Google has been implementing a bunch of small tests and changes in search results lately. Here’s an overview of some of the latest information about what the world’s largest search provider is up to.
Google has officially stopped showing authorship results in Google Search: image support was dropped in June and bylines were gone as of August 28th. Image support and bylines helped identify authors of content (and Google had suggested stories with authorship display might receive more clicks). Moreover, Google is no longer tracking data from content using authorship (rel=author) markup. After 3 years, this experiment over (for now!).
While authorship is gone, Author Rank is still around> Author Rank means “verified authors”, also known as “subject experts” or “subject-specific authorities” (i.e. those deemed trustworthy by Google), show up higher in search results, which might give their stories a boost. The idea is that most users typically click up top, where the “verified results” would be. This information is tied to verified online profiles — those of the verified aforementioned verified authors. This could mean anonymity would become synonymous with risking irrelevance. However, as of March, Author Rank is only being used in the “In-depth articles” section of Google’s search results.
The solution for now? Use bylines. It’s the classic way to show who the author of a story is. More importantly, the author’s accountability factor ensures a higher quality of stories.
(It might also be worth mentioning here a Google Guidelines update: low quality guest blogging may be considered content spam!)
Again, Author Rank is only being used in very limited ways as of now; even if its use does become heftier, it remains only one of innumerable SEO ranking factors that affect Google’s listings.
On August 14th, Google announced they would give a small ranking boost to HTTPS with the new HTTPS ranking factor. However, according to SearchMetrics, data did not reveal any ranking improvement. These findings and discernible effects will continue to evolve, but Google did already admit that this is a “very lightweight signal”.
As a side note: SSL errors do not currently impact HTTPS ranking boost.
The ability to advertise locally-available products on Google via local product listing ads on mobile and desktop devices has been available since last fall, but retailers could only promote items that were just available in-store on mobile devices until now.
Google is also expanding local inventory ads internationally – starting with the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia. It’s no secret that Google faces serious competition the local product market from Amazon, with its same-day delivery service now available in ten cities.
Google is definitely testing a new search box that appears in the first search result – it’s larger and offers search suggestions. Seems like Google realized we like search, so they put a search in our SERPs so we can search while we search. (If you recognize the reference, leave us a comment!)
Lastly, Google is testing different colors for local rating stars: blue, grey, red, green, and bright yellow! Is this the end of the gold? Our guess is ‘no,’ but it’s certainly interesting to see what the alternatives Google is looking into could be.