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Google Goes Stealth with the Nov. 2019 Local Update

December 4, 2019   |  
Posted by
Shay Harel

Did you blink? Because for those who did you will have missed Google’s clandestine algorithm replace that mystified not solely the search engine marketing trade however each single rank fluctuation climate tracker! What occurred and the way did the instruments all miss this one? How impactful was this stealth replace? What did it should do with native outcomes?

We’ll cowl the newest replace incarnation in addition to modifications and checks to the SERP that introduced Google’s journey domination to all-new ranges, kicked Featured Snippet URLs out of the natural outcomes, and gave recipe hunters one much less cause to click on in your web site! 

It’s on. Welcome to the December version of the SERP News! 

SERP News December 2019 Banner

Getting the Scoop on November’s Stealthy Google Algorithm Update  

On November eleventh, studies of a Google update hitting the SERP began rolling in. SEOs of all types began taking to Twitter exhibiting all types of untamed rating losses typical of your common Google replace. Yet, regardless of all the rating noise inside the trade, our Rank Risk Index that measures rank fluctuations was quiet and so had been all of the different “weather tools.” 

Nov. 2019 Rank Fluctuations
The full set of rank fluctuations picked up by the Rank Risk Index in November 

How might that be? How might or not it’s that there have been so many people seeing such drastic modifications in rank with none of the instruments choosing it up? Pretty weird. 

On a current episode of The In Search search engine marketing Podcast I discussed that we did a little bit of brainstorming round this. While there have been definitely numerous huge rank shakeups, the total motion was very gradual. That is, we noticed numerous websites shifting up/down a place or two over a 2 – 3 day interval. That kind of progressive rank motion makes for a extra stealth-like Google replace. A rank fluctuation climate instrument tracks fluctuation will increase by analyzing the present rank volatility ranges to these exhibited on the SERP in the current previous. If the total fluctuation ranges had been very gradual, it might take a while for such instruments to recalibrate and develop into delicate to that kind of progressive rank motion. Hence, this may very well be why the instruments didn’t choose up on this replace as they often do. 

Google backhandedly admitted that November has been oddly risky when John Mueller stated he did not think “links” to be behind the ranking adjustments. This volatility continued as November waned with the Rank Risk Index exhibiting excessive ranges of rank volatility as of November twenty seventh. It was definitely fairly an odd month for rank volatility, that’s for positive. 

The November ‘Stealth’ Update and Result Chunking

Yes, you will discover in the H3 above, I’ve dubbed this the ‘November Stealth Update.’ 

Now, being that we didn’t analyze sufficient information for me to name this conclusive, the above is just not conclusive, although it makes good sense. It makes much more sense when you think about the timing of the replace relative to a different change to the SERP. 

On November twelfth, as in in the future after the Stealth Update was unearthed and nonetheless in progress, people began to note that Google was chunking results from the same domain (the place a site had a number of web page one outcomes) collectively in a single ‘card’ on cellular. That is, as a substitute of one in all the area URLs rating say #3 and one other #10 on the SERP, Google mixed them by putting each outcomes inside one cellular card. 

While this was first seen on cellular, the similar can be taking place on desktop. And regardless of the preliminary studies exhibiting such consequence “chunks” to be onerous to search out they appear way more widespread at this level. 

And this has to do with the Stealth Update how precisely? 

Easy, Google chunking a site’s web page one URLs means a good quantity of micromovements and fewer extreme rating actions (i.e., pages shifting 7 positions versus 70) had been made at the very same time that the Stealth Update hit the SERP. Coincidence? Seriously? No! 

The Release of the November 2019 Local Update

There’s one other constituency who weighed in on Google’s clandestine replace. Local search engine marketing nice Joy Hawkins dubbed this replace the Bedlam Update stating that the native world additionally noticed massive quantities of rank volatility. 
Per Joy, the native search engine marketing world noticed vital rank modifications circa November fifth with the fluctuations seen nearer to mid-November representing a reversal (or an accentuation of earlier features/losses). Further, the replace appeared to hone in on native relevancy with Google exhibiting native websites for queries that weren’t reflective of their main enterprise class.  

Joy very a lot appears to have been appropriate as a result of on December 2nd Danny Sullivan introduced the November 2019 Local Update. Per Danny, Google had been making use of neural matching to native outcomes since early November. This would clarify why the replace targeted on relevancy vs. proximity (as neural matching has nothing to do with proximity per se). The implementation of neural matching on the native entrance might have helped contribute to the climate instruments lacking this replace as such modifications might have been fairly nuanced.   

