Just in Time for the Holidays: Google’s Ecommerce Best Practices for Search

With the holidays just around the corner, every online retailer needs to be prepared for another busy shopping season. Google is helping out by releasing Best practices for ecommerce in Google Search, a guide for developers on how to create a site that works well with Google and can easily be found in organic searches. If you haven’t started prepping for the end of the year, it’s time to get started!

A few important callouts in the guide:

  • Ecommerce content can appear not only on Search and Shopping, but also in Images, Lens, Google My Business, and Maps.
  • Adding product structured data and uploading data to Google Merchant Center can increase your eligibility for product-rich results and free shopping listings.
  • Promote your best categories or products by linking them directly from the home page and/or in other important pages; more links indicate higher relative importance to Google.

If you have questions about ecommerce best practices on Google, talk to your ROI team or request your competitive analysis.

Google Expands Use of MUM

Originally introduced in May, Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) is a technology that uses AI to better understand language and context to create a more comprehensive understanding of information. During the Search On live stream event in late September, the search engine announced that they are expanding the use of MUM, allowing more details and refinement options to be shown in the search results, as well using MUM in Google Lens and to better understand videos.

As the use of MUM expands, we’ve seen greater fluctuations in the search results, which may be caused by AI systems trying to better understand search intent.

Indented Results Roll Out on 40% of SERPs

Are you seeing “secondary” links from the same site indented under the first link in the Google Search results? You’re not the only one.

According to an analysis from Moz, indented results are now appearing on 40% of SERPs. It’s important to note that these indented results are not controllable with schema markup and are not a replacement for site links. While site links do appear to be limited to the #1 position and focus on navigational or branded searches, indented results are broader and include informational queries as well.

There is currently not enough data to know whether indented results will impact click-through rates, but monitoring critical keywords is important to being able to quickly identify potential impacts.

Google: Smart Internal Linking Can Help Google Trust Your Site More

During a conversation with a German startup, Google’s John Mueller reminded us to produce useful, high-quality content that is “not just a recompilation of data that’s already out there.” He went on to discuss the importance of internal linking when it comes to indexing more pages over time. When Google realizes a site has valuable content and you show Google those pages are important through internal linking, your site is likely to be crawled more frequently and deeper pages within your website will be discovered and indexed.

SEO Split-Testing “Moving Description on Category Pages”

In September 2021, SplitSignal, a SEMrush branch, conducted a poll on Twitter to see what users expected the impact would be if websites moved the descriptions on category pages to the bottom of the page, below the product images. 42.1% of respondents expected a positive change; however, it actually had a negative effect (which 31.6% of people guessed correctly). Check out the full case study and its results here!

Intrusive Interstitials Can Affect Ranking, But Not Indexation

We’ve known for years that Google can penalize sites that use intrusive interstitials – popups that block most or all of a web page. But can an intrusive interstitial prevent a page from even being indexed? Recently, Google’s John Mueller was asked that question, and he answered that while the interstitial element could negatively affect ranking, it would not affect the ability of the page to be indexed.

Still, our SEO team recommends you follow Google’s guidelines on interstitial size and placement to avoid penalties and provide a better user experience on your site.

Continuous Scrolling on Mobile SERPs

Google redesigned the mobile search engine results page (SERP) earlier in 2021 and updated it in mid-October with the introduction of continuous scrolling. Rather than the page requiring you to click to see more after a set number results, the next batch will automatically load when you reach the bottom of the page, eventually showing you up to 4 pages of results.

Note that Google clarified on Twitter that this change does not change how position reporting works in Search Console, which reports on average position as if the additional pages were not automatically loaded.

Search Console Testing Tools and URL Inspection Are Now Aligned

Google’s Search Console provides in-depth information to site owners about a site’s indexation and search performance. The Search Console team also manages three standalone tests that are publicly available: AMP, Mobile-Friendly, and Rich Results. On October 11, Google announced that Search Console and the standalone tests are now aligned in design and features, and the following fields are now included in all four tools:

1. Page availability

2. HTTP headers

3. Page screenshot

4. Paired AMP inspection

For more detail on the four newly aligned fields, read Google’s announcement about the change.

Google Search Console Adds New Rich Results Status Reports Errors

In an effort to provide more actionable and useful information to users, Google is adding details to show errors and warnings around rich results. Rich results that are supported in the report include breadcrumb, FAQ, How-to, Job Posting, Sitelinks Searchbox, Video, Product, and many more. Using the new report will help debug issues and improve potential to show up for rich results like images, reviews, drop downs and other non-textual elements on the SERPs.

Google Can Get Confused About Page Intent

John Mueller shares how too much content on category pages can cause confusion as to whether the purpose of the page is transactional or informational, and whether it matches searcher’s intent. A possible solution is to provide only the most important information in a condensed format on an e-commerce category page which then links to an informational page providing more details for the user. Having two separate pages can help Google understand that each page matches a different search intent.