for News



An organic result related to the news with an AMP icon

As the data began pouring in, we saw that AMP has truly expanded past the news industry. Keywords like “natural flea killers”, “house flipping loans”, “hideable flask”, and even “****** sites for over 60″ all produced SERPs with organic AMP results.

AMP Feature in Rank Ranger’s SEO Software

 

Not only are we presenting the developing data on AMP within organic search via our tracking tool, we are also reporting on it internally, within Rank Ranger’s SEO software. Back in the end of March, we announced that our rank tracker dashboard began indicating for each keyword which SERP features were attached to your landing pages which ranked for that keyword. With the addition of AMP to mobile organic results, our rank tracker dashboard will now indicate if your pages were picked up by Google as being AMP optimized – and it does the same for your competitors’ pages as well. 

AMP SERP Icon in Rank Tracker

The Rank Tracker dashboard showing a keyword that presents the AMP icon within organic mobile results 

Since AMP optimization is a conscious effort, users who have optimized for AMP could and in fact should expect their site’s pages to show on the SERP with its AMP status indicated. Having the AMP icon at your disposal within our rank tracking dashboard affords you the ability to ensure that indeed your pages are being shown as AMP optimized on the SERP (that is without doing a manual search for every one of your keywords). Seeing one of your pages ranking within results but without its AMP status could indicate a problem in its optimization process.

Some Perspective on AMP 

  

There are a lot of different theories out there as to why Google is pushing AMP so hard. These theories range from an altruistic wish to see the speed of mobile web pages speed up to Google wanting to keep webpages within its ecosystem (since AMP pages are cached). 

However, from a contextual perspective, Google’s inserting of AMP into organic results on mobile comes on the heels of its removal of the Mobile-Friendly label. Apply some poetic license, it’s as if Google is saying, “well the mobile web, at least 85% of it, is mobile friendly, time to move on to the next mobile web upgrade.” The question of course is, will Google’s success with mobile friendliness continue with its push for AMP optimization. As I mentioned, AMP is not without its controversies, so predicting its popularity is a bit more difficult. Until a final determination can be made, we’ll be carefully watching – and tracking. 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!



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Google Doodle For Seasonal Holidays

By | November 28, 2021


Google has this interesting Christmas looking Doodle on its home page today with the alt tag that says Seasonal Holidays 2021. When you click on it, it goes to a query for [seasonal holidays].

Tonight begins the holiday of Chanukah, so maybe that is why they put up the Christmas decorations logo? A few days ago, Google did place their Hanukkah decorations up for the 2021 season – but you do need to search for [chanukah], [hanukkah] or other alternatives to see it.

Are there other seasonal holidays this week? Kwanza is not until December 26th, Christmas is not until December 25th. Thanksgiving is over.

Maybe Google should have gone with a blueish light theme for the Doodle today?

If you are aware of any holidays this week, do let me know?

Happy seasonal holidays to all of you!

Forum discussion at Twitter.



Source link : Seroundtable.com

Important Facts About Google’s ‘Possum’ Algorithm Update

By | November 28, 2021


Google’s new algorithm update “Possum,” a name adopted by some in the SEO industry, is filtering out duplicate and spammy results in the Local Pack and in Google Maps in an attempt to provide more quality and diverse results for people searching for a local business or service. I’ll examine what Possum is supposed to do and then we’ll take a first stab at assessing how well it’s carrying out its mission.

At the beginning of September, Rank Ranger’s Rank Risk Index captured a very large spike in rank volatility. There was a lot of discussion in the SEO industry pointing to a significant Google update which had occurred, but it was not yet clear what the update affected. 


Possum Affected Local Pack and Google Maps Results

Since our Rank Risk Index tracks volatility in organic results specifically, it was clear that a large algorithm update which affected organic results had been rolled out. However, about a week ago, Joy Hawkins, one of the leading SEO experts on local search, revealed that another part of this update drastically shifted the rank and visibility of businesses in local packs, Google Maps, and Local Finder (the Local Finder is the screen that you see after clicking on “More Places” at the bottom of the Local Pack).

