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OK Google, Whats next? - OMT Wiesbaden 2018


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My talk from Online Marketing Tag (OMT) Wiesbaden 2018 covering the ever-changing landscape of search and some of the stuff that I think will have a significant impact on SEO in the very near future!

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OK Google, Whats next? - OMT Wiesbaden 2018

  1. 1. Bastian Grimm, Peak Ace AG | @basgr Search is changing faster than ever // the 2018 edition! OK Google, what’s next?
  2. 2. It feels like the interface changes almost daily! Google is still changing like mad…
  3. 3. “More results” button on mobile (no pager anymore) Eventually went fully live on Apr. 11, 2018. Sources: &
  4. 4. New meta description length…or not? Around 150 chars in Dec. ‘17, then up to 320, then in May back to 160 again… Sources: &
  5. 5. Adding & removing loads of videos to/from carousels Especially bad for ecommerce retailers when their category pages got stuck! Source: &
  6. 6. Huge drops after GSC query report changes on 19/08/18 Also, Google started showing “relevant history” directly in their search results: Sources: &
  7. 7. The “trend“ continues: Google’s SERPs are (becoming) a destination More and more data added
  8. 8. “Bayern Munich“ desktop SERP in June 2017
  9. 9. Fast forward one year later (at first-glance almost identical) Google added a vertical navigation tab
  10. 10. Even more data available without leaving the SERP
  11. 11. Google’s travel guide and trip planner are really impressive Clearly, Google is not a publisher… at all! Right…!?
  12. 12. Generally, full takeovers like these are rare, right?
  13. 13. Game of Thrones season start (US on mobile, iPhone) Not a single organic result is directly visible in the first half of this mobile SERP #1 #2 #3 #4
  14. 14. Game of Thrones season start (US on mobile, iPhone) You’d need to scroll to ~75% depth to see the first “classic” result, which is barely visible… #5 #6 #7 #8
  15. 15. Google wants to rank what's best for its users Google is getting better and better at understanding the searcher’s intent and thus ranks sites (or its own offerings) on top if they are built to satisfy this specific intent immediately!”
  16. 16. On informational queries, there is almost no way around featured snippets Answers are (still) huge as well
  17. 17. 11.6% of all desktop SERPs provide answers straight away Time period: August 2018, desktop, DE - via SEMrush Sensor (vs. 9.9% mobile DE) Source:
  18. 18. Significant increase in featured snippets overall Over the past 12 months, Google Assistant has gotten a lot smarter. Google has added over 100M new unique featured snippets from the web, video results from YouTube, and new local places in Google Maps.”
  19. 19. Google is crazy about mobile…!
  20. 20. Mobile already surpassed desktop queries in 2015! Nearly 60% of all search requests come from mobile devices (Hitwise 08/2016) Sources: Hitwise ( & SearchEngineLand ( Percentage of search requests from mobile devices, by industry:
  21. 21. 20% of these mobile queries are voice searches More than 10 million active Amazon Echo devices in Q1/2017 (USA), with a rising trend! Source: Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends 2017
  22. 22. Digital assistants… wait, what?
  23. 23. …or at least significantly reduced No visible user-interface left
  24. 24. no classic search interface! No physical keyboard available
  25. 25. Voice search is far more user-friendly & comfortable One common way to search: by voice
  26. 26. When are voice commands used and why? Phonecalls, online searches, navigation & reminders are the most common use cases Source: Stone Temple, Voice Search Usage 2017 ( Main reason for use: it's faster and way easier than typing!
  27. 27. The differences between "classic" search input and voice search Text vs. voice
  28. 28. Voice search very much resembles a conversation User questions tend to start with how/where/who/what/when/which etc. Text search Voice search Weather How is the weather? Weather in London How is the weather today in London? Gas station Where can I find the nearest gas station? Breakfast in Munich Where can I eat breakfast in Munich? Siblings Sebastian Vettel Who are the siblings of Sebastian Vettel? Founding Bavaria When was Bavaria founded/how old is… ?
  29. 29. Voice search very much resembles a conversation Text searches usually consist of 1-3 words; voice searches often consist of 10+ words Source: Bing / Cortana Data provided by:
  30. 30. OK, Google!
