The Featured Snippet: August 2019

The Featured Snippet is the official SEO newsletter of Performics and is dedicated to keeping you update-to-date with the latest SEO industry news, trends, and events – all in an easy-to-read, summed up format. See below for the latest version of The Featured Snippet.

In the August 2019 issue of The Featured Snippet: 

  • Google Ranking Factors 2019: Opinions from 1,500+ Professional SEOs 
  • No-Click Searches Study Shows ~50% of Searches Result in No Clicks 
  • Google Explains Indexation Issues from April 2019
  • Google Adds Playable Podcasts in Google Search
  • #AskGoogleWebmaster Series Answers Questions About:
    • Voice Search in Google Search Console
    • Client-Side JavaScript Rendering
    • Nofollow Links
    • Opting in / out to Mobile-First Indexing
    • Robots.txt in Google Search Console
  • Google Starts to Penalize Sites Hosting Other Subdomains / Subfolders
  • Noindex within Robots.txt FIles No Longer Supported by Google

Google Ranking Factors 2019: Opinions from 1,500+ Professionals

Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and current CEO of SparkToro, released a survey asking SEO professionals their thoughts regarding Google ranking factors in 2019. In late-August 2019, the opinions of 1,584 SEOs were released with their thoughts regarding the top Google ranking factors for 2019. SEOs think that Google’s entry into more verticals and competing directly with publishers will have the biggest impact on SEO in the next three years. The other top rankings factors include quality of linking sites & pages, use of query-relevant words & phrases, domain’s perceived E-A-T, and mobile-friendliness.

Below is the full list of ranking factors based on the survey: 


No-Click Searches Study Shows ~50% of Searches Result in No Clicks

Rand Fishkin and SparkToro also released another study about no-click searches in Google search results. A no-click search occurs when a user makes a search, and instead of clicking into a web listing, the user finds the answer within the search engine results page. With the rise of SERP features like featured snippets, “people also ask,” and Knowledge Panels, the trend seems to lead to more no-click searches from users. Using clickstream data from JumpShot, Rand and SparkToro tested this hypothesis. Based on the study, here were a few key takeaways:

  • The majority (49.76%) of U.S. Google searches (desktop & mobile) in June 2019 resulted in no-click searches
  • 94% of all searches in Q2 2019 start on a Google property 
  • Google Ad clicks (desktop & mobile) increased by 12.2% in Q2 from Q1


Google Explains Indexation Issues from April 2019

Back in April 2019, Google experienced widespread indexation issues throughout the month, which was covered in a brief timeline in The Featured Snippet for April 2019. In August, Google released an official blog that explained the indexation issues that occurred that month. Google said that parts of the deployment system broke when they were making planned updates to the index, and that is what caused indexation issues. Google also announced that they will continue to communicate any indexation issues on Twitter and within Google Search Console. 


Google Adds Playable Podcasts in Google Search

First announced at Google I/O 2019, Google implemented playable podcasts in Google search results in August. Google is now able to understand the audio content provided in a podcast and surface results based on the user’s query. 

Here’s how the new podcast feature looks like in SERPs: 


#AskGoogleWebmaster Series: August 2019 Recap

In August, Google released five videos as part of their #AskGoogleWebmaster Series. This video series aims to answer frequently asked questions about Google crawlers, tools, and SEO. Below shows a quick recap of the videos that were released in August: 

In this video, John Mueller confirmed that while some voice search data is recorded in Google Search Console, other data is not. Searches made through a voice to text keyboard within the search engine are recorded as a normal query. Inquiries from Google Assistant, however, do not enter into the data set. 

On August 8, John Mueller confirmed that the evergreen GoogleBot can crawl client-side JavaScript redirects. These redirects are followed in the same way client-side redirects would be handled. This is an important distinction, as brands are now able to use JavaScript redirects without worrying about negatively impacting SEO. It also helps Google locate instances in which spammy or dangerous websites may be using sneaky redirects, a practice that is explicitly forbidden in the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

The question submitted for this video asked whether or not Google counts nofollow links as backlinks to a site. This question was asked due to the fact that these links do show up in Google Search Console. John Mueller confirmed that these nofollow links do not pass PageRank to a page, meaning authority is not passed through these links. Mueller explained that these links are included in GSC reports as these links do send users to your site. Similarly, links that have been added to the disavow tool will still appear in this report. 

A user asked the Google Webmaster team whether or not Google plans to eventually allow users to opt-in or out of mobile-first indexing. This is a concern for websites that currently utilize a separate mobile site ( rather than a responsive template. John Mueller confirmed that opting in and out of this indexation will not be an option. However, John did make sure to clarify the difference between mobile-friendliness and mobile index:

“Mobile-first indexing is separate from mobile-friendliness. Even sites that don’t have a mobile version at all can be indexed fine with the mobile Googlebot. Our goal is to use the mobile-first indexing for all websites in our search results.”

As the number of users who browse the internet via smartphones and other mobile devices, it is important for webmasters to continually improve their mobile site’s user experience. 

In the final #AskGoogleWebmasters installment this month, John Mueller answered questions regarding the new Google Search Console and the robots.txt submission tool. Currently, webmasters need to use the old version of the tool to submit their robots.txt. A question was posed as to when this feature will be provided in the new instance. As of right now, there is no launch date for this feature. Mueller explained that Google prefers to release tools “when they’re ready” rather than making announcements for upcoming releases.

Google Starts to Penalize Sites Hosting Other Subdomains / Subfolders

On August 14, Google announced via the official Google Webmasters account on Twitter that it is aware of sites that host 3rd party content on subdomains. While this is not officially against Google’s guidelines, third party content will be treated differently than content on the main site. Google suggests that “if you want the best success with Search, provide value-added content from your own efforts that reflect your own brand.” This content is generally lower quality and unrelated to the content on the main domain.

If your site does not currently host third-party data on a subdomain, then you will not be impacted. Sites that currently do so will potentially see a decrease in organic visibility in comparison to content hosted on subdomains or within subfolders that are clearly from third party organizations.


Noindex within Robots.txt Files No Longer Supported by Google

Google announced that beginning September 1, 2019 it will officially stop obeying robots.txt noindex directive. Despite the fact that Google mostly used to follow these rules, this directive, designed to tell Googlebot not to crawl certain pages, was never an official directive.

Moving forward, webmasters will need to focus on using officially supported directives such as noindex in the robots META tag, disallow in robots.txt, or the Google Search Console Remove URL too.