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This week’s #searchdrop looks at Google’s confirmation that changes to web layout can impact rankings, the insights shared recently on how to get the featured snippet and the expansion of free Google Shopping to other countries.

Changing web layout can affect rankings

This week Google John Mueller categorically confirmed that changing a web layout can impact the ranking of a page regardless of whether the page content or URL structure has remained the same.

This highlights the importance of UX as part of an SEO campaign and the ongoing merging of the two disciplines over time. Any good website should constantly evolve so being afraid to make layout changes for the betterment of the user experience isn’t an option.

What does this mean for you?

Really, this is a ‘nice to know’ so long as you’re taking a serious look at your user experience. However, if you’re making layout changes without proper consideration of the elements you’re removing, you might lose rankings and not understand exactly why!

Therefore you should consider:

  • Any changes to navigational elements you’re making, what links are being removed, added etc
  • How is the heading structure of the page changing? Are you still using 1 H1 and relevant H2’s?
  • Are you restructuring elements of the page and if so, is key content moving further down the page and therefore losing perceived value?
  • Is the accessibility of the site being improved or changed? Can users still use the site regardless of any issues they may have with accessibility?
  • Whether you are able to double-check the changes you’ve implemented are working and that you’re able to monitor the performance pre and post-launch of your site changes.

To see the answer from John Mueller, see this article from Search Engine Journal.


Google gives insight on how to get featured snippet rankings

A newly released explainer page written by Google’s search advisor, Danny Sullivan, has shed some light on how the search engine chooses featured snippets. The main two factors in which Sulivan referred to as main triggers of featured snippets throughout his answer mainly centred around time and geographical location.

Critical context

When discussing time and place as important elements, he also referred to the phrase ‘critical context’ – a term used in literature meaning to deconstruct and really understand what a piece of text really means. It was linked to user queries and how the algorithm decides whether fresh or local information is what is needed to supply users with relevant results.

How does the time and place of a search help to deliver relevant featured snippets?

Danny also touched on freshness indicators in the explainer page to further explain how time and place impacts featured snippets. Similarly to the ‘query deserves freshness’ algorithm, freshness indicators are what suggests to Google that a new topic is becoming relevant within certain areas.

Using California as an example, Sullivan explained that the search query ‘orange sky’ was trending in the US state and therefore Google began showing an answer to why the sky was orange as a featured snippet to supply a quick, easy and relevant piece of information to it’s Californian users.

What can I do?

Keeping Sulivan’s explanation for the placement of featured snippets in mind, to earn the top spot of the SERP’s, the best thing you can do is to stay up to date and on top of what is going on within your industry.

By using tools such as Answer The Public and Google’s ‘people also asked’ feature, gather information on the questions users are asking surrounding your business and answer them within your blogs and website.

To find out more about Danny Sulivan’s explainer page, check out this Search Engine Journal article.

Google Shopping ads will be free worldwide.

This week Google announced that from mid-October, businesses located outside the US will be able to list their products within Google Shopping ads for free. As previously covered in Searchdrop Week 9, this model was introduced in April 2020 for US businesses as a result of the financial crisis which impacted our lives alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the constantly changing pandemic restrictions and local lockdowns, many businesses had to adjust to the current situation by moving their resources and sales online. Decreasing interest in the physical retail stores and normal ways of shopping continues and many business owners decided to look for alternatives online. One of the alternatives is Google Ads.

Unfortunately for many, Google Shopping Ads were too expensive to run, and not every business could afford to spend additional money from their tight budgets to list their products in the search engine results. It is important to note that paid shopping ad listings will still appear in the search results, however below these any user will be able to see the organic product listings. Below you can see a small preview presented by Search Engine Journal:

Google search result of Google shopping.

Wondering what the real benefits of having your shopping ads listed within Google search results are? We’ve got you covered. See a few of the reasons why you might want to consider getting your listings ready for mid-October.

Better qualified leads: Receive better quality leads by featuring product details within the ad. This can help buyers make conscious purchasing decisions.

Easy retail-centric campaign management: Use product attributes defined previously in your merchant centre data feed instead of the keywords.
Broader presence: More than just one shopping ad can appear for the same user at the same time. Additionally, if your business runs the search ads campaigns, your shopping ad listing and search ads can appear on the same page too. This is a great opportunity to double your presence for a single shopper in the search engine.

We are hoping that many businesses will take this great opportunity provided by Google, and use it to promote their business’s organically. You can start presenting your products for free from the 20th of October 2020 in United Kingdom and other European countries.