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How to Explore a SERP Feature Strategy with STAT

How to Explore a SERP Feature Strategy with STAT

Posted by TheMozTeam

This post was originally published on the STAT blog.


Your organic result game is on point, but you’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about SERP features and are curious if they can help grow your site’s visibility — how do you find out? Our SERP Features dashboard will be your one-stop shop for everything feature-related.

    If it’s the features in your space that you’re after, you’ll have ’em. The number of keywords producing each feature? You’ll have that, too. The share of voice they’re driving and how much you’re owning? Of course, and more.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can use the dashboard to suss out a SERP feature strategy that’s right for your site.

    1. Establish viable sites and segments

    For context, let’s say that we’re working for a large supermarket chain with locations across the globe. Once in the dashboard, we’ll immediately look to the Overview module, which will give us a strong indication of whether a SERP feature strategy is viable for any of our keyword segments. We may just find that organic is the road best travelled.

    Clicking through our segments, we stumble across one that’s driving a huge amount of share of voice — an estimated 309.8 million views, which is actually up by 33.4 million over the 30-day average.

    SERP Features tab Overview module

    At this point, regardless of what the deal is with SERP features, we know that we’re looking at a powerful set of keywords. But, because we’re on a mission, we need to know how much of that share of voice is compliments of SERP features.

    Since the green section of the chart represents organic share of voice and the grey represents SERP feature share of voice, right away we can see that features are creating a huge amount of visibility. Surprisingly, even more than regular ol’ organic results.

    By hovering over each segment of the chart, we can see their exact breakdowns. SERP features are driving a whopping 188.2 million eyeballs, up by 18 million over the 30-day average, while organic results are driving only 121.6 million, having also gained share of voice along the way.

    We’re confident that a SERP feature strategy is worth exploring for this segment.

    2. Get a lay of the SERP feature landscape 

    Next, we want to know what the SERP features appearing in our space are, and whether they make sense for us to tackle.

    As a supermarket chain, not only do we sell fresh eats from our brick-and-mortar stores, but our site also has a regularly updated blog with delectable recipes, so we’ve got a few SERP features already in mind (can anyone say places and recipe results?).

    But, if for some strange reason our SERPs are full of flights and jobs, maybe we’ll move onto a segment that we can have more impact on, and check in on this one another time.

    Daily snapshot

    To see what we’re working with, we head to the [Current Day] SERP Features chart, make sure every feature is enabled in the legend, and select SoV: Total from the dropdown, which will show us the total share of voice generated by each feature appearing on our SERPs.

    Right away we know that the top two share of voice earners are directly in our wheelhouse: places and recipe results. What are the odds!

    Carousels and knowledge graphs — features that we have little or no control over — might be next on the list, but the ones trailing them aren’t far behind and are winnable. So, we’ll pick our favourite five — places, recipes, list snippets, “People also ask” boxes, and paragraph snippets — to build strategies around, and make sure only they appear on our chart.

    Since food and food-related activities tend to be heavy on the visuals, it wouldn’t be wise for us to neglect images and videos entirely, so we’ll also enable them just to creep on. (We’ll think of recipes and AMP recipes as one, and make a mental note to look into an overall AMP strategy at some point.)

    Our [Current Day] SERP Features chart now shows how our chosen features stack up against each other in terms of share of voice. Apparently, videos have such a small impact that they don’t even warrant a bar on the chart.

    Over time

    But, before we ride off into the sunset with our SERP features just yet, we still need to do a little more research to see whether they’re a long-term relationship option or a mere flash in the pan.

    To do this, we look to the SERP Features Over Time chart, take the SoV: Total metric with us, and select a date-range wide enough to give us a good idea of their past behavior. Ideally, we’d love to see that they’re making continual progress.

    At the very least, they appear to have a pretty stable presence — no questionable dips to be seen — which means that we’ve got ourselves some dependable features. Cool.

    3. Know how many keywords you’re working with 

    Now that we know which SERP features will help boost our site visibility, it’s time to see how many keywords that each feature’s strategy will revolve around.

    So, back to the [Current Day] SERP Features chart we head, switching our metric to Count: Total to get the exact number of keywords that produce each result type.

    This changes our view rather drastically — video and image results now take top billing. Of course, we’ll remember that despite their apparent popularity on our SERPs, they have very little sway.

    As far as the result types that we care about go, “People also ask” boxes and places appear for most of our keywords, and more keywords to optimize for means more time and effort.

    We’re absolutely tickled pink to see that a relatively small number of keywords are responsible for producing all that recipes share of voice — this is the feature we’ll probably want to start with.

    To get these groups of keywords, we’ll simply click the SERP feature icons along the bottom of the chart and voila! We’ll see a filtered view of them appear in the Keywords tab, allowing us to create individual tags for them. This way, we can monitor them more closely.

    Now we can perform some SEO magic.

