Google makes hundreds of changes every year to its search algorithm and collection of tools for SEO and PPC. It's nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. From time to time, a change is significant enough to warrant comment for B2B tech companies. This blog will be a living document with our most recent comments at the top. We encourage you to bookmark this page and visit from time to time to stay in tune with Google.
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December 18, 2018
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC), formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a platform used to monitor how Google views your website, and to therefore optimize its organic presence.
Google Search Console graduated from beta earlier this year and introduced a sleek and more efficient version of Google Webmaster Tools. With the graduation, Google launched the Manual Actions report and a “test live” capability to the newly launched URL Inspection Tool. The beta launch of GSC provided us more data with the Index Coverage report, Performance report, links report, and once again, the URL inspection tool.
The Performance report allows you to review your search analytics data with a variety of filters.
Every single filter option also offers the ability to contrast two types of each filter with the “Compare” tab. The Search filter gives the option of Web, Image and Video. The “Compare” tab is a handy tool to contrast two types of traffic, whether that be Web vs. Image, Image vs. Video, etc.
The Date Range filter now offers 16 months of data as opposed to 90 days. There are preset time periods as well as the option to set a custom range. Use the “Compare” tab to contrast two sets of date ranges.
The “New” option next to the Search and Date Range filters gives you the ability to add five additional filters: Query, Page, Country, Device and Search Appearance. All these filters can be layered on top of one another. Different combinations of filters further limit and specify your results.
Index Coverage Report
The Index Coverage Report assigns pages to one of four statuses. Error, Valid with Warnings, Valid, and Excluded. This section is mainly used to monitor what pages haven’t been indexed and why.
The Sitemaps report allows you to submit Sitemaps and view which ones were processed or any errors in processing. Submitting a valid sitemap helps Google discover the right content on your site.
The Links Report allows you to view data on links pointing to and within your site. This section can be used to identify what sites you link to the most, identify the most popular anchor text within your site, etc.
URL Inspection Tool
The URL Inspection Tool allows you to view crawling, indexing and serving information from the Google Index for any URL of your site. This section can be used to inspect an indexed URL, request indexing of a URL, and to inspect a live URL. The latter option is brand new and tests whether a page on your site is able to be indexed.
Common Uses of GSC
Identify highest-traffic pages
Performance → “Pages” tab → adjust date range and/or other filters → select “Total Clicks”
Identify highest-traffic queries
Performance → “Queries” tab → adjust date range → select “Total Clicks”
Identify highest-CTR queries
Performance → “Queries” tab → select “Average CTR” → adjust date range and/or other filters
Identify average CTR
Performance → “Queries” tab → select “Average CTR” → Performance → adjust date range → Total Impressions → Status → Performance → adjust date range → select “Average Position” (at this point, “Total Impressions,” “Average CTR,” and “Average Position” should all be selected)
Identify ranking increases/decreases
Performance → “Queries” tab → adjust data range → “Compare” tab → select time periods → Apply
Compare site’s search performance across desktop, mobile and tablet
Performance → “Devices” tab → Select “Total Clicks,” “Total Impressions,” “Average CTR,” and “Average Position” → Compare
Identify which pages haven’t been indexed and why
Index Coverage → Details box will identify the errors causing indexing issues → click any Error type to see the affected URLs
Identify mobile usability issues
Mobile Usability → select “Error” → Details box will identify which Errors are causing mobile usability issues → double click the Error type to see affected URLs
Monitor backlinks and backlink activity
Links → Top Linked Pages report → see “Total External Links” and/or select “Incoming Links”
Identify what sites you link to the most
Links → “Top Linking Sites” → select “More”
Identify most popular anchor text
Links → “Top Linking Text” → select “More”
Identify how many total internal links your site has
Links → “Top Linked Pages” → select “More” → “Total Internal Links”
September 27, 2018
Google Image Search Update
Mobile Design / Desktop Design
In March 2018, Google released an image display update for mobile devices. This update aimed to provide more context on the image search results page, generating more efficient and useful visual discovery. The mobile design update consisted of many parts:
- your website’s URL and caption are now added below
- green bubble filters added to the top of the results, containing relevant search terms
On September 24, at Google’s 20th Anniversary event, they announced adding the changes to desktop design, but that Creator and Credit metadata support were additionally planned to launch. The Creator and Credit metadata is only visible on mobile design, and there are no current insights as to when this update will subsequently be featured on desktop.
This update was rolled out on Thursday, September 27th.
This update added a caption and the website’s domain URL underneath photos in Google image search, as well as bubble filters to the top of search results on desktop. The bubble filters on both mobile and desktop design were changed from the color green to the color white. Lastly, the Creator and Credit metadata support was only added to the mobile design and involves a text box listing the Creator and the Credit due.
Desktop Design Update:
Mobile Design Update:
This update will mainly affect websites whose images are buried deep within their pages. Google announced the overall authority of the website will affect its rankings on image search, as well as where the image is placed on the page; Google suggested aiming for the top-center.
The addition of captions underneath image thumbnails acts as a further reminder to label title tags for images accurately and descriptively. The bubble filters could even act as a tool in determining what relative words should be included in the image titles for maximum discoverability.