Category: Google Updates

Google Images Gets New Image Preview Design

Google Images Gets New Image Preview Design

You may have noticed recently that Google Image searches look a little different. It appears as though they are rolling out a whole new layout for previewing images in the image search results.

Instead of loading image previews with a black background frame, preview images are now appearing to the right of the image results. It seems to have been a widespread rollout so far, with many people being able to use the new feature already.

Google image results last underwent a face-lift in September 2018, where captions on images, the URL of the image and new filter bubbles were added in order to bring the desktop image search experience in line with mobile.

What does the new Google Images preview look like?

As you can see from the screenshot below, the image preview appears in a box on the right side of the results. A larger thumbnail view of the image is shown at the top and includes the name, copyright, description, share button, bookmark button and also a link to see more. Below are related images and related searches, much like the previous layout.

Google Images Gets New Image Preview Design

How does it compare to the old preview?

It is possible to still view the old image preview layout, for example the below screenshot is from Google Chrome, but only when signed out of any Google accounts. The main difference here is the image preview opening below the image clicked, with the preview area being on a black background. The information contained within is pretty much the same, however there is a lot of ‘dead space’ around the preview unlike the new layout.

Google Images Gets New Image Preview Design

Is the update rolling out to everyone?

At this stage it’s unclear whether the new update is being rolled out globally. As stated, a lot of users are able to see and use this feature at the moment, however Google is yet to confirm the official state of the rollout. As always, Google likes to test new features thoroughly, especially when it comes to user experience updates.

What is the impact of the new layout?

There are both good and bad points to note about the new image preview layout. It does appear as though it uses space far more efficiently, however it can also be said that the preview area can be easily missed and makes the page too cluttered – this could lead to less clicks and therefore less traffic to the website that hosts the image.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new design change – have you found it easier to use? To you find that it has gotten a little too messy?

New Google Search Bar – Rounded & Sticky

New Google Search Bar – Rounded & Sticky

Following months of testing, the new search bar for the Google search results page has begun rolling out.

A fancy new search results page design is being rolled out by Google, and it features a rounded search bar that now sticks to the top of the page as you scroll down through the search result snippets. This new feature was first tested in August and it is now being rolled out to all users, so you can expect to see it on your search results very soon.

The New Google Header

What really “sticks” out here (pun intended) is that the new search bar header now sticks to the top of the SERPs as you scroll down through the results. The old Google search bar header didn’t function this way, and you had to scroll all the way back to the top in order to perform another search.

The second prominent change is that the search bar is now rounded in design, rather than being a box like previously.

Here’s how the new sticky search bar looks when you’re scrolling down through the search results:

New Google Search Bar - Rounded & Sticky

Desktop Only

At this stage, the new search bar only appears on desktop searches and not mobile, though this could potentially change in the future.

The consensus

It’s difficult to say at this stage how people feel about the new search bar. Whilst it does appear to be good for user-experience, in that you no longer have to scroll back to the top of the page to perform another search, you can still expect there to be complaints from loyal Google users on the horizon. Plenty of users detest having ‘sticky’ features on their screens whatsoever and are already finding ways to disable the feature by way of blocking JavaScript or using third party extensions to revert the page back to the way it way.  It may also be that people are now encouraged to perform more and more searches, due to the ease of having the sticky search bar always accessible – whether this is a good or bad thing is yet to be determined.

We will be keeping a close eye on how the new sticky search bar is received and how it may effect metrics moving forward. Considering the lengthy testing period for the new feature, you can expect it to be around for a period of time. It may be that it doesn’t have much of an affect at all, considering many users simply search using their address bar, thus bypassing the Google search header altogether.

Google’s Zero Results and How They May Affect You

Google’s Zero Results and How They May Affect You

Google has brought back ‘zero search results’ pages again for some queries. This occurs when they are completely confident that they are able to answer the searcher’s question entirely with just one snippet. As it stands, this is limited to calculations, time and conversion search results. So, for example, anyone searching for ‘what time is it in…’ or looking for maths answers or conversions will be presented with one simple snippet and a link to “show all results”. This link will then display the rest of the organic listings.

When does Google hide organic search results? Google will hide the main, organic search results when the phrase searched is specific to calculations, conversions and time related queries. However this is still entirely up to Google’s discretion, and if it believes the user may need to see further search results, then it will show more results by default.

As an example, here is what you’ll see if you search “time in india” on mobile:

Google's Zero Results and How They May Affect You

However, if you compare this to the search term “time in new york”

Google's Zero Results and How They May Affect You

You will see that Google serves more results by default. This is because it believes some searchers may be looking for results regarding the New York Times, and therefore it doesn’t’ want to restrict the information available.

