If you’re extremely pushed for time we’ve condensed this month’s post into the short video below.
Your to do list this month!
- Prepare yourself for BERT! A big Google update is coming to these shores soon
- Watch a Search for Beginners video
- Read about how images are taking over mobile Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and how to take advantage of them
- Create some Google Posts promoting your Google reviews using Google’s free toolkit!
Another month, another update to Google’s Search algorithm
Filed under: The SERPs > Algo updates
Google advised us towards the end of October that they were rolling out another core update to their Search algorithm (in the US, not here in the UK yet – apparently, at the time of writing at least) and that this was a big one.
The Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (code name BERT) update we’re told is “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search” and that it should help them “better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English.”
It sounds very important but actually, if you’re creating content the way Google have advised us to over the last decade or so, there’s nothing you actually need to do. When Google advise webmasters about an update and what website owners need to do, they often point us towards a post they published back in 2011. If you’ve not checked that out, then that’s as good a place to start as any, despite being over eight years old.
In layman’s terms Google have developed their machine learning technology further to better understand the billions of searches conducted on their search engine every day.
So if you’re writing for humans rather than search engines, you should feel the benefit.
It’s highly likely in fact that even if you are tracking keywords for your business, you might not notice when this one rolls out, unless you’re tracking a significant number of long tail queries.
Google launch video series for beginners looking to understand search
This is the latest addition to the channel. It feels like Google are investing more than ever in communication, not only with developers but website and business owners too.
The first video introduces the series and tells us they’ll release a new episode every fortnight – the first came out a day later and is called Do I Need a Website?
Spoiler alert! Yes, you do.
Whilst we’ve always found their How Google Search Works content useful, this looks like it could be a welcome addition for anyone looking to better understand search, but prefer a more visual learning experience.
As they say in the first video, subscribe to their YouTube channel and don’t miss a thing.
Images all over Google’s default mobile SERPs
Filed under: The SERPs > Image search
I’d wager you’ve noticed this already.
Images are way more prominent than ever before on the default SERPs on mobile devices.
Image carousels are appearing more often for searches, and broadly speaking, in a much more prominent position – sometimes, as below, as the first element on the page.
If you’ve got a Google My Business profile – which you should have whether or not your business has a bricks and mortar location – you’ll no doubt have seen emails telling you how many people have seen the images you’ve uploaded, and the requests to upload more!
So what’s going on here? Google believe images enhance their users search experience, so users are being pushed towards Image Search.
Read on below for some suggested actions!
So what should we be doing about this?
My first piece of advice as usual is to head for their SERPs, but use your mobile as that’s where the images are particularly prominent.
Check what’s being returned for searches that are relevant to you and your business.
If your business is featured in Local Packs and thumbnails are being displayed (as they are for the search below) – they won’t be for all searches – then you need to make sure the cover photo you’ve chosen best represents your business. If not, you can change this via your GMB dashboard.
If image carousels are being returned for searches that are important to you, and your images aren’t displaying then you either need to add, optimised images to your pages, or optimise the images you’ve already uploaded. Google have some pretty decent guidelines on best practices for image optimisation.
Don’t be lazy and just upload a bunch of images to a page on your website. It’s being reported that images are more likely to be used a thumbnails in content snippets, when images are uploaded to pages to improve the page and enhance the content. In other words, they need to be mixed into the main content. I noticed the latest release of Yoast – the go-to SEO optimisation plugin for WordPress – now displays thumbnails in content snippet previews.
Finally, as usual think quality over quantity. Choose your best photos to upload. Invest in creating professional photos. Less, as it often the case, is most definitely more.
Watching the deep dive on this topic last month from the LocalU below inspired us to include this as a feature this month.
Still waiting for customer testimonials suggested posts, so here’s a workaround!
Filed under: Local SEO > Google My Business optimisation
Back in April Google told us via their Help Centre about the launch of Suggested Posts, to help business owners showcase their Google reviews as Google Posts.
We’ve still not seen this over this side of the pond, so whilst we wait, I would like to draw your attention to their quite magnificent Marketing Toolkit which will do the same job for you. It’ll just take a little more effort on your part – but not a lot. Stay with me.
We may have highlighted this before on SEO you need to know, but wanted to remind you about it since we use it all the time for our clients.
Try out the toolkit!
You must have a GMB profile with reviews on it of course. After you’ve entered your business name, scroll down to Ready-to-share social posts. If you don’t want to use one of the three posts previewed, and you have more than three reviews, scroll up the page to Choose other styles and reviews and click on it.
Find the review you want to share, go through the motions of styling it, then click the Download kit button.
Then all you need to do is extract the Post you’ve created from the folder and upload it like you would an image to a new Google Post.
And you’re done.