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Google News Digest: Holiday-Themed SERPs, YouTube Stories, Answers Carousel and an Intriguing Merger

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Google News Digest: Holiday-Themed SERPs, YouTube Stories, Answers Carousel and an Intriguing Merger

Olga Andrienko
Google News Digest: Holiday-Themed SERPs, YouTube Stories, Answers Carousel and an Intriguing Merger

The year is coming to an end, and Google has been working on all the tweaks and changes it can make before beginning the new year afresh. We haven’t seen any dramatic updates or game-changing additions to Google over the past few weeks, but there are some things you should be aware of before the year ends. 

So, dive in below and make sure to check out the entire digest; this one is a special holiday edition that contains many fun surprises for you.


Tests for New SERP Feature: “Answers Carousel”

We might be witnessing one more way in which Google is challenging traffic acquisition for some websites. Glenn Gabe noticed that Google is testing a new SERP feature – an “answers carousel.” This carousel of answers will pop up right within the search results snippets, and the answers are selected from the content on the page the snippet belongs to. This might be game-changing for some answer websites, as users will now get the answers they need without having to actually go to the thread page. Google will also mark the “best answer,” and show it in the first position. It is likely that the best answers will be selected from a label within the thread. It is still unclear on what scale and in which locations the testing is taking place.

Answers carousel

Source: Google Testing an Answers Carousel Within the Search Results Snippets

Updates to Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, and Related Topics

Google is working on improving its discovery feature and is, thus, rolling out three updates for Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, and Related Topics. The expanded Featured Snippet will now include more visuals and related searches. The updated Knowledge Panel will also display related content, so the Knowledge Panel for “skiing,” for example, will also display related searches for such sports as snowboarding within the result. And when it comes to actual Google searches, you will also be provided with related suggestions related to your previous searches. Thus, if you were to google “Neymar” or “Messi” in relation to the next World Cup, you would also discover other athletes, likely those related to the event.

Source: Improving Search and Discovery on Google

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Questions & Answers on Desktop Search

Google’s “Questions & Answers” feature for local businesses is now available on desktop search, as previously this feature could only be accessed from a mobile device. Google My Business account owners will now receive push notifications about new questions and will be able to answer users’ questions right from within search in a timely manner, and also from Google Maps on Android.

Questions and answers for Google My Business

Sources: Google My BusinessOfficial: Google Local Questions & Answers Now on Desktop

Google Extends the Length of Snippets in SERPs

Google has officially announced that it has increased the length of in search results.

A Google spokesperson commented:

We recently made a change to provide more descriptive and useful snippets, to help people better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in snippets becoming slightly longer, on average.

Webmasters started noticing the change about a week ago. The average snippet length has increased from 160 characters to almost 230.

Length of snippets increased

Does this mean that you should run off and modify your meta description? Not really. For higher relevancy, Google generates a snippet in relation to the user’s query, thus, it is more likely that the content for the new, extended snippet for your page will be taken from the page itself.

Source: Google Officially Increases Length of Snippets in Search Results

Do Your Wall Street Business With Google

Google rolled out a new search navigation tab called “Finance” for both mobile and desktop users. This is an updated version of the previous Google Finance, where you can now easily access information on stocks, currencies, market indices and any other financial news. For the new Google Finance experience, you should visit google.com/finance. It is in beta and is available in the four financial hubs: Hong Kong, China, Canada, the USA and the UK.

Google Finance

Source: Stay on Top of Finance Information on Google

Knowledge Panels and Local Packs Merge in Mobile Search

Google merges knowledge panels and local packs for specific mobile queries. The merge seems to affect those companies that are displayed in the Knowledge Panel for queries that include their brand name. The merged pack includes two tabs  -- “Locations” and “About.” The  “Locations” tab contains information from the Local Pack, while the “About” tab displays information from the Knowledge Panel. Thus, the Knowledge Panel is no longer showcased alone for companies that have a merged pack.

It is still unclear whether this is merely a test or a fully rolled-out feature.

merge of knowledge panels and local pack on mobile

Source: Google Merges Knowledge Panel Information Into Local Pack


Google Manufacturer Center Enters Six New Countries

Google AdWords’ Manufacturer Center service, which is intended to serve the needs of large manufacturers and brands, is expanding to an international stage. From now on, the service is available in the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Brazil and the Netherlands.  Companies that are present in these regions will be able to use the Google Manufacturer Center to enhance product descriptions and visuals in Shopping ads, gain access to unique analytics and insights, and provide a consistent brand-perception experience for shoppers across the globe. Initially, the service was only available in the US.