Here’s Google’s official statement about the launch of the feature:

As always, our goal with search is to help people quickly find the most relevant information. For queries where we have extremely high confidence that a user is seeking a calculation, unit conversion or local time, we will show a single result to improve load time on mobile. Since our initial experiment in February, we worked to remove ads and improve the triggering quality for this experience to be sure that we’re serving users what they’re looking for, and we will still provide the option to tap to see more results.

When did Google test the feature? The feature was originally tested back in March, but wasn’t subsequently rolled out straight away. The general reaction wasn’t overly positive during the testing phase, so Google pulled the test after several days, stating that they would rethink the feature.

What didn’t people like about the feature? In certain cases, brands weren’t showing up for their own branded searches. It also prevented dating sites from showing in the results for queries relating to “date in xyz location”. In most cases Google has worked to resolve these issues, however as it stands, any searches relating to ‘date in london’ for example, will only present you with the date and not any options for finding love!

Why is this important? When it comes to sites that primarily deal with mathematics, conversions and formulas, we can expect them to take quite a hit as a consequence. Certain brand names may also continue to have issues, so any new businesses should take this into account when planning their brand name.

Ad Preview & Diagnosis Tool Gets Two New Features

Ad Preview & Diagnosis Tool Gets Two New Features

The Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool has been given two new features, making PPC campaign workflow that little bit smoother, whilst at the same time giving you the necessary insights into who is seeing your paid ads.

Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool gives users an insight into which of their ads are appearing for particular keywords. In a nutshell, you can enter a search term into the tool and be presented with a preview of how the Google SERPs look like to the end-user. This makes the tool much better to use for testing rather than performing a manual search yourself, as it won’t affect any ad metrics. If you don’t see your ad for the search term you have tested, the tool will give you a diagnosis as to the reasons why. It’s all nifty stuff!

The two new features to be added to the tool give you a much more concise view of who is actually seeing your ads and also allows you to take swift action to get your ads to display if they aren’t already.

See which ads are displaying for a particular audience

Previously when using the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool you could preview your ads using search term and location filters, however you were unable to filter by audience.

With the new additions to the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool, ‘Search Audiences’ has been included. By clicking on the Audience widget, you can then select the audience list. If you are currently using the “Targeting” setting (previously known as “Target and bid”) in your campaigns, you are able to view which of your ads are showing for your specified audience.

If the “Observation” setting (previously known as “Bid only”) is being used, you will be able to see how your advert may appear based on your bids for your specified audience; whether higher or lower.

Google Ad preview tool

Taking immediate action to get your ads to display

If you’re having difficulties getting your ad to display, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool will now give you a reason as to why this may be the case.  In previous iterations, after you diagnosed the issue, you had to navigate back through your account to make the necessary alterations to get your ad to display.

However, with the updated features, you can now fix the issue directly within the tool, starting with adjustments to campaign budgets. If your ad isn’t showing due to issues with budget, you can click on the “edit budget” feature to make the changes directly.

Google PPC diagnosis tool

These updates make for a great improvement to PPC workflow and user experience whilst giving you the necessary insights into who is seeing your ads. As a PPC Agency, we’ve personally found the improvements to be extremely helpful – we’d love to hear your thoughts on the updates and how they’ve affected your campaign management.

Google Testing Multifaceted Featured Snippets on Desktop SERPs

Google Testing Multifaceted Featured Snippets on Desktop SERPs

Google are at it again! Earlier in 2018 they begun rolling out multifaceted featured snippets for mobile search results. They have now begun to test these multifaceted featured snippets in desktop SERPs too.

What are Featured Snippets?

Featured snippets are what Google sees as the most accurate and relevant answer to the question being searched. They appear at the very top of certain search queries and offer an excerpt of information directly to the searcher without them having to click through. Essentially this is ‘result zero’, being placed above those who rank highly organically (although below any PPC ads).  The snippet takes text directly (and automatically) from a page – you cannot specifically optimise for this space nor determine what text Google uses in its snippet.

Featured Snippet for the query "what is today?"

What are Multifaceted Featured Snippets?

