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A review of 9 new features in Google’s consumer search behaviour insight tool

When the Google Keyword Tool was removed and replaced with the Keyword Planner, approximately a year ago, the ability for marketers to filter traffic estimates by device was lost. It was no longer possible to see the volume of searches by consumers made on mobile devices including smartphone and tablet.

However, with the introduction of nine new features to the Google Keyword Planner Tool last month, users will now have greater insight into mobile device volumes, mobile trends, enhanced location breakdowns and how this data trends over time.

In this post, I’m going to focus on the mobile and location enhancements, which offer some really useful data and allows us to consider how we can optimise our sites more effectively for mobile and tablet searchers.

Contribution of search volume for keywords by device

From the nine new features Google have introduced, different businesses will gain something different from each of them. But one of the most exciting features that’s likely to interest both small and larger enterprises alike is the re-introduction of device search insights:

This feature provides visual data to enable users to understand the expected search volume contribution from individual devices. As you can see from above, a group of keywords representing a particular theme or topic can be analysed to get an aggregate volume of searches, in total as well as broken down by device type.

This type of data allows one to see how people are searching online for particular terms and phrases.

For example, if it’s clear that a relatively equal volume of searches is coming from tablet, mobile devices and desktop computers, the data could be useful for building a business case for SEO investment  in a responsive or adaptive website.

Alternatively, you can also analyse individual keywords to determine specifically how each of them is performing by device type. In the first image above, we could see that [isa] was driving 49,500 searches per month as part of the aggregate list, however we can also see how these 49,500 [isa] searches themselves are broken down by device type in the second image.

This is useful for understanding how keyword groups differ from one another and whether individual content sections or landing pages might need to be tailored for those searching on desktop, mobile or tablet computers.

Analysing mobile trends over time

In addition to looking at overall search volume trends over time for particular keywords, e.g.:

… the Keyword Planner also allows users to see the mobile percentage of these search terms over a period of time:

This is particularly useful to see how consumer behaviour is changing in relation to how people are using mobile devices to search online:

For the term [weather] (used above), one can clearly see that the percentage of searches conducted on mobile devices has increased steadily over time, from 17.3% in May 2012 to 56.1% in April 2014.

Along with the contribution of search volume for keywords by device which we looked at in the previous section, this level of data allows marketers to look at how content is rendered on different devices, for either a particular search term or group of terms, and can inform how content can be tailored to create a more useful user experience across devices.

Get more accurate data by setting specific dates

In the example above, we looked at the term [isa]. The 49,500 searches per month is an average taken over the last 12 months. For other terms that are not as highly affected by seasonality (e.g. [bank accounts]), this annual average number is still quite useful.

However, because an ISA is a very seasonal financial product, it’s worth considering how search volume and demand for this term varies over the course of the year:

The seasonal snapshot above shows that there’s a clear escalation in search volume for the term [isa] from January onwards, with a peak in March. It might therefore be worth looking at the average search volume for this term during both ‘ISA season’ (January – April) and the rest of the year:

By selecting the dates we want to focus on using the ‘date range’ selector in the left-hand navigation, we can compare average monthly searches for two specific date ranges to see how they differ.

As you’ll see from the data above, the graph provides absolute and relative changes so we can see that there is nearly a +124% percentage change in searches for the term [isa] during ‘ISA season’ vs. the rest of the year. Armed with this information, content, SEO and paid search efforts can be prioritised during key times of the year in order to maximise the seasonal opportunities.

Another handy aspect of the date range feature is the ability to compare search volume year-on-year so that accurate comparisons can be made for search demand:

Understand how search trends differ by target locations

Another useful addition to the Keyword Planner is the ability to see a breakdown of search volumes by location:

This feature allows marketers to analyse the differences in search volume by location and identify segmentation opportunities. For example, although Nottingham is the second largest city by population size from the sample used above, it’s driving the least number of searches. Perhaps there is an opportunity to improve content and messaging on the website or modify bids in paid search campaigns in relation to Nottingham.

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Google Updating Mobile First Index?

The search community took to Twitter and Facebook to note an increase in mobile first inclusion notices from Google Search Console. Strong anecdotal evidence points to significant update in Google’s mobile first index.

Many are reporting unprecedented levels of email alerts from Google Search Console that sites they are monitoring have been migrated to the Google’s Mobile First Index.

Is this a Google Algorithm Update?

No. I would not call this a Google Algorithm Update.  This is a mobile index update, the index appears to be growing.

A Google Update generally refers to a change in the ranking algorithm.