Based on dozens of ranking reports she analyzed, Hawkins said  “This is the biggest change I’ve since in local since Pigeon in 2014. I don’t have a single client that wasn’t affected.” 

According to Hawkins, Google’s aim with this update is to remove the duplicate and spammy business listings in the Local Pack results. Up until now, in order to increase the diversity of results, Google would filter out local listings that shared the same website domain or phone number. As such, a group of lawyers or practitioners sharing the same website and telephone number would see one or maximum two listings in the local results. With this update, Google is now filtering out listings that share the same physical address as well. This makes it much harder and more expensive to get duplicate listings. Arranging for a different physical address is definitely more involved than getting another website and phone number.  

According to the experience of Hawkin’s clients, Google is not only filtering out businesses that share the same physical address, but even businesses that have a different suite number at the same address are being filtered out too. 

Hawkins is convinced that Google has some way of recognizing when two businesses are jointly owned because one of her clients is a dentist who owns and operates two separate offices in the same area, will not see both offices listed at the same time within the Local Finder.

Google Isn’t Penalizing Websites For Now

A few days after publishing her post about Possum, Hawkins was interviewed by Conrad Saam of Mockingbird, a firm which provides SEO services to attorneys. In that interview she provided more interesting details about Possum. She said that Google’s update is not a penalty, but rather a new filter. The update is not deindexing sites, it’s just favoring other listings. The proof, Hawkins said, is in the fact that a business may see several of its locations disappear from the results, but its main listing remains unaffected. If it were a penalty, the main website would not get away unscathed, she said. 

So as of now, this update is not penalizing websites, but Hawkins predicts that this could change if Google sees that the update is not successful in filtering out those who are manipulating the system. 

Possum Still Isn’t Air Tight

Saam spoke of his frustration, and that of his clients practicing law in Seattle, noting that a **** site was still successfully ranking in the third position of a local pack for the keyword “dui lawyer in Seattle” even following the update. 

I was curious whether Google’s Possum had since caught up with these ***** varmints, and I was pleased to see that indeed it had. I did a search for the same keyword using a VPN from Seattle and not only is the **** site no longer showing up in the local pack but it’s not in the 22 results in the Local Finder either. So the effects of this update, and others, are not all immediate either because they take time to fully roll out or because Google is reviewing the results and tweaking the algorithm as necessary..

In her article, Hawkins mentioned that she had not seen any case where two businesses showed up at the same time if they had the same street address but different suite numbers. In my research I did find two such results on page one of the Local Finder. A search for “personal injury attorney beaverton or” gave me two results with the address “8625 SW Cascade Ave,” but each result had a different suite number. 

Two business listings with the same address in the Local Finder

Unfortunately, I think that Google’s Possum needs to be fed some more vitamin-packed veggies because it’s still not managing to filter out even obvious duplicate listings. In the results of the above search, I found two local listings for the same attorney. Both listings shared exactly the same physical address and telephone number but the business name and website address were different. How this slipped by Possum… I guess this is a work in progress…  

A business with two listings in the Local Finder, same address and telephone, but different website

Tracking Local Searches Has Never Been More Important

The rolling out of Google’s Possum update only reaffirms the importance of being able to accurately track and optimize websites on Google Maps, Local Packs, and local search results. There is an enormous amount of competition in local search in general, and on mobile searches in particular. As a result, rank tracking and optimizing is essential for a website to gain visibility and bring in business. 

Trying to monitor local search results from a particular location is faulty because the search results will be affected by browser personalization and IP, as well as browsing and search history.

Only professional rank tracking tools, like Rank Ranger’s, that have the capability of executing and recording the results of location-specific searches can provide accurate results that can be relied upon.

About The Author

Tzvi Barish

Tzvi is the SEO Manager at Rank Ranger. He has 15+ years of experience in content marketing and SEO.



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