Google is rolling out a new addition to its “About this result” feature in search results which will explain why the search engine chose a specific result to rank.

The new section, called “Your search & this result” explains the specific factors which made Google believe a specific page may have what you’re looking for.

This can include a number of SEO factors, ranging from the keywords which matched with the page (including related but not directly matching terms), backlink details, related images, location-based information, and more. 

How Businesses Can Use This Information

For users, this feature can help understand why they are seeing specific search results and even provide tips for refining their search for better results. 

The unspoken utility of this tool for businesses is glaringly obvious, however. 

This feature essentially provides an SEO report card, showing exactly where you are doing well on ranking for important keywords. By noting what is not included, you can also get an idea of what areas could be improved to help you rank better in the future.

Taking this even further, you could explore the details for other pages ranking for your primary keywords, helping you better strategize to overtake your competition.

What It Looks Like

Below, you can see a screenshot of what the feature looks like in action:

The information box provides a quick bullet point list of several factors which caused the search engine to return the specific result.
While Google only detailed a few of the possible details the box may include, users around the web have reported seeing information about all of these factors included:

  • Included search terms: Google can show which exact search terms were matched with the content or HTML on the related page. This includes content that is not typically visible to users, such as the title tag or meta data.
  • Related search terms: Along with the keywords which were directly matched with the related page, Google can also show “related” terms. For example, Google knew to include results related to the Covid vaccine based on the keyword “shot”.
  • Other websites link to this page: The search engine may choose to highlight a page which might otherwise appear unrelated because several pages using the specific keyword linked to this specific page.
  • Related images: If the images are properly optimized, Google may be able to identify when images on a page are related to your search.
  • This result is [Language]: Obviously, users who don’t speak or read your language are unlikely to have much use for your website or content. This essentially notes that the page is in the same language you use across the rest of Google.
  • This result is relevant for searches ih [Region]: Lastly, the search engine may note if locality helped influence its search result based on other contextual details. For example, it understood that the user in Vermont, was likely looking for nearby results when searching “get the shot”.

The expanded “About this result” section is rolling out to English-language U.S. users already and is expected to be widely available across the country within a week. From there, Google says it will work to bring the feature to more countries and languages soon.

One of the most frustrating aspects of search engine optimization is the time it takes to see results. In some cases, you can see changes start to hit Google’s search engines in just a few hours. In others, you can spend weeks waiting for new content to be indexed with no indication when Google will get around to your pages.

In a recent AskGooglebot session, Google’s John Mueller said this huge variation in the time it takes for pages to be indexed is to be expected for a number of reasons. However, he also provides some tips for speeding up the process so you can start seeing the fruits of your labor as soon as possible.

Why Indexing Can Take So Long

In most cases, Mueller says sites that produce consistently high quality content should expect to see their new pages get indexed within a few hours to a week. In some situations, though, even high quality pages can take longer to be indexed due to a variety of factors.

Technical issues can pop up which can delay Google’s ability to spot your new pages or prevent indexing entirely. Additionally, there is always the chance that Google’s systems are just tied up elsewhere and need time to get to your new content.

Why Google May Not Index Your Page

It is important to note that Google does not index everything. In fact, there are plenty of reasons the search engine might not index your new content.

For starters, you can just tell Google not to index a page or your entire site. It might be that you want to prioritize another version of your site or that your site isn’t ready yet. 

The search engine also excludes content that doesn’t bring sufficient value. This includes duplicate content, malicious or spammy pages, and websites which mirror other existing sites.

How To Speed Up Indexing

Thankfully, Mueller says there are ways to help speed up indexing your content.

  • Prevent server overloading by ensuring your server can handle the traffic coming to it. This ensures Google can get to your site in a timely manner. 
  • Use prominent internal links to help Google’s systems navigate your site and understand what pages are most important.
  • Avoid unnecessary URLs to keep your site well organized and easy for Google to spot new content.
  • Google prioritizes sites which put out consistently quality content and provide high value for users. The more important Google thinks your site is for people online, the more high priority your new pages will be for indexing and ranking.

For more about how Google indexes web pages and how to speed up the process, check out the full AskGooglebot video below:

We all know that the search results you get on mobile and the ones you get on desktop devices can be very different – even for the same query, made at the same time, in the same place, logged into the same Google account. 

