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Google is making a change to how featured some featured snippets function by taking users directly to the associated text when clicked. 

Featured snippets are the highlighted search results that appear at the top of some results pages, showing a specifically relevant bit of text.

The company announced the update through its Google SearchLiason Twitter account, which posted:

“As we have done with AMP pages since December 2018, clicking on a featured snippet now takes users to the exact text highlighted for HTML pages, when we can confidently determine where the text is.”

While it is a relatively small change, it makes featured snippets even more useful to searchers (and thus, more essential for businesses to put in place). 

Surprisingly, the company says there is no additional code or special markup needed to prepare your featured snippets for this change. 

Instead, the search engine is essentially using a trick that highlights specific text by tweaking the URL for each snippet.

As Roger Montti explained over at Search Engine Journal, this is a feature previously used for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which has the dual benefits of being easy to implement and trackable.

A new survey of over 900 Americans suggests many business owners may not understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), such as how Google ranks websites.

Compared to non-business owners, the 394 business owners surveyed were slightly more informed – though both groups showed a clear knowledge gap.

Based on the survey results, almost 1 in 4 business owners and more than 2 in 5 non-business owners said they were not at all or only vaguely familiar with SEO.

When asked specifically about how Google ranks pages, over 1 in 3 business owners and more than half of non-business owners said they had little to no understanding of the process.

As Fractl, the company behind the survey, explains:

“Not only does that mean they might not be implementing the most effective content strategies and optimizing their websites appropriately, but they’re also likely missing out on low-hanging fruit, like improving site speed and considering site structure.

The good news is that if they learn about SEO now, they can make leaps in the right direction that will help them against their competitors.”

How About an Actual SEO Quiz?

Rather than entirely relying on self-reporting, Fractl also gave survey participants a simple 8-question quiz on SEO. When the scores were averaged, business owners received a 48.7% on the quiz, while non-business owners scored a 38.7%.

Notably, the majority of the survey participants said they believed SEO is either “moderately” or “very” important to the health of their business, indicating a disconnect between the desire to learn and having the time or access to resources to do so.

As the study concludes, “With greater SEO knowledge, companies can see massive gains in their marketing and sales goals and establish a foundation for greater long-term growth.”

If you’ve ever doubted the power of search engine optimization, just look at the events playing out surrounding the recently released movie Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). 

After the film significantly under-performed on its opening weekend, Warner Bros. has decided to revise the name to the simpler Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for better SEO.

As the company explained to The Verge this week, the new title places the popular character’s name at the front of the title instead of hiding it towards the end. The idea behind is a “search expansion for ticket sites” to make the title easier to find for movie-goers who may be less familiar with the Birds of Prey title.

Attentive watchers noticed the change occurring three days after the film’s release across numerous ticket sites.

Did SEO Tank Birds of Prey?

It is too early to really tell how big of an impact the change will really have to the movie’s success. There is some evidence that Google and other major search engines were already surfacing information about the movie and ticket availability when just searching “Harley Quinn” before the change took effect.

Image Source: George Nguyen/Search Engine Land

The revision could actually cause more confusion, as many details about the movie – such as its YouTube trailer – still show the original movie title.

However, the power of SEO and branding can’t be ignored. Studies have shown that more than half of consumers only click on brands they are familiar with within search results. It is also hard to gauge exactly how many potential film goers were turned away or frustrated by irrelevant search results before the change took place.

Either way, the events following the release of Birds of Prey provide a real-world example of how SEO and branding affect the viability of even the biggest products.

A surprising competitor has entered the arena of search engines, as Verizon Media has announced the launch of its privacy-focused search engine called OneSearch.

The search engine says it will not track, store, or share any data from users including personal and search-related information, aligning itself more with search engines like DuckDuckGo than Google.

The search engine is available now at OneSearch.com.

While DuckDuckGo may be more established, OneSearch hopes to make it easier for businesses committed to privacy by integrating the search engine with existing products.

As the company explains in the announcement:

“OneSearch doesn’t track, store, or share personal or search data with advertisers, giving users greater control of their personal information in a search context. Businesses with an interest in security can partner with Verizon Media to integrate OneSearch into their privacy and security products, giving their customers another measure of control.”

The search engine is also taking privacy a step further by adding an “advanced privacy mode” which delivers search results via encrypted links which will expire within an hour.

In the announcement, OneSearch highlights their full suite of privacy-centric features, including:

  • No cookie tracking, retargeting, or personal profiling
  • No sharing of personal data with advertisers
  • No storing of user search history
  • Unbiased, unfiltered search results
  • Encrypted search terms

As OneSearch promises not to sell users’ data, it will instead rely on advertising to provide its search engine for free. Rather than using users’ browsing data, the search engine says it will show ads based on contextual data such as the current keyword being queried.

