Google publishes comprehensive guide to featured snippets

Google has published one of the most comprehensive explanations yet of their featured snippets in a post on the search blog. Featured snippets, in short, are the quick direct answers you see at the top of the Google search results page that appear in response to some search queries.
In this blog post, Google explains what featured snippets are, the various user interfaces and treatments you can get from these featured snippets and how they interact with desktop, mobile and voice search results. Google says featured snippets are important for mobile search and with voice-activated digital assistants. Google said “in these cases, the traditional ’10 blue links’ format doesn’t work as well, making featured snippets an especially useful format.”
Google added that they will “continue to show regular listings in response to searches along with featured snippets.” That is “because featured snippets aren’t meant as a sole source of information…. …they’re part of an overall set of results we provide,

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New Google Search Console may be rolling out for everyone now

Google seems to have just fully released the new beta version of the Google Search Console to everyone who has verified access to the normal Google Search Console. We expected it to roll out shortly, and now it has.
To see it yourself, go to https://search.google.com/search-console, and at the top right, you should be able to click on the “search properties” button to see your verified sites in the new beta.

You will still be able to access the old and current Google Search Console with a link at the bottom left of the interface. Google plans on continuing to port more features from the old version to the new one and improve existing features while adding new features over time.
Postscript: It appears that some Search Console users are still unable to see all their properties in the new beta, but it does seem most users do see most of their properties now. It may be still rolling out

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Study: 80% of Google Home results come from snippets

Digital agency ROAST has released a Voice Search Ranking Report (registration required), which seeks to categorize and understand how Google processes and responds to voice queries. It also tries to determine when Google Home uses featured snippets/Answer Box results and when it does not.
The company used keyword analytics to compile a list of “616 key phrases in the UK featuring snippet answer boxes.” It then determined the top phrases by query volume across a range of verticals (e.g., medical, retail, travel, finance). The tests were run in November and compared Google Home and traditional search results.
The study sought to answer the following questions:

How many of the key phrases were answered [on Google Home]?
Do the answers given match the answer boxes’ results?
Which key phrases prompt Google not to user answer boxes?
Can we compare visibility on voice search to answer boxes? Is there a difference?

In the majority of cases, the Google Home result mirrored the snippet/Answer Box, according to the

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FAQs on new Google Speed Update: AMP pages, Search Console notifications & desktop only pages

Google has just announced its latest algorithm update, named the Speed Update, that will be launching in July of this year. We asked Google several questions about this update, including how this impacts desktop pages, whether pages with AMP URLs but slow canonical URLs will be impacted, if webmasters will get Search Console notifications and more.
Here are the questions and answers from a Google spokesperson:
1. Are you still going to be using the desktop speed factor for the desktop index?
Correct, no changes to announce for desktop.
2. With the mobile-first index, will desktop rankings use mobile page speed and not use desktop page speed?
No, this change is about the mobile search results. As mentioned in our mobile-first indexing blog post, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.
3. What about the sites that get the “unavailable”

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Survey: Smart speaker ownership steals time from smartphones, TV, radio

In a follow-up to mid-2017 research on US smart speaker ownership, NPR and Edison Research have released new findings indicating that nearly 40 million Americans now own the devices. That number is roughly double what it was in July 2017 and shows the impact of 2017 holiday sales on the market.
The new survey was conducted in two parts, online and by telephone, in November and then in late December. It reflects that satisfaction with these devices is high, and people are using them more frequently and gradually expanding the use cases. Another striking finding is that smart speaker ownership is impacting (read: decreasing) usage of other media and devices.

As one might expect, smart speakers tend to be placed in the living room and then the kitchen. Other research found that smart speaker ownership triggered smart home appliance and fixture purchases. In the NPR survey, a significant percentage (31 percent) of owners reported that they had “controlled household devices with

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Google to fix reverse image search bug

Google has confirmed it is working on a fix for a bug that is affecting reverse image search, which can be used to find related images, sites using an image and other sizes of an image.
Because of the bug, first reported on Thursday, the section of those search results that typically show “Pages that include matching images” no longer display the thumbnails of matching images or their dimensions.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, confirmed the reverse image search bug on Twitter Saturday. Sullivan added that a fix is in progress and that it could “take up to a week for the fix to fully roll out to everyone.”
This is what you should see in the “Pages that include matching images” section of reverse image search results:

This is how that section appears — without the thumbnail images and images dimensions — as a result of the bug.

Again, this should be resolved within a week, according to Google.
The post Google to fix

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Looking back at 2018 in search: A time traveler’s year in review

Greetings from the future! I’m writing to you from January 2019. Since search is such a dynamic space, with every year bringing unexpected developments, I thought it would be helpful to use my knowledge as a denizen of the future to give you a glimpse into what’s to come in 2018. So for you, this is a look forward — but for me, it’s a year in review. And let me warn you, you’d best buckle up!
(Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Sorry folks, I can’t tell you which cryptocurrencies take off, as I promised some guy named Doc Brown I wouldn’t, but I can say that AI-investment programs sure do a number on it.)
The top stories in search in 2018
The big question for Search Engine Land readers, of course, is, What the heck will happen in search in 2018? Obviously, I can’t cover everything, but here are the top stories that will make

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Google accidentally removes news publishers from Google News

Google has accidentally removed a number of news publishers from Google News over the past few days. Many news publishers were found complaining in the Google News forums. Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that this was accidental.
We do expect those publishers to be reinstated into Google News by the end of the day.
Maricia Scott, engineering director Google News, told us:
We apologize for the issue that resulted in a number of sites being delisted from Google News. This was an unintentional technical issue and not something we did manually. We are working hard to identify the sites that were incorrectly affected and will get them back in as soon as we possibly can.
You can check if your news site is included in Google News by conducting a site command in Google News or searching for recent story headlines in Google News. You can also check your index status in the Google News Publisher Center.
If you no

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Google again showing third-party reviews in local results

Google is integrating third-party reviews into the Knowledge Graph for hotels. It apparently has been happening since 2016 and is entirely opt-in for the provider.
Google works directly with the third-party review source (e.g., TripAdvisor) to integrate the content. In the example below, TripAdvisor reviews for Southern California hotel Terranea are available under the “view Google reviews” link in the Knowledge Panel.

Google got into trouble roughly seven years ago for “scraping” and incorporating third-party review content from sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp into Google Places without permission. Yelp saw the move as a kind of antitrust “extortion” and mounted a vigorous campaign against it.
One of the provisions of Google’s 2012 antitrust settlement with the FTC was that the company would allow publishers to block Google from including third-party reviews in “vertical search offerings” without their being excluded from the general index. According to the FTC statement announcing the settlement:
Google also has promised to provide all websites the option to

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Google tests ‘more results’ mobile search interface and new search refinement buttons

Google has confirmed it is testing a new mobile search interface and a new search refinement button. The new search interface shows fewer search results on the mobile search results page, with the option to click on a button labeled “more results.” In addition, Google is testing showing buttons to refine your search directly in the search results snippets.
A Google spokesperson told us “We constantly experiment with new search formats and experiences to deliver the best experience for our users.”
Dan Brackett shared screen shots with us on Twitter, but many others are noticing these new tests.
‘More results’ feature on Google mobile search
Here is a screen shot showing the “more results” link, often Google is showing as few as two or three organic search results on this page. To see more organic results, you will have to click on the “more results” link, and Google will then dynamically load more search results below.

You can also see the refinements

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