The Growth of Featured Snippets (2016 – 2017)
Apr14

The Growth of Featured Snippets (2016 – 2017)

9SHARESFacebookTwitter Featured Snippets was a pretty hot topic back in 2016, especially in the Finance sector, an area that I work in. It’s only just begun in terms of the topic really as we’ve experienced 700% growth in terms of Answer Box/Featured Snippet appearances in this area. Google are making further changes to these snippets, which I’ll dive into a little below. This article will effectively look at Featured Snippets from my point of view, which is an area that I’ve been working on since 2015. The Featured Snippets came to light in Google’s search results for a relatively small number of queries back in 2014, but then only really impacted my area at the end of 2015. Google Trends Research You can see ‘featured snippets’ has seen its interest over time in Google Trends grow, and that’s likely due to the higher number of appearances and therefore interest in these types of results: Featured Snippet Growth from 2016 to 2017 Across 10,000 or so of the top finance related keywords I am tracking, Featured Snippets show up for 33% of those keywords. This is huge growth of around 700% when looking at February 2016 to February 2017. We’ve only seen the number of these Featured Snippets growing from last year, even for highly commercial search terms, which don’t appear to even have questions showing up that you would think would trigger a Featured Snippet. Either way, I think the growth is quite startling and can even be overwhelming when trying to optimise your content for these queries. You can see the growth visualised in the chart below. We first really spotted them becoming a much bigger thing back in October 2015, and it looks like in October 2016 there has been further growth from that point on wards: What’s the Biggest Challenge with Featured Snippets? As an in-house SEO, my biggest challenge with these is that they change all the time. One day they’ll be there, the next they’ll be gone, or you’ll appear in one, then someone else will, then you will again. You purely take turns with others. However, there are some lucrative terms that have maintained a Featured Snippet presence, and we’ve done some analysis to identify what uplift that brings whenever we do appear in one of the long-term Featured Snippets, and it’s roughly a 2% increase in Click Through Rate, which can mean a huge difference if it’s for very large commercial search terms. This can obviously pay off for the all the work you’ve been doing around it, if you’ve managed to land a highly commercial term. The Future of Featured Snippets We’ve seen huge...

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Google Search Console vs Google Analytics (2017 Edition)
Apr14

Google Search Console vs Google Analytics (2017 Edition)

12SHARESFacebookTwitter Russ Jones at Moz recently came out with an article around the reliability of Google Search Console data – listing examples of where they had tested some of the platform’s features versus what they saw as the realities. It’s a really interesting read, and it poses the question whether SEOs should even be using the data from Search Console if we aren’t getting the correct information from the tool in question. I am an extensive user of Google Search Console, but also use other tools to validate the work that I do, so reading Russ’ article really does pose many questions. However, in this article, I am purely going to focus on the aspect around the reliability of Google Search Analytics data – the part of the tool that provides web owners with what I consider to be highly valuable keyword data. I am going to keep things really simple, and will compare Google Analytics session data with Google Search Console click data. Comparing Sessions and Clicks If we take Google’s article on comparing AdWords data with Analytics data, then comparing these two metrics, Sessions and Clicks, they will never match 100%, as the two metrics are calculated differently. And that’s just from an AdWords click and Google Search Analytics click comparison, not an Google Organic Click perspective. I think it is safe to assume that PPC Clicks and Organic Clicks might be measured similarly in nature, but perhaps there might be more filtering in PPC to remove fraudulent clicks etc. Either way, comparing Search Analytics Clicks to Google Analytics Sessions, should show a fairly close correlation between the two data sets. In short: Google Analytics Sessions data records when a user enters a site, but the browser must first download the Google Analytics JavaScript file, then that must be interpreted by the browser. A session also lasts for 30 minutes, so if a user does a search, lands on a site, then does the same search again, and lands on the same page, then that counts as 1 session. Google Search Console records a click whenever a click is conducted on a listing in the search results – pretty straight forward. Unlike sessions, there are no 30 minute timers, and a Click is classifed as multiple clicks, if even from the same person. From this, you’d expect any data in Google Search Analytics to be higher than Google Analytics. Source: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7042828#click Examples of high correlations First comparison – a relatively low volume page:  I decided to pick and compare a page with a low click count, as Russ mentioned that in their tests, they did analysis that looked at a...

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Google Increased Width of Organic Search Results
May11

