Update: Google have since put this experiment on hold (source).
Zero-result SERPs have caused a bit of a stir in the SEO industry this past fortnight. For time-related searches, instead of showing a variety of results, Google shows you the answer and… that’s it. Unless you click the ‘Show all results >’ box at the bottom, all you see is Google’s answer. Here’s an example for "time in cardiff":
The situation went into panicky overdrive when I checked Twitter this morning and saw tweets from overnight suggesting that whisky-related SERPs had been affected. Rightly so, if you searched for "lagavulin 16" – as in Lagavulin’s 16-year-old single malt bottle – it would show the time box, Google Shopping results, Google AdWords ads (if applicable) and that’s it:
The time box was a particularly bizarre inclusion – what’s the time got to do with a search for a bottle of whisky anyway? There was also chatter that other bottles of whisky with numbers after them (as in their age) were producing similar results.
And that’s when it hit me: what if Google was thinking that people were searching for Lagavulin the place and that the number was the time, as in: “what time is it where I am if it’s 16:00 (i.e. 4pm) in Lagavulin, the Scottish village?”
Gotta be. The inclusion of the number in the keyword makes Google think it’s a time-related search – & even its answer doesn’t make sense in context. @dannysullivan’s also mentioned he thinks it’s an “edge case”: https://t.co/LmPkKKuzUa
Just a quick post today based on a random discovery that I made over the weekend…
I was checking a SERP on behalf of my parents’ company (IT recruitment sector) from my phone simply because I didn’t have my laptop or tablet to hand. A search for "web developer job cardiff" showed the following:
Two things struck me as odd about the first result, which is first on both mobile and desktop searches. Firstly, the top result isn’t labelled ‘Mobile-friendly’ (any SEO who’s not been living under a rock will know that this is bignews at the moment), yet it’s ranking above two results that are. Secondly, having been on Indeed.co.uk’s website before, I was convinced that it was mobile friendly – so I clicked (or tapped) on it, and – as a matter of fact – it is:
Notice how the label next to Indeed.co.uk’s result shows ‘Jobs 1 – 10 of 370’ instead? I have a feeling that this rich snippet is overriding the ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag for this result – i.e. that Google is choosing to show the former instead of the latter (even though both are true)… which isn’t good for Indeed.co.uk (more on that below).
A week ago (on 16th April) I gave a talk at Cardiff Internet, a local monthly internet marketing event aimed at small business owners. My talk was all about rel="author" implementation and its benefits, containing a live implementation demo on a WordPress blog using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Update: Someone’s found a SERP with 10 in it. Scroll down to learn more!
The other day I was doing a vanity rankings check to see if my recent rel="author" case study post was ranking for anything. I found out that it was ranking 1st for “rel author case study” (which is nice, but apparently doesn’t get searched on much) and also found out that I’m on page 1 for “rel author implementation” (which does get a bit of search volume).
But something else caught my attention about the SERP…
Do you see it? EIGHT faces, i.e. 8 instances of rel="author" implementation. Given the keyword in question, I can’t say I’m surprised.
And then it got me thinking… Is there an instance of a SERP with 9 or even 10 Google+ avatars in it?
This post is mainly about what happens when you implement rel="author" twice on a webpage and the confusion and potential mistrust it carries in Google’s eyes. However it also covers the following areas:
The best and easiest way to implement rel="author" on a WordPress blog,
How to handle rel="author" if your blog allows guest posts (whether it’s on WordPress, another blogging platform or a self-hosted blog).
Discrepancies between what the Rich Snippets Preview Tool shows and what actually shows up in Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages).
What is rel="author"?
rel="author" is a type of rich snippet whereby your Google+ profile picture and links to your profile appear in Google’s search results. While you may not know it by name, if you’ve been using Google at all in the past year or so (which I’m guessing is extremely likely!) then you’re bound to recognise this:
Rather than simply showing a standard search result, the following is added:
A Google+ profile pic, which studies have shown can improve CTR (click-through rate). One of my favourite studies talks about how optimising the picture (of all things!) can further increase CTR.
A “by [name]” link, which links to the person’s Google+ profile.
The number of G+ circles that the person is in.
Although it’s not shown above, I’ve also seen some instances where it says “More by [name]” in place of #3.
In addition to improving CTR, Eric Schmidt recently revealed that it could even lead to higher rankings, which is something that many had previously speculated and that Jeff Sauer has recently investigated.