Have you ever found yourself asking exactly why this happens?

One site owner did and recently got the chance to ask one of Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller.

In the recent SEO Office Hours Session, Mueller explained that a wide range of factors decide what search results get returned for a search query – including what device you are using and why this happens.

Why Are Mobile Search Rankings Different From Desktop?

The question asked to Mueller specifically wanted to clarify why there is still a disparity between mobile and desktop search results after the launch of mobile-first indexing for all sites. Here’s what was asked:

“How are desktop and mobile ranking different when we’ve already switched to mobile-first indexing.”

Indexing and Ranking Are Different

In response to the question, Mueller first tried to clarify that indexing and rankings are not exactly the same thing. Instead, they are more like two parts of a larger system. 

“So, mobile-first indexing is specifically about that technical aspect of indexing the content. And we use a mobile Googlebot to index the content. But once the content is indexed, the ranking side is still (kind of) completely separate.”

Although the mobile-first index was a significant shift in how Google brought sites into their search engine and understood them, it actually had little direct effect on most search results. 

Mobile Users and Desktop Users Have Different Needs

Beyond the explanation about indexing vs. ranking, John Mueller also said that Google returns unique rankings for mobile and desktop search results because they reflect potentially different needs in-the-moment. 

“It’s normal that desktop and mobile rankings are different. Sometimes that’s with regards to things like speed. Sometimes that’s with regards to things like mobile-friendliness.

“Sometimes that’s also with regards to the different elements that are shown in the search results page.

“For example, if you’re searching on your phone then maybe you want more local information because you’re on the go. Whereas if you’re searching on a desktop maybe you want more images or more videos shown in the search results. So we tend to show …a different mix of different search results types.

“And because of that it can happen that the ranking or the visibility of individual pages differs between mobile and desktop. And that’s essentially normal. That’s a part of how we do ranking.

“It’s not something where I would say it would be tied to the technical aspect of indexing the content.”

With this in mind, there’s little need to be concerned if you aren’t showing up in the same spot for the same exact searches on different devices.

Instead, watch for big shifts in what devices people are using to access your page. If your users are overwhelmingly using phones, assess how your site can better serve the needs of desktop users. Likewise, a majority of traffic coming from desktop devices may indicate you need to assess your site’s speed and mobile friendliness.

If you want to hear Mueller’s full explanation and even more discussion about search engine optimization, check out the SEO Office Hours video below:

Despite the difference in how the pages are used created and generally thought about, Google’s John Mueller says the search engine sees no difference between “blog posts” and “web pages.”

In a recent SEO hangout, Mueller was asked by site owner Navin Adhikari about why the blog section of his site wasn’t getting the same amount of traffic as the rest of his site. This, combined with the way Google emphasizes content within its guidelines, has made Adhikari suspect that the search engine may be ranking blog content differently. This would explain why the rest of his site would be performing consistently well, while the blog was underperforming.

However, Mueller says this isn’t the case. In fact, Mueller explained that while the distinction between blog content and other areas of a site is something the search engine does not have access to, it is also not something the company would heavily factor into results if it could.

Google’s John Mueller Says Google Sees All Pages Similarly

In most cases, Mueller says the distinction between “blog posts” and “web pages” is entirely artificial. It is something provided for convenience on a website’s content management system (CMS) to help creatives generate content without the need for code skill and to help keep pages organized. 

So, while the blog part of your site may seem entirely separate to you while you are creating posts, it is just another subsection of your site in Google’s perspective.

“I don’t think Googlebot would recognize that there’s a difference. So usually that difference between posts and pages is something that is more within your backend within the CMS that you’re using, within WordPress in that case. And it wouldn’t be something that would be visible to us.

“So we would look at these as if it’s an HTML page and there’s lots of content here and it’s linked within your website in this way, and based on that we would rank this HTML page.

“We would not say oh it’s a blog post, or it’s a page, or it’s an informational article. We would essentially say it’s an HTML page and there’s this content here and it’s interlinked within your website in this specific way.”

