Google has been hinting at a major Search Console update for quite a few months now – one that could bring with it some powerful benefits for SEOs. It started in July last year when Google began testing the addition of regular expressions (regex) filters to parts of the Search Console Performance report. If you need a refresher on what a regex is in the context of Google Analytics, check out the Analytics help document. Put simply, regex it’s a sequence of characters that define a search pattern and a way to do advanced search and replace for strings of words or characters.
Regex stuck around in Search Console just long enough to get the SEO community excited about the possibilities, then disappeared as quickly as it arrived. But an updated help document suggested that we hadn’t seen the last of regex.
Fast-forward five months, and site owners still hadn’t forgotten the good old days. In December, Mueller was asked on Twitter if Google had any intention to make the feature permanent. His answer was yes – Google had “a plan” but he was unable to share any additional information.
Now, finally, another four months later, our patience has paid off. In a big win for SEOs (about time), Google has made good on its promise to bring back regular expressions. This will allow site owners to create far more complex query- and page-based filters and capture more data than ever before.
Prior to the update, users were only able to filter queries according to three patterns:
- Containing a string Not containing a string Exactly matching string
But now, SEOs can play around with even more. In Google’s own example shared in a blog about the update, a regex filter would allow a company called “Cats and Dogs” to capture alternative abbreviations for its brand, like “cats & dogs” or even “c&d.” By adding this feature to the Performance report, SEOs can understand more than ever before about organic traffic and how users are searching for them.
But that’s not all. Google has also launched a revamped comparison mode with a better interface (the data table area has nearly doubled, so you can see a lot more information side-by-side) and the ability to support cases where more than one metric was selected. Ready to get familiar with the new and improved Search Console? Check out Matt Southern’s Search Engine Journal (SEJ) blog to get you started.
More SEO News You Can Use
Google’s Product Reviews Update Has Gone Live in Search: A new Google algorithm update is here to give well-researched, in-depth product reviews a boost in Search. Don’t worry – this is not a core update and will only be targeting product reviews. Google said its research shows that users appreciate reviews that share in-depth analysis rather than thin comments and basic summaries. The so-called “product reviews update” is designed to reward such content. A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that reviews with “insightful analysis and original research” and “content written by experts and enthusiasts” would stand to gain the most from the update. In its announcement about the update, Google shared a couple of tips for creating the perfect product review. If it applies to you, now is the time to take advantage of the change.
You Can’t Trick Google by Changing the Date on Your Content and Pretending It’s Current. In a recent Search Central office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller addressed the topic of publishing dates on web pages, specifically, changing these dates without making any significant updates to the actual content. Mueller said that changing the date has absolutely no ranking benefit if the content remains the same – the algorithm doesn’t work that way, so it’s not a viable shortcut. Sure, you can do it, and there’s no harm in it, but it isn’t exactly doing any good either. Keep at it if the benefit is peace of mind, but maybe the best idea would be to follow Mueller’s advice: Only change the date when you’ve made significant changes to a web page. Otherwise, leave it be.
This Is How Long It Takes To Re-rank a Site When Quality Issues Have Been Fixed: In the same hangout, Mueller was asked how long Google takes to re-crawl and re-rank a site where major website changes have been made (because if there’s one thing we love, it’s some instant gratification). Mueller pondered the question but was unable to give a set timeframe. Instead, he shared the process Google goes through to handle these changes. The re-crawling stage of a large site with significant changes is time-consuming in itself – Mueller suggested this could take around one month. After that initial step, it would take Google a few months to recognize and understand that a website has significantly improved and re-rank it. The entire process, Mueller said, would likely take around 3-4 months. It’s not a quick fix but, as SEJ’s Roger Montti points out, it’s a good idea for SEOs to understand the process and be able to communicate it to clients.
Google Shares Tips for Increasing Offline Sales: Advice for selling more products offline at your local store has come from an unlikely source. Local search and physical sales go hand-in-hand, so Google has shared a few optimization tips in a comprehensive guide for local businesses to create more sales. The guide should enable local business owners to understand how consumers are searching for local businesses, be it restaurants or retail. Google’s guide also revealed some fascinating stats, like the fact that “local” + “business” searches have grown by 80 percent year over year and “who has” + “in stock” searches by 8,000 percent. These substantiate Google’s biggest piece of advice: “Let customers know you’re close and that you have what they’re looking for.” The guide shares tips for achieving exactly this, so be sure to check it out and (hopefully) boost your sales.
Here Are 50 Questions You Need To Ask To Optimize Your Website Effectively: Is your website working hard enough for you, or could it use a couple of tweaks? There are plenty of SEO guides out there to help you optimize your website, but few are as comprehensive as Brian Harnish’s viral SEJ blog, “50 Questions You Must Ask To Evaluate the Quality of Your Website.” Harnish addresses SEO best practices from every possible angle, giving us the impetus to step back and ask: “Is my website actually good? The blog shares actionable tips for every one of the 50 points, so it’s not just the questions you need to ask but an explanation of how to achieve the answers you want. Set aside 30 minutes and read through the blog, ticking off all 50 questions. You may be surprised at what you learn about your website along the way.