That stated, I do not suppose all of the rating motion seen throughout the month was associated to the November 2019 Local Update as the websites that confirmed nice volatility weren’t relegated simply to native verticals. It’s price noting that Google has typically stated it piggybacks a number of modifications with the roll-out of a major algorithmic change. Just one more reason to name the “non-local” side of the replace, the Stealth Update! 

The SERP Roundup for November 2019 


Major checks and modifications to the Google SERP got here our means in November! From Google providing classes on pronunciation to the risk of Google abandoning its Reserve with Google companions… this is all that hit the SERP over the course of the month. 

Local search engine marketing Updates: From Hotel Filters to Local Pack Image Carousels 

With a bunch of attention-grabbing checks, modifications, and a few downright juicy gossip popping out of Google’s native realm, November was a critical month for native modifications.  

More Hotel Filters and Travel Planning Features 

More hotel filters have been added to Google’s journey planner web site. Towards the finish of November, some search engine marketing people beginning reporting on new filters and reserving options on Google’s journey web site (which is often accessed through the Local Pack and the like).

For occasion, there’s now a set of lodge choice filters entitled Where to remain, When to go to, and What you will pay

These options provide a plethora of knowledge to customers. For instance, underneath the Where to remain filter you will note a metropolis’s prime neighborhoods with an outline of every space alongside with prime sights inside it as properly. The space can be mirrored on the accompanying map, as it’s beneath: 

Google Travel Where to Stay Filter

The When to go to filter presents info on the common temperature of the location on a monthly foundation. The info right here additionally contains how bustling a metropolis is with vacationers every month and the way costly the inns are typically typically: 

Google Travel When to Visit Filter

Lastly, the What you will pay function signifies the common value of a lodge inside a location on a “star-rating” foundation: 

Google Pay Travel Filter

All-in-all, the new filters characterize a TON of latest info to assist steer customers in direction of the finest lodging choices out there. That stated, the timing couldn’t be worse for journey websites as November noticed Expedia’s stock take a hard hit with some attributing it to Google’s concentrate on journey information. 

At the similar time, it additionally appears that Google is extra closely testing a brand new part inside its journey web site providing lodge and flight packages with some markets acquiring the part and a few not. This is similar to what the conventional journey websites provide after they help you seek for a flight and lodge collectively. 

Google Travel Packages

Google’s journey web site providing a mix of flights and inns as a part of one journey package deal 

Local Pack Image Carousels


An early November check had Google working image carousels within its Local Pack. The experiment offered a carousel of product photos showing beside every Local Pack itemizing. In the case discovered, which mirrored a restaurant, I might think about the photos to be fairly influential on person habits. As against a typical scenario the place the person would discover photos solely after clicking on a list (and subsequently reaching the listings enterprise panel) these photos provided customers an on the spot take a look at how appetizing the institutions appear to be.  

Could Google Be Throwing Its ‘Reserve with Google’ Partners to the Wind? 

The Reserve with Google program, which helps you to do issues like e book a desk at a restaurant through the Local Panel, could also be headed for a significant change. Local search engine marketing professional Mike Blumenthal observed that inside Google My Business the search engine was itemizing itself as a reserving supplier. The transfer could be a significant shift in the present native panorama. Such a change might imply that Google would cost companies immediately for the service which is one thing I’ve been saying is coming for a very long time now. That’s why, to me at the least, Google shifting on from its suppliers (both partially or utterly) makes a great deal of sense. 

The Dictionary Box Gets Dynamic

Two actually attention-grabbing modifications to Google’s Dictionary Box SERP function. The first has images being added to certain dictionary results. From what I can see the photos solely have a tendency to look for easy nouns and for some very primary verbs. I assume for an English language learner the photos can be useful.  

Dictionary Box Images

Google’s Dictionary Answer Box exhibiting photos that when clicked on enlarge to overlay the SERP

Also useful to English language learners, Google has given the Dictionary Box the energy of AI! Users can record their pronunciation of a word with Google offering feedback

Here’s a take a look at the ingredient’s efficiency once I determined to check out my finest imitation of my father’s Brooklyn accent: 

Recipe Previews for Fewer Clicks? 

Spotted on the November SERP was a check providing customers one much less cause to click on on a web site’s URL. In this occasion, mobile recipe cards were spotted with a preview button. Utilizing the preview introduced up a card that confirmed some primary info on the recipe, akin to the components. The preview card did have a CTA telling customers to go over to the related web site. That stated, these types of options conjure up all types of “clickless fears.” 

Recipe Preview Feature

A preview overlay for a recipe that was examined on the SERP in November (Image Source: through Sergey Alakov)

In this occasion, I might argue the fears will not be unsubstantiated. Without the preview, the person needed to head over to the web site to see the required components and who is aware of how a web site might entice the person to remain and make the most of the recipe. With the preview, a person might merely transfer on based mostly on seeing the mandatory components. 

