Google adds search warning for queries with fast-changing results - USA TODAY

Google adds search warning for queries with fast-changing results - USA TODAY


Google adds search warning for queries with fast-changing results - USA TODAY

Posted: 28 Jun 2021 07:06 AM PDT

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Google Tests Seller Ratings in Organic Search - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 28 Jun 2021 09:20 AM PDT

Google is merging paid and organic search features in a test that shows businesses' seller ratings in regular search snippets.

This was first reported by Brodie Clark who credits Brian Freiesleben with the discovery.

As part of the test, star ratings are shown in SERPs based on the website's rating in Google Merchant Center.

Seller ratings are a feature of Google's paid ads, which makes its crossover into organic search something SEOs should be aware of.

Let's look at what's known about the test so far and what it could mean for search going forward.

Google Seller Ratings in Organic Search

Seller ratings in organic search is an important development for two reasons.

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One is that seller ratings are traditionally reserved for paid ads. The other reason is the pages were displaying star ratings without the assistance of review rating structured data markup.

Star ratings are capable of appearing in organic results if particular markup is used.

Since these pages weren't using the markup, it means the seller ratings were being generated from the same sources as Google Ads.

It's important for SEOs to be aware of this test because websites can have seller ratings even if they don't buy Google Ads.

If Google rolls this out on a wider scale, it will be necessary to know which factors contribute toward calculating a site's seller rating.

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Seller ratings on Google Shopping may be based on one or more of the following sources:

  • Google Customer Reviews: A free program that collects post-purchase reviews on behalf of merchants.
  • Aggregated performance metrics from Google-led shopping research.
  • Shopping reviews for your store domain, which include reviews from various third-party sources and users of Google Search.

Any retailer with a product feed uploaded to Google Merchant Center can potentially have a seller rating.

If you're not aware of what your seller rating is, or whether you have one at all, now would be a good time to look it up.

What's My Google Seller Rating?

Here's how to check if you have a seller rating.

To find out if you have a seller rating for a specific country, edit the following URL to replace "www.example.com" with your homepage URL:

Example URL: https://www.google.com/shopping/ratings/account/lookup?q=www.example.com

Once that page loads, Google will display information about your store and its seller rating. A country selector will let you narrow down the data by country.

Investigate your seller rating and look into where the reviews are coming from, as this will be different for all retailers.

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From there you'll have an idea of where you need to be acquiring reviews in order to maintain a satisfactory seller rating for your store.

If Google doesn't have information for your store, or if your store doesn't meet the minimum seller rating thresholds, a seller ratings page may not load for your homepage.

Keep in mind this is just a test, and it appears these are the early stages according to examples Clark shared on Twitter.

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In this example a seller rating is shown for Apple's Wikipedia article, which is incorrect as Wikipedia is not an ecommerce site.

Here's another example where Google uses the retailer's site rating when reviews for a particular product weren't available:

Clearly this feature isn't ready for a mass rollout at the moment, but it's something to keep an eye on for the future.

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Sources: Brodie Clark, Brian Freiesleben, Google Merchant Center Help

Search Is Already Fragmented—A Brief, Controversial Take On Neeva, Brave, Amazon, Google And DuckDuckGo - Forbes

Posted: 28 Jun 2021 11:36 AM PDT

Suddenly, the competition in the search marketplace heats up considerably as two new players debut on the scene. Neeva is due to launch officially in July with a lot of fanfare in the digital world. Brave, a browser that has long proclaimed its privacy bona fides, announced on June 22 its own beta entry into search. But consumers outside the business whom I have spoken to haven't picked up on any special energy around these newest players.

Maybe that anecdotal information results from the fact that consumers themselves long ago, ahead of much of the digital ad industry, learned to fragment and evolve their search, mostly quietly but in major ways that show what was once simply a large access door to all the information on the web has become much less—and much more. Consumers' search behaviors and the choices now available to them for search have matured to respond to different needs at different times. Search can either be a large query at a very high level, What is the meaning of life?, or it can now be, Where can I buy the pants I see here in tan in my size? Marketers are only now starting to catch up.

People aren't just typing in a search term on whichever main search engine they prefer—they're searching and consuming in context, on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon or Pinterest and increasingly on any of a zillion specialized apps.

This consumer habit to search "more natively" in a more selective way is growing. The search market has already splintered so much that small players and new unforeseen options for search are nipping at the giants' heels. (BTW: We've seen this movie before. Hello, AOL and Yahoo.)

Despite our common misperception, search and how consumers use it isn't static. This observation is borne out by a recent large-scale, international empirical study.

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It surveyed 11,000 consumers from 10 countries (the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, the United States, Australia, Singapore, India, China and Brazil) on 5 continents about their use of online platform services, carried out by Pinar Ackman, professor of law and Director at Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance, School of Law, University of Leeds in the U.K.

Of the 1,007 U.S.-based respondents, 62% reported using more than one search engine in the past 12 months and nearly 75% said they change their default search and browser settings. They also say they used an average of 2.84 search engines in the past 12 months.

