“SERPs” refers to search engine results pages. That is, the results you see when you type a query into Google or any other search engine.
Stay up to date with the latest features being rolled out in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) with these collected notes from Google Search Central’s SEO Office Hours sessions.
Or explore Lumar’s additional resources relating to search engines:
You can’t force Google to show a specific URL as a sitelink in the SERPs
Sitelinks are additional results that are sometimes shown below a search result in Google.
John clarified that there are no meta tags or structured data that would force or recommend a specific URL to appear as a sitelink in the SERPs. Google’s systems try to figure out what is related or relevant when looking at a web page. He recommended having a good website structure, clear internal links, and to include clear titles to support sitelinks. There is no guarantee that it will yield a sitelink in the search results, but it helps Google to figure out what content is related and to choose a site link based on that information.
Titles shown in SERPs are based on the page and not the user query
The titles shown in search results on Google are based on the page itself and not the search query. If you notice that the title displayed in the SERPs is being changed between older and newer versions of a page, it could be that an older version of the page has been used for indexing and processing. You can resubmit that page for reprocessing and once it’s processed, use a site:query to recheck the title. You could use this process to understand how Google is changing it and to help to fine-tune your pages (and even understand changes that may be needed for larger templates).
Use the ‘URL Removal Tool’ to quickly hide pages from Google SERPs
One attendee asked about how to remove thousands of unwanted pages that are still indexed following a malware attack. Due to the number of URLs affected, the attendee thought it wasn’t possible to use Google’s URL Removal Tool to manually remove each one after the attack was resolved.
John responded that the first thing to check is that these pages have actually been removed, as sometimes URLs can show as removed for the user but not for Google. This can be checked using the URL Inspection Tool within Search Console. Then he recommended two further approaches. First: make sure that the more visible pages to searchers are manually removed using the URL Removal Tool. This would involve removing pages shown when searching for your primary products or company name, so that those hacked pages are not visible to searchers. The tool doesn’t take these URLs out of Google’s index, but it does stop them from appearing in the search results. The remaining URLs could take another couple of months to be fully recrawled and removed. This can be fine if they are not likely to be found by searching, and you could check again in half a year. If you need them all removed faster, you could use the prefix setting with the URL removal tool. To do this, you would find common prefixes (such as a folder name, file name, or something in the beginning) and filter those out.
Enhanced SERP content won’t show reviews from other sites
Enhanced search results (such as structured data included for SERP presentation) won’t appear if your reviews are being pulled from another site. This is true even if the relevant review schema is in place. Google treats reviews that have been aggregated from other sites slightly differently (it sees these essentially as testimonials, rather than reviews). So if the review didn’t appear on your site first, adding the relevant structured data is going to be a thankless task.
Continuous scrolling will initially only impact the top 40 search results in Google
Continuous scrolling in Google search results is being rolled out on mobile English-language results in the US. For now, it will work on the first four pages only (that is the top 40 results). Users will need to manually click a ‘load more’-style button in order to see URLs that rank in positions after page 4.
Continuous scrolling won’t change how impressions are counted in Google Search Console
Google’s new “continuous scroll” feature for its SERPs will continue to load results in sets of 10, so impressions in GSC will continue to be counted in the same way. For example, when a user scrolls down and organic results 11-20 load dynamically in the viewport, those pages will get an impression in the same way as if the user had clicked through to page 2.
If anything, site owners might see a slight increase in impressions as continuous scroll makes it easier for users to view more results, although this could in turn have a negative impact on CTR.
Web Stories on AMP still require textual content for ranking purposes
Despite being built on AMP, Web Stories are essentially normal web pages. They should therefore be linked internally in the same way as any other content. Text is also required on these pages for Google to be able to rank them accordingly.