SEO Research

When Google's Intent Targeting Goes Too Far [Case Study]

I'm on the hunt for user intent insights in 2019. I've resolved to make this year about going deep into intent and how Google handles it. Instead of getting into the finer points of user intent and Google's proficiency in meeting it on multiple levels, I'm going to showcase where it doesn't work. Meaning, while I generally think Google's increased ability to parse user intent and pick it apart is a fantastic step forward, it does not work universally. As Google offers users results that would satisfy any number of intents the search engine is going to increasingly be faced with the issue of not meeting any of them adequately. Allow me to demonstrate.

How Diverse is 'People Also Ask'? An Intent Analysis Study

Related Questions, or as most of us know them, People Also Ask (PAA), has developed into one of the more intriguing features on the Google SERP. The feature is both prominent and powerful. This dynamically loading set of what are all but Featured Snippets has the potential to seriously alter a user's search process or search 'journey' if you will.

I wanted to qualify that potential a bit by analyzing what intent looks like inside the PAA box.

  • How many intents are represented by the initial four PAA questions?
  • Does Google prefer to dig deep into one specific topic or does Google prefer to offer a broader topical look with its PAA questions?
  • Does Google give one intent more attention than another?
  • Does Google treat one keyword category and type differently than another in regards to the PAA?

Who & What Was Impacted By Google's March 2019 Core Update?

The first official Google algorithm update of 2019 has arrived! With it, of course, comes much speculation over its enormity as well as what niches and sites were the most impacted. Throw the Medic Update into the mix and we have ourselves quite a bag of potential SEO tinder on our hands here.

However, just how big was this update compared to the Medic Update? Were YMYL sites targeted? Were certain niches more affected than others? Was the March update some sort of reversal? Once the dust settled who were the big winners and losers?

Let's have at it then, shall we?

What Is the Market Share of Featured Snippet URLs? [Study]

To what extent do URLs share a Featured Snippet? What happens when Google uses more than one URL inside a Featured Snippet? Is there one URL that dominates the zero position box? What happens when Google oscillates between more than two URLs - how much visibility does each URL get?

Based on the results of our last Featured Snippet study, which analyzed how often Google changes a URL inside of Featured Snippets, we wanted to know what the market share of a Featured Snippet URL looks like.

Here's what we found.

SERP Features in 2018 - How Stable Were They? [Study]

Whether you score or compete with SERP features, it behooves us to know how stable they are. How consistent is Google with its SERP feature showings? Which features tend to display at consistent levels from one month to the next? Which features are subject to heavy amounts of display fluctuations?

This is your comprehensive look at SERP feature stability, volatility, and consistency. This is your look at SERP feature fluctuations in 2018!

How Often Does Google Change Featured Snippet URLs? [Study]

Scoring Featured Snippets is just one of those SEO topics that has become almost mythological. Getting your URL into a zero position box is the win of all wins. But while we're all talking about winning, Google is shifting URLs in and out of Featured Snippets much the way a disc jockey switches music tracks during a radio broadcast. This, of course, begs the question... how often does Google change URLs within its Featured Snippets?

The Year in SEO Research: Rank Ranger's 2018 SEO Studies

Each and every year we're humbled by the additions we're able to offer to the SEO industry's understanding of the "search environment." Whether it be a deep dive into a Google algorithm update or a case study on Google's use of SERP features, we feel honored to offer a bit of insight into how Google is treating the SERP and so forth. With the year coming to a close, here's a review of the original research Rank Ranger has brought to the forefront of SEO consciousness.

Just How Stable is Rank These Days? A Rank Fluctuation Study

There's this sentiment that rank has become increasingly more volatile. To a large extent, we've chalked this up to machine learning, or RankBrain in specific. That said, what does the current ranking landscape actually look like? How does it differ than the allegedly more stable past? What new ranking dynamics has machine learning left us with? What can we do about them?

Can Google Now Profile Your Site? August's Google Update Post Analysis [Case Study]

Google's early August update was one the most drastic changes I've ever had the 'pleasure' of studying. No site within any niche was safe. Not even the top results on the page could withstand its algorithmic inertia. Amidst the waves of rank fluctuations, a peculiar site pattern emerged, one that had us wondering...

Can Google now profile your site?

Do URLs Inside of Google's Desktop Video Carousel Rank Well on YouTube? [Study]

What's Google showing in the new desktop carousel? Where do the carousel's YouTube URLs rank within YouTube itself? Is the SERP getting the best YouTube has to offer? Can you optimize for YouTube and the desktop video carousel simultaneously? Does top spot YouTube placement guarantee carousel priority? 

I took 155 video carousel keywords and compared the rank of the top 6 cards in each carousel to the URLs rank inside of YouTube - these are my results.

The August 2018 Google Core Update - Surveying the Aftermath

I don't think I need to say that Google's August 2018 broad core update was a big deal. You can judge an update by the buzz it gets... and this update was thunderous. Of course, anyone and everyone is grasping at straws trying to 'figure the update out'. How impactful was the update? Which sites did it hit? What kind of sites were affected? While I can't definitively explain the update (Can anyone?), I did some digging and came back with some small trinkets of algorithmic treasure. Here's what I found.

Google's SERP Features Are on User Intent Steroids! [Case Study]

Have you felt it? Google's SERP features have bulked up and have moved from being a concern to sites ranking organically to being a competitive juggernaut that every SEO needs to constantly consider. Now, the search engine is going all-in with a new tactic: hybrid SERP features that combine elements from multiple features (so as to better hone in on a legion of different user intents). At the same time, it feels like Google is using its "traditional" features to offer a more powerful SERP feature punch these days.

Let's take a walk through the SERP as I've seen it and see what's perhaps going on.



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