Multifaceted featured snippets expand on the above and are used when the query is broad enough to allow for multiple interpretations. In these circumstances, the results will include more than one snippet and reflect what Google interprets as the question being asked. Not all search queries are perfectly clear, so by only serving a single featured snippet “answer” doesn’t always result in the best user experience, and as we know, Google is all about maintaining happy customers. Lets take a look at an example on mobile:

Google Testing Multifaceted Featured Snippets on Desktop SERPs

And now Google is testing the feature on desktop results:

It doesn’t appear as though Google is testing the feature actively and it certainly hasn’t been rolled out to all users as of yet. However, this could mean great news for anyone aiming to land a featured snippet spot, as the chances have just increased! It is also something to bear in mind as these ‘position zero’ results could also have an affect on your own organic listings sat below. Stay tuned as we’ll be keeping an eye on how Google progresses the feature moving forward.

Google is officially testing “more results” button

Google is officially testing “more results” button

Google is officially testing a new button in mobile search results; rather than the user clicking to the next page of results, they can instead click a “more results” button, which will load additional search results below the current results. All of the search results from the first one to the last are on the same page, so it’s easy to go back up and down the list and check if you missed something.

This is a test that Google have been running for the past few days, accordingly to Google’s Danny Sullivan on Twitter.

They have tested a more results button in the past, in a more limited fashion, but it appears as though Google have now begun to increase the frequency that users will see this test. Up until now, the bottom of Google’s search results displayed related terms (when available) then a Next button that jumps to the next results on a new page.

At this moment in time the new ‘more results’ button is visible to most searchers, if not all, when searching using Google on their mobile devices.

This design interaction is commonly referred to as “load more”, whereas the old layout is called “pagination.” Both are arguably better than the “infinite scroll” option some websites and apps adopt (where the next parts are loaded automatically), since you can stop and load at will.

Is this “better” than what Google already offers? In theory it could mean less loading times which could make the experience more mobile-friendly. But how many mobile searchers would otherwise be jumping through multiple pages rather than redefining their search parameters?

Of course, this is still in its testing stages, so it’s unclear as to whether it will be rolled out as a final feature.

Google’s New “People Also Search For” Refinements

Google’s New “People Also Search For” Refinements

Google has altered the look and feel of the “people also search for” refinement box. It has been an area of testing and design tweaks for quite a few nears now, including dynamic loading versions.

The new feature includes a box around an organic search result with the heading “people also search for” and a list of suggestions below, separated by a small border. These suggestions appear either on a slight delay, or when a user clicks on a search result, then clicks back to the SERP.

This feature has been tested by Google since 2017 and shares similarities with the ‘people also ask’ feature, the difference being that this box made up of related queries presents itself after a user clicks back off a website.

It’s unclear whether this new feature will eventually replace the ‘people also ask’ box as they do serve a similar purpose. Currently, both features remain simultaneously.

Here is an example of how the new feature looks:

Google’s New “People Also Search For” Refinements

Clicking on these results will not take you through to another URL but instead refresh your search term for the query you select.

An older iteration of this feature looked like the below:

Google’s New “People Also Search For” Refinements

The new “people also search for” feature appears to have rolled out across desktop search, so you will be able to try it out for yourself right now. However, this only applies to organic search results – Paid search results remain unaffected.

But what’s most interesting about this feature, is the fact that it operates on a dynamic basis. So that means, whether you click the 1st, 3rd or 10th link and go back to the results, the suggestions will appear around the particular result you interacted with. This suggests that the feature is designed to assist users who click a result and find the web page unsatisfactory, and thus need further assistance in finding the information they require.

It’s unclear if clicking through then clicking back will have a ranking effect on websites. But we know Google measures CTR and Viewport Time metrics to gauge user satisfaction. It’s possible that this change may be a way to provide feedback to the search algorithm, a quality control feedback mechanism. If so, then Google may have figured out how to give their algorithms extra data for training.

How Much Revenue Is Your Website Missing Out On?

How Much Revenue Is Your Website Missing Out On?

Google has continued to push the importance of a good mobile experience for quite some time now. At the recent Mobile World Congress they unveiled the release of new mobile benchmarking tools to assist in these efforts: a new Mobile Scorecard and conversion Impact Calculator.

The purpose of these new tools is to provide marketers with clear visuals that assist them in getting buy-in from stakeholders for allocating budgets to improving mobile site speeds.

The new Mobile Scorecard users Chrome User Experience Report data to compare the mobile speeds of multiple websites. Google have reported that the Mobile Scorecard can report on thousands of sites from 12 different countries. Here’s an example of how it operates:

How Much Revenue Is Your Website Missing Out On?

Google have recommended, as a guideline, that a website should load and become operational within 5 seconds when a user is on a mobile device with a 3G connection, and within just 3 seconds for those using a 4G connection.