What the search marketing community may be noticing is a change to the index that Google uses to begin the ranking process.  The change being noted is that more websites have been included into Google’s mobile first index.

Is a Major Google Update Coming?

Google does not announce upcoming updates.  Google regularly updates it’s algorithm on a near daily basis.

It’s possible that Google may decide to update and re-rank the mobile index once it reaches a certain threshold. But that’s just speculation at this point.

What is Happening with Google’s Mobile First Index?

I asked Dave Davies of Beanstalk Internet Marketing for a reality check on what is happening and this is what he said:

I think it’s either their final or close-to-final big push. If sites aren’t carried over after this batch I think they’ll want to look closely at the reasons why.

What tech they are using will be the main thing I look at. It’s just a guess but it seems too big to be anything else.

Search Industry on Google Search Console Notices

Site audit expert Alan Bleiweiss (@AlanBleiweiss) of Alan Bleiweiss Consulting tweeted having received almost 36 notices from Google Search Console, noting with tongue in cheek that it was, “Madness! It’s madness, I tell you!”

“It seems that Google decided to push the Mobile-First indexing button… practically every site I follow in search Console is now mobile-first”

Jennifer Holzman tweeted the following:

“Judging by the amount of GSC emails I have in my inbox… Mobile First Indexing is heeeeerrrreeeee”

Dave Davies (@beanstalkim) asked:

“Is it just (me) or is there a ton of sites moving to the mobile-first index right now?”

Search Marketer Bill Hartzer (@bhartzer) noted he has received notices for HTTP versions of sites verified in GSC:

Official Google Response

As of this writing there is no official statement about what is going on. The facts as of this moment is that Google appears to have increased the size of their mobile first index. What happens next is unclear.

More Resources

12 Search Engine Alternatives To Google

Google is the leader in the search space and definitely the most loved search engine today, but some policy changes they have been making in the last few months is not going down too well with many. Now with its declaration of its new user data sharing policy, some have now started looking out for alternate search engines already.

While most may not come close to the Google experience, there are some pretty decent search engines one can switch over to, if you are willing to change habits. Here are a few, if you are planning a change.

Alternative search engines

Apart from Google, here are some good alternative search engines that you can use:








Wolfram Alpha





1] Bing

Bing from Microsoft – many do not want to try or use it for one simple reason! It’s from Microsoft! But if you can lay aside your negative bias for ‘anything Microsoft’ and check it out for a week, you will be surprised at the results it delivers. If you don’t like it, you can always go back to using your earlier one. Bing is now also powering Yahoo Search results. You might want to read this Bing vs Google post.

2] DuckDuckGo 3] IxQuick

IxQuick was IxQuick which was the first search engine to offer encrypted search back in 2009. It has now also made SSL encryption the default on all searches – although other search engines too followed suit. Ixquick has a sister search engine called Startpage.

Read: How to find Similar Images Online using Reverse Image Search.

4] Startpage

Startpage may not exactly be a Google alternative, but for lovers of Google Search results, it looks to be the best alternative as basically Startpage uses Google Web results – but does not track you or your searches. You can use Startpage to search the web anonymously and protect your privacy. Moreover, Startpage shows only a limited amount of relevant sponsored results on the top and the bottom of the results page. You can even add StartPage to your browser.

5] Dogpile

Dogpile is a metasearch engine, that allows you to simultaneously search for not only Google but also Bing and Yahoo. No longer can you trust just Google Search, as it pushes results from its own sister sites. Using such meta-search engines, you can get the best of the three worlds.

Read: Specialized Search Engines to find specific content.

6] Metacrawler

Metacrawler is another metasearch engine that searches and delivers search results from Google, Bing, and Yahoo. By accessing multiple search engines for each query, it can provide you with a more relevant spectrum of results than you would from using any single search engine.

Related: How to search for a Face on the web using a Face Search Engine.

7] Blekko 8] Wolfram Alpha

Ask is the largest of the small search engines having approximately 5% odd US market share.

10] Ekoru

Ekoru Search Engine is dedicated to supporting animals and the environment.

11] Gigablast

Read next: Best job search engines to find a job online in the US, UK, India, etc.

12] Ecosia

Search with Ecosia, and the company promises to plant a tree. They take privacy seriously too.

Which search engine does not track you?

There are many private search engines that you can use if privacy matters a lot to you. Duck Duck Go is the most popular private search engine. While surfing the internet on Duck Duck Go, your online activity will not be tracked. In addition to this, Duck Duck Go also has a lot of features that will be beneficial for you while internet surfing.

