Paralympics 2018 Google doodle marks the start of the winter games in PyeongChang

Today’s Google doodle marks the start of the 2018 Paralympics that begin in PyeongChang today and will continue over the next 10 days.

More than 80 countries will be represented at this year’s Paralympics, and more than 80 medals will be awarded to the winning athletes.

According to the Google Doodle blog, there are more women competing in this year’s Paralympic games than any previous games: “Over 670 athletes, including more female athletes than ever before, have the chance to show their skills after years of hard work and training.”

Leading to a search for “Paralympics 2018,” the doodle is an animated image highlighting the athletes who will compete in a number of winter competitions, including alpine skiing, biathlon, snowboarding and wheelchair curling.

The original Paralympic competitions started more than 100 years ago, according to, with the first sport clubs for deaf athletes in Berlin dating back to 1888. The competitions for athletes with disabilities became more popular following World War II, offering veterans who had been injured during wartime a chance to compete.

The first official Paralympic Games took place in 1960, in Rome, Italy, with 400 athletes representing 23 different countries. The first Paralympic Winter Games came more than 16 years later, when Örnsköldsvik, Sweden hosted winter competitions for the athletes. The Paralympic Games now rank as the second-biggest sporting event in the world.

Today’s doodle follows the 17 Olympic Winter Game doodle series that Google ran throughout last month’s Olympic competitions.

The post Paralympics 2018 Google doodle marks the start of the winter games in PyeongChang appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Paralympics 2018 Google doodle marks the start of the winter games in PyeongChang


Google tests showing answers under ‘people also ask’ feature

Google is now testing a new feature within the “people also ask” search results box.

Instead of just showing additional questions people might ask around a query you entered into the search results, Google is now testing showing a snippet of the answer directly below the question.

Sergey Alakov noticed it and posted this screen shot of it:

This is what you normally see — the questions without the answers:

I personally cannot replicate this, but I am not surprised Google is testing it.

The post Google tests showing answers under ‘people also ask’ feature appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Google tests showing answers under ‘people also ask’ feature

Google My Business adds ‘women-led’ icon & attribute to business listings

Women-led businesses can now add a new icon and label to their Google Maps or local listing in Search by going to their Google My Business profile and adding the “women-led” attribute under their “info” section. After they add the attribute, a new “women-led” icon will appear in the business attributes section of their business listing.

Here is how it will look:

To add this icon to your business listing, go to Google My Business and select your business. Then click on the “info” tab on the left-hand side, scroll down to the “Add Attributes” section and click on the pencil icon. A new window will pop up letting you click on the “+ Women-led” button to apply it to your business listing.

Here is a screen shot:

Google announced this the day before International Women’s Day.

The post Google My Business adds ‘women-led’ icon & attribute to business listings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Google My Business adds ‘women-led’ icon & attribute to business listings

Google’s updated SERP snippet length: What should be your SEO strategy now?

On December 1st, 2017, Barry Schwartz reported on Search Engine Land that Google had officially confirmed a change to how it displays text snippets in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Barry wrote,

“A Google spokesperson told us: ‘We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.’

These snippets are the blurbs of text displayed in Google’s SERPs along with the clickable blue text and the page URL.

A quick Google search corroborates this – let’s use the query “how were the pyramids built” as an example:

In the screenshot above, you can see that where Google would previously display a snippet approximately 150-165 characters long including spaces (give or take, you can see it varies now and it varied before Google made the change too), but now they’re much longer.

The text snippet Google shows in the SERP is *supposed* to be (more on this later) the contents of the meta description tag in the HTML of the page – let’s check each of these page’s actual meta descriptions and their lengths.

Here they are, in the same order as above:

  • There are no photographs of the pyramid being built, and the engineers didn’t leave detailed blueprints. [Length:109]
  • The ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids may have been able to move massive stones by transporting them over wet sand. [Length:122]
  • No meta description specified in the HTML
  • No meta description specified in the HTML
  • Here’s everything you need to know about the incredible Egyptian pyramids. [Length:74]

Two things jump out right away.

  1. Google is not displaying the page’s actual meta description as the SERP snippet for these specific listings for this specific query, even when the meta description is specified in the HTML, but instead is being pulled directly from the text that appears at or near the top of the page.
  2. The length of the snippets is longer than the length that Google previously displayed, congruent with Google’s confirmation that they’re showing longer SERP snippets.