Recipe Rich Result Bug Persists 

Since early November, Google has had a troublesome time constantly exhibiting the image thumbnail that generally accompanies recipe rich results. This signifies that once you search to make Aunt Shirley’s well-known pecan pie you will not see a mouthwatering picture coercing you to click on in lots of situations. 

As of the nice culinary occasion generally known as Thanksgiving, the bug had yet to be fixed (and remains to be not mounted as of this writing to my information). The solely recourse you’ve got, if affected, is to have Google recrawl your pages and index them through the Google URL Inspection Tool. Good luck doing that at scale. 


Google Ads Tests a Comparison Tool & the Colorless Ad Label 


Here’s a loopy one for you… Google Ads was discovered testing a rental car comparison tool. The entire factor is a bit peculiar. The instrument, which I’ve not been capable of replicate appears to let customers examine automotive rental costs from completely different distributors.  

Car Rental Compare Ad

A Google Ad that consisted of a automotive rental comparability instrument (Image Source: through SEMRush) 

Looking at the advert featured above, a web site like will need to have paid for the instrument/advert to look as that is the solely means it is sensible to me. (Why would a selected rental firm need to introduce its opponents?) Either means, the check is every little thing from weird to terrifying! 

Shortly after the “car rental tool test” some people began seeing Google testing its colorless advert label on desktop. Currently, the format used for cellular, the colorless advert label, is just not used on the desktop SERP. That stated, I noticed the check myself on November twenty fifth for the key phrase inns nyc

Colorless Ad Label Desktop

Oddly sufficient, I additionally noticed Google testing favicons on the desktop SERP on the similar day. Favicons are additionally a mobile-exclusive and had been added to the cellular SERP at the similar time as the colorless advert label (so it is sensible I might see each examined inside hours of one another). 

Favicons on Desktop SERP
Favicons being examined on the desktop SERP alongside with colorless advert labels 

No Organic Listing for Featured Snippet URLs

In what was maybe the most annoying check of the month, Google was seen not exhibiting the URL used within a Featured Snippet among the organic results. Typically, the URL used inside a Featured Snippet can be proven amongst the prime natural outcomes. Not so right here. One can solely hope this doesn’t develop into a sample. 

You can begin freaking out now or you might name this for what it in all probability was… a bug. 

Image Clicks Bug 


Did you discover fewer clicks coming from Google’s Image SERP between November fifteenth and nineteenth? If sure, you could be the sufferer of a Google bug! Google confirmed a bug that noticed the search engine lose image click data over a five-day period. Meaning, do not fret, you did not actually lose any clicks/site visitors. The solely factor misplaced was the information itself.  

Arrows Point to Search Result Titles

Here’s an odd thought… little blue “arrows” indicating titles on the SERP. Yet, that’s precisely what Google examined on November twenty sixth, arrows pointing to titles on the SERP. Spotted by Sergey Alakov and Valentin Pletzer, these little arrows are…. hideous. Yet, Sergey has an attention-grabbing principle, the arrows, which seem inside an advert as properly, make the natural outcomes and adverts look extra uniform!  

Progressive Google Update Rollouts – A Sign of the Times? 


Whether it occurred this time round or not, the thought of a gradual launch of a progressive Google replace roll-out is a pure offshoot of Google’s extra nuanced understanding of every little thing from person intent to internet content material itself. The extra nuanced Google’s notion turns into the extra nuanced the changes to the rankings can be (all issues being equal). The thought of a constant barrage of minute rating motion appears inevitable to me. (I’m clearly not speaking about the steady modifications to the rankings that happen at present – I imply one thing properly past this in quantity). From a person’s perspective, having extra “real-time adjustments” (type to talk) to the rankings is a web optimistic. The solely query in my thoughts is how a lot would this price Google by way of its sources? Though, Penguin now features in real-time making the notion of an unprecedented quantity of steady rating modifications an actual risk to me. 

Who is aware of… possibly subsequent month’s SERP will assist make clear this growth! (A not so delicate plug to come back again for subsequent month’s version of the SERP News!)

About The Author

Shay Harel

Shay Harel is the CEO of Rank Ranger, an progressive and complete search engine marketing & digital advertising and marketing Saas platform. In addition to overseeing firm progress, Shay may be discovered tapping away on his keyboard growing new and distinctive search engine marketing information studies.

When not onerous at work serving to information the search engine marketing trade, Shay enjoys spending time with his household, strumming his guitar, exploring unique locations, and indulging in effective wine from his rising assortment.

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