    4. Chart your daily progress against general trends 

    As we optimize for our various SERP features, not only can we track our progress, but we can keep an eye on the general happenings of features on our SERPs.

    We’ll use modules in the Share of Voice: SERP Features panel for these quick health-checks, customizing them to show only our chosen SERP features, which will make unearthing these insights even easier.

    SERP trends

    The Top Increases/Decreases module shows us that places, PAAs, and paragraph snippets have gained the most share of voice on our SERPs. The metric for each feature tells us exactly how much movement has been made between the current day and the segment’s 30-day average.

    In other words, the overall health of the features we’ve put our lot in with is doing well. And snagging one of them could mean more share of voice than we’d originally anticipated.

    Only videos have taken a slight hit, but since we’re not interested in them, we’ll breathe a sigh of relief and pat ourselves on the back for putting them off to the side.

    We’ll keep an eye here to make sure that our features continue to trend up on the SERPs.

    Personal gains

    But how are we doing?

    The Your Top Gains/Losses module tells us that our hard work is paying off for places packs. Not only has this result type grown in influence on the SERPs in general, but we’ve managed to increase our share. Woo!

    And while we’ve only made a smidgen of improvement with recipes, it’s still better than the none we had before.

    Unfortunately, we appear to have lost some ground with our featured snippets. Did we fall out of a few? Did they get bumped down the SERPs because of other, more relevant features? Are snippets just super volatile in our space? We’d be smart to do some investigating.

    And finally, since our biggest growing SERP feature for the day isn’t necessarily what drives most of our site visibility, we’ll take a quick peek at the Your Primary Source of SoV module to see who our SERP feature superstar is.

    As it happens, out of all the SERP features that we own, places are giving us the most visibility as well.

    We’ll watch the needle to see if we keep making gains — we’re currently only owning an estimated 1.7 million views out of an available 60.5 million — or see whether another SERP feature appears here, usurping places as our top earner.

    5. Keep track of ownership over the long-haul 

    Daily progress reports are great, but we’ll also need a running tally of our successes (and failures) to help us zero-in on when and why things were (or weren’t) working for us.

    To do this, we’ll go to the SERP Features Over Time chart, set our metric to Count: Owned and our date-range to whenever we’re curious about, and see how the number of keywords with features that we own has been trending during that period.

    Looking over our first month of optimizing — we were doing a great job of increasing our appearance in paragraph and list snippets until recently. We’ll have to look back at what we were up to on September 14 and see if we can replicate our success that day in order to dig ourselves out of our current hole.

    Our spot in places results have at least held steady.

    Go get ’em, tigers! 

    Now that you know how to explore a SERP feature strategy, what are you waiting for! 

    Want more info or a personalized walk-through of what you saw here? Say hello and request a demo.

      What SERP feature strategies are you keen on exploring — tell us below in the comments?

      Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

      The New Moz Local Is on Its Way!

      The New Moz Local Is on Its Way!

      Posted by MiriamEllis

      Exciting secrets can be so hard to keep. Finally, all of us at Moz have the green light to share with all of you a first glimpse of something we’ve been working on for months behind the scenes. Big inhale, big exhale…

      Announcing: the new and improved Moz Local, to be rolled out beginning June 12!

      Why is Moz updating the Moz Local platform?

      Local search has evolved from caterpillar to butterfly in the seven years since we launched Moz Local. I think we’ve spent the time well, intensively studying both Google’s trajectory and the feedback of enterprise, marketing agency, and SMB customers.

      Your generosity in telling us what you need as marketers has inspired us to action. Over the coming months, you’ll be seeing what Moz has learned reflected in a series of rollouts. Stage by stage, you’ll see that we’re planning to give our software the wings it needs to help you fully navigate the dynamic local search landscape and, in turn, grow your business.

      We hope you’ll keep gathering together with us to watch Moz Local take full flight — changes will only become more robust as we move forward.

      What can I expect from this upgrade?

      Beginning June 12th, Moz Local customers will experience a fresh look and feel in the Moz Local interface, plus these added capabilities:

      • New distribution partners to ensure your data is shared on the platforms that matter most in the evolving local search ecosystem
      • Listing status and real-time updates to know the precise status of your location data
      • Automated detection and permanent duplicate closure, taking the manual work out of the process and saving you significant time
      • Integrations with Google and Facebook to gain deeper insights, reporting, and management for your location’s profiles
      • An even better data clean-up process to ensure valid data is formatted properly for distribution
      • A new activity feed to alert you to any changes to your location’s listings
      • A suggestion engine to provide recommendations to increase accuracy, completeness, and consistency of your location data

      Additional features available include:

      • Managing reviews of your locations to keep your finger on the pulse of what customers are saying
      • Social posting to engage with consumers and alert them to news, offers, and other updates
      • Store locator and landing pages to share location data easily with both customers and search engines (available for Moz Local customers with 100 or more locations)

      Remember, this is just the beginning. There’s more to come in 2019, and you can expect ongoing communications from us as further new feature sets emerge!