Here’s how that breaks down for the above query, again in the same order as the SERP listing screenshot above:

  • The first sentence of the text is used as the SERP snippet
  • The first sentence of the text is used as the SERP snippet
  • The H1 page headline, followed by ellipses ( … ), followed by the second, third, and fourth sentences on the page in the first paragraph (skipping the first sentence in the first paragraph) are used as the SERP snippet.
  • The first and second sentences, and part of the third, are used as the SERP snippet
  • The first and second sentences, the image ALT attribute (or the image caption, they’re both the same text), plus text via HTML code associated with the image, “Getty – Contributor” (<div class=”article__credit”>Getty – Contributor</div>)

Checking a number of other queries returned similar observations about what Google is using as the SERP snippet, but note that some SERP snippets were indeed taken from the actual meta description.

For example, in the SERP for a query for musician “Todd Rundgren”, this SERP snippet is obviously taken directly from the meta description:

For many other queries I performed, both commercial and non-commercial in query intent, it turned up a mix of SERP snippet sources – primarily either text on the page or the actual meta description specified in the HTML, and in some cases via image ALT attribute, and occasionally from some other bit of code in the HTML.

On mobile devices, the SERP snippets were very similar, in many cases the same as on desktop.

The SERP orders were slightly different, so yes, there’s going to be ranking variations based on various factors (it’s well known that Google can and will alter the SERPs you see based on your search history, geo-location, query type, your previous interaction with SERPs, etc.).

However, the overall scheme of the SERP snippets remained constant – text was taken mostly from either the first paragraph of the page, or the meta description, and in some cases the image ALT attribute, and occasionally from other text in the HTML code.

Dr. Pete Meyers over at Moz conducted research late last year on 89,909 page-one organic results.

Pete noted that the average SERP snippet was 215 characters long with the median length at 186, and he was quick to point out that, “big numbers are potentially skewing the average. On the other hand, some snippets are very short because their Meta Descriptions are very short”.

Pete also noted no significant differences between desktop and mobile snippet lengths, sometimes seeing mobile snippets longer than desktop snippets.

For sure the actual SERP snippet you see, and the length, will vary by query type.

What is going on here?

Google is trying to satisfy searchers.

Yes, traditionally the idea was that Google would pull the SERP snippet from the meta description, but for years now Google has been using whatever text its algorithms determine makes the most sense based on the user’s query.

Not all sites – for example, Wikipedia and another we saw above – don’t even make use of the meta description tag in the HTML of their pages, so what’s a poor search engine to do in that case?

Similarly, what if the meta description is badly written, or spammy-sounding with lots of keyword stuffing, or doesn’t well-reflect the page’s theme and topic(s)?

So that’s what’s going on here – Google evolved over time to use whatever it deems makes the most sense to a user performing a certain query.

Wait: What the heck is a meta description, anyway?

Meta descriptions are HTML code that Google understands, and that is meant to provide a synopsis of the page.

Here’s an example:

<meta name=”description” content=”A description of the page” />

This code goes between the <head></head> tags of the HTML and is not displayed on the visible content that a user would see.

Do meta descriptions impact SEO?

Meta descriptions will not impact rankings.

But, if Google does use a page’s meta description as the SERP snippet, that can impact click-through from the SERP.

That’s because a well-written meta description that is compelling, relevant to the page, and relevant to the query or queries for which the page is ranking, can impact organic traffic.

And that can have a downstream impact on conversions (the desired actions you want website visitors to take – fill out a form, buy something, and so on).

Poorly written meta descriptions, if used as the SERP snippet, can have the opposite effect and discourage the user to click through to your page, and instead go to your competitors.

So, what should be your strategy now that Google has increased the SERP snippet length?

In summary, you could do any of the following:

  • Do nothing at all
  • Rewrite longer meta descriptions for all your pages
  • Rewrite longer meta descriptions for some of your pages (e.g. your top ten or twenty organic landing pages, or some pages you determine have low click-thru rates)
  • Delete all your meta descriptions
  • Audit your site’s content to ensure that the first text on your page is compelling, uses keywords congruent with how someone would search for your content, ensure the first paragraph contains at least 300-350 characters of text including spaces, and front-load the first 150 characters in case google changes back to shorter snippets in the future.

What you decide to do (or not do) will at least in part hinge upon resources you have available to make changes.

Don’t take a “set it and forget it” attitude with your website’s content and your meta descriptions. It’s common for businesses to put in a fair amount of work into their website, then just let it go stale.

A good recommendation here would be to cycle through this stuff on a regular basis – think quarterly or a couple times per year. Once per year at a minimum.

Here’s what I recommend

First, it should be obvious that your page’s textual content is for humans to consume, and that should always be your primary consideration.

You’ve heard the phrase “dance like no one’s watching” – well, write like Google doesn’t exist. But Google does exist, and their mission is satisfied users (so that people continue to use their service and click on ads) – Google is chasing satisfied users and so should you.

