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.”

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.

Bing has announced that its search engine crawler, Bingbot, will be going evergreen over the next few months by adopting the Chromium-based Edge browser to render webpages.

Essentially, this means it will be able to crawl, render, and properly index more of your content more closely to how to actual users see it. 

As Bing says in its announcement:

By adopting Microsoft Edge, Bingbot will now render all web pages using the same underlying web platform technology already used today by Googlebot, Google Chrome, and other Chromium-based browsers. This will make it easy for developers to ensure their web sites and their Content Management System work across all these solutions without having to spend time investigating each solution in depth.

The additional upside is that this mirrors steps recently taken by Google, which suggests it may become easier to optimize for both search engines without specific steps for each platform.

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.

New research from Yext and Forbes reinforces just how important it is to keep the information on search engine results relevant to your business accurate and up-to-date. 

The findings from more than 500 US consumers indicates that people automatically assume only half of the information they see in search results is accurate. Additionally, those consumers then hold the brands responsible for any inaccurate information about them, even when it appears outside of your official channels.

The study also revealed a few more bits of interesting information:

  • 57% of respondents say they bypass search and visit a brand’s official website first because they believe the information there will be more complete and accurate.
  • 50% of consumers regularly turn to third-party sites and apps to find information about brands.
  • 48% of those surveyed said a brand’s website is their most trusted source of information.
  • 47% say they are more likely to trust a third-party site over a brand’s website.
  • 20% of current and new customers trust social media to deliver accurate brand information.
  • 28% of consumers avoid buying a brand’s product after seeing inaccurate information.

Marc Ferrentino, Chief Strategy Officer of Yext elaborated on the findings, saying:

”Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate — and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.

… there is a significant opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition through verification on and off of their own websites.”

You can download the full report here.

Google has started automatically adding a large “Request a Quote” button to eligible business listings in its local search results.

The button appears to be limited to just businesses who have opted into the Google My Business messaging feature, which would allow customers to directly message a company representative. However, it is unclear what specific industries the button is being added to.

With the new feature, users can now immediately request a quote from your company directly from the local search results – without ever visiting your website. 

While that means less traffic to your website – and potentially less informed leads – it also makes it more convenient than ever for potential customers to initiate the sales process.

While we can’t guarantee your listing will be given the “Request a Quote” button, we do know that being signed up for GMB’s messaging feature is a requirement for the new feature. 

To turn on messaging for your own listing, just follow these steps:

  • Download and open the Google My Business app
  • Log in with the credentials for the account associated with the listing
  • Open the location you’d like to manage
  • Tap Customers
  • Tap Messages
  • Tap Turn on

Once this is done, you will be able to receive messages from customers within the app. Users will receive their responses through their Google Maps app.

If you have claimed a short name for your Google My Business listing, you may want to be on the watch for a new bug which is causing some GMB listings to be suspended. 

Short Names for GMB were first introduced back in April as a way for businesses to create unique URLs for their Google My Business listings and easily differentiate individual locations in search results. 

However, a wave of reports suggests that some who claimed a short name for their legitimate listings are being suspended and removed from search results entirely. 

It is important to note that the issue does not seem to be affecting all Google My Business listings with short names. Still, the issue is widespread enough for many agencies to be sounding the alarm. 

Specifically, Joe Youngblood started alerting others about the issue last week, including sharing screenshots from a Facebook group where those affected were speaking out. 

As you can see, the issue only affected 2 of more than 10 listings the person above manages, with other listings using short names being entirely unaffected. 

The initial reports of the issue began early last week, but new cases are still being reported this week. SEO professional Lily Ray says one of her listings was suspended yesterday, almost immediately after adding a short name to the listing. 

While Google has not officially confirmed the problem, many say they have been able to get their listing successfully reinstating when notifying the search engine. 

With all this in mind, you might consider holding off on adding a short name to any of your Google My Business listings until the bug is fixed. If you already have a listing with a short name, it would be worthwhile to check that it is still properly showing in search results and has not been suspended.

Shelling out extra money on search engine optimization (SEO) can be a scary move for any company, but a new study suggests it pays off. 

Findings from a survey of business owners found that those who pay above the average for SEO services were more likely to be satisfied compared to those who paid less. 

According to the data from Backlinko, the average amount small businesses in America pay for SEO services is $497.16 per month. 

However, those that spent more than $500 per month were 53.3% more likely to say they were “extremely satisfied” compared to those who spent less than that. 

What Business Owners Say About SEO

The responses come from a larger study conducted by Backlinko, which included surveying 1,200 business owners across America about SEO-related issues. 

It found that most small businesses see online optimization largely as a way to drive referrals and reviews, as well as improving Google search performance. 

Through these goals, they also see SEO as a way to bring in new customers and increase sales. 

Unfortunately, many of these businesses aren’t getting what they are expecting out of their SEO providers.

Just 30% of business owners said they would recommend their current service provider. 

Disappointed With SEO

The biggest issues were simply that businesses were not satisfied with the results and some search engine optimization service providers delivered poor customer service or responsiveness. 

Part of this may be that some businesses choose to work with freelancers. The results showed that those who worked with agencies were more likely to be satisfied than those who hired freelancers. 

More likely, though, is that many SEO agencies and service providers are likely overselling what their low-level services can accomplish. While any search engine optimization is better than none, many promise that low-cost options will lead to major gains.

Based on the findings, they are more likely to be satisfied by diving in and truly investing in their online optimization, rather than only dipping a toe in the water.