January may be a quiet month for some but for SEO there’s never a quiet month. Google stole the headlines with a brand new core update to kick start the year with a bang. That’s not all Google did in January. To help you out, we’ve gathered all the top SEO news from January into one blog.
Google role out brand new core update
As of the 13th January 2020, Google rolled out a core update across its platforms. It was announced over social media and you can see their tweet here:
Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the January 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUA3RC6
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 13, 2020
What was the update?
Google didn’t offer any major guidance on what the update meant but in the past updates have covered a number of different areas. There’s been no significant conversation since the update but a report by Moz suggested that the health and family & community sectors have been impacted the most. This could, of course, be for one of many reasons.
If you want to find out more about our take on the January 2020 Google update, take a look at our blog.
Changes are coming to featured snippets
On January 22nd 2020, Google confirmed it’s going to change the way it handles featured snippets. They’re otherwise known as position 0 results because they appear above the search results. In the past, websites that held featured snippets were able to rank well for that term, a page 1 ranking was actually required. Google has now announced that if you own a featured snippet, you’ll be unable to rank for that term.
Why is this important?
Simply put, featured snippets have a major impact on click-throughs. A study conducted by AHREFs found that a position 1 organic results would gain around 26% of the available clicks. If a featured snippet was in place, then the snippet would take 8.6% of the clicks and 1st place would take 19.6%. So, if you owned 1st place and the featured snippet, you’d take over a quarter of the first-page traffic.
Now following the update, you would actually receive the following:
- Featured Snippet/Position 0 – 8.6%
- 1st Position – 19.6%
- 2nd Position – 17.2%
- 3rd Position – 12.1%
- 4th Position – 9.8%
So, as you can see, statistically there’s more value in owning one of positions 1-4 than there is owning a featured snippet when it comes to click-throughs.
What has Google said?
Google’s Danny Sullivan has been answering questions regarding the update over on Twitter. You can see the thread here:
If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat it in the first page of results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 23, 2020
In summary, here’s what Google has said in regards to featured snippets moving forward in brief:
- Featured snippets are now included in the main organic search results.
- They’re actually now counted as position 1.
- Google will remove the URL from showing anywhere else in the organic search results.
- Knowledge panels, top news stories, image carousels, local listings and other search integrations don’t count as they’re not classed as featured snippets.
- To avoid appearing as a featured snippet try using the max-snippet control and reduce the word count of your snippet so Google can’t show it anymore. If you use the “nosnippet” tag, you won’t have a snippet in the core web results, so use max-snippet.
- This won’t have any impact on your Search Console performance reports
- The update is known as the deduplication change
From our perspective, over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be watching closely to see any potential implications from this change.
Google updates Rich Results Test
Announced via a tweet, Google has confirmed an update to their Rich Results Test tool. This update means the tool now reports unloadable embedded resources, such as external elements included by a page.
What is a Rich Results Test?
If you want to add structured data to your page, you can use the Rich Results Test to test it. The test highlights which rich result types were found on the page, as well as showing you any errors or suggestions for your structured data. If you spot any errors or warnings, use the dropdown next to each error/warning to find further details.
Google’s John Mueller claims Schema markup won’t get any easier.. it will in fact get harder
In a recent Google Webmaster hangout, John Mueller claimed that implementing schema markup for rich results will get harder over the coming years. Here’s what he was quoted as saying:
“I think in the future, at least in a near-term future, we will have more types of structured data markup and it will continue to get more complicated probably.”
Finally, he also claimed Google will continue to include more types of structured data markup and schema support. This is with the intention of providing new ways to make your site richer in Google search results.
If you want to see the full hangout you can watch the video below. Skip to around the 34:30 mark to hear him talk about Schema markup:
Survey finds meta descriptions and branding have the biggest impact on click-throughs
Last but not least, some food for thought to finish on. A survey has found that meta descriptions and brand name/page title have the biggest influence on click-throughs from a search result. 62.9% of the respondents said it was down to the meta description with 24.2% opting with the brand name. 13% claimed it was the title that drew them in. So from this, you can see the importance of not only optimising the meta description for Google but also the user.
Has your site been hit by a Google update?
Did you know we’re offering a free SEO audit? This will ensure your site is ready for what’s to come. Follow the link below to find out more.