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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.

This month, Google announced that more than half of all web pages in its search results around the globe are being pulled from its mobile-first index.

That means that the majority of pages being shown in Google’s search results were crawled, indexed, and ranked based on the mobile version of that page. As such, it marks a huge turning point for the increasing mobile-emphasis in web design and optimization.

What exactly is mobile-first indexing?

Over the past two years, Google has established a second, distinct index which prioritizes mobile pages and search results. This came as more than half of all search results were originating from mobile devices, rather than desktop computers.

Gradually, Google has expanded this index with the intent of eventually making it the primary search index.

With the launch of this index, Google also changed how it approached website indexing. Rather than defaulting to the desktop version of a page to assess its optimization and search value, the search engine began indexing mobile pages over their desktop counterpart. Thus, Google began its process of “mobile-first indexing.”

Is your site in Google’s mobile index?

If your site has been added to Google’s mobile-first index, you will likely have been notified within Google Search Console. Simply check your messages to see if your site has been migrated over.

If your site has not been migrated over, there is a chance that Google is having issues viewing the mobile version of your site, has found significant discrepancies between the mobile and desktop versions of your site, or has decided your mobile version is not up to snuff.

You should probably take the time to review the mobile version of your site to ensure it is properly optimized and laid out for Google’s search crawlers. You should also ensure that both versions of your site are largely similar, as Google prefers websites with parity across devices.

They say word-of-mouth is the best advertising a business can have. The same could also be said for the online version of this: user reviews. There are few better ways your company can earn the trust of potential customers than showing how much other customers have enjoyed your services or products.

Now, Google is giving an even bigger platform to user-generated business reviews by adding “Reviews from the web” to its Knowledge Panels that appear in search results. This comes a month after Google started including best-of lists and critic reviews in results for local search.

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Source: Google

Consumer reviews will appear in the Knowledge Panel exactly as critic reviews do, but they will be more visible on mobile where they appear before both critic reviews and best-of-lists. You can see how they will appear in the screenshots above and below:

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Source: Google

If you want to feature user-generated reviews from your site or another prominent review site, you need to mark up your content with Google’s review Schema. You must also abide by Google’s guidelines for inclusion.

Including the new “Reviews from the web” section, Google’s Knowledge Boxes are now prominently displaying three review sources. It will still be collecting and highlighting its own reviews, making it more important than ever for businesses to have a strategy to collect reviews from customers across a wide range of platforms.

Thanks to the increased profile of user reviews, it has never been easier for your customers to spread the word about your business to thousands of potential customers every day.

Google is experimenting with a new change that could up the profile of local businesses in the search results. The search giant is conducting a limited test featuring a new card carousel of results and content from local businesses near the top of search results pages.

Mike Blumenthal first noticed the test, but it has since been confirmed by Google. The “Local Business Cards” use the same functionality as Candidate Cards, which were recently launched. The main difference with this new test is how limited it is.

Currently, Google is only including a “few dozen” hand-chosen local businesses in the experiment. Instead of pulling the content being used to fill the cards from search engine content or Google My Business listings, Google is also using custom content for the cards.

This test is also notable for being the first time Google has allowed animation or GIFs on the search results pages.

On desktop, you can see the Local Business Cards directly adjacent to the Knowledge Panel featuring that business. On mobile, it is shown below the Knowledge Graph. You can see an example below:

The idea behind the new test is to allow businesses to stand out more in search results and highlight content or information about the business’s products or services in ways not quite possible through the Knowledge Graph. With this in mind, Google has also made content directly sharable from within the carousel.

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Most likely this is an early test since Google chose such a small number of businesses and is using custom content to fill the cards. There’s no telling when or if Google will roll out the feature to a wider audience. Hopefully, the cards come soon, as they could be a huge benefit for local businesses that depend on organic search traffic.

AdWords In Store Visits

When Google recently removed all text ads from the right rail of search engine results pages (SERPs), it caused quite a stir among both advertisers and webmasters who rely on organic traffic for their business. The change in design and the number of ads on SERPs pushes even more organic results below the fold and makes the competition even fiercer for both top ad spots and top organic listings.

Google has been overall fairly tight-lipped about the changes, only confirming that it has occurred and implying the change was largely aimed at bringing the desktop search experience more in line with the mobile search experience.

While it’s not an official statement, Google employee Matt Lawson recently went into depth on why Google decided to cut text ads from the right side of search results and how it could affect your pages and advertising account.

It largely confirms what was already suspected: Right side ads performed poorly and they wanted to bring mobile and desktop search closer together. However, Lawson provides data to show exactly how they expect the change to affect advertisers and steps you can take right not to mitigate any changes in your CPCs and ad performance.

Read what Lawson had to say about the change in his column for Search Engine Land.

Nasa Twitter

After months of fluttering in and out of Google’s search results as a set of experiments, Twitter is officially a part of the desktop SERPs. Google officially announced the news on Twitter and in an updated post on the Google blog, saying they have expanded displaying Twitter content in the Google desktop search results.