Why A Blog May Underperform

If Google wasn’t ranking Adhikari’s blog differently, why would his blog specifically underperform? Mueller has some ideas.

Without access to in-depth data about the site, Mueller speculated that the most likely issue in this case would be how the blog is linked to from other pages on the site.

“I think, I mean, I don’t know your website so it’s hard to say. But what might be happening is that the internal linking of your website is different for the blog section as for the services section or the other parts of your website.

“And if the internal linking is very different then it’s possible that we would not be able to understand that this is an important part of the website.

“It’s not tied to the URLs, it’s not tied to the type of page. It’s really like we don’t understand how important this part of the website is.”

One way to do this is to generate a feed of links to new content on the homepage of your site. This helps to quickly establish that your blog content is important to your audience.

To hear the Mueller’s full response and more discussion on the best search engine optimization practices for Google, check out the full SEO Office Hours video below:

A representative from Google announced the search engine began rolling out a broad core update (appropriately titled the June 2021 Core Update) this week. Surprisingly, the announcement also revealed a second update is expected to roll out next month. 

Note that this is not the Page Experience Update which Google is planning to launch in mid-June.

Typically, Google rolls out a broad core update every few months. For example, the last update before this came nearly six months ago, in December 2020. The gap between updates before that was even longer, with the previous update arriving in May 2020. 

Obviously, this raises some questions about why the company felt the need to start releasing a two-part algorithm now, rather than waiting to roll it all out at once next month. 

Google being Google, details about what the broad core updates will change are relatively scant. Still, here’s what we do know:

Why Two Core Updates?

Based on statements from Google liaison Danny Sullivan and others, it seems the search engine simply didn’t want to sit on some of the completed updates while it waited for the rest to be finalized. 

Sullivan did note that some effects from the first part of the update may be temporary, however, as the second part rolls out. 

“Of course, any core update can produce drops or gains for some content. Because of the two-part nature of this release, it’s possible a very small slice of content might see changes in June that reverse in July.”

What You Should Expect

As with most broad core updates, Google is giving somewhat mixed signals about how big the impact will be. 

On one hand, the company says most sites won’t notice any changes to their presence in search results. At the same time, Google says the update will produce “some widely noticeable effects.”

From past experience, we can predict that sites producing quality content and keeping up with overall Google guidelines will be largely unaffected. Those within more controversial or less reputable industries (online gambling, some medical niches, law, etc.), may be more likely to see some fallout even if they have been doing everything “right”. 

Those using tactics which can be seen as more “spammy” such as republishing content, using user-generated content in overbearing or spammy ways, or using questionable guest-blogging practices may also be likely to see some negative results as the update rolls out.

Ultimately, we will all have to wait and see as the update finishes, which Google says should take about two weeks. 

What To Do If You Are Affected

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about broad core updates is that you can be impacted even if you aren’t doing anything ostensibly “wrong”. Some pages may see negative ranking shifts despite following all of Google’s guidance. 

This makes recovering a tricky proposition, but Google has provided some advice for brands negatively impacted. 

Specifically, the company suggests asking yourself the following questions about your brand:

Content and Quality Questions

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Expertise Questions

  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
  • If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
  • Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?

Presentation and Production Questions

  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

Comparative Questions

  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

While not hard and fast guidance, these questions can help you evaluate your site and find areas to improve upon before the next broad core update. 

Thankfully, in this case we know the next update is coming quite soon – July 2021 – so there is a chance any negative effects from the ongoing update will be short-lived. 

Have you gotten your brand’s website ready for the upcoming Google Page Experience ranking signal update? 

If not, Google Developer Martin Splitt says there’s no need to panic. 

In an interview on the Search Engine Journal Show on YouTube, host Loren Baker asks Splitt what advice he would give to anyone worried their site isn’t prepared for the update set to launch in mid-June. 

Giving a rare peek at the expected impact of the impending update, Splitt reveals the Page Experience signal update isn’t going to be a massive gamechanger. Instead, it is more of a “tiebreaker.”

As a “lightweight ranking signal”, just optimizing your site’s Page Experience metrics isn’t going to launch you from the back of the pack to the front. If you are competing with a site with exactly the same performance in every other area, however, this will give you the leg up to receive the better position in the search results. 

