August 2017: Essential SEO news & Google updates

5 MINUTE READ - 1 Sep 2017

David Broderick
David Broderick
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Want to know how August's biggest digital marketing developments affect you?

To get you up to speed with the latest advances in SEO, we've brought together three of last month's must-read stories, including Google's new user-friendly AMP- and mobile-friendliness tests, Google Maps' makeover, and a report that reveals the state of featured snippets in 2017.

We've also brought together a handful of digital marketing statistics and tweets that you shouldn't miss if you want to stay on top of the search game. Read on to get the scoop on all the biggest SEO stories from August 2017.

Google makes it easier than ever to test mobile-friendliness

Man on iPhone

Google's hotly anticipated switch to a mobile-first index is set to have a serious impact on the world of SEO.

In August, Google gave webmasters a helping hand in adapting to the upcoming mobile-first world by making it easier than ever to test the AMP- and mobile-friendliness of a site's pages.

If you want to try this out, simply search 'mobile friendly' in Google and you'll be met with this handy snippet:

Google mobile friendly test example

Then just hit 'Run test' and Google will analyse your page and tell you if it's mobile-friendly:

Google Mobile friendly result example

If you search 'AMP test', you'll quickly be able to test whether a page's AMP markup is valid too:

Google AMP test example

With Google revealing that nearly a third of smartphone users will immediately switch to another website if yours doesn't satisfy their needs, you'd be well advised to take advantage of these tools and get your website ready for the mobile-first world.

Google Maps gets a makeover

Google Maps questions & answers example

© Google

The Google Maps team had a busy August, launching two new features that could have a big impact on businesses that rely on local SEO.

First, Google launched a 'Questions & answers' section to local business listings on the Android app and mobile browsers. Searchers can browse user-submitted questions and ask their own, answer other users' queries, and upvote useful answers.

As a business owner, you can submit your own frequently asked questions and answers. You'll also receive a notification whenever someone asks a question about your business, so you can respond straight away. Find out more by reading the official Google blog post about the feature.

Another new Maps feature will allow users to add videos to local business listings, according to an announcement on the Google Local Guides forum.

If they're using an Android device, users can upload a video of your attraction or venue that's up to 30 seconds long to help give other searchers an idea of what to expect. This can come in the form of a mini-tour, a short clip of a main attraction, or even a quick review full of tips and recommendations for other visitors.

Here's an example from the Google Local Guides team:

Could these new features negatively affect the traffic to your site from Maps? Only time will tell, but it's easy to imagine how a Google Maps listing full of videos showcasing the best of your venue or attraction and answers to visitors' FAQs could help boost visitor numbers.

Featured snippets are on the rise (and they're being sourced from further down the SERPs)

iPhone next to document

STAT has released a new report that details everything you need to know about the state of featured snippets in 2017. (Not sure what these are? Check out our guide to earning featured snippets on Google.)

According to the report, these coveted spots now appear on 23.25% of Google search results pages (SERPs) — up from 9.28% in January 2016 and 15% in July 2016.

Interestingly, featured snippets aren't always appearing in the top '#0' position these days, with just over 4% appearing in the second position on the SERP.

Lastly, the content in featured snippets seems to be getting sourced from further down the SERP. In January 2016, 66.3% of snippets were sourced from pages sitting in position 2 to 4. Today, the majority — 63.91% — are pulled from content sitting in positions 3 to 5. This means you have a chance of outranking high-authority sites for the knowledge graph with quality content that's been optimised with this SERP feature in mind.

Digital marketing stats

  • Consumers are 131% more likely to buy from a brand after consuming early-stage, educational content from them. (Conductor)
  • 61% of title tags are too long, 53.23% are duplicate content, and 26.33% don't feature enough text. (SEMrush)
  • 'How to' articles receive the most traffic — 22.8% of all the traffic to Sumo customers' most popular content. (Sumo)

Highlights from Twitter

The SEM Post's Jennifer Slegg claims every site should switch to HTTPS for the best SEO results…

…and sets the record straight about what Google regards as 'thin' content:

Moz's Pete Myers spots a signs of Google blending ads and information in the SERP:

Consider yourself up to date with the all the must-know digital marketing news and Google updates from August 2017. Come back next month to discover September's biggest SEO stories, and follow us on  Twitter  and  LinkedIn  for daily digital marketing updates.