What is the most private way to search the internet?

There are many free privacy web browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Brave, Epic Privacy Browser, etc. But if you are searching for the most private web browser, you should go with Tor Browser. Tor Browser is the most private web browser as it is used to explore Dark Web and Deep Web. Tor is the best browser for those who want to keep their internet activities private.

Want more? Take a look at these:

Let us know if you have any suggestions or observations to make.

Google: Rankings Drop After Mobile Usability Fail?

Google’s John Mueller responded to a Reddit SEO discussion where a search console warning about mobile usability was soon after followed by a rankings drop in a medical related website.

The timing of the drop in rankings happening soon after search console issued a warning about mobile usability issues made the two events appear to be related.

The person despaired because they fixed the problem, validated the fix through Google search console but the rankings changes haven’t reversed.

These are the salient details:

“Around Aug. 2023, I noticed that Google Search Console was saying ALL of our pages were now failing Mobile Usability standards. I had a developer “fix” the pages…

…I resubmitted the sitemap & asked Google to “Validate” all of my fixes on Oct. 25, 2023. It has been 15 days with no movement.”

Understanding Changes in Ranking

John Mueller responded in the Reddit discussion, observing that in his opinion the mobile usability issues were unrelated to the rankings drop.

Mueller wrote:

“I’ll go out on a limb and say the reason for rankings changing has nothing to do with this.

I’d read the quality raters guidelines and the content Google has on the recent updates for some thoughts, especially for medical content like that.”

This is a great example of how the most obvious reason for something happening is not always the correct reason, it’s only the most obvious.

Obvious is not the same as accurate or correct, even though it might seem like it.

When diagnosing a problem it’s important to keep an open mind about the causes and to not stop diagnosing an issue at the first more obvious explanation.

John dismissed the mobile usability issue as being serious enough to affect rankings.

His answer suggested that serious content quality issues are a likelier reason for a rankings change, especially if the change happens around the same time as an algorithm update.

The Google Raters Guidelines are a guide for assessing site quality in an objective manner, free of subjective ideas of what constitutes site quality.

So it makes sense that Mueller suggested to the Redditor that they should read the raters guidelines to see if the descriptions of what defines site quality matches those of the site in question.

Coincidentally, Google recently published new documentation for helping publishers understand what Google considers rank-worthy content.

The document is called, Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content. The documentation contains a section that’s relevant to this problem, Get to know E-A-T and the quality rater guidelines.

Google’s help page explains that their algorithm uses many factors to understand whether a webpage is expert, authoritative and trustworthy, particularly for Your Money Your Life pages such as those on medical topics.

This section of the documentation explains why the quality raters guidelines information is important:

“…our systems give even more weight to content that aligns with strong E-A-T for topics that could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society.

We call these “Your Money or Your Life” topics, or YMYL for short.”

Search Console Fix Validations Are Generally Informational

Mueller next discussed the search console fix validations and what they really mean.

He continued his answer:

“For indexing issues, “validate fix” helps to speed up recrawling.

For everything else, it’s more about giving you information on what’s happening, to let you know if your changes had any effect.

There’s no “the website fixed it, let’s release the hand brake” effect from this, it’s really primarily for you: you said it was good now, and here is what Google found.”

YMYL Medical Content

The person asking the question responded to Mueller by noting that the majority of the website content was written by doctors.

They next mention how they also write content that is meant to convey expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

This is what they shared:

“I’ve tried to really write blog articles & even marketing pages that have a satisfying answer above the fold, but then explain the details after.

Pretty much everything a person would do if they were legit trying to get an answer across – which is also what you read to be “EAT” best practices.


They lamented that their competitors with old content overtook them in the rankings.

Diagnosing a ranking issue is sometimes more than just navel gazing one’s own site.

It may be useful to really dig into the competitor site to understand what their strengths are that might be accounting for their increased search visibility.

It might seem like after an update that Google is “rewarding” sites that have this or that, like good mobile usability, FAQs, etc.

But that’s not really how search algorithms work.

Search algorithms, in a nutshell, try to understand three things:

The meaning of a search queries

The meaning of web pages

Site quality

So it follows that any improvements to the algorithm may likely be an improvement in one or all three (probably all three).

And that’s where John Mueller’s encouragement to read the Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines (PDF) comes in.

It may also be helpful to read Google’s fantastic Search Quality Raters Guidelines Overview (PDF) because it’s shorter and easier to understand.

