This week: It looks like a new Google update rolled out last month, product price isn’t a ranking signal, and wait until you learn how many search results include sites using HTTPS.
Here’s what happened this week in SEO.
Looks Like a Google Update Occurred in June
According to Glenn Gabe at G-Squared Interactive, there’s strong evidence that a Google algorithm update occurred last month.
“It’s pretty clear that Google rolled out a major algorithm update in June,” he said, noting that search rankings seemed to have shifted the most on June 1, 8, 21, and 26.
According to Gabe, the update is Panda related.
Here are the specific changes that he noticed:
Burying content below sponsored posts: A site that included a number of link thumbnails to sponsored content at the top of articles ended up getting hammered in the search results.More ads than content: A site that featured two-thirds ads, and one-third content, ended up seeing a significant drop in search results.
Thin Content: A site focused on Q&A ended up seeing a drop in search results, most likely because it contained many pages with thin or irrelevant content.
Generic Content: A site that provided very generic content for the topic it covered ended up seeing a drop in search results. The content consisted mostly of rewrites of information that could be found elsewhere on the web. It probably didn’t help that the content was filled with ads as well.
Indexing Issues: One site that saw major fluctuations in search results is one that had indexing issues based on the site’s robots.txt file. This could have led to Google not being able to properly crawl the content on the site.
New Study Reveals Top Local Ranking Factors
A new study conducted by the University of California Irvine’s Center for Statistical Consulting with Local SEO Guide offers new information about what it takes to rank for local search.
Here are the top ranking factors, in no particular order:
- Links – according to the study, links are “the key competitive differentiator even when it comes to Google My Business Rankings.”
- Website Signals – keywords, long form content, etc.
- GMB Signals – photos, reviews, an Owner Verified profile, etc.
- Toolbar PageRank – yes, even though PageRank is “dead,” the study found a high correlation between strong PageRank and a high rank.
The study also found the citations and geo text don’t do a whole lot to help a page rank for local search.
Survey Shows That Amazon Beats Google as a Starting Point for Product Searches
According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by PowerReviews, online shoppers prefer to begin their product search at Amazon.
Google was a close second.
Here’s how the numbers broke down:
- Amazon — 38 percent
- Google — 35 percent
- Brand or Retailer Site — 21 percent
- Other eCommerce Marketplaces — 6 percent
Amazon shoppers preferred the e-commerce giant because of the variety of products offered on the site as well as the free shipping option.
Google: Product Price Isn’t a Ranking Factor
Apparently, some SEOs were under the impression that product price might be a ranking factor.
This week on Twitter, somebody asked John Mueller the following question: “Is product price a ranking signal?”
His response: “not in web-search.”
Of course, Google users can still sort by price on Google Shopping, but that’s a paid listing.
Google Is Testing a Larger Font Size in the SERPs
Google is always testing and tweaking.
One of the latest tests involves the font size in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
It looks like Google is considering boosting the font size up two points (from 18 to 20?).
Time will tell if Google moves forward with the larger fonts.
More Than a Third of All Google Search Results are HTTPS
Last week at SMX, Google’s Gary Illyes said that 34% of all Google search results are HTTPS. That’s the secure counterpart to the HTTP protocol.
Google started indexing HTTPS sites back in December.
It’s also worth noting that much of Google’s first page rankings include HTTPS links.
Illyes also said that, as more and more of Google’s index becomes filled with HTTPS sites, that ranking signal can be turned up more.