Google Increased Width of Organic Search Results

16SHARESFacebookTwitter Table of Contents Extended Headlines for PPC Organic Search Extended Headlines What does this now look like for Organic Search? (Do a Google search!) Answer Box / Featured Snippets Normal Search Results When did this happen for Organic Search? How prominent is this layout change? Extended Headlines for PPC In the SEO community, we always hear of updates on PPC that can potentially impact organic in a negative way, but I’m here to give some good news for SEOs that Google have applied to the search results – without even telling us! Shock, horror… So you’ve probably heard the latest round of news that Google are running a closed beta that will expand the PPC meta data – therefore potentially making their ads more prominent. And for simplicity – whether this is the official name or not, I’m going to call it Extended Headlines… just because I can. You can find more on this subject on Search Engine Land where they cover the Extended Headlines closed beta that Google are running with probably only the bigger brands. This change is unheard of in SEM and is big news, and can potentially take away eyeballs from Organic Search. You can see the example screenshot below of what I’m talking about: Moving on to the good news from the bad news… Organic Search Extended Headlines Yes, that’s right. Google have actually released this before they have done so for PPC. I know through watching interviews with Matt Cutts, ex Head of Webspam at Google, and through watching a very recent Q&A with Paul Haahr, a software engineer at Google, that the paid search team and the organic search team at Google work completely separately. However, I am wondering if this idea of the Extended Headlines originated from the organic search team, then moved over to the paid team at Google who took this idea as a way of increasing ad clicks, based on potential tests that the organic search team at Google have conducted. Speculation. What does this now look like for Organic Search? (Do a Google search!) Answer Box / Featured Snippets First up is the Answer Box or Featured Snippets, these have increased significantly in width, but have seen a decrease in height. The before shows that the Featured Snippet box has gone from a width of 557 px to 644 px (+87 px), but the height has seen a decrease from 195 px to 176 px. This is a significant decrease, but this is potentially beneficial to results below the Featured Snippets as they will have become slightly more visible as a result of the decrease in height for results with the...

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Search Console Hacked Site Manual Action Review Still NOT Automated
Oct17

Search Console Hacked Site Manual Action Review Still NOT Automated

18SHARESFacebookTwitter Update – 20/10/2015 – Google have now removed the hacked content notification from Search Console after 3 days. It didn’t take too long and in the message, all I put was that the sub-domain hosting the so called ‘hacked content’ had been suspended, and that my web host was looking into the reasons why this had been an issue in the first place. So, I was surprised to find out today that my site has been hacked or more so Google had detected ‘hacked content’ on this very website. Google recently stated that for 2015, the number of hacked sites had increased by 180% and a 300% increase in ‘hacked reconsideration requests’. They’ve been trying to make the process of getting any partial penalties removed easier by automating it, but it seems in my situation I’m still going to have to have my site manually reviewed as they’ve not gone as far as rolling out the automated review yet to everyone and have limited it to beta testing (as of the GWC post I’ve linked to above). Thanks to Google for spotting this, as I would not have noticed this. I wouldn’t say my site has been compromised, but more the fact that another customer (with my web hosting company) on the same shared server on this website simply created a sub-domain and put up a really spammy website that linked out to pornographic websites. Not what I wanted to hear on a Saturday evening. Right now my home page is coming up with the ‘This site may be hacked.’ messaging just above my meta description. I simply contacted my web host to find out what was going on and they’ve now suspended the sub-domain ‘wap.vlexo.net’. I’m also trying to figure out how this even happened and if whether it’s a security flaw on my web hosts side of things. I’ve submitted a reconsideration request through Google Search Console, so I just need to wait now I suppose: I explained the situation to Google and exactly what had happened. The is the message that appears once you hit the submit button for the review of your site by someone on Google’s end. It’s a shame that the process is not automated because I’m betting the process that found that bit of apparent ‘hacked’ content is very likely automated. Google’s message, as you can see below, clearly states that ‘This process may take some time’, which clearly isn’t good enough. I mean, imagine if this was large website or a bank that had been hacked — they’d literally have to wait for Google to remove ‘This site has been hacked.’ from...

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Best SEO Tools & Resources for 2015
Jul08

Best SEO Tools & Resources for 2015

20SHARESFacebookTwitter 2014 was so last year, so I thought I’d create a new post on tools to use in 2015. Of course, preferred tools change all the time and tools that I used last year, I may no longer use anymore. Last year, I created a list of 14 of the best SEO tools to use in 2014 and now I look back at some of them, and think, are they still relevant or as important as they were last year? I’ve also changed jobs and have gone from agency to in-house, so the dynamic has changed in that respect. I’ve gone from doing ‘agency SEO’ to ‘in-house SEO’, which are vastly different in my opinion, but that’s another subject for another time. Introducing a twist to this article: I’ve included real life examples/scenarios of where I’ve used each of these tools. Click on the drop down bars below each section to view more information. Now, let’s get on with the list of the best SEO tools so far in 2015: 1. URL Profiler Website: URL Profiler URL Profiler is by far one of the most useful tools that I’ve come across in 2015. Its features are almost similar to another tool called Netpeak (free). I was introduced to that tool back in 2014, and was impressed with Netpeak, but I’m even more impressed with URL Profiler. It does come with a cost, but it’s well worth the cost with regard to the technical abilities you gain out of using this tool. This is a definite MUST for agencies and anyone working in-house. Its useful for analysing websites you work on and competitor websites. At £9.95 per month for a solo license, this tool is affordable for anyone doing serious SEO work on a website. The next biggest packages come at a cost of £12.95, £19.95, and £29.95. The various packages allow you to use the software on more than one machine, increased connections speeds, and allow for larger URL imports. More info on this tool (click to expand) Real Life Scenario with Using this Tool I used URL Profiler to do competitor analysis on Compare The Market and their new ‘2 for 1 cinema deals.’ I basically wanted to find out, as a result of their new marketing giveaway, how many websites and what websites were linking to CTM. Ahrefs & Majestic were only showing 21 referring domains to a certain section of their site where the 2 for 1 deal exists as a landing page. However, I knew that they’d seen far greater exposure. So I used a Chrome Plugin called OS Scraper to scrape relevant search results about...

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