To present this data and its importance to stakeholders, the new Impact Calculator is designed to provide how much conversion revenue a website is potentially missing out on due to slow site speed. Here is an example of it in action:

How Much Revenue Is Your Website Missing Out On?

The Impact Calculator draws on data from The State of Online Retail Performance report from April 2017, which showed each second of delay in a page loading on a retail website can damage conversions by up to 20%.

This new tool gives a clear representation of just how much page speed has an effect on conversion rates and revenue. By putting in a websites average monthly visitors, average order value and conversion rate you can get an estimate of revenue based on site speed.

You can try each of these tools for yourself here.

Is Your Website Losing Out On Revenue?

You could be losing out on significant sales and revenue due to your site speed. But don’t worry, at Soar Online we have the tools and knowledge to set things right and start making your website get you the sales you need.

Google Rolls Out New AdWords Keyword Planner Interface

Google Rolls Out New AdWords Keyword Planner Interface

On overhauled version of AdWords Keyword Planner is beginning to roll out across the new AdWords interface. This new Keywords Planner boasts a streamlined workflow and matches the brand new AdWords interface by making use of Google’s Material Design. The new AdWords interface becomes apparent right from the start screen, where it condenses the multiple options and links into a minimalist view of just two options: Find New Keywords and Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords.

Google Rolls Out New AdWords Keyword Planner Interface

Let’s take a quick look at what other changes the new AdWords interface has to offer:

Keyword Ideas

The new Keyword planner displays the main Keyword Ideas chart with the inclusion of mobile search volumes (as well as the total monthly search volumes like the old version). The old version of the Keyword Ideas chart made mobile search volumes only available via the Search volume trends drop-down menu.

Google Rolls Out New AdWords Keyword Planner Interface

There are also two new metrics now available in Keyword Ideas. This includes Organic impression share and Organic average position; if the website ranks for the keywords in question and there is enough data available for analysis. The AdWords and Search Console accounts need to be linked for the users to see this data, and the columns need to be manually added to the Keyword Ideas report.

Google Rolls Out New AdWords Keyword Planner Interface

Forecasting

Unlike the old version, where users were required to set a bid to get forecasting, the new forecasts section of AdWords Keyword Planner immediately displays the total estimated performance impact, which includes max CPC, from the keywords. Users can also adjust bid settings by clicking the drop-down menu on the plan estimates or by selecting the max CPC field.

Google Rolls Out New AdWords Keyword Planner Interface

The new interface also allows users to view device and location breakouts via cards, as opposed to toggling between tabs and menus on the old interface. The metrics within these cards can also be adjusted.

Summary

At this stage, it’s difficult to see how widely the new Keyword Planner interface has been rolled out; some of you may not have it available in your AdWords account just yet.

The new interface will certainly take some getting used to, but the new streamlined features and prioritised data displayed seems to be a step in the right direction for what was a cumbersome and outdated Keyword Planner.

Google’s new AMP Stories Format

Google’s new AMP Stories Format

Google recently released “AMP Stories”, a format that aims to give publishers a variety of storytelling options for the mobile web, though it also works on desktop too. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a second – many of you will see the similarities between AMP Stories and Snapchat or Instagram Stories (or even Yahoo News Digest).

The new AMP Stories feature has been presented to publishers for extensive feedback, and both the Washington Post and Hearst are very enthusiastic about the platform, stating that Google had taken a very consultative approach to the project from the get go.

Whilst Google have warned that the platform is still in an “experimental” stage, it’s obvious that AMP Stories will be a versatile way of presenting content in new and creative ways on the mobile web.

Google have also made the point that they are encouraging publishers to create content solely for Stories, as opposed to repurposing existing content for the platform. This would certainly resolve any concerns about canonical and content-consistency.

Google’s new AMP Stories Format

If you’re wondering what content would be best suited for AMP Stories, The Washington Post’s Lead Product Manager Dave Merrell has stated that the ideal type of content for AMP Stories is “a highly compelling and visual story that you can tell in a few slides.” He also thinks video within AMP Stories will be “a primary driver of engagement” for users.

As well as The Washington Post and Hearst, Google has been collaborating with the likes of CNN, Meredith, Mashable, Mic, Vox and Condé Nast to design and roll out AMP Stories.

Of course, with any type of content publishing medium, there is always the looming question about profitability and ad revenue. According to Brian Madden, SVP development of Hearst Digital Media, Google “thought about monetization right from the start”. The Washington Post’s Merrell observed, “We see a few different paths [to monetization]: interstitial display ads, video pre-roll and sponsored content.”

If you would like to see some examples of AMP Stories in all their glory, you can do so via the following link: https://g.co/ampstories