Perhaps most surprising though is that 69% of the total universe of the respondents from all 10 countries, just over 11,000 people, report a "very positive impact" on their "general well-being or overall quality of life" from their use of search—that's a higher percentage than the responses on networking or communications or music or video streaming or online marketplaces, which speaks to the exceedingly important and even satisfying place that search serves in our lives.

Google years ago lost the lead in product searches to Amazon, where the majority of searches really do begin: 66% of online shoppers in the U.S. start their product search on Amazon. When Pinterest introduced Visual Search and Reverse Image search, it set itself up for a solid Google-free future where the platform would host 5 billion searches per month. From 2020 to 2021 alone, product searches on the platform grew more than 20x year over year.

Other players have also been claiming their share of the search market for years. More than 25% of monthly digital searches on desktop in the U.S. take place on Microsoft sites and 11% on Verizon Media sites.

Over time, as searchers became more "consumers" than "users," the place searched occupied in our lives broadened.

Once upon a time, when Google entered the game, search was an elegant door to search for facts and information. Eventually, search became more a part of the journey and not just a means of conveyance, not simply a first stop on our way outward. Where once we'd simply "look stuff up," when the web became our central marketplace we learned to carve off how we searched in ways that gave us more options than any single search engine could because our searches evolved to become less about facts and figures and more about getting into the specific areas that interested us most. Search started as an inquiry for information. (Remember Richard Saul Wurman, the man who created TED, analyzing "Information Anxiety" in the dawning hours of the Information Age? Full disclosure: I worked with Richard in the late 80s and early 90s).

Then, search itself as a tool and as a behavior had to change as the web became the one place where we go to express our ideas, pursue future love, reinforce our friendships, build our professional networks, and look for and buy food, clothing—and even shelter.

Search in that process became less like a door and more like an escalator in a department store—even like the elevator operator of old who'd announce the products available on each floor as he opened doors to let passengers off to discover "ladies' lingerie" or "men's suitings."

Search is now in its "millennial years," having grown up and integrating multiple sides of its personality even as it fragments.

It's now closer to why people search. On your phone, Apple and Google feature news and articles chosen "for you" by algorithm. Windows just added "news and interests" to the Taskbar so you are led to results in Edge and Bing. We're in an era when search knows that we often don't know what we are searching for, but we do want to be informed and entertained. So, the resulting search competition on phones and laptops is alive—and fierce.

Interestingly, Neeva's search rankings are going to be powered by Microsoft Bing, the maps are from Apple and other rankings like stocks and weather come from various partners.

If you link your personal email and files to your account, Neeva will sift through those too for the right answers. By combining broad online results with your personal information, it hopes to be where you go when you're looking for something, whatever it is. (Forgive the cynicism, but why if it's not interested in data or profiles, would Neeva suggest you link all that info?)

Even more interestingly, it is led by Sridhar Ramaswamy, who was arguably the most important player in digital advertising for 15 years. From 2003 to 2014, he helped to oversee Google's advertising systems and starting in 2014, he controlled Google's now $150-billion-plus revenue business (again, in the interests of full disclosure, Sridhar, a fine gentleman and truly smart as a whip, was for a time on the Board representing Google when I was at IAB).

To create a competitive advantage for Neeva and make it stand out, Ramaswamy promises two things. First, he says Neeva won't mine or sell users' data and he's betting enough consumers will pay Netflix-like pricing of $5 to $10 a month for this ad-free experience. Neeva doesn't have to break off a lot of the search market share to do well. At $5 a month for 200 million users (which Ramaswamy believes Neeva can achieve), that's a serious multibillion-dollar business.

No surprise then that a dozen ex-Googlers have already joined Ramaswamy at Neeva and it raised another $40 million in a Series B round from Sequoia in March.

Even single-digit market share can turn small competitors into billion-dollar contenders.

The second distinction Neeva promotes is its pledge to share at least 20% of its revenue with publishers and other content creators. We'll see how that payment system works out...attribution in digital advertising has already been such a hard slog.

Starting with the launch of Neeva and Brave's new search product 2021 will show if consumers themselves, and not just regulators, "buy" the privacy argument from a source they don't know and haven't yet learned to trust. Firefox tried that in the browser wars but remains a distant fourth.

DuckDuckGo (DDG) has become, quietly and surprisingly, the second most used search engine on mobile phones.

DDG has tried to be the privacy-forward search engine for years, and it has been profitable since 2014, is gaining brand awareness, and says its revenues topped $100 million last year. But for all its touted advantages, in privacy and as a quirky "other choice," it's not convinced a huge share of the market to head its way.

For now, it's too early to see what uptake Neeva and Brave might, or might not, get. No matter though, since maybe what we are seeing is consumers making choices based on their sense of trust in digital.

Maybe… Just as we have seen with the ardent advertiser reactions to Carolyn Everson's departure from Facebook, there is more and more appetite in digital on the part of consumers and marketer clients to build relationships of trust and not just admire new shiny options.

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