      When is it happening?

      We’ll be rolling out all the new changes beginning on June 12th. As with some large changes, this update will take a few days to complete, so some people will see the changes immediately while for others it may take up to a week. By June 21st, everyone should be able to explore the new Moz Local experience!

      Don’t worry — we’ll have several more communications between now and then to help you prepare. Keep an eye out for our webinar and training materials to help ensure a smooth transition to the new Moz Local.

      Are any metrics/scores changing?

      Some of our reporting metrics will look different in the new Moz Local. We’ll be sharing more information on these metrics and how to use them soon, but for now, here’s a quick overview of changes you can expect:

      • Profile Completeness: Listing Score will be replaced by the improved Profile Completeness metric. This new feature will give you a better measurement of how complete your data is, what’s missing from it, and clear prompts to fill in any lacking information.
      • Improved listing status reporting: Partner Accuracy Score will be replaced by improved reporting on listing status with all of our partners, including continuous information about the data they’ve received from us. You’ll be able to access an overview of your distribution network, so that you can see which sites your business is listed on. Plus, you’ll be able to go straight to the live listing with a single click.
      • Visibility Index: Though they have similar names, Visibility Score is being replaced by something slightly different with the new and improved Visibility Index, which notates how the data you’ve provided us about a location matches or mismatches your information on your live listings.
      • New ways to measure and act on listing reach: Reach Score will be leaving us in favor of even more relevant measurement via the Visibility Index and Profile Completeness metrics. The new Moz Local will include more actionable information to ensure your listings are accurate and complete.

      Other FAQs

      You’ll likely have questions if you’re a current Moz Local customer or are considering becoming one. Please check out our resource center for further details, and feel free to leave us a question down in the comments — we’ll be on point to respond to any wonderings or concerns you might have!

      Head to the FAQs

      Where is Moz heading with this?

      As a veteran local SEO, I’m finding the developments taking place with our software particularly exciting because, like you, I see how local search and local search marketing have matured over the past decade.

      I’ve closely watched the best minds in our industry moving toward a holistic vision of how authenticity, customer engagement, data, analysis, and other factors underpin local business success. And we’ve all witnessed Google’s increasingly sophisticated presentation of local business information evolve and grow. It’s been quite a ride!

      At every level of local commerce, owners and marketers deserve tools that bring order out of what can seem like chaos. We believe you deserve software that yields strategy. As our CEO, Sarah Bird, recently said of Moz,

      “We are big believers in the power of local SEO.”

      So the secret is finally out, and you can see where Moz is heading with the local side of our product lineup. It’s our serious plan to devote everything we’ve got into putting the power of local SEO into your hands.

      Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

      Georgios Papanikolaou Pap Smear Google Doodle

      Georgios Papanikolaou Pap Smear Google Doodle

      Today on Google’s home page is a special Doodle, Google logo, for Georgios Papanikolaou. Georgios Papanikolaou was born a 136 years ago today and he was a Greek pioneer in cytopathology and early cancer detection. He inventor of the Pap smear, Papanicolaou test, a method of cervical screening used to detect potentially precancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix.

      How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?

      How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?

      Posted by Dr-Pete

      In 2018, Google reported an incredible 3,234 improvements to search. That’s more than 8 times the number of updates they reported in 2009 — less than a decade ago — and an average of almost 9 per day. How have algorithm updates evolved over the past decade, and how can we possibly keep tabs on all of them? Should we even try?

      To kick this off, here’s a list of every confirmed count we have (sources at end of post):

      • 2018 â€“ 3,234 “improvements”
      • 2017 â€“ 2,453 “changes”
      • 2016 â€“ 1,653 “improvements”
      • 2013 â€“ 890 “improvements”
      • 2012 â€“ 665 “launches”
      • 2011 â€“ 538 “launches”
      • 2010 â€“ 516 “changes”
      • 2009 â€“ 350–400 “changes”

      Unfortunately, we don’t have confirmed data for 2014-2015 (if you know differently, please let me know in the comments).

      A brief history of update counts

      Our first peek into this data came in spring of 2010, when Google’s Matt Cutts revealed that “on average, [Google] tends to roll out 350–400 things per year.” It wasn’t an exact number, but given that SEOs at the time (and to this day) were tracking at most dozens of algorithm changes, the idea of roughly one change per day was eye-opening.