  31. 31. OK Google, how does this work? The voice command "OK Google, Peak Ace AG" results in: ”Peak Ace AG is located in Berlin, Leuschnerdamm 13, 1.689 kilometres away."
  32. 32. OK Google, how does this work? Google assistant reads the names of the first three results followed by "and more“.
  33. 33. mark-up for structured data Far more than just Google, because Bing (Yahoo) and Yandex are also included! More:
  34. 34. For the sake of completeness...there's more: Facebook open graph tags (og:title/og:description/og: image/…) Twitter cards (twitter:card/twitter:creator/…) JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) Old: microformats (hCard/hCalendar/…) Old: RDFa (and various variations) Etc.
  35. 35. helps us to understand the contents of a page I want to live in a world where schema is not that important, but currently, we need it. If a team at Google recommends it, you probably should make use of it, as schema helps us understand the content on the page, and it is used in certain search features (but not in rankings algorithms).” Source: Gary Illyes @ SMX East NY 2017 (
  36. 36. mark-up Labelling of company-specific information such as address, telephone, etc. More:
  37. 37. There is a mark-up for almost everything: Creative works: books, movies, music recordings, recipes, TV series etc. Embedded objects: audio objects, image objects, video objects. Events, places, local businesses, restaurants, etc. Organisations, people, webpages, etc. Products, offers, aggregate offers, reviews, aggregate ratings, etc. E.g. for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry: health & medical entities.
  38. 38. Brand new: Structured mark-up for marking elements that are particularly important for voice search commands/results. More: […] indicates (typically via xpath/cssSelector) sections of a document that are highlighted as particularly speakable.”
  39. 39. Google just implemented this in BETA: Currently only available for “validated” news publishers! Don’t forget to fill out the submission form, for now manual approval is needed. Adding markup allows search engines […] to identify content to read aloud […]. Webpages with speakable structured data can use the Google Assistant to distribute the content through new channels […] Google Assistant uses speakable structured data to answer topical news queries on smart speaker devices.” Implementation guide:
  40. 40. Security is a massive topic with interconnected IoT devices Researchers show Alexa “skill squatting” could hijack voice commands! Researchers demonstrated that audio embedded in a video soundtrack, music stream, or radio broadcast could be modified to trigger voice commands in automatic speech-recognition systems without being detected by a human listener. Source:
  41. 41. Answers questions, solves problems and provides assistance Conversational search
  42. 42. Direct/instant answer as an Infobox Only "indirect" optimisation possible, the data comes from Wikipedia, Freebase, internal Google knowledge graphs or partnerships.
  43. 43. A result is promoted to position #0 above the SERP! Featured snippets
  44. 44. Featured snippets are selected from within the top-10 (20) Place #1 is not a must!
  45. 45. Featured snippet: the answer is highlighted from the SERP Difference to the infobox: addition of a blue link and additional URL Lists (+image)Text (+image)
  46. 46. Featured snippet: the answer is highlighted from the SERP Difference to the infobox: addition of a blue link and additional URL Mixed typesTables (2/3 cols)
  47. 47. How do I get Google to select my URL? Keyword- & topic research (incl. “often searched for“) on products, services, etc. Find the most relevant questions about the seed keyword-set. Short answers (50-60 words per question) are sufficient; answers need to be on page. Content must be easy to understand (lists, subheadings, tables). Structured data (e.g., etc.) where it fits semantically. Branding and call-to-action.
  48. 48. All you need to know about featured snippets: Don‘t miss Izzy Smith’s great presentation on SlideShare! Source:
  49. 49. Structured data is not an absolute necessity Source: If you really want them I’d just use structured data – it’s cleaner.”
  50. 50. Google to launch Q&A, FAQ and How-To verticals Don’t miss the new markup from including HowTo, QAPage & FAQPage* Source: Google Dance Singapore, Aug. 2018 ( & We’ve recently introduced new ways to help users understand whether responses on a given Q&A or forum site could have the best answer for their question. By bringing a preview of these answers onto Search, we’re helping our users more quickly identify which source is most likely to have the information they’re looking for. * Beware: This is currently in closed BETA, usage does not guarantee inclusion!
  51. 51. Google is going to make audio files searchable The next big thing: audio SEO?
