Have you ever wonder exactly how Google works? How it sorts through the billions upon billions of web pages to find the best results for users?

The latest video in the company’s “Search for Beginners” series helps explain the basics behind how the search engine functions, including crawling, indexing, and ranking sites in its search results – specifically from the perspective of a business owner trying to get their site ranking well.

While the video doesn’t get into more advanced concepts like Search Engine Optimization, it lays out a very clear picture of how the broad strokes of online search engines work.

If you’ve just set up your first website or you’re considering investing in online marketing, this clip will be enlightening and point you towards some valuable resources like the Google Webmaster guidelines, SEO starter guide, and Google Webmasters portal.

Google’s latest search algorithm update made some significant changes to how local search results are compiled and processed, according to a recent statement from the company.

Though the rollout of the update began in early November, Google only this week explained that it has begun integrating neural matching into its local search algorithm.

As for what neural matching actually is, Google referred people to a tweet from earlier this year which called the process “a super synonym system.”

In more detail, neural matching uses AI to better understand the meaning and intent behind search terms, allowing relevant results to be included even when they do not include a specific keyword in the original query.

“The use of neural matching means that Google can do a better job going beyond the exact words in business name or description to understand conceptually how it might be related to the words searchers use and their intents.”

To put it in plain English, this allows your site or local business listing to be included for relevant searches where you previously may not have been included.

As of yet it is hard to tell exactly what impact this will have on local search results. Despite rolling out globally last month, it may take some time for the true impact to become apparent.

Google has announced it plans to warn users of its Chrome browser about slow sites using a method called “badging”.

The idea is to provide a sign letting users know when a site typically loads slowly before they ever click a link to that site or while the site loads. Google sees this as a way to “reward” fast sites, saying:

“We think the web can do better and want to help users understand when a site may load slowly, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences.”

For example, Google published one concept for what a slow speed badge could look like while a site is loading:

In this case, it is likely that the badge could increase abandonment rates for slow sites.

The company is also talking about using contextual menus that preview links and would include similar badges indicating a site is fast.

Another idea includes subtly changing the color of loading bars to indicate whether a site is fast:

As the company explained in its announcement:

“Our early explorations will look at a number of Chrome surfaces, including the loading screen (splash screen), loading progress bar and context-menu for links. The latter could enable insight into typical site speeds so you’re aware before you navigate.“

The web browser admits this idea is in the early stages, and may considerably change before they determine “which provides the most value to our users.”

Additionally, the company says they plan to expand the badges to include a number of metrics aside from speed:

“Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed.”

Google announced this week it is bringing ad extensions – similar to those that appear in search ads – to YouTube ads.

The new extensions expand the capabilities of traditional ads by offering unique call-to-actions or additional information for users.

Specifically, the new YouTube ad extensions allow advertisers to include directions to brick-and-mortar store locations, show lead generation forms, or use a number of CTAs that better fit your niche.

Currently, the extensions are only available for TrueView in-stream or non-skippable video ads, though the company says it will be expanding the feature to 6-second bumper ads later this year.

Google is already exploring ways to bring more ad extensions for YouTube’s TrueView ads, and will continue to do so in the future.

For example, the company is already beta testing sitelink ad extensions which would add a series of relevant links underneath a video ad.

In the announcement, Google says the new features are aimed at driving more clicks and conversions. In a beta test with 30 advertisers, extensions like sitelinks increased conversions by more than 20% and doubled the number of clicks.

Google says it will be rolling out a new ad extension aimed specifically at driving leads for your business in the coming weeks.

The ads look similar to typical search ads with a unique call-to-action. If a user clicks on that CTA, they are taken to a form which can be quickly pre-filled with contact information from their Google account or manually entered.

In the announcement, Google says lead form ad extensions can:

“Capture interest when potential customers are searching for your company, products, or services on Google. A fast, mobile-optimized experience makes form submission easy and eliminates the extra step of navigating to your mobile site lead form.”

Based on their own testing, Google says one advertiser improved their closing rate for sales leads by 20% by using lead form extensions.

While the feature is currently limited to beta testers, it will become available to all Google Ads advertisers in the next few weeks. However, the ad extensions will not be available for advertisers in a few select areas.

Lead form extensions will not be eligible for ads relating to:

  • Adult-oriented content
  • Alcohol-related content
  • Gambling-related content
  • Healthcare and medicines
  • Political content

For more information about lead ad extensions, check out Google’s new help center document here.

Google has announced that it will begin blocking web pages with mixed content in its Chrome web browser starting December of this year. Considering that Chrome is used by more than half of all internet users, this could be a major issue that you may not even know is lurking on your site.

What is Mixed Content?

Mixed content refers to when secure webpages using the HTTPS security protocol include scripts, styles, images, or other content that is delivered through the less secure HTTP protocol.

Even linking to sites still using HTTP can be seen as delivering mixed content on your site.

As Google explains:

“Mixed content degrades the security and user experience of your HTTPS site …Using these resources, an attacker can often take complete control over the page, not just the compromised resource.”

How Google Chrome Will Handle Mixed Content

When the next update for Chrome is released in December, Google will begin doing one of two things when it encounters sites with mixed content:

  1. If an HTTPS version of that resource exists, Google will automatically upgrade that content to the newer secure version.
  2. When no such resource exists, Google will soft block the page. This will include a warning about the security risks of mixed content and an option to access the page despite the risk.