      In fall of 2011, Eric Schmidt was called to testify before Congress, and revealed our first precise update count and an even more shocking scope of testing and changes:

      “To give you a sense of the scale of the changes that Google considers, in 2010 we conducted 13,311 precision evaluations to see whether proposed algorithm changes improved the quality of its search results, 8,157 side-by-side experiments where it presented two sets of search results to a panel of human testers and had the evaluators rank which set of results was better, and 2,800 click evaluations to see how a small sample of real-life Google users responded to the change. Ultimately, the process resulted in 516 changes that were determined to be useful to users based on the data and, therefore, were made to Google’s algorithm.”

      Later, Google would reveal similar data in an online feature called “How Search Works.” Unfortunately, some of the earlier years are only available via the Internet Archive, but here’s a screenshot from 2012:

      Note that Google uses “launches” and “improvements” somewhat interchangeably. This diagram provided a fascinating peek into Google’s process, and also revealed a startling jump from 13,311 precisions evaluations (changes that were shown to human evaluators) to 118,812 in just two years.

      Is the Google algorithm heating up?

      Since MozCast has kept the same keyword set since almost the beginning of data collection, we’re able to make some long-term comparisons. The graph below represents five years of temperatures. Note that the system was originally tuned (in early 2012) to an average temperature of 70°F. The redder the bar, the hotter the temperature …

      Click to open a high-resolution version in a new tab

      You’ll notice that the temperature ranges aren’t fixed — instead, I’ve split the label into eight roughly equal buckets (i.e. they represent the same number of days). This gives us a little more sensitivity in the more common ranges.

      The trend is pretty clear. The latter half of this 5-year timeframe has clearly been hotter than the first half. While warming trend is evident, though, it’s not a steady increase over time like Google’s update counts might suggest. Instead, we see a stark shift in the fall of 2016 and a very hot summer of 2017. More recently, we’ve actually seen signs of cooling. Below are the means and medians for each year (note that 2014 and 2019 are partial years):

      • 2019 – 83.7° /82.0°
      • 2018 – 89.9° /88.0°
      • 2017 – 94.0° /93.7°
      • 2016 – 75.1° / 73.7°
      • 2015 – 62.9° / 60.3°
      • 2014 – 65.8° / 65.9°

      Note that search engine rankings are naturally noisy, and our error measurements tend to be large (making day-to-day changes hard to interpret). The difference from 2015 to 2017, however, is clearly significant.

      Are there really 9 updates per day?

      No, there are only 8.86 – feel better? Ok, that’s probably not what you meant. Even back in 2009, Matt Cutts said something pretty interesting that seems to have been lost in the mists of time…

      “We might batch [algorithm changes] up and go to a meeting once a week where we talk about 8 or 10 or 12 or 6 different things that we would want to launch, but then after those get approved … those will roll out as we can get them into production.”

      In 2016, I did a study of algorithm flux that demonstrated a weekly pattern evident during clearer episodes of ranking changes. From a software engineering standpoint, this just makes sense — updates have to be approved and tend to be rolled out in batches. So, while measuring a daily average may help illustrate the rate of change, it probably has very little basis in the reality of how Google handles algorithm updates.

      Do all of these algo updates matter?

      Some changes are small. Many improvements are likely not even things we in the SEO industry would consider “algorithm updates” — they could be new features, for example, or UI changes.

      As SERP verticals and features evolve, and new elements are added, there are also more moving parts subject to being fixed and improved. Local SEO, for example, has clearly seen an accelerated rate of change over the past 2-3 years. So, we’d naturally expect the overall rate of change to increase.

      A lot of this is also in the eye of the beholder. Let’s say Google makes an update to how they handle misspelled words in Korean. For most of us in the United States, that change isn’t going to be actionable. If you’re a Korean brand trying to rank for a commonly misspelled, high-volume term, this change could be huge. Some changes also are vertical-specific, representing radical change for one industry and little or no impact outside that niche.

      On the other hand, you’ll hear comments in the industry along the lines of “There are 3,000 changes per year; stop worrying about it!” To me that’s like saying “The weather changes every day; stop worrying about it!” Yes, not every weather report is interesting, but I still want to know when it’s going to snow or if there’s a tornado coming my way. Recognizing that most updates won’t affect you is fine, but it’s a fallacy to stretch that into saying that no updates matter or that SEOs shouldn’t care about algorithm changes.

      Ultimately, I believe it helps to know when major changes happen, if only to understand whether rankings shifted due something we did or something Google did. It’s also clear that the rate of change has accelerated, no matter how you measure it, and there’s no evidence to suggest that Google is slowing down.


      Appendix A: Update count sources

      2009 – Google’s Matt Cutts, video (Search Engine Land)
      2010 – Google’s Eric Schmidt, testifying before Congress (Search Engine Land)
      2012 – Google’s “How Search Works” page (Internet Archive)
      2013 – Google’s Amit Singhal, Google+ (Search Engine Land)
      2016 – Google’s “How Search Works” page (Internet Archive)
      2017 – Unnamed Google employees (CNBC)
      2018 â€“ Google’s “How Search Works” page (Google.com)

      Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!