Currently, the search engine is only available in North America on desktop or mobile browsers. The company says it plans to expand the search engine to other countries soon and will be launching mobile apps for Android and iOS later this month.

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 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.

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.

Thanks to its high-level of adaptability, JavaScript (JS) has been in use in some shape or form for more than 20 years and remains one of the most popular programming languages used to build websites.

However, Google’s Martin Splitt, a webmaster trends analyst, recently suggested that webmasters should begin moving away from the coding language to rank most quickly on search engines.

In an SEO Mythbusting video exploring the topic of web performance and search engine optimization, Splitt and Ada Rose Cannon of Samsung found themselves talking about JavaScript.

Specifically, they discussed how using too much JS can drag down a site’s performance and potentially drag them down in Google’s search index.

How JavaScript Holds Content Back

One of the biggest issues that arise with overusing JS is when sites publish content on a daily basis.

Google uses a two-pass indexing process to help verify content before it is added to the search index. In the case of a JavaScript-heavy page, Google first renders the non-JS elements like HTML and CSS. Then, the page gets put into a queue for more advanced crawling to render the rest of the content as processing resources are available.

This means Java-heavy pages may not be completely crawled and indexed for up to a week after being published.

For time-sensitive information, this can be the difference between being on the cutting-edge and getting left behind.

What You Can Do Instead

Splitt offers a few different techniques developers can use to ensure their site is being efficiently crawled and indexed as new content is published.

One way to get around the issue would be to use dynamic rendering, which provides Google with a static rendered version of your page – saving them the time and effort of rendering and crawling the page themselves.

The best course of action, though, would be to simply rely primarily on HTML and CSS for time-sensitive content.

Splitt takes time to explain that JavaScript is not inherently bad for your SEO or search rankings. Once they are indexed, JS-heavy sites “rank just fine.” The issue is ensuring content is crawled and indexed as quickly and efficiently as possible, so you can always be on the cutting edge.

The discussion gets pretty technical, but you can view the entire discussion in the full video below:

Google is in the process of rolling out a significant update to its broad search engine algorithm which appears to be having a big impact on search results.

The company announced the update on June 2nd, the day before the update began rolling out. This raised some eyebrows at the time because Google generally doesn’t update the public about algorithm updates beforehand, if at all.

As Danny Sullivan from Google explained recently, the only reason they decided to talk about the update is that it would be “definitely noticeable.”

While the update is seemingly still rolling out, the early indications are that the effects of this update certainly are noticeable and could have a big impact on your site’s performance.

What Does This Mean For You?

Unfortunately, Google is never too keen to go into the specifics of their algorithm updates and it is too early to definitively tell what the algorithm update has changed.

All that is clear from reports around the web is that the algorithm update has caused a seemingly dramatic shift for sites previously affected by Google algorithm updates. Some are reporting massive recoveries and improved traffic, while others are saying their rankings have tanked over the past week.

What Does Google Say To Do?

Oddly enough, Google has provided a little bit of guidance with this latest update, though it may not be what you want to here.

The company says to essentially do nothing because there is nothing to “fix.”

Some experts within Google has also suggested results may normalize somewhat in the coming weeks as the search engine releases further tweaks and updates.

In the meantime, the best course of action is to monitor your website analytics and watch Google Search Console for notifications or big changes.

If you do see a major shakeup, you might watch to see if it recovers within the coming days or conduct an assessment of your site to evaluate what your site can do better for both search engines and potential customers.

A new study suggests that although highly ranking sites on search engines may be optimizing for search engines, they are failing to make their sites accessible to a large number of actual people – specifically, those with visual impairments.

The study from Searchmetrics used Google Lighthouse to test the technical aspects of sites ranking on Google. Unsurprisingly, it showed that high-ranking websites were largely fast and updated to use the latest online technologies, and were relatively secure.

However, the analysis revealed that these high-ranking websites were lagging behind when it came to accessibility for those with disabilities.

Based on scores from Google’s own tools, the average overall score for accessibility for sites appearing in the top 20 positions on the search engine was 66.6 out of 100.

That is the lowest score of the four ranking categories analyzed in the study.

Google’s Lighthouse accessibility score analyzes a number of issues that are largely irrelevant for many users, but hugely important for those with disabilities or impairments – such as color contrast and the presence of alt tags to provide context or understanding to visual elements.

As Daniel Furch, director of marketing EMEA at Searchmetrics, explains, this can be a major issue for sites that are otherwise performing very well on search engines:

“If you don’t make your site easily accessible to those with disabilities, including those with impaired vision, you cut yourself off of from a large group of visitors.

Not only is it ethically a good idea to be inclusive, but also obviously you could be turning away potential customers. And some sites have even faced lawsuits for failing on this issue.”