The refrain of “write great content” has been used ad nauseum. The only reason I’m mentioning the whole “write for your users” thing is simply because often people focus primarily on “how do I SEO my pages?” instead of “what’s good for my users?”.

Okay, with that out of the way and forefront in your mind, here’s what I recommend. Adjust this according to your specific needs – your industry, your users – don’t just take this as a cookie-cutter approach.

And, do this on the time frame that makes the most sense and works for you and the resources you have available to you to make changes to your site. If you haven’t looked at your page content and meta descriptions in a year or more, then this is a higher priority for you than if you refreshed all that 60 days ago.

Meta descriptions

  • Make them about 300-320 characters long, including spaces
  • Make the meta description super-relevant to the page text
  • Front-load the first 150-165 characters with your most-compelling text – compelling to your users who might see the text as a SERP snippet (just in case Google decides to shorten them again)
  • Use a call to action if applicable, but don’t be a used car salesman about it – and as appropriate, use action-oriented language
  • Remember WIIFM – what’s in it for me – as applicable, focus on benefits, not features
  • Don’t be deceptive or make promises your page content can’t keep

Keep in mind that Google may not use your meta description as the SERP snippet and may instead use content from your page, likely from the first paragraph.

With that in mind:

Review & refresh your content

  • Make sure the H1 page headline is super-relevant to the page’s topic
  • Include an image (as applicable) that is super-relevant to the page (not one of those dumb, tangentially-related stock images) and craft an excellent and page-relevant image ALT attribute
  • Ensure that your opening paragraph is enticing and practically forces the reader to keep reading – that way if it’s the text used as the SERP snippet, that will capture people’s attention.


My summary is that if you if you haven’t already, please go back and read the whole article – I promise you it’ll be worth it. But I will add one more piece here and that is that ostensibly the type of content you’re creating is going to dictate how you configure your meta descriptions, H1 page headlines, and especially the opening text on the page.

In some cases, it makes sense to use the “how to feed a (Google) hummingbird” technique where you pose the topic’s question and answer it concisely at the top of the page, then defend that position, journalism style, in the rest of the text under that.

Similarly, you may be shooting for a SERP featured snippet and voice-assistant-device answer using bullet points or a numbered list at the top of your content page.

The point is, the guidelines and recommendations I’ve provided for you here are not a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to your meta descriptions and your content. SEO experience, switching your brain into the on position, and a willingness to test, observe, and adjust are all mandatory to achieve the best results.

Google’s updated SERP snippet length: What should be your SEO strategy now?

Search in Pics: Craig Newmark at Google, Snow at NYC office & Women @ Google cupcake

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.

Craig Newmark of Craigslist spoke at Google:

Source: Instagram

Women @ Google cupcake:

Source: Instagram

Snow at the NYC Google office this week:

Source: Instagram

Intersting G art sculpture at Google:

Source: Instagram

When Damian Kulash performed at Google:

Source: Instagram

The post Search in Pics: Craig Newmark at Google, Snow at NYC office & Women @ Google cupcake appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Search in Pics: Craig Newmark at Google, Snow at NYC office & Women @ Google cupcake

Is It Okay To Set The PDFs From RYS Stacks To Be Visible On The Web?

In episode 172 of Semantic Mastery’s weekly Hump Day Hangouts, one viewer asked whether it would be okay to set the pdfs from RYS stacks to be visible on the web?

The exact question was:

Question for the great one, Marco. Got my first two ever RYS stacks from Serpspace in December, and they have definitely impacted G Map rankings. My question is a quality and control question, I noticed the pdf folder has pdfs in them. They were not set to be visible on the web, but only visible to anyone with the shareable link. Is that correct? I made them visible on the Web, but if that’s not good, Id like to know so I can change them back.

RYS stacks are terrific. A must have.

This Stuff Works

Is It Okay To Set The PDFs From RYS Stacks To Be Visible On The Web?

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Winning featured snippets is one of the best ways to get visibility on page one of Google’s SERPs. It’s a competitive environment, though, and there are tons of specific considerations when it comes to increasing your chances of earning that spot. Today’s Whiteboard Friday, number one of an upcoming three-part series, is brought to you by Moz’s resident SEO and mini-pig advocate, Britney Muller. She covers the keyword research you’ll need to do, evaluating your current ranking, and recording relevant data in a spreadsheet with the help of a couple useful tools.

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things discovering featured snippet opportunities. So this is the first part to three videos. So this will be the discover, but we’re also going to have a target and a measure video as well. So really, really excited. It’s going to be a ton of fun. I’m doing it with you, so you’re not going to be alone. It’s going to be this cool thing we all do together.

