4 min read

January Search Updates

A Minimum Threshold For All Core Web Vitals May Need To Be Met For A Ranking Boost

Google has announced that the minimum threshold for all the core web vitals must be met to reap the benefits associated with the ranking signal which is set to be rolled out in May 2021. Below are the main core web vitals. 

Minimum thresholds of Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest contentful paint (LCP): Measures how quick a pages main content is loaded. The minimum requirement is that it should be loading up within 2.5 seconds of entering the landing page.

  • First Input Delay (FID): This factor measures how quickly users can interact with a page once they land on the page. 

  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures how often users experience unexpected layout shifts, and the CLS should be maintained to be less than 0.1.

Core Web Vitals Example

Google Adds Price Drop Rich Results to SERPs

With these updates, a price drop appearance will display price drop information in the search results. Google tracks the price that’s used for the “offer” structured data type within the product structured data. When the product price changes, Google adds a rich result called a price drop appearance which will highlight where there has been a drop. 


To be eligible to use the price drop appearance rich result, it is important to use the “offer” structured data type and not the aggregate offer type. 


Search Traffic to Pirate Sites Down After Google Updates

A study by marketers have found that recent Google’s updates have resulted in reduced traffic to piracy websites according to the latest data. Between December 2019 and November 2020, piracy sites have lost a third of their search traffic. In this period, Google has made multiple updates and the data found out that the May update made the biggest impact in traffic losses for pirate sites.


Factors To Consider 

Whilst the updates may be the biggest reason for these drop-offs, there are other factors which may have caused it.  

  • A gradual decline to the visits of pirate sites in traffic was seen of about 10%, even when search engine traffic is excluded. 
  • 2020 had less content for people to download which may have led to decreasing in interest by the users. 

Google Launches An “About this” Feature 

Google announced a new feature on the SERP which allows users to learn more about a search result listing before they click on the link. 


According to Google, the purpose of this feature is to give users more information about the sites that are appearing in the SERP. This will enable users to learn more about the website but also help them to determine if it is relevant and trustworthy.


Users can tap on the three dots by the listing to open up the “About this result” feature. The feature tells the user where the information is coming from if the site is secure if Wikipedia has information on that site and whether the search listing is paid for or not. If Wikipedia information is not available, Google will provide additional context that may be available, such as when Google first indexed the site.


Google Search Updates Mobile Design & Interface

Google is rolling out a new design for its mobile search results to provide a more modern and easier to read experience for the users. The new interface has already started rolling out. The mobile design makes the interface more intuitive, to make it easier for users to find related information to their search query. Below are examples of the new mobile interface and design.

Before & After Of New Mobile Interface


Google Crawl Stats Report Showing More Crawls

The updated Google crawl stats report shows more crawls, but Google says that this is just due to change in the way it is being reported and not due to a change in search results. They have recently stated that the report has now “increased its reporting coverage for additional types of crawls”, which is leading to an increase in the number of crawls being reported. They stated that this increase in the report is not reflective of an increase in search visibility.


Google has also added a notification in the search console to notify users of the change as well. 

New Crawl Report Example


Google To Add Google News Performance Reports To Search Console

Publishers can now review how well their website is performing with a new dedicated report within the Google Search Console. The report will show on the left sidebar under the “Performance” section for any site that appears in Google News. It shows clicks, impressions and click-through-rates on Google News through the desktop site, and from the Google News app on Android and iOS.


Google News Report Example


Google Updates The Search Console Coverage Report

Google announced that substantial updates have been made to the report and that they have made “significant improvements” to help users be better informed on the issues which prevent Google from crawling their sites. The updated Coverage Report will now give you specific categories and labels for the different errors and responses. 

What has changed?

  • Removal of the generic “crawl anomaly” issue type – all crawls error should now be mapped to an issue with a finer resolution.
  • Pages which have been submitted but blocked by robots.txt and got indexed are now reported as “indexed but blocked”(warning), whereas it was previously “submitted but blocked” (error).
  • A new issue has been added; “indexed without content” (warning).
  • The soft 404 reporting is now more accurate.

Google Launches Question Hub For US Publishers

Google has been testing a Question Hub in India, Indonesia and Nigeria for a few years and has now officially released it in the United States. Question Hub according to Google is, “a tool that enables creators to create richer content by leveraging unanswered questions. Question Hub collects these unanswered user questions and surfaces them to bloggers, writers, and content creators like you.”


Google is allowing searchers to tell them when the search results are not answering their queries, with Google then feeding these to publishers who can then create content that answers these queries. This is a great way to identify content that searchers are looking for but are unable to find.

Question Hub


Google To Pay French Publishers For Use Of Their Content

With negotiations continuing in Australia as the Government demands Google pays publishers for using their content, Google announced a new deal that will see them paying French publishers for news content as part of its Google News Showcase program.


Google News Showcase Program

This program aims to support publications to produce, distribute and explain essential information to users with an investment of $1 billion over the next three years. News will be displayed on News Showcase panels and publishers will combine and tell news stories together with context and links to additional stories.


Whilst Google has previously resisted paying for this content, this program will mean that they pay the publications to “create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience”. Google News Showcase initially started in Brazil and Germany with some French publications now set to be signed onto the program.


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