Don’t Ignore The Update

While the Page Experience update isn’t set to radically change up the search results, Splitt says brands and site owners should still work to optimize their site with the new signals in mind. 

Ultimately, making your page faster, more accessible on a variety of devices, and easier to use is always a worthwhile effort – even if it’s not a major ranking signal. 

As Splitt says:

“First things first, don’t panic. Don’t completely freak out, because as I said it’s a tiebreaker. For some it will be quite substantial, for some it will not be very substantial, so you don’t know which bucket you’ll be in because that depends a lot on context and industry and niche. So I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

I think generally making your website faster for users should be an important goal, and it should not just be like completely ignored. Which is the situation in many companies today that they’re just like ‘yeah, whatever.’”

As for how he thinks brands should approach the update, Splitt recommended focusing on new projects and content rather than prioritizing revamping your entire site upfront. 

… For new projects, definitely advise them to look into Core Web Vitals from the get-go. For projects that are already in maintenance mode, or are already actively being deployed, I would look into making some sort of plan for the mid-term future — like the next six months, eight months, twelve months — to actually work on the Core Web Vitals and to improve performance. Not just from an SEO perspective, but also literally for your users.”

Much of the discussion focuses on the perspective of SEO professionals, but it includes several bits of relevant information for anyone who owns or manages a website for their business. 

To hear the full conversation, check out the video below from Search Engine Journal:

Google’s upcoming Page Experience ranking update – initially believed to be exclusive to mobile search – will also be coming to desktop search results in the future. 

The reveal came during part of Google’s annual big I/O event this week, by Google Search product manager Jeffrey Jose. 

Since the announcement of the Page Experience update, which will implement new ranking signals based on “Core Web Vitals” which assess the user friendliness of a site, was going to be rolled out to only Google’s mobile search results. 

As Jose explained, however, the update will also be coming to desktop search – at a later date.

“Today I am happy to announce that we are bringing Page Experience ranking to desktop. While we’re launching Page Experience on mobile soon, we believe page experience is critical no matter the surface the user is browsing the web. This is why we’re working hard on bringing page experience ranking to desktop. As always we’ll be providing updated guidance, documentation, and tools along the way to help your pages perform at its best. Stay tuned for more details on this.”

The specific wording of the announcement suggests the desktop update may use its own set of unique or modified ranking signals or criteria. This is reasonable considering users are likely to have different usability expectations depending on which platform they are using. 

While the launch of the desktop Page Experience update is unknown, the mobile version is still scheduled to begin rolling out in June and be completely implemented by August.

To learn more about the Page Experience update and to see the announcement for yourself, check out the video below:

It can be easy to take for granted how little spam shows up in the dozens of Google searches we make every day.

While we are almost always able to find what we need through the search engine without an abundance of malicious, copied, or just plain spammy websites, the search engine says it has been ramping up spam detection behind the scenes to fight the seemingly endless hordes of illicit or otherwise problematic sites from filling up its search results.

In fact, Google’s webspam report for 2020 says the search engine detected more than 40 billion pages of spam every day last year. This reflects a 60% increase from the year before.

How Google Search is Fighting Spam

It is possible there was a distinct increase in spammy sites last year, potentially due to disruptions and other changes brought about by the Covid pandemic. According to the search engine though, the bulk of this increase is the result of increased spam prevention efforts with the help of AI.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have helped the company keep with new spam methods and are credited with allowing the search engine to reduce auto-generated or scraped content “by more than 80% compared to a couple of years ago.”

This AI-based approach also frees up Google’s manual action spam team to focus on more advanced forms of spam, such as hacked sites which were “still rampant in 2020.”

To show you how this approach works and helps filter out the bulk of webspam before it even gets added to Google’s indexes, the company shared a simple graphic:

COVID Spam and Misinformation

As with everyone, Google faced unprecedented situations in the past year as it responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included devoting “significant effort in extending protection to the billions of searches” related to the virus.

One part of this effort was instituting a “more about this result” feature which added additional context about sites before clicking through to one of their pages. This intends to help users avoid bad actors that popped up, especially during the early stages of the pandemic.

Additionally, the search engine says it worked to remove misinformation that could be dangerous during the course of the pandemic.

