Google Roundup: October 2014

There’s been a lot of news coming out of Google lately. This post is rounding up some of the biggest / most relevant information for Partners.

Google Penguin Refresh

Rumours continue to swirl about the timing of the Penguin Refresh, giving websites that have adjusted in the wake of Penguin a chance to recalibrate once more. Search Engine Land was reporting that the refresh was expected last week.

Those rumors can now be put to rest: Search Engine Land is reporting that the Penguin Refresh went live on October 19,2014. This specific update/refresh was targeted at improving spam filtering as well as providing a “refresh” for those penalized by the last refresh (October 2013) who have since made changes.

The rollout is expected to last a few weeks and will impact roughly 1% of queries. Be sure to keep an eye on your clients’ listings as we move through Q4 2014!

Google SERPS Changing User Behavior

Recently, Mediative released a study tracking subjects’ eyes through a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to follow up from a study done several years ago. The findings were surprising.

Over time, users’ eyes have changed behaviors. Initially, the the f-shaped heatmap was the norm, with users’ focus concentrated high on the page, specifically on the first result.

While the first result continues to be impactful, the introduction of blended search (apparently in ~2007) changed user behaviors. Suddenly, users were scrolling further down the page, often all the way to the bottom, looking at the entire first page of search results. And, images (regardless of rank position) often caught users’ attention first. Finally, personalized searches pushed the heatmap further down the page, and changed user patterns even more.

In the newest study, Google’s changes in user interface have changed how users interact with the website. With the inclusion of Knowledge Graph elements and inline maps, heatmaps of eye movements indicate users are looking at the regions of the page that have often remained dark — the far right, the top-right corner, and others. The Google Carousel also seems to impact where users look on a page.

Search Engine Land has a full report, along with summaries of findings, here.

XML or RSS? Why Not Both?

Taking a leaf out of the advertising handbook, Google’s Webmaster Team addresses questions about using XML or RSS/Atom to report a sitemap.

Surprising exactly no one, the answer is, “Use both!” XML and RSS offer different contextual tags, allowing crawlers to better understand information in a sitemap. Read the full blog post here.

Free Tool to Find Duplicate Google Listings

Over on his blog, Mike Blumenthal is linking people to a Google My Business Page finder tool that can help surface duplicates.

Test out the tool yourself directly here.

Crash Course: Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics

It’s no secret that the dashboards for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools can be extremely overwhelming for someone not accustomed to tool panels like them. There’s a lot of (metaphorical) knobs and buttons.

To that end, Bruce Clay’s team has put together a fairly comprehensive crash course for beginners and intermediate users alike. You’ll learn how to set up reporting, keyword tracking, realtime visitor data, and locate/track all sorts of other information and useful functions. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed by either — or both! — tool(s).