Tweets have been a part of mobile results since May, but the announcement officially brings them to desktop searches as well.

The update is started rolling out to all English users around the globe. Once implemented, Google will show Tweets in a carousel in the main column of the organic search results, but only when Google finds them relevant. Users do not need a Twitter account to see the Tweets in their SERPs or click on the results.

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Many are already reporting seeing the Tweets within their results, but it is unclear how long the full roll-out will take.

 Emojis

It was fun while it lasted, but Google has followed through on their promise to remove emojis from titles in search results.

In April, Expedia became the first major brand to start experimenting using emojis in search results titles. For example, a search listing for beach rentals may have included a wave emoji on Expedia listings.

It wasn’t long until many other major brands followed suit, but Google ultimately decided the trend was not something they wanted to promote. During a Google Hangout in early May, John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst for Google, announced the search giant would be removing the emojis.

True to Mueller’s word, emojis disappeared from search results early this morning, as first noticed by Jennifer Slegg at The SEM Post.

Notably, Google has only seemed to remove the emojis from titles. Norwegian Airlines, known for creating the very first emoji URL, appears to be unaffected.

While the hearts, waves, and smiley faces are gone from Google, emojis are still currently appearing in Bing searches. Microsoft’s search engine started showing emojis in title tags shortly after they began appearing in Google, but there’s no word if they intend to follow Google in phasing them out now.

Google is constantly making changes – both big and small – and the latest changes will affect how your site appears in the search results.

Yesterday Google announced it would be altering how URLs are shown on mobile search results. Well, altering isn’t the right word. More accurately, Google is completely removing URLs in favor of the “real world” name of the site.

Instead of showing the simple URL, the search engine will display the site’s location in a breadcrumbs-like format, as shown below:

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As Google explains in their announcement, the change intends to make searching easier for users.

“To help mobile searchers understand your website better when we show it in the mobile search results, today we’re updating the algorithms that display URLs in the search results to better reflect the names of websites…”

The new style will be rolled out gradually and are exclusive to mobile search results. For now, the change will only be affecting the US, but will likely come to other countries in the near future.

If you want to keep control of how your site name is shown, there is a simple structured data markup set you can use.

Just use this structured data markup to tell Google’s algorithms exactly how you want your website name displayed.

Those who have been following search trends in the past couple years have likely heard that being the first result on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is not nearly as important these days, mostly because the results we see are now customized based on location and user habits.

This is absolutely still the case for desktop searching, but a new click-through ranking study conducted by seoClarity suggests the difference between first and second in mobile search results may be the difference between success and failure. Their findings show such a large drop-off between the first and second rankings that there was no notable difference between the second listing and those that followed.

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In the graph of mobile click through rates, you can see the first result receives nearly three times the number of clicks compared to the second ranking, while desktop rankings continue to show a more gradual slope following the first result.

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To conduct the study, seoClarity examined over 2 billion impressions from Google Webmaster Tools data over a 90 day period between June and August. You can download and view the full report here.

television

Yesterday morning, Bill Slawski from SEO By The Sea discovered that Google has been granted a patent which suggests they are working on a method to use information about what is showing on television in your area as a ranking signal in search results.

The patents follow Google’s trend of trying to individualize search results based on personal tastes and location, and in some ways it has already been in use within Google Now. However if the method used in the patent is implemented TV schedules could have a much larger impact on your results.

The specific patent is named System and method for enhancing user search results by determining a television program currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device. It was filed on June 30, 2011.

Here is the abstract for the patent:

A computer implemented method for using search queries related to television programs. A server receives a user’s search query from an electronic device. The server then determines, in accordance with the search query and television program related information for television programs available at a location associated with the electronic device during a specific time window, a television program currently being displayed in proximity to the electronic device, wherein the television program related information includes program descriptions for a plurality of television programs being broadcast for the associated location.

Basically, the patent would allow Google to make note of what you are watching and instantly include that information within their ranking algorith. Presumably, this would make it easier to search for products shown during commercials or for more information about the show. As explained in the patent:

Someone watching a TV program with a segment about a particular model of Porsche might execute a search query for “Porsche” or “sports cars” instead of the designation of the particular model that was the subject of the segment….

Given that the Porsche model in question is a “911 Turbo,” and that the user executed a search query for “Porsche,” the server can return information about one or more of :

1) the “911 Turbo” model (e.g., a link to information on the Porsche.com website about the “911 Turbo”),

2) information about the TV program that is currently airing with that segment, and

3) suggestions of similar programming that is currently airing or airing in the future and that is available to the user.

In this way, implementations provide enhanced search results to viewers of live TV that are relevant to the content of TV programs that they are watching or are likely to be interested in watching.

The patent also provides a diagram which explains how the patent wold work:

google-tv-process-diagram

Ultimately, it is up to Google whether you can expect to see this idea included in future search algorithms. As Google has said before, just because they have patented something doesn’t mean they will definitely be using it. But, Search Engine Land also pointed out Google Now is able to do a very similar task.

If you opt in, Google Now is already capable of listening for information about what you’re watching and updates TV cards accordingly.