The warning screen may not deter all of your potential customers, but it can disrupt a significant chunk of your traffic, leads, and sales.

Beginning in January of 2020, Google will start taking an even stronger stance by removing the unblock option and completely blocking webpages with insecure content.

How To Check Your Site for Mixed Content

Depending on the size of your site and what platform it is built on, there are a number of free and paid options for scanning your site for mixed content.

JitBit SSL Checker

JitBit SSL Checker is a free online tool that can review up to 400 pages of your site for mixed content.

WordPress Tools

If your site is built on WordPress, you can use the Really Simple SSL Plugin to migrate your content to SSL while also checking for and fixing mixed content.

For those who have already migrated their site to SSL, there is also the SSL Insecure Content Fixer WordPress Plugin. This can scan your site for insecure resources while providing suggestions for fixing these problems.

Tools for Large Sites

Websites with a large number of pages will likely have to use paid tools to check their site. One option is Screaming Frog, which can crawl massive sites and provide insights to a wide variety of issues. One drawback, however, is that while it can pinpoint potential problems on your site, it can not directly assist you in fixing them.

Are you an SEO beginner or a business owner trying to get a grasp on the basics of online optimization? Google is launching an animated YouTube video series called “Search for Beginners” aimed at you, with the goal of explaining the concepts and techniques behind beginner-level SEO.

Google described the series, saying it is:

“… a new fully animated series for anyone who is interested in learning the basics of creating an online presence and the right Google Search tools to help customers find their website.”

The “Search for Beginners” videos will be released every two weeks and cover a wide range of topics including:

  • How Google Search works
  • Frequently asked questions about search and discoverability
  • How to change what’s showing up in snippets in Google Search
  • How to correct inaccurate information about a business
  • How to set goals for a website
  • Tips for hiring a web developer
  • Tips for hiring an SEO specialist
  • Top 5 things to consider for a website

Best of all, the videos are designed to be able to stand on their own, meaning you can check in on particular topics of interest or watch every installment.

You can watch the first episode above or subscribe to the Google Webmasters channel to be notified as each new episode is released.

Google has released a new report showing how people are using the search engine to find small businesses around them every day. 

Overall, the report shows that local search continues to grow with “tremendous” speed. Specifically, searches with “local” + “near me” have gotten more than 350 times more search interest compared to a decade ago. 

On a more recent scale, the search engine says that search interest in “mom and pop shops” has climbed to a three year high, with especially high interest in restaurants, coffee shops, diners, pharmacies, and pizza places. 

Google also notes that search interest in “local shops” hit a record high last year. 

To make the findings easy to take in, Google created a nice infographic breaking down all the most important findings. Check it out below, or in Google’s blog post “Small Business Search Trends” here.

Google is kicking off October – which just so happens to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month – by announcing three new ways for users to hide or delete their personal activity data when using Google products like Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant. 

Incognito Mode For Maps

Incognito mode has been allowing people to browse the web while preventing data from being saved to their Google account or computer since 2008. Earlier this year, the company expanded the feature to YouTube, and soon it will be coming to Maps.

Once it is live, you’ll be able to quickly toggle incognito mode on and off by selecting it in the menu that appears when choosing accounts.

 

 

While the feature is coming to Android within the month, the company could only say it would be coming to iOS “soon”. 

Auto-Delete YouTube History

Google is also introducing a way for users to automatically delete their YouTube activity after a set amount of time. Specifically, you can select to keep data for 3 months, 18 months, or until you manually clear your history. 

A similar feature was introduced earlier this year for users’ location history and web activity and is expected to launch for YouTube this month. 

Managing Google Assistant Data

The search engine has introduced a way for people to control their Google Assistant activity using simple voice commands. 

For example, users could ask the Assistant to clear their history for the last week by saying “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.”

 

This will be available to all Google Assistant users next week.

Google has announced they will be rolling out a broad update to their core search algorithm starting later today. 

While the updates are a regular part of maintaining and improving the company’s search engine, Google has typically been reluctant to give advance notice before the update has rolled out. In some cases, they have even been unwilling to address algorithm updates in-depth after their implementation. 

This is only the second time the search engine has announced a broad core algorithm update ahead of time, suggesting they are being more proactive in communicating with webmasters. 

Google’s Danny Sullivan says the update should start very soon and will take up to a few days to complete. 

The company’s announcement didn’t add any new guidance or recommendations for managing your site during and after the rollout of this update, but Google did recommend reviewing the existing guidelines for core updates:

  • Widely notable effects are to be expected, which can include drops or gains in search rankings.
  • Core updates are “broad” in the sense that they don’t target anything specific. Rather, they’re designed to improve Google’s systems overall.
  • Pages that drop in rankings aren’t being penalized; they’re being reassessed against other web content that has been published since the last update.
  • Focusing on providing the best possible content is the top recommended way to deal with the impact of a core algorithm update.
  • Broad core updates happen every few months. Sites might not recover from one update until the next one rolls out.
  • Improvements do not guarantee recovery. However, choosing not to implement any improvements will virtually guarantee no recovery.