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Andrew Riker
M Posted 2 years ago
t 5 min read

Did you know that 15% of all search queries have never been searched before? Well, that’s according to Google in a recent tweet. We don’t know about you, but we think it clearly highlights the fact that keyword research should be an ongoing process.

The last two weeks have seen several small feature releases and updates from both Google and Bing. Google is trialing a new section called “Buying Guides” in search results that may present opportunities for content marketers. The prioritization of local news in search results is also highly positive. 

Bing has also made some notable changes. Automobile-related results are showing on search pages. And PubHub has been incorporated into webmaster tools. 

Finally, Search Advocate John Mueller clarified several long-standing SEO questions. If you’ve ever wondered about whether or not to display CTAs above the fold, change dates after updating content, or use original photography, you’ll be interested in his answers. 

Let’s dig into all the latest SEO updates, feature releases, and analysis from the last two weeks. 

Google Trials Buying Guides

A new feature called Google Buying Guides is currently being trialed by the search engine. The widget currently appears for some product-related terms in mobile results. Users can choose from various options, including content suggestions that review searched-for products in more depth. 

While this feature is still embryonic, it is potentially very good news for content marketers. Buying Guides widgets use dropdowns that, when selected, describe a certain type of product - such as “baseball bats'' - in more depth. These dropdowns display third-party content.

As a publisher, having your content shown here has obvious benefits in terms of generating site traffic. If Google decides on a full rollout, you should seriously consider optimizing your content to increase its chances of appearing. 

Google Prioritizes Local News Publications

Google announced that it would be giving greater priority to local news publications by including them in Top Stories, a widget that appears in generic search results. It is also giving publishers more control over which stories appear in the local section of the Google News aggregator. 

This is excellent news for small news websites which have to fight with large publications for a limited amount of search real estate.

In a post published on its main blog, The Keyword, Google said: “Today, we’re doing more to make it easier to find local publishers in Google News Showcase by bringing their panels into the local section of Google News. News Showcase publishers hand pick the content for these local panels, enabling them to highlight the most important stories of the day in their area and giving them another powerful way to deepen their relationship with readers.”

Bing Adds Automobile Search Features

Microsoft Bing has added new automobile features to its search pages. Browsers that search for car-related terms will see a dedicated area displaying a selection of cars that are listed on the MSN Autos Marketplace. Bing has also included filters for narrowing down results by budget, year of manufacture, color, and so on. 

This new feature will be of interest to car dealers and individuals in the process of selling their cars (listing on MSN autos is straightforward). From a more general perspective, it will also prove beneficial to buyers forced to navigate a tumultuous and often under-supplied post-COVID car market. 

Bing Incorporates PubHub into Webmaster Tools

News PubHub, a Bing service that helps news publishers distribute their content, has been moved to the Webmaster Tools console. It was previously accessed via its own site, which is still live but now links to Bing Webmaster. 

If you are a news site and have not already submitted your site for inclusion in the Bing news index, you can do so by following the PubHub guidelines. You can check your approval status from within the Webmaster console. 

Publishers will also have access to extra analytics features that allow them to see how readers are interacting with their stories in real time.

This should enable them to respond quickly to trends, add context to stories, and organize their panels more effectively. 

John Mueller Clears Up Issues Around CTAs Above the Fold

Although this isn’t a major announcement, it relates to a point of contention that is often raised in SEO circles. Ask the question, “Is it bad to put CTAs above the fold?” and you’ll get a whole range of differing responses. 

Well, not anymore. Google Search advocate John Mueller has said in no uncertain terms that it doesn’t matter. He said, "Google search doesn't say anything about CTA buttons."

If you’ve been concerned about displaying an opt-in or other call-to-action above the fold, you’re safe to do so as it might lead to more direct response conversions. However, keep in mind that above-the-fold CTAs are not pop-ups, which can be detrimental to rankings

Change Dates in Certain Circumstances, Says John Mueller

When should you change the publication date of evergreen or partially evergreen content? 

In a recent tweet, Search Advocate John Mueller said, “When you write something new, or significantly change something existing, then change the date.”

This might seem like common sense advice, but it’s worth restating here because it's an area of common confusion. It means that date changes are sometimes warranted but not in all cases.

“Fake changing” dates can lead to penalties and doesn’t represent a good way of letting Google know that evergreen content is still relevant despite remaining the same. And only minor changes and reviews probably don’t warrant a date change (an in-content note is preferable). “Significant” is the key word here. 

John Mueller Recommends Using Original Photographs in Product Reviews

John Mueller has said that websites publishing product guides and reviews should use their own photographs. Original images may positively affect rankings after a manual site review by a member of Google’s Quality Rater team. 

In an SEO office-hours hangout on the 4th of February, John Mueller said, “I think the guidelines that we have for reviews, or the recommendations that we have, should really be focused on unique photos that you create of these products, so not artificial review photos.”

To close out this edition of SEO Bright Now, I leave you with a few SEO jokes:

  • How does an SEO drink their tea? They serrrrrp it. 
  • How do SEOs cut their hair? They snippet. 
  • What kind of music do SEOs like to listen to? Heavy meta.