Part 1 of 3: Discover, target, measure

So for those of you that don’t know what a featured snippet is, it is one of those answer boxes at the top of search results. So let’s say you do a search like, oh, I don’t know, “Are teacup pigs healthy?” which they’re not, super sad. I love pigs. But you’ll get a featured snippet box like this that tells you like, “No, they’re actually starved.” It gives you all this information. So it’s different than something like “People also ask…” boxes or your typical search results.

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

They’re particularly appealing because of the voice search component. So most voice searches come from those featured snippet boxes as well as it just being really appealing in general to have that top spot.

#1 Keyword research

So this process is pretty straightforward. You’re going to start with just your basic keyword research. So you’re also going to focus on questions. A.J. Ghergich did this incredible study write-up, on SEMrush, about featured snippets, where he discovered that around 41% of all featured snippets come from questions, which makes sense. The how questions are really interesting because those results are most likely to result in lists.

Now, lists take both the form of numerical as well as bullets. So something to kind of keep in mind there. But what’s interesting about these lists is that they tend to be a little bit easier to truncate. So if you know that Google is showing 8 results, maybe you go back to your page and you make sure that you have 10. That way it lures people in to click to see the full list. Really interesting there.

#2 Evaluate your current ranking

You also want to evaluate your current ranking for these particular keywords. You want to prioritize keywords based on ones that you rank on page one for. It tends to be much easier to grab a featured snippet or to steal one if you’re also on page one.

#3 Put data into a spreadsheet

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

From there, we’re going to put all of this data and more data into a big spreadsheet so that we can really analyze and prioritize some of these opportunities. So some of the metrics I came up with — feel free to share some ideas below — are your keyword, average monthly search volume, current featured snippet URL, that’s this guy over here. What is that domain authority and page authority? You want to make note of those. Is it a featured snippet hub? This is such a cool term, that A.J. came up with in his article, that essentially coins a featured snippet URL that ranks for 10 or more featured snippet boxes. You probably won’t know this right away, so this might stay blank. But once you start seeing more and more of those same URLs, you might think it’s one of those hubs. It’s kind of cool.

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities

Featured snippet type. Is it a paragraph, a list, or a table? Is there any markup? Is there schema markup? What’s going on, on the page in general? Just sort of scope all that out. What’s your rank? This is actually supposed to be over here. So, again, you want to see if you’re ranking 10 or under on a particular page, hopefully on page 1.

Then is there an image? So the featured snippet images are really interesting, because Google likes to swap them out and remove them and test them and do all this crazy stuff. I got to talk about these images and the tests that I’ve been doing on them on the Two Peas podcast with Brian Childs, part of his MozPod podcast series. It was super fun. I share some secrets in there, so go check it out.

Then what’s the type of image? So typically, you can start to see a theme of a particular niche or industry in their featured snippet images. Maybe they’re all stock photos, or maybe they’re all informational type photos. Maybe they all have the same color. Really interesting to sort of keep an eye on those.

What’s your desired featured snippet URL? This will typically be whatever URL is ranking. But maybe not. Make note of that.

Other notes, you can mention where Google is pulling the featured snippet from that page. I think that stuff is super interesting. You can do all sorts of fun stuff.

Research tools to use

So two primary tools to do all of this research within are Moz Keyword Explorer and SEMrush. Both have some caveats. Moz Keyword Explorer is great because you can do a bunch of keyword research and save them into lists. However, you can’t do keyword research only viewing the keywords that have featured snippets. You can’t do that. You have to do all the keyword research, put it into a list, and then we give you that data.

With SEMrush, it’s pretty cool. You get to filter only by featured snippet keywords. So that, off the bat, is awesome.

However, once you get a keyword list put together in Keyword Explorer, not only do you get that information of whether or not there’s a featured snippet, but right within your list of keywords, you have the ability to add your website and immediately see your rank for all of those particular keywords in your list, making this super, super easy.

I tried to do this with SEMrush. I know they have all of the features necessary to do so. However, it’s just not as easy. You have to use a combination of their different tools within their tool. I hit a couple different limits within Keyword Analyzer, and then by the time I got to position tracking, I lost my search volume from Keyword Magic tool, which was super frustrating.

There might be a better, easier way to do that. Maybe their API are pulling some stuff a little bit differently. Feel free to comment down below. Maybe there’s a better way than either of these. I don’t know. You could also do it pretty manually too. You could use Google Keyword Planner and look some of this stuff up yourself.

But I hope you enjoyed this. Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Thanks.

Video transcription by

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!

Discover Featured Snippet Opportunities – Whiteboard Friday