It’s been a while since our last search marketing update. If you missed our post a few months back, we discussed Google’s algorithm change to Hummingbird, their update to Penguin, and other small modifications to search engine results pages (SERPs).
Since then, we’ve seen a few subtle changes to how Google is addressing site-specific issues in their search marketing tools (Webmaster Tools), along with some changes to SERPs. Follow along as we cover each of the changes in the sections below.
Changes to SERPs
Shortly after our update in late October, Google began testing displaying site name in exchange for the URL in snippets of SERPs. They’ve since tested a nicer approach that shows both site name and URL in snippets.
Here’s a screenshot of the test:
Google is also testing ads on the knowledge graph. If you’re unfamiliar with the knowledge graph, it’s Google’s knowledge base to enhance search engine results with semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources, like Wikipedia. Google’s voice search is closely aligned with the knowledge graph.
Here’s an example of an ad on the knowledge graph:
According to several sources, they seem to be pulling local ads directly into the knowledge graph. The ad clearly shows how Google is trying to monetize the knowledge graph as soon as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if other car dealers or retailers are stressing with this change.
Updates to Webmaster Tools
Google has a new manual action penalty within their guidelines that is being described as an image mismatch. Google says an image mismatch violation is when some of your site’s images are being displayed differently on SERPs than they are when viewed on your site. Though many might consider this as a form of cloaking, Google actually doesn’t call it cloaking in the guidelines.
Here is a screenshot taken from Webmaster Tools with the issue:
If you see this in Webmaster Tools for your site, we suggest the following recommendations:
On December 4th, it was announced that Google Webmaster Tools will now display crawl errors specific to smartphones. This is extremely valuable considering a recent report by BIA/Kelsey that expects 2015 mobile local search volume to surpass desktop local search for the first time. In 2016, they expect mobile to exceed desktop by 27.8 billion queries.
Here is some of what’s reported in this crawl error report:
App Indexing and Linking
Companies with helpful mobile apps for their consumers will now benefit from Google’s new app indexing initiative. App indexing allows webmasters to connect pages from your website with specific content within your Android app. This lets consumers using Android to open apps directly from relevant mobile search results.
Take a look:
For example, a company or restaurant with a mobile app can create a page specific to recipes, then benefit from more engagement in SERPs. If you want to get this working immediately, start by: