Search Industry Updates to keep you one step ahead of your competitors

Anyone involved in the digital marketing industry will know that changes in both user behaviour and technologies are a regular occurrence. Making the most of these new updates is a great way to stay one step ahead of your competition, and to be looked upon favourably by search engines when they determine your website’s quality and rankings. We have provided a summary of some of the most recent updates for the search industry.

New Description Options for Google my Business

Google has recently brought back the description field to Google my Business. This is something that was available previously and had been removed until now. Adding a Google my business description is unlikely to be used as a ranking factor but provides a great opportunity to show users why they should use your business’s service and/or products. A few rules for these descriptions have been identified below;

  • Descriptions have a character limit of 750
  • Descriptions should not be misleading
  • Descriptions should not focus on special offers
  • Descriptions should not be keyword stuffed
  • Descriptions should not incorporate links – options for users to enter your website will be available elsewhere on the listing

Google Analytics has swapped sessions for users

This is something that we’ve identified for a few months now for some clients but has only recently started to roll out for a wider collection of client analytics accounts. Google analytics now considers users as a more important metric than sessions, and these metrics are now displayed in a different order.

For all those confused by the change, the difference between sessions and users is explained here;

  • Sessions – The number of visits a website receives, can be the same person accessing the website a multitude of times during the specified date range.
  • Users – The number of individual people who have had at least one session on the website during the specified date range.

Zero Result SERPs

Google has recently been testing a Zero result SERP (Search engine results page) display on their search engine.

If you were to search a question that gives a definite answer, for example, “What is the temperature in Barbados?”, instead of getting a list of search results and links to websites you would get the answer only. Another example is if you Google the time in, say, New York, only the exact result will show.

This isn’t shocking news, as elements such as this have already been seen within featured snippets and knowledge cards.

SEO opportunities here are limited, a focus, however, should instead be on optimising for open-ended questions, and/or questions that require a more detailed answer for example “what are the most popular holiday destinations in Europe”.

The Rise of AEO (Answer Engine Optimisation)

This is similar to the shift we’ve seen to Zero Result SERPs, where the additional focus has been placed on providing direct answers to users instead of a list of relevant websites to visit.

AEO is not going to replace SEO, but with the rise of voice search on devices such as the Amazon Echo, it’s becoming increasingly important to optimise for answer engines as well as search engines.

Methods to do this include using Semantic HTML5, Schema markup, making sure your website is considered trustworthy by search engines, and actively target long-tail keywords including questions.

More updates to come

Keep an eye out as we update you with more of our search industry insights across the next few months.

Written by Bethany Weatherhead