Source: Google Manufacturer Center rolls out international expansion, API updates, and new content discovery opportunities to help you better showcase your brand online

Academy for Ads: the Place to Learn about Google Ads

Starting January 2018, all the educational materials that are currently available on Google Partners will be moved to the Academy for Ads. This new portal will be the only place to learn about Google ads – it’s where Google’s certifications, exams, and online courses can be found. The website will contain information on all the exams and certifications you’ve earned throughout the entire time you’ve used the platform. You can access the Google Partners website to find out more about transferring your exam and certification information.

Source: About the Partners Certification and Exam Changes


Chrome Blocks Code Injections from Third-Party Software

In 2018, Google Chrome will start blocking attempts to inject code within Chrome itself from third-party software. Approximately two-thirds of Windows Chrome users currently have applications that interact with Chrome in this manner – for instance, accessibility and antivirus software. Previously, these programs needed to inject their code into Chrome to ensure their proper functionality. Starting in 2018 onwards there will no longer be a need to do so, as they can use Chrome Extensions and Native Messaging. This move should make sure that Chrome users stay content with the browser’s service.

Source: Reducing Chrome Crashes Caused by Third-Party Software

Stories are Now Entering YouTube

YouTube is not lagging behind in the new “real-time” trend across various channels, rather it has redefined the idea in its own way. The newly introduced Reels video format is YouTube’s version of “stories,” first introduced by Snapchat. Unlike “stories” on Facebook or Instagram, Reels will not appear at the top of the page, and will, instead, appear in a separate tab within channels. YouTube users will be able to create multiple Reels, and they won’t disappear unless the author deletes them. The new feature is already in beta and is only available to select creators.

stories on youtube

Source: Expanding Community on YouTube

Holiday Bonus

Google Santa Tracker

Google Santa Tracker, a Christmas countdown tracker and platform that offers games and entertainment, has gone live! This year Google has prepared lots of fun for us all: a speed-triggered gift wrapping game and a little bit of coding practice - you can try to create a dancing elf, guide Santa through a labyrinth and much more. Users can also create a Christmas-themed visual: Google provides a set of elements, backgrounds, and tools for that. You also have access to one more entertaining feature – learn about various festive traditions from countries around the world. And starting on December 24, users will be able to follow Santa’s journey in real-time and check how many presents he’s delivered.

Google Santa tracker

Google’s Multicultural Holiday Decor

Like every other year, Google has created its own Winter Wonderland for the holidays by creating richly decorated pages for search queries related to the holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Festivus.

When you enter “Christmas” in the search box, you will see a warmly decorated table with lit candles, a gingerbread house, and other Christmas-inspired goodies.

Google Xmas banner

Kwanzaa” is a holiday that honors the African-American heritage and is mainly celebrated in the US from December 26 to January 1. And if you type it, you can see a doodle with a traditional dinner table with a Kinara candle holder surrounded by fruits and vegetables.

Kwanzaa banner

Google’s “Hanukkah” banner includes an animated image of a traditional Menorah with eight lit candles, along with festive dishes.

Hannukah banner

”Festivus”, a Seinfeld-inspired holiday, is celebrated on December 23. This is a time when you can gather your family around and tell them about all the ways they have misbehaved over the year. Thus, the “Festivus” search results page is decorated with a stern Festivus Pole.

Festivus banner

Source: Google Wraps Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas & Kwanzaa searches in festive holiday decor


We have been spending time together over Google News Digests for awhile now and I hope you have been enjoying them. This is our final edition for 2017, but we will be right back with the next digest at the very start of 2018! We anticipate some major things coming up in 2018, and we look forward to keeping you informed in the upcoming year. 

The month of December is the time to analyze what happened throughout the year, so I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the work we do here, and I would be happy to hear any suggestions you have for our Google News Digest for the upcoming year.

I wish you all a “Happy Holidays”; enjoy time with your loved ones and have a great rest so you can replenish all your strength and energy for the next year!

And as a surprise present for you, I would like to present you with a holiday game we have created for all of our blog readers. You can help SEO Santa collect backlinks, keywords, and shares, and avoid evil obstacles – Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon. Enjoy the game and collect more backlinks while avoiding Penguin! The longer you play, the tougher it gets. Exactly as it happens in real life.

SEMrush SEO Santa

Have fun!

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Olga Andrienko is the Head of Global Marketing at SEMrush. Olga specializes in conversion and relationship marketing and has increased SEMrush social engagement by 400% in one year together with her team.
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