  52. 52. You‘ve all seen this Assistant demo from Google IO? Agreed, it looked partially recorded – still though, it‘s a fairly impressive concept! Source:
  53. 53. What Google podcasts currently experience in search: The new Google podcast strategy is aiming to double audiences worldwide Source: Podcasts will show up in Google Search as a “first-class citizen” alongside the text, image, and video results you are used to seeing. Your podcast listening experience will be seamless across devices and contexts thanks to Google Assistant. Google’s understanding of speech and language will open doors, bringing futuristic features to life.
  54. 54. Make sure to follow Google’s guidelines for podcasts Audio SEO? Right now it’s just discovery through good old XML/RSS feeds… Source:
  55. 55. That's what some people might call coincidence… And yes, it‘s only possible to do using DoubleClick! Sources: &
  56. 56. We shouldn't entirely disregard "the screen" yet Ensure multi-device compatibility
  57. 57. The average consumer uses five different devices It’s unrealistic to build & maintain a website adapted for all devices – one for iPad and then different pages for all smartphone screen resolutions Sources: & 90% of all users start online tasks on one device and finish them on another.
  58. 58. From an SEO viewpoint, there are various benefits! Responsive design
  59. 59. Responsive design offers several advantages <picture> ▪ Firstly: it displays content in different ways, depending on the resolution (device). ▪ Best practice: first, design the smallest viewport and then work upwards. Pay attention to portrait and landscape formats! ▪ E.g. pictures: best possible size, resolution & format. The new <picture> element is a perfect starting point, but there are many other solutions, e.g. "fluid images" adapted to your container.
  60. 60. Done right, it’s a good base for “mobile first indexing” CrawlingIndexing RankingMobile Mobile first indexing concerns Google preferring and organising cross-device content in such a way that it can be easily queried and displayed across many different devices.
  61. 61. What about desktop-only sites? How to deal with common mobile site patterns such as tab switches, carousels, etc.? Source: SMX Advanced 2017, Seattle For desktop-only sites, indexing stays the same, however crawling will be done using a mobile UA: “we will index mobile content, only if you don’t have anything we will index desktop content – no one will fall out!” Can I use accordion tabs, hidden tabs,etc. on my mobile site? Google is going to assign them the same value as non-hidden content. Illyes said, Google is going to ensure that: “hidden content is not valued less on a mobile site.” + - + Lorem Ipsum dolor Lorem Ipsum dolor Lorem Ipsum dolor Lorem Ipsum dolor Lorem Ipsum dolor Lorem Ipsum dolor
  62. 62. Site- & content-parity is absolutely crucial! Make sure desktop & mobile are in sync; content, annotations, etc. Source: SMX Advanced 2017, Seattle What if the mobile site has less content compared to the desktop site? Ranking will be based on the “shorter” content! (Basically, you need to ensure that whatever you want to rank for will be present on mobile).
  63. 63. Don‘t do this: Zoopla desktop vs. mobile Important content on m-subdomain is missing – shortly, maybe also some rankings?
  64. 64. Some tips to make sure you are ready for MFI: I did a webinar on MFI together with DeepCrawl - make sure to not miss our massive write-up which covers loads of additional questions: More: &
  65. 65. August 1st update, anyone? Google is not only busy with mobile!
  66. 66. Google has been really, really busy this year: According to Marie Haynes, more than 20+ changes in 2018 regarding quality! Full list:
  67. 67. Here are the top-5 areas I’d focus on: Stop chasing the algorithm!
  68. 68. Don’t let the user think about how to use your site! #1 Use known principles
  69. 69. Evergreen: pay attention to usability Follow basic and known usability principles for good readability Bad readability Good readability
  70. 70. Evergreen: pay attention to usability Follow basic and known usability principles for good click ability Not click-friendly Click friendly
  71. 71. User communication: comprehensibility of language Communicate clearly and find common ground with the audience Scientific expression: User language: Liverpool impressed all in attendance with a 65% shooting percentage and therefore succeeded to curve the circular ball three times at the designated target.” Goooaaalll! The final was a real showdown that will go down in history. After 90 intense minutes against tough Real Madrid, Liverpool won 3-0!”