Citation Read the Reddit Question and Answer

Impact Of “Validating” A Fix In Search Console/Mobile Usability

Image by Shutterstock/Khosro

These Are The Top Google Search Terms In India During Lockdown

As the global lockdown due to the Novel Coronavirus continues to chain people indoors, the online world has seen some huge surges. Stuck indoors, people are now using the internet more often than not. So, Google search data revealed what Indians are searching on Google in these dark times.

Top 10 Google Search Terms

So here is a list of the top word(s) which Indian citizens are searching on Google amidst the lockdown:

Coronavirus Lockdown – This search term recently became popular in India by receiving over 10 million hits. A little more than two weeks ago, this term reached 10 million hits for the entire world and now the number is just from India.

Coronavirus – Most of the people already know about the Coronavirus, however, there is always some news about the pandemic. So, in hopes of hearing some good news one day, people keep searching for this term on Google.

Coronavirus Helpers – This search term has received over 5 million hits on Google from India alone. So, this clearly shows that Indians do care about the frontline health workers and want to keep themselves updated.

Lockdown Extension – This term has been searched for more than 1 million times on the platform. As Narendra Modi keeps on extending the lockdown, citizens are keeping a close eye at the news to know about the lockdown extension first.

Hydroxychloroquine – This term received over 600,000 hits after a study claimed that consuming hydroxychloroquine, the drug for curing Malaria, can help contain COVID-19. So, Indians started to search for whether hydroxychloroquine can actually help fight Coronavirus or not.

Coronavirus Symptoms – People are becoming more concerned about their health and health of others. So, if anyone even sneezes one time, people go to search the other symptoms of COVID-19. The term hit 500,000 in India, according to search data by Google.

Aarogya Setu App – The government of India recently launched

– The government of India recently launched the Aarogya Setu app to assess the risk of contracting COVID-19. Every Indian Citizen received at least one text message from the government prompting them to download the app. So, to gain more info on the app, Indians went to Google for answers and the term reached 320,000 searches from all over India.

India COVID-19 Tracker – As the Coronavirus continues to spread around the world, citizens constantly want to check the number of cases, deaths and recovery in the country. So, the India COVID-19 tracker received over 120,000 hits.

E-pass for lockdown – To help essential businesses, the government has launched E-pass that allows people with shops of essential amenities to get a free pass amidst the lockdown. To gather more info on the program, Indians searched for this term for over 50,000 times.

Plasma Therapy – Someone on the internet said that plasma therapy can help to contain COVID-19. So people started to search for this term. Indians searched this one 10,000 times.

So, here is a top 10 list of the most searched words/terms on Google, according to their search data. We have already seen the search term “good news” reach an all-time high during this time. Now, these Coronavirus related search terms are the most searched in India.

Google Launches Visual Guide To Search Elements

Google’s new guide to search features visualizes and defines the various elements on a search results page.

When you need help with SEO, it can be challenging to get the right answer if your question doesn’t contain the correct terminology.

For example, ask: “How do I customize the image that appears in search snippets?”

That question could refer to three different things: a text result image, an image thumbnail, or a favicon.

The person asking the question may not find the help they want when using such vague terms.

Google’s new guide makes it easy to identify the exact search element you need help with, so you can get more relevant answers.

Let’s take a look at what’s in the guide.

Anatomy Of A Google SERP

Google’s new Visual Elements Gallery highlights the most common features in a search results page.

A Google SERP is broken down into the following main parts:

Attribution: Includes identifiers such as the name of the site, the URL, and the favicon.

Text results: Commonly referred to as the “10 blue links.”

Rich results: These are text results with additional lines of information, such as review stars and recipe steps.

Video & image results: Photos and videos pulled from webpages indexed in search results.

Exploration features: Commonly referred to as “People Also Ask.”

In Google’s guide, each of the above elements has its own illustration showing how it might look in search results.

Additionally, the guide depicts the different features included within each of the main search elements.

The illustration below shows the exact search features Google is referring to whenever it uses the word “attribution“:

Google’s Visual Elements Gallery provides information about 22 search features in total and may include more in the future.

In a blog post, Google says it can easily add more elements to the guide and may do so when other search features become popular:

“Our new setup makes it easier for us to add new visual elements to the gallery without too much effort on our part; that is in fact our plan: as a visual element becomes popular on search result pages, we may add it to the gallery. However, we aim only to add those elements that hold some significance for site owners and SEOs.”

Source: Google

Featured Image: Screenshot from chúng tôi appearance/visual-elements-gallery, December 2023.

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