What’s new in search: zero clicks, algorithm updates and mobile-first indexing; Friday’s daily brief
Don't miss the updated information from Google on the core web vitals and page experience update.
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Good morning, Marketers, the past few weeks have been heavy on Fridays, so let’s make this week a bit lighter with some useful nuggets of information to catch you up on some trending topics in search.
On the whole zero-click thing that we dug into last week, Rand Fishkin who came out with the study updated his story on Wednesday. Rand published more data that said if you look at just US searches, the zero-clicks looks worse, from 64.82% to 68.3% but he did say overall clicks to websites, the raw number of clicks, is up because searches are up year-over-year. He shared a sample query set, saying a query like [apple iphone xs] zero-click rate was 43% but a query like [donald trump age] was much higher at 95%, which just shows you, the query really matters. Rand said he hopes to break down queries more but needs more time, while Google has remained silent, giving us zero data to refute any of Rand’s claims.
If you’re algorithm-watching, March was no different than February in terms of the number of unconfirmed updates. We had one this past weekend and several over the month of March. Meanwhile, we are waiting for that next big core update – the last one was on December 3, 2020, and we are really expecting a new one soon. So hold onto your seats.
Finally, on the mobile-first indexing side, Google is a bit delayed on migrating that last batch of sites to mobile-first indexing. John Mueller of Google said the company might finish it up in April or May, and it has stopped automatically migrating sites from desktop indexing to mobile indexing. This really should not impact you. I suspect your site has already been moved over a year or so ago.
Search catch-up reporter
Google core web vitals and page experience update FAQs updated
Last December, Google released a detailed FAQs around the upcoming Google page experience update and the core web vitals. Well, this week, Google has vastly improved the FAQs with a ton of additional information. We recommend you review the FAQs in greater detail but keep in mind, as the FAQs say, this update should not be earth shattering for your site’s position in Google Search.
What stood out. Here are two items in the revised FAQs that stood out to me.
- Google will still rank the most relevant content despite how poorly it might do with its core web vitals scores. “Our systems will continue to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content,” Google wrote.
- AMP nor core web vitals marks will be a deciding factor for top stories. Google also said that those pages are still “eligible for Top Stories carousel if my webpage is not clearing Core Web Vitals.”
Make sure to read through the new FAQs.
Three-pack with one less? Google testing local two-pack
There have been some signs that Google is testing changing the local pack, which has generally been three search listings of local businesses. Screenshots show they’re removing one of those listings to make it what we would call a “two-pack.” Just a heads up, in 2015 it went from seven listings to three listings. But now two?
Many local SEOs shared some screenshots of before and afters for some local queries. Right now it seems like a test, so we are unsure if it will become a reality.
Why we care. Making the local pack more competitive by reducing the number of local listings from seven to three, and now from three to two, can be a huge deal for SMBs and local businesses. This is even more of a concern for those who are in the third position.
Tell us how you’ve tweaked, or overhauled, your marketing stack
A lot of things have changed over the last year, including of course for marketing and marketing ops teams. Martech is only one element in this shifting landscape, of course, but it’s an important one. Digital transformation, which has become much more than a buzz phrase, has surely required many marketing teams to elevate their technology stack. That might mean leaning into solutions that can get up and running and deliver value quickly. It might mean accelerated innovation in the tech stack. Some companies might be under strict budget constraints, while others might have felt that 2020 was the year to bet the house.
We’d like to dig deeper into how the business environment over the last 12 months impacted martech decisions, but we need your help. Have you replaced any applications in your tech stack in the past year? Have you moved from homegrown legacy applications to commercial solutions (or vice versa)? And what impact have those changes had on your team? Please spend just three minutes to complete the Martech Replacement Survey. It will help us all, as a community of martech users and martech watchers, to understand how what Microsoft’s Satya Nadella called “two years of digital transformation in two months” looks like over the whole of the last year.
Local reviews, Bing APIs and open redirects.
New Google reviews label. Google has rolled out a new feature in the local results to show a “new” label in the local reviews for a business. The new label is added to reviews a month or so old or younger.
Bing content submission API. Microsoft Bing has been testing an API that lets publishers submit their content, HTML, images, etc directly to Bing for indexing (not just the URLs) – it is called the content submission API. Fabrice Canel from Microsoft said they should have more public documentation around this API in the upcoming months.
Open redirects. Having open redirects is not just a security issue for your site, but it also can end up hurting your site’s performance in Google Search. John Mueller of Google said on Twitter, “We generally recommend not keeping open redirects. For example, if someone were to redirect to malware or phishing content through your site, then the URLs on your site would lead there, and could be flagged.”
We’ve curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader.
- Become an April 2021 Celebrated Partner – Microsoft Advertising
- Google Describes a Machine Learning Model For a Searchable Index – Go Fish Digital
- Google More Critical Of E-Commerce Sites That Sell Medical Equipment – Search Engine Roundtable
- Some first numbers on how News Showcase is working – Google Blog
- Spot misinformation online with these tips – Google Blog