  72. 72. Stick to proven methods and conventions Don't try to reinvent the wheel - it won’t make it any better On the other hand, don't blindly follow trends without questioning them either.” Hardly noticeable desktop navigation Expected place for desktop navigation
  73. 73. Become a high-level concierge for your user! #2 Be convenient
  74. 74. Personalisation: customised experience reduces effort Shorter funnel due to providing a highly relevant entry-point (last used functionality) 2nd visit: personalised1st visit: not personalised The user visited the car insurance section before, therefore the home page is personalised on the 2nd visit.
  75. 75. Perception vs. expectation: don‘t make them think! Any guesses why #3 doesn‘t rank #1 for “Schlafzimmer“? Do you want “this” when searching for new bedroom furniture? #1 #2 #3
  76. 76. Performance = user experience! #3 Be fast
  77. 77. Revisited: page speed (load time) is a ranking factor Surprise, surprise; now also on mobile! Sources: &
  78. 78. Google loves site speed and keeps pushing for faster sites This is NOT a photoshopped screenshot, just saying!
  79. 79. Please don’t forget your desktop now; both are relevant! Especially for responsive sites, this can be a massive challenge! With the mobile first index, will desktop rankings use mobile page speed instead of desktop page speed? No […] as mentioned […], while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.” Source: Google spokesperson (
  80. 80. Make sure to get the basics right! Use my checklists on SlideShare to double check: All slides on SlideShare: Optimise images: reduce overhead for JPGs & PNGs (metadata, etc.),request proper sized images and try new formats. Implement effective caching and compression. Whenever possible, use asynchronous requests. Decrease the size of CSS, JavaScript & HTML files (minify). Use a content distribution network (CDN) / an asset server (as well as cookie-less domains) to optimise parallel requests. Lean mark-up (no comments, use inline CSS / JS only where necessary or useful). Consider (DNS) pre-fetching & pre-rendering if feasible. Watch (& optimise) for TTFB. Don’t forget your back-end architecture / systems (e.g. DB, webserver etc.).
  81. 81. Understanding searchers‘ intent is more important than ever! #4 Have the right content
  82. 82. Content still matters (a lot)! Even Google’s John Mueller recommends adding content, e.g. to image-heavy sites […] especially without a lot of explanation, that’s going to make ranking really, really hard. […] What I’d recommend there is to find a way to get more content onto the page.”
  83. 83. Please be aware: every niche/vertical is different! Source:
  84. 84. Don‘t waste Google’s resources! #5 Be efficient
  85. 85. Example: furniture vertical pre-/post update performance Daily visibility trends according to Sistrix Toolbox (desktop, DE) Source: Sistrix Toolbox
  86. 86. Let’s add some (page) efficiency to the mix: The page efficiency index (PEI) is a pretty solid metric to visualise the effectiveness of an indexation strategy (or lack thereof) More on PEI: Domain Indexed Pages Visibility (03/08/18) PEI (03/08/18) Post Update (05/08/18) 11,200 25.56 228.21 +12% 20,900 14.56 69.67 +9% 50,500 20.12 39.84 +5% 9,200 3.10 33.70 -18% 110,000 20.94 19.04 -49% 168,000 7.10 4.23 -21% 248,000 4.47 1.80 -22%
  87. 87. Build your own indexation quality check list: It‘s usually so much more than just looking at one single problem / metric! Different “no result pages” (no comments for product A, no ratings for product B, etc.). Empty or almost empty category / tag / other type of listing pages. Incorrectly implemented paginations (use rel-next/prev, generally page 2+ must not be indexed). Pay attention to facetted navigation (because of the multitude of combinations) as well as ordering / filtering. Generally, weak pages (very little main content, e.g. 1-2 sentences, an image), e.g. user profiles, etc. Several versions of one page/URL (e.g. index.php vs. “/” or non-www vs. www or https vs. non-https). Internal site search (SERP in SERP quality issues). Etc.
  88. 88. We’re hiring! 30+ performance marketing jobs in Berlin! Come and say “hello” or apply via We look forward to talking to you! Always looking for talent! Check out
  89. 89. Bastian Grimm e-mail me > Want the deck? ALWAYS LOOKING FOR TALENT! CHECK OUT JOBS.PA.AG WINNER