Google’s Search Console Update 13/7/17: Why the Change Was So Drastic?

Soon after Google’s recent update about the manner in which impressions and average position are reported in the Google Search Console interface, seasoned webmasters had a trivial panic attack. Quite a handful number of clients at a renowned performance marketing agency saw drastic drops in average position after the update. Check this:

On July 13, 2017 Google confirmed the update:

An incremental improvement in Google’s logging system now provides better accounting for results in lower positions…

And included it in their Search Console Data Anomalies page.

Can you discern anything from the update? We guess not, because the update is quite vague, leaving a lot of room to search for answers about what really happened, what kind of changes took place and why the reports are so much different.

In this blog, we will formulate crucial insights based on a study conducted by a well-renowned research analyst firm pointing out why the change was so drastic and how the firm witnessed a significant increase in the total number of keywords reported per day.

What actually happened?

Owing to the limitations of regular GSC interface, the search engine experts resorted to the Search Analytics API to derive a complete data set in order to peep into from where the drop in average position was coming from. As they were already aware of all the standard engagement metrics of Impressions, CTR, Clicks, and Average Position, they decided to seek through another metric that might reveal them their desirable answers: the total number of unique queries pulled in with the API per day.

What the data revealed?

The highly skilled webmasters decided to select three sites from three different domains that were positioned closest to the median number of ranking queries per day across all the sites for which they stored Google Search Console (GSC) data.

Out of three, two sites witnessed a prominent and consistent increase in the number of ranking keywords dragged from the API per day. In the third site, the average number of ranking queries per day increased post update, but the increase was ambiguous.

Interestingly, the analysts saw a slight decrease in the number of keywords extracted by the API per day for tablet devices: which signifies that though the average percent change was higher than predicted, the total change might not be that remarkable.

So, based on the given information that Google shared, the web-experts were able to come to an assumption: Google is now tracking low ranking keywords more significantly- which eventually drags down average position throughout the site.

Curiously, their data reveals something else:

While there’s been a crisp increase in the number of queries with an average position across the first page of results, one may also see a notable increase in the number of queries reported with ranks in position 10 or better.

On an average, the number of queries ranked in position 10 or better spiked up post the update by around 7.1 percent. On the other hand, the fair number of keywords from position 11 or more increased by about 7.8 percent.

Google Maps’ Ad Traffic Is Steadily Increasing, Here’s How

For the last two years, Google updates have been showing the company’s burgeoning focus on monetizing searches with navigational queries and local intent. Starting from local inventory ads to ads featured in the Local Pack, Google considers local searches to be the fertile ground where more ad conversations can be pinged into.

A similar strategy has been used for Google Maps, where ads generated from location extensions now occupy for searches. The popularity of these ads is immense, supported by a rise in the share of traffic, ascribed to the “Get location details” click type.

Rising ‘Get Location Details’ clicks

Google confirmed that mostly all traffic that is ascribed to the ‘Get Location Details’ is owing to the ads advertised on Maps. Particularly in phones, there’s been a surge in ‘Get Location Details’ traffic and Maps is undeniably becoming a part of a greater share of overall traffic.

Online Conversion Rate will suffer

The likelihood of Google Maps searchers to get converted is very less, as they are more likely to seek out to physical stores. The data says Online Conversation Rate for ‘Get location details’ is comparatively lower than overall conversation rates for branded keywords for an average advertiser.

CPC is likely to spike up

With respect to overall CPC, desktop CPC for ‘Get location details’ is lower. However, on phones, the CPC is 30% higher, and Tablet CPC is way too higher. Interestingly, we find it hard to explain the strange phenomena.

Last Thoughts

Google has kept a lot of things under its hood, for now. Google Maps has a terrific user base and traffic generation. Looking forward, Google is largely focusing on driving ad traffic from searches with local intent, with improved formats, like local inventory ads and Local Pack ads. Hopefully, in future owing to these latest developments, we are going to see some humongous growth associated with traffic share.