Google News

New Reports for Review Snippets in Search Console

February 10 saw the release of the Review Snippets report in Search Console, aimed at providing implementation issues and performance monitoring for this kind of rich result.

The Review Snippet Enhancement report will cover errors, warnings, and valid pages for markup implemented on verified sites as well as the functionality to validate fixes via a recrawl.

Meanwhile, the Search Console’s Performance report will provide impressions, clicks and CTR results for pages that feature review markup.

Action Point

Keep an eye out for Review Snippets appearing in your Search Console reports if you have pages marked up with structured data around reviews. Check for implementation problems and check out the filters in the Performance report to reach a better understanding of where your Review page impressions and clicks are coming from.

New Local European SERP

Local searches in Europe have a new look as of February 21, with a branded directory box appearing above the map and local pack. This box offers listings from other directory sources such as Yell, Yelp, and Cylex. It’s suspected that this change is an attempt to comply with the European Commission’s antitrust decision regarding shopping and local searches.

As this does not appear to be a ad unit, the directories appear to be chosen algorithmically. In some cases the directory in question appears on the first page of organic results, however that is not always the case and does not appear to be a prerequisite.

An element of whether this solution is regarded as sufficient by the European Commission will be whether the buttons drive a meaningful level of traffic to the directory sites, which have seen declining traffic levels as a result of Google My Business and zero-click search results. So far, the buttons have been spotted in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Greece and France but are likely to spread Europe-wide in the coming days.

Action Point

Sites targeting local searches should check their directory listings to ensure that information is accurate and up to date. Monitor levels of referral traffic from these sites as the feature may provide additional visits from these channels.

More & Better Data Export in Search Console

On February 26 it was announced via Google’s Webmaster Blog that they were to answer users’ calls for improved download capabilities in Search Console.

Exports, rather than being restricted to the details tables, will now include the data behind the charts. These improved exports can be exported directly to Google Sheets and Excel (which is also new functionality) or downloaded as a csv.

An example of the richer data export can be viewed here – with the data being drawn from an AMP status report.

Performance Report exports have also been tweaked so that the content of each tab (Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices, Search Appearances, Dates) can be downloaded together with one click.

Action Point

Whether you’re utilising raw Search Console data, piping it into other applications or dashboards, or using the Search Console API you should examine the output as it has likely changed. The improved data should offer additional opportunities, however.

Google Images to Replace Dimensions Overlay on Thumbnails

Reported by Search Engine Land on February 25, Google Images will be replacing the dimensions information displayed when a user mouses over an image thumbnail. Presently, this action displays the dimensions of the image. After the update, the overlay will provide information on the source of the image, for example whether it comes from a product page, recipe or video.

Licensable images could also utilise this functionality in the future, communicating the license info to potential customers.

Action Point

For websites that deal primarily in licensable imagery, this could be a major update. Check to ensure that licensing information is easily accessible by GoogleBot to ensure that this information is pulled into the overlay. Other sites that wish to take advantage of this change should clearly mark up pages that feature images if they fall into one of the targeted categories – recipes, videos, products, etc.


Bing Refreshes Webmaster Tools

On February 19 the Bing blog was host to an announcement that Bing Webmaster Tools had received a significant refresh. Reacting to user feedback that the UI was slow and outdated, this relaunch aims to provide a cleaner and more responsive portal, offering faster and more actionable tools.

Along with the new responsive design, which makes the portal more accessible on mobile and tablet devices, this first iteration has three key features:

  • Backlinks – The Inbound Links report in the current portal is integrated with the Disavow links tool to become the new Backlinks report in the refreshed portal.
  • Search Performance – Page Traffic and Search Keywords reports are also integrated as one and are a part of the new Search Performance report.
  • Sitemaps – The Sitemaps page is the refreshed Sitemaps page of the current portal

Not just a frontend update, the new BWT has an updated backend datastore that should improve data extraction.

Future updates will focus on moving all functionality to the new portal, with legacy functions deprecated over the weeks that follow.

Action Point

The update will be rolled out to early access users first, with a general roll-out scheduled for March 1 of this year. Users looking to check out the new reports should navigate to Sitemaps, Inbound Links, Page Traffic or Search Keywords reports and click on the links to open the new portal.

Development News

Chrome 80: SameSite Cookie Changes

As of the stable launch of Chrome 80 on February 4, Chrome now enforces a new secure-by-default cookie classification system.

Under the new system, cookies without a declared SameSite value will be treated the same as SameSite=Lax cookies. Only those set to SameSite=None;Secure will be available in third party contexts, provided the access is via a secure connection.

The Chrome Developer Tools Console will provide warnings when a page contains cross-site cookies that are missing the required settings. Users who update their cookies prior to the launch of Chrome 80 may find that some known or returning users may temporarily appear as unknown or new, until their cookies are refreshed with the new settings.

Action Point

The linked article provides a list of testing and troubleshooting advice. This is particularly relevant for sites where cookies are passed between a website and a third-party provider as part of an authentication process. Check whether a temporary mitigation or special policy is required to avoid issues with user sign-on or internal applications.

Angular 9 Arrives

Angular 9.0 was released on February 6, boasting one of the largest updates to the popular open-source framework of the past three years. This release spans the entire platform, from framework to Angular Material and the CLI, as well as switching applications to the Ivy compiler.

The Ivy compiler and runtime includes hundreds of bug fixes, as well as the following key advantages:

  • Smaller bundle sizes
  • Faster testing
  • Better debugging
  • Improved CSS class and style binding
  • Improved type checking
  • Improved build errors
  • Improved build times, enabling AOT on by default
  • Improved Internationalization

See the article for a full rundown on these notable improvements.

Action Point

Visit for guidance on how to update to Angular 9.0. It is recommended that users first update to the latest version of Angular 8 prior to updating to 9.X.

Apple Plans 1 Year TLS Certificate Lifetime Cap

At February’s CA/B meeting in Bratislava, Apple announced their intention to enforce a 398 day maximum lifespan on TLS certificates. While Apple most likely captures enough of the browser market (Safari holds around an 18% share), it’s expected that other browser vendors (Microsoft, Google, et al) will signal their support for Apple and follow this announcement with their own requirements.

While no existing certificates will be impacted, this will effectively mean that only 1 year certificates will be available for purchase from September 1 2020.

Security Researcher Scott Helme estimated that around 25% of websites are currently using certificates with a longer than one year lifespan.

Action Point

Take stock of this upcoming change, and assess whether your sites will need to look at solutions for adopting a shorter lifespan certificate. Consider solutions such as Let’s Encrypt, which can offer an automatically renewed 90 day certificate free of charge.

Further Reading


Launched by Chris Johnson, SEOSlides.Page is an open source collaborative index of all the slides, videos, and audio recordings of talks from SEO conferences and meetups. There are currently 616 talks from 427 different speakers included.

What I Learned about SEO From Using the 10 Most Used JS Frameworks

Jan-Willem Bobbink shares his SEO learnings from exploring the opportunities and pitfalls inherent in the 10 most used JavaScript frameworks.

What 1,200 Domains Tell Us about Zero-Click Searches, SERP Features, and Getting Traffic

Slides from Kevin Indig, Nik Ranger, Eli Schwartz and Bill King’s hour-long hour discussion on mitigating the traffic threat posed by SERP features and zero-click searches.

Leveraging Python for SEO Workstreams

A pair of articles utilising Python. Extract meaningful SEO insights from server log data with Charly Wargnier or try building seasonality projections with Google Trends by Tyler Reardon.