Elevate: What’s up in Digital Q1

Posted on March 12, 2020

Our webinars are designed to educate, inspire and keep you current with everything going on in the digital marketing world. Topics will change each quarter, keeping the conversation interesting and timely. Read below for a full recap of our Q1 webinar.

Google’s January 2020 Core Update

Google is making updates around the clock, most of which we would probably not notice. These are based more on machine learning and the algorithm changes and is based more on how people interact with your site. Another type of update called targeted updates would be like when Google looks at mobile versions of the websites to determine rank. Generally, we have a heads up for updates like this to plan ahead and make sure their website is ready for the update. The third type of update, known as the core update, includes significant broad updates providing relevant results. These updates typically happen and then we find out after the fact. There isn’t much of a heads up when it comes to core updates.

The January 2020 core update included a few changes.

  • Businesses may have seen positive or negative rank changes based on their content.
  • There was a content reassessment – similar to updating a “best movies list”. Google tends to do this with content. Is there new content that deserves more credit?
  • YMYL (Your money, your life) Category – business in the travel, retail, finance, health, sports & news, arts & entertainment fields saw the biggest change from this update.

The biggest question is how do you know if your website was affected if you’re a part of the YMYL category? One factor is that the changes occurred between January 13-16th. Organic rankings can shift multiple times per day though, so it’s hard to pin down if changes 100% came as a result of a core update.

Since it’s hard to tell what type of update has affected your website, what we usually recommend is focusing on your content. Some things to ask yourself while writing the content includes – is it something you want to read? Make sure you think about what your customers are asking to add more content to your website. Lastly, make sure there is a clear call to action that they can follow as a next step.

More information on the core update is included here.

Google’s Featured Snippet Change

What is a featured snippet? They are known as answer boxes and are really meant to answer the searcher’s question directly on the results page. They are specially meant for mobile or voice search and are most likely to appear for searches phrased as a question. Typically what happens is that text and images are pulled from the website into the snippet based on relevancy to the question being asked. This snippet box is referred to as position zero – below paid search results and above organic search results on page 1 of the SERP.

On January 22nd, 2020 it was announced that “If a web page is elevated into a featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search result.” So this means that if your content is chosen to be a part of the featured snippet, your link will no longer show up in the listing of results on the SERP page – this is known as deduplication.

What You Need to Know:

Question: Does losing a placement means less traffic will be coming to my site?

Answer: Not necessarily. If someone was looking for a quick answer with no intention of clicking through to the sites then the traffic you lose would have been lost anyway. If your featured snippet is authoritative and enticing, you’ll get that traffic and potentially less bounce traffic since they are only clicking through on one of your listings.

Question: How does this affect keyword rank reporting?

Answer: If you’re using Google Search Console, there is no change to the reporting. Google was already only counting your topmost placement on the SERP so a duplicate listing would not have made a difference. If you’re using GetStat to track your keyword ranking, there is a change to the reporting because they were not previously counting a featured snippet as a placement. As of February 21, they announced they have assigned a base rank of 1 to the featured snippet which resolves this.

Some additional details to know:

  • This deduplication only affects the first page of the SERP. It’s already rare that a featured snippet would be pulled from a result listed on page 2 but know that your page could be listed twice if it is a featured snippet and came from page 2.
  • Only exact URLs are deduplicated. So if you had multiple pages listed on page 1 and one of them becomes a featured snippet, only that exact URL or page will be deduplicated. Your additional pages will still be listed

How to Become a Featured Snippet

  • Most featured snippets are pulled directly from page one results so if you rank on page one you are more likely to be a featured snippet. That means, don’t stop working on your SEO.
  • Format your page content into a question-answer format. State the question and then state your answer in the paragraph underneath the question.
  • If another site is already a featured snippet for a question you’re interested in- take notes. Look at what they’re doing with their content as well as inspect their SEO attributes (title tags, meta descriptions, headers, etc.).
  • Keep your response paragraph between 40 and 50 words. This has been shown to be the most effective range for being picked up as a featured snippet.
  • When possible, use easily digestible formatting. Use bullet points, numbered lists, charts or images as long as they make sense for your content.

Note: you can also opt-out of being a featured snippet. 

For more information on the Featured Snippet – head to our blog post.

Changes in Local SEO

Review Carousels

  • Reviews are displayed more prominently within business listings. There are some requirements to have these, but they are no longer being just tested.
  • Searchers do not need to click to see more than one review
  • Adds additional weight to the importance of positive reviews. 

Note: Do NOT incentive your reviews!

The FCC prohibits the use of solicited reviews if you do not claim they are solicited. Since you can’t tell Google that you’re paying people for the reviews,  by default you will be “hiding” the fact that you solicited these reviews. It doesn’t mean you can’t ask for them, it just means the consumer cannot know ahead of time that there is an incentive to leave a review.

Instead – Do This:

  • Put links to leave a review in your social media profiles, email signatures
  • Follow up after the work has been completed and request feedback via email
  • Add a call-to-action on your website to catch the eye of repeat customers.

Request Quotes from Map Listings

  • People can now request quotes from multiple vendors based on SERP
  • Only for businesses participating in Local Services Ads
  • Companies must pass “Google Guaranteed” licensing

Data Privacy

There is really nothing new to report as far as GDPR and CCPA are concerned, but there are starting to be some aftershocks of these. Essentially what regulators are trying to do is make sure the end-user has control over how people use your data, your ability to request that information, etc.

We’re seeing a continued move to data privacy – including the sunset of the use of a 3rd party cookie in Chrome. Since Chrome is a very significant market share of the internet browsing community, a lot of 3rd party cookies are going to be going by the wayside. You are still able to collect data on your own website which is considered a 1st party cookie.

A lot of advertising platforms utilize 3rd party cookies to create audiences based on behavior so the sunsetting of these cookies will make that more difficult. It might be time to focus on targeting in different ways, with privacy in mind. Some of the biggest winners of this move include Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

At Top Floor, we’re constantly trying to keep up with the trends and latest updates in digital marketing. Follow along with these trends on our blog.