Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.
This week we have a couple of potential upheavals to Google SERPs and the core algorithm, as well as updates to Knowledge Panel and a warning on spammy widgets.
Google experiments with new desktop SERP layout
As I reported earlier this week, in among Google’s 1,000s of minor experiments a few users were served with a rather fundamental change: a new desktop SERP layout featuring mobile-style cards.
The number of results on the card-based SERP is exactly the same as the ’standard’ layout and the snippet width is significantly longer (roughly 20 extra characters).
Google has experimented with this card-based layout before in 2013, and again earlier this year in May. The fact it keeps reappearing obviously means Google has seen positive use of the new layout.
Google’s core algorithm saw a few minor changes
Over the weekend it became clear to everyone tracking this sort of thing (SEOs mainly) that there was turbulence in Google’s algorithm.
MozCast measured a ‘temperature’ on Thursday 2nd September as a sweltering 108 degrees and experts across the UK noted the following peaks in their own monitoring.
— Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando) September 3, 2016
John Mueller stated in the video below (five minutes in) that the Google update was NOT Penguin 4.0, so you can “cross that one off your lists.”
However there was a slightly more concrete change to the Local Pack with Google issuing a quality update which removed some spammy local results.
Site reviews now appear in Google Knowledge Panels
According to Google’s blog post, its new ‘Reviews from the web’ service brings aggregated user ratings of up to three review sites to Knowledge Panels for local businesses and attractions.
All you have to do is implement the review snippet markup and meet Google’s criteria, and your site’s user-generated composite ratings will be eligible for inclusion.
Google would like to ‘strongly’ remind you about links contained in widgets
Google does its best to penalise any sites caught manipulating PageRank with spammy links and yesterday it decided to remind webmasters about the danger of adding keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links in widgets.
Apparently some widgets (like you might add to your WordPress site) can add links to your webpages that you did not editorially place and contain anchor text that the webmaster does not control. Because they’re ‘unnatural’, they’re considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Here are a couple of examples…
Google’s webspam team may take manual actions on unnatural links. But can resolve or avoid this by making sure you add a rel=”nofollow” attribute on the widget links or remove the links/widgets entirely.
Update to the layout of search ads in Google Play
Google first introduced search ads to its Google Play store last year to improve app discovery and now its “fine-tuning the ads experience… to deliver even more growth for the developer community.”
According to an Adwords blog post, these are the changes…
- For app-specific searches on Google Play, ads in their current form will not be shown at the top of the page. Instead, the organic result for the app will show at the top of the page, followed by additional organic results and possibly ads for other relevant apps.
- A relevant, additional ad will start to show on Google Play for some queries like “music streaming app” and “exercise app.” This new ad spot gives developers an additional opportunity to promote the apps you’ve worked so hard to build.