Pure SEO’s This Week In Search series takes a look at the top SEO and SEM news stories from the week.
This week ROAST released a study, YouTube tightened restrictions on videos with ads, Google Assistant got an update, page speed was announced to be a ranking factor for mobile search, and AMP became available on search results.
Recent Study Shows 80% of Google Home Results Come from Snippets
Digital agency ROAST has released a Voice Search Ranking Report which aims to categorize and understand how Google processes and responds to voice queries. It also tries to determine when Google Home uses featured snippets/Answer Box results and when it doesn’t.
ROAST used keyword analytics to compile a list of “616 key phrases in the UK featuring snippet answer boxes.” It then determined the top phrases by query volume across a range of verticals such as medical, retail, travel and finance. You can read the full report here.
YouTube Tightens Restrictions on Videos with Ads
Google has set stricter rules on YouTube videos that contain ads, due to advertiser brand safety concerns. On Wednesday, Paul Muret, VP of display, video and analytics said in a blog post: “2017 was a difficult year, with several issues affecting our community and our advertising partners”.
He means issues like brand advertisements appearing on extremist, racist, and other contentious and offensive content, YouTube stars whose channels are part of the Google Preferred premium advertising program behaving badly, and alarming content involving and/or targeted to children.
Muret outlined three primary changes to further address these challenges: new thresholds for channels to carry ads, manual vetting of Google Preferred channels, and new brand safety controls and third party reporting. You can read the full report here.
Google Assistant Now Allows Users to Set Their Preferred Method of Travel
A new update allows users to set their preferred method of travel and Google Assistant will default to this method when you search for travel times. This new ‘getting around’ preference has been in testing since last month, but now it will be available to everyone.
You can set your ‘getting around’ preference by going to the settings menu and choosing ‘preferences’ and then ‘getting around’. The following options are available: drive a car, take public transport, walk, bike.
Page Speed to be a Ranking Factor in Mobile Search
Google has announced that starting July 2018, page speed will become a ranking factor in mobile search. Speed has been a ranking factor for desktop search since 2010, but this is the first time it will play a significant role on mobile.
Only the slowest loading pages will be targeted, but Google says there is no tool that will determine whether a page is affected by this algorithm update. However, they did offer the following advice: ”We encourage developers to think broadly how about performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics.”
Keep in mind that speed will only be one ranking factor, and a slow page in mobile search can still rank well if it has relevant content of a high quality.
Google Adds AMP Testing Tool to Search Results
You can now test AMPs directly in search results, as well as being able to access the tool at its original location. Simply type ‘amp testing tool’ into the Google search bar and a submission form will pop up. Run an AMP URL through the submission form and you’ll see the results page, which has several updated features. Users can now submit an AMP to Google’s index after testing it, as well as view an AMP’s raw source code.