Tag Archives: SERP

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Clues in Google’s Mobile SERPs Test by @martinibuster

Google’s test of a mobile first SERP may indicate a clue to how Google intends to display sites in the future.

The post Clues in Google’s Mobile SERPs Test by @martinibuster appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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7 Insights You Can Unlock From Every Relevant SERP by @boggles

Learn how to use the elements of industry-relevant SERPs to further grow your online marketing strategies.

The post 7 Insights You Can Unlock From Every Relevant SERP by @boggles appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

How to Track Rank in Google’s Jobs, App Box & Top Stories by @rankranger

To stay ahead of the pack, take advantage of tools that offer powerful SERP feature data reporting and analysis.

The post How to Track Rank in Google’s Jobs, App Box & Top Stories by @rankranger appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

The changing SERP: Understanding and adapting to dynamic search results

Search results have become more personalized and dynamic over the years, creating a more challenging SEO environment for search and content marketers. But columnist Jim Yu shows how these changes can create opportunities for those willing to do the work.

The post The changing SERP: Understanding…



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Report: Google People Also Ask Box Shown More Often

RankRanger posted on Twitter that their mobile SERP tracking tool has captured that Google is now showing the people also ask box way more often on mobile for many European locales…

How machine learning levels the SERP playing field

Contributor Kristopher Jones explains how SEOs should be changing their practices to keep up with trends in the way Google evaluates web pages.

The post How machine learning levels the SERP playing field appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Targeting featured snippet and ‘People also ask’ SERP features

Wondering how to obtain the elusive “position zero” in Google search results? Columnist Marcus Miller discusses how to target answer boxes and related questions.

The post Targeting featured snippet and ‘People also ask’ SERP features appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Google Posts: Growing under the radar

Google Plus has risen from the dead! No we’re only joking, that’s highly unlikely.

Google have now rolled out their Posts function for all small businesses with a Google My Business account.

No idea what Posts are? You’d be forgiven for being confused, managing your business information on Google calls for some deciphering of the difference between Google My Business and Google+, which can lead to some serious head scratching.

Hence why we are taking the time to explore what Google Posts are and what they mean for small businesses (and celebrities, big businesses and Twitter).

Google has also refrained from making a big song and dance of Posts – so the amount of information out there is particularly limited on this occasion. To add to the confusion, the term ‘Google Posts’ or ‘Posts on Google’ is not actually the official name given to this feature, as per some of the Google search algorithm updates, Posts has been named as such by the wider community.

The term Google Posts was presumably born out of the language used by Google when describing the feature, e.g ‘post with Google’.

Let’s start from the beginning: What are Google Posts?

Originally tested during the 2016 US elections, Posts offered candidates the ability to submit updates that would appear directly in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and Google Maps.

These posts were also categorized with dropdowns, further helping users to access critical information. In 2016, selected businesses and individuals, including musicians, were used to trial Posts. Apparently these test results were good enough for a wider roll out in 2017.

The posts appear as cards in the SERPs with various calls to action including ‘more’ and social sharing to Facebook, Twitter and Google.

The big G state that:

“Posting on Google is a new way to share relevant, fresh content with the people who are searching for you. Use image, videos and even animated GIFs to engage your audience, and ad inline links to drive traffic to specific content. This enhanced format allows searchers to hear directly from the primary source – you – and complements existing results from across the web.”

How to use Google Posts

First things first, if you’re based in London like us, Google haven’t fully rolled posts out to everyone so you have to join the waiting list. In our opinion it is definitely worth registering.

Once you have been approved, the format appears to be reasonably simple. Simply log on to your GMB account, select ‘Create a Post’ and follow the options.

Google Posts: Growing under the radar
Image credit: Google. (Very telling that Google are using mobile screenshots, reinforcing their mobile first approach)

You can use Google Posts in a variety of formats including events (with dates and times), image based, video, animated GIFs and text based posts.

Google say that each post will be removed after 7 days, after the date for an event has expired “to ensure that posts are timely”

Impact on SEO

Click-Through Rate

In a case study last year on Search Engine Watch, Rebecca Sentance noticed that Google Posts were appearing for search terms such as ‘engagement rings Buffalo’, i.e non branded search terms. This was particularly exciting, however upon investigation it would appear that Google has now backtracked on this decision to have Posts.

Probably a good thing – it would be a safe bet that the underbelly of the SEO world would look to spam Posts should they appear for transactional terms. Regardless, as discussed in a previous blog post, SEO is more than just onsite, content and links.

Great SEO also takes into account the whole user flow, including improving click-through rates from results pages, which Posts should contribute to.

We will have to wait for a wider roll out to see the real effect that Google Posts will have on CTR. However, it does not take a huge leap of faith to bet that, if used properly, Posts will draw the eye and add to credibility and subsequently improve CTR.

The fact that you can incorporate autoplay GIFs into Posts that appear in search adds another dimension to your appearance in the SERPs. We believe that early adopters could gain a critical edge over competition in the SERPs, especially for those in 2nd, 3rd or 4th place who could differentiate their listing from those above them.

Finally, let’s face it, Google has an assumed level of authority with most internet users. That’s what makes them so profitable – people trust Google’s search results. They may not trust them as a brand, but that’s slightly different.

Accompanying your Google Posts is a nice blue tick next to your name, giving your brand a boost in terms of social verification. Google has endorsed you. If that doesn’t have an effect, then we can all forget about the influence of status in all walks of life.

Google Posts: Growing under the radar

Mobile vs desktop

This is where there is a big difference for Posts. The long and short of it is that Posts are almost immediately viewable when scrolling on mobile (just under the maps result) whereas for branded search on desktop they are on the right hand side Knowledge Graph, below all of your other GMB information.

Desktop:

Google Posts: Growing under the radar

 

Mobile:

Google Posts: Growing under the radar

With Google’s push towards mobile-first indexing and AMP, Posts take a prominent position in the SERPs on mobile. Does this dictate that they will be considered a ranking factor? Not necessarily. However, expect businesses to receive higher levels of engagement and CTR from mobile when compared with desktop, especially for branded searches.

On the other hand, this advantage could be neutralized for non branded searches where the Post carousel is appearing directly beneath the search result, rather than under the business’ GMB profile.

How do Google Posts influence your ranking?

Considering the almost stealthy roll-out of Posts, we do not expect Google to comment on whether Posts will be taken into account as a ranking factor in search. For the moment, therefore, we would recommend concentrating on utilizing them as a feature to improve CTR, and therefore traffic, to content.

Posts are certainly not a social network in the traditional sense, when compared with the major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Furthermore, we only need look at the ambiguous information out there on how social media may or may not affect ranking ability to guess that Google will not be commenting on the influence of Posts on SERPs for some time – if ever.

Are posts a spin off of Google Authors?

Posts appear to be somewhat of a spin off of the now defunct Google Authorship experiment, but with more functionality, i.e. the ability to advertise events in Posts. Much like Google Authorship, Posts will provide almost instantly indexable content and another dimension to search results.

Businesses will be able to drive traffic through search results to specific pieces of content or key calls to action from Posts, adding further options for users compared with the more standard main search link or associated sitelinks.

Top stories and Twitter carousel

Again, we will need to see this roll out fully to see the impact on search results, but it is an interesting conundrum for Google. Currently big brands will tend to have Google’s ‘Top Stories’ and a Twitter carousel appear in search results. Add Posts to this equation and it raises interesting questions. Which takes priority? Content published directly to their GMB page, or Twitter/news outlets?

One would imagine that Google would look after their own interests, but their recent record €2.4 billion fine by the EU for essentially providing biased Google shopping results may influence their decisions on this matter.

Posts do seem to compete more directly with the Twitter carousel due to their time-sensitive nature, which is not exactly great news for the already presumably very sweaty and sleep deprived team at Twitter. Especially considering the language used on Google’s page explaining Posts: “Your Presence on Google, Fresher than Ever”.

Google Posts: Growing under the radar

Moving forward

We are actually quite excited about the potential of Posts. It adds another dimension to our role as SEOs, and we can see early adopters using it to significantly boost content marketing efforts.

Interestingly – and a topic which has been briefly touched upon by Search Engine Watch – the way in which businesses utilize Posts could be a substantial influencing factor on their effectiveness. Businesses will have to be conscious of whether they use it to promote new products, events, provide key information (e.g guides), or a blend of content.

First impressions count, even before the user has clicked on your search result. Subsequently, early adopters should look to define their strategy for Posts quickly rather than being an early adopter for the sake of it.

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Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

The search engine results page recently saw the return of Google Posts, the part-social, part-publishing feature that was launched by Google a little over a year ago during the US Presidential Election.

Billed as “an experimental new podium on Google”, Google Posts has attracted a lot of attention from marketers, search specialists and Google enthusiasts thanks to its prominent place on the SERP – appearing in the form of an eye-catching carousel of cards – and its mysterious deployment.

Over the year since it was first released, it has appeared in and disappeared from search results a number of times with no apparent pattern or explanation. Brands who wanted a shot at being part of Google’s new podium were forced to “Join the waitlist” and cross their fingers.

But last month Google suddenly announced that it would be opening up Posts to “museums, sports teams, sports leagues, and movies” in the United States, and all of the above groups along with musicians in Brazil – prompting a renewed flurry of interest from marketers. At the same time, the relaunched Posts became more visually eye-catching with the addition of embedded GIFs and videos.

 

One person, however, doesn’t believe that Google Posts is worth the hype. Michael Bertini, Online Marketing Consultant and Search Strategist at iQuanti, told Search Engine Watch why he thinks that Google has gone off half-cocked with Posts, and why marketers would be better off expending their energies elsewhere.

Google Posts: where is the value?

“I don’t think Google will admit that they made a mistake with this whole Posts thing,” says Bertini.

“Google already has a lot of great products and search results features on the page; to add Google Posts to that clutters up the results page unnecessarily. And I don’t think it offers much value to the end user.”

It’s true that while there has been a lot of excitement from brands and marketers around the prospect of publishing directly to the SERP, few of us have considered its usefulness to users. Google is still first and foremost a search engine; when users enter a search query, they are presumably looking for information.

While people Googling candidates in the run-up to the US Presidential Election would undoubtedly have been interested in what those candidates had to say about certain issues, subsequent versions of Google Posts have moved further and further away from a feature that is useful to the end user.

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

Few people searching for “Boston Red Sox” are looking for pseudo-social updates from their favorite sports team; they’re more likely to be looking for match scores, game tickets, or perhaps a link to the team’s website.

A lot of the interest around Google Posts thus far has been driven by sheer novelty, with people Googling ‘Andrews Jewelers’ or ‘Escape Pod Comics’ simply to see how the businesses had been using Posts – rather than because they featured useful information. In and of itself, how much value does Posts provide to the searcher?

“I don’t think anybody should put a strict focus on getting into Posts – or any one Google feature,” says Bertini. “What I’ve noticed throughout my career is that people who make it a specific focus to get into an area of Google – let’s use Google’s Answer Box as an example – ultimately, they’re left with content that doesn’t fit the end user’s needs. And then it dies.”

“If someone did want to get involved with Google Posts, they should write content that really answers the search query, and then of course request access on posts.withgoogle.com. But that’s all.”

Everything is a test

Based on the fact that Posts has already come and gone from the SERP several times before this most recent, wider launch, does Bertini think that Posts is finally here to stay?

“Everything Google is about testing,” Bertini replies. “Even after they launch it to market, what they would consider ‘permanent’ is not really what we would consider permanent. Personally, I think it’ll last up until the third quarter of 2017, and then they’ll mix it up with something else.

“If Posts get a really high CTR, then Google might invest more in it and add more features. But at the moment, it’s still very much in testing. It still lacks features – there’s no real social interaction, for example.”

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

Google Posts currently allows for limited social sharing, but doesn’t provide a way for users to truly interact with or respond to Posts.

If Posts, ultimately, is still in testing, it explains why it has disappeared and reappeared with so little fanfare – Google doesn’t want to attract a lot of attention to a feature that may not even be launched on a wider scale.

Bertini agrees that the lack of promotion speaks volumes about Google’s intentions – or lack thereof – for the feature. “If Google had complete confidence in this feature, they would be promoting it more.”

He goes on: “If I ran my own business, and I wanted to get more searchers to my site, there are better ways to do that than to focus on GIFs and videos to get into Google Posts.

“For example, if I were making videos already, I would create pages for my videos, transcribe that content, and optimize it for search – that would be a better use of resources than focusing on getting into Posts.

“Ultimately, people are going to invest time and effort into Posts, when Google itself has not yet perfected this feature.”

Google Plus revisited?

Given the pseudo-social nature of Google Posts, a lot of comparisons have understandably been drawn between Google Posts and Google Plus, Google’s last ill-fated venture into social networking. And it could be that Google Plus provides a blueprint for what to expect from the future of Google Posts.

“If we look back at Google Plus – when it first launched, Google’s idea of what Plus would be is not what it is today. And like everything Google, Google will never admit that they made a mistake, or that the product didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to be.

“But I think the search marketers who used Google Plus as a social platform are very disappointed today – if they invested a lot of time and money into building up their profiles and optimizing their Google Plus. It’s not used the way it used to be used, any more. I think it’s going to be the same with Google Posts.”

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

Remember when Google Plus was a big deal?

Bertini believes the aim of introducing Google Posts to the SERP is to encourage more user interaction with the search engine results page. This would tie in with the recent addition of rich results for podcasts to the SERP, allowing searchers on smartphones and Google Home to play podcasts directly from the search page.

“Google is trying to make a different version of social [with Posts], which is social interaction with the search engine results page, where a user can interact with the search page itself. It’s just very early on at the moment.”

If Google can succeed in expanding the function of the search results page in this way, it would definitely be a means of keeping users inside its own walled garden for longer.

But without value to the end user, Google Posts could be a Plus-style flop, and Bertini thinks that Google would be better off focusing its attention on perfecting existing features of the SERP that have more value to searchers.

Interview: Why marketers shouldn’t waste their time with Google Posts

“Google is constantly trying to mix things up, when – once again, personal belief – I think that they should focus on good products that they’ve launched like Answer Box, which is already effective. Or ‘People Also Ask’ – they launched this section, and it’s still not perfect, but it’s good.

“I think this is what Google should devote its energy to, rather than – I don’t want to say get rid of Facebook or Twitter, because I don’t think that will happen – but rather than trying to make the search results page a social platform.”

The future of Google Posts

Google Posts, as it stands, still lacks a lot of functionality. So an ideal world, what would a fully-featured Google Posts look like?

“One, people search for something; two, a Post feature comes up; three, there would be a rating system for whether or not the Post matches the search query.

“Then there would be a sharing function where the user can share the Post via social media. You could also have a Hangouts-style feature integrating chat into Posts, allowing people to chat about what they’ve just read.”

It remains to be seen whether Google will try to keep integrating more functionality into Posts or whether it will once again disappear quietly from the SERP.

But one way or the other, marketers should keep sight of the importance of catering to the end user – not just to the newest Google feature.

Is Google’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ad the future of paid voice search?

Google sparked a small firestorm last week as reports surfaced that its intelligent assistant device Google Home had delivered what appeared to be an unsolicited advertisement to unsuspecting owners.

The reports first emerged on Reddit and Twitter, where users who own Google Home devices posted that Google slipped in an ad for Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast movie.

As one user explained on Reddit:

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I did my usual “Okay Google, good morning”. After information about the time and weather, my google home said something along the lines of “By the way, Beauty and The Beast opens in theaters today. In this version, Belle is the inventor. Sounds more like it to me.”

A mixed response from Home owners

Not surprisingly, many of the Google Home owners who heard the ad were not pleased. “Why in hell would I ever pay someone else to advertise to me, in the privacy of my own home no less?” one Twitter user asked.

“Wow, Google. You were doing so much better than Siri. Then you just threw that all away. Siri may suck right now at many things, but at least I know that Apple will never inject her with ads,” a Redditor wrote.

Other comments suggested that some consumers would no longer consider purchasing Google Home based on the presence of advertising.

But according to Google, the ad wasn’t an ad. First, a spokesperson told Business Insider, “This isn’t an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.”

Later, as video of the ad playing made the rounds, Google followed up with another statement.

“This wasn’t intended to be an ad. What’s circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out timely content. We’re continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.”

Unfortunately for Google, if it walks and talks like an ad, it’s probably going to be considered… an ad. At least by consumers and the media.

The future of monetizing voice search?

Of course, Google is one of the most powerful ad companies in the world, so the fact that it experimented with an audio ad on Google Home isn’t exactly surprising.

As more and more consumers interact with devices that have intelligent assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’s natural that companies in the digital advertising ecosystem are going to be interested in experimenting with audio ads, which could be a killer app for monetizing these devices.

For Google, the interest is potentially necessary. After all, if more and more consumers come to search for information through voice-based intelligent assistants instead of screen-based devices, it could have a negative impact on Google’s other ad products, especially AdWords.

 

There has been some speculation in the search industry about whether we might see a transition to a “SERP-less search” as voice search becomes more mainstream.

In this eventuality, there has always been the question of what might happen to paid search, and how search engines would monetize the new SERP-less landscape. Well, we may have just found the answer to that question.

In spite of Google’s denials that the Beauty and the Beast product placement was an ad, we could be looking at – or listening to – the future of paid voice search.

 

A version of this article, ‘Has advertising arrived on Google Home?’ originally appeared on our sister site ClickZ.