What This Means For You

Assuming you are a reputable professional in your industry, Google’s increased efforts to fight spam should only be a source of comfort. There have been fewer reports of sites being incorrectly targeted by these spam prevention methods in recent years, while the overall level of deceptive, spammy, or harmful sites in the search results has plummeted. 

All in all, this means a better experience for both users trying to find information and products, as well as brands fighting to reach new customers online.

For many small-to-medium businesses, appearing in search results around their local area is significantly more important than popping up in the results for someone halfway across the country. 

This raises the question, though. How many of the countless searches made every day are actually locally based?

We now have the answer to that question thanks to a new tool released by LocalSEOGuide.com and Traject Data.

What Percent Of Searches Are Local?

Working together, the companies analyzed over 60 million U.S. search queries and found that over a third (approx. 36%) of all queries returned Google’s local pack – indicating the search was location-based. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the data is that locally-based searches have remained largely consistent throughout the year. Following an uptick in early 2020 (likely driven by the coronavirus pandemic), the rate stayed around 36% over the course of the year. The only significant exception came in September, where the data shows a significant decrease in locally-driven searches. 

This data shows just how important it is for even brands that are strictly local to establish their brands online and optimize for search engines. Otherwise, you might be missing out on a big source of potential business.

Other Features In The Local Pack-O-Meter

Along with data on the appearance of local packs in Google search results, the Local Pack-O-Meter includes information on several other search features. These include:

  • Knowledge Graphs
  • “People Also Ask” Panels
  • Image Boxes
  • Shopping Boxes
  • Ads
  • Related Searches
  • And more

Though the current form of the tool doesn’t include ways to more selectively filter the information, there is plenty to take from the information for planning what search features you need to prioritize and which can be put on the back burner. 

To explore the Local Pack-O-Meter for yourself, click here.

If you are an online retailer, you are no doubt familiar with Google’s wide array of special features built for online shopping. You are also probably aware of how confusing it can be to get included in these unique search results.

To help clarify this process and make it easier to get your products highlighted in Google’s search results, the search engine recently revealed some technical tips and tricks for e-commerce sites. 

Why It Takes Extra Work To Get In Google Shopping Results

The first question most business owners or site managers might have when they start trying to get their products included in Google Shopping results is “why do I have to do all this extra work?”

Google’s whole thing is analyzing sites and automatically delivering that information in its search results, right? Why can’t they just pull your product info when your pages get indexed?

The simple answer is that Google knows online retail changes very quickly and shoppers get very frustrated with out of date or inaccurate information. If this became a frequent problem, users would likely stop paying attention to Google’s product-related search results. 

While the search engine regularly re-indexes updated webpages, it can’t guarantee pages will be indexed fast enough to ensure information is up-to-date for searchers. 

Additionally, there are some features which online retailers tend to provide to help shoppers which can make things a little confusing for search engines to understand. 

For example, Google says it still struggles with accurately telling the difference between these types of information:

  • Original Price vs. Discounted Price
  • Related Products vs. The Main Product Being Sold
  • Taxes or Shipping Costs vs. The Actual Product Price

This is why the search engine asks online retailers to help provide this information for Google Shopping results.

Now, let’s get into the advice from Google Developer Advocate Alan Kent and how you can get your products into Google product showcases.

Two Ways To Give Google Your Product Data

In the latest Lightning Talks video, Kent discusses two different ways site managers can get their product information to Google. 

The first method is by using structured data. This is essentially using special coding embedded into pages to provide Google with additional information typically not provided through regular site code or markup. 

This is generally seen as the advanced approach because it requires significant knowledge of coding and the latest structured data techniques. 

The other method covered by Kent is by directly providing product data through Google Merchant Center, which can be done with:

  • A feed of all product data manually submitted to the search engine.
  • An API developed to update products individually as changes are made on your site. 

For more information, check out the guide provided by Google.

Conclusion

While providing product data to search engines is essential for appearing in these specific product-centric search results, the company emphasizes that these practices don’t replace traditional SEO.

“Remember that SEO still matters for organic search. Make your product details, such as images and descriptions, appealing to your customers.”

If you want to watch the full explanation from Kent, it is available below: