Search Console adds a new type of structured data report, Google makes algorithmic updates to reviews in Search and new snippet settings that give webmasters control over their search listings display. 

“A world where everyone creates content gets confusing pretty quickly without a good search engine.” – Ethan Zuckerman

In this article, we’ll cover the following most recent search engine news:

  1. Google adds datasets to the enhancements report in Search Console
  2. Changes to star ratings in Google’s rich snippet results
  3. New max-snippet, max-video-preview, max-image-preview and more coming to Google’s non-snippet snippet controls

Let’s dig into the search engine news, shall we?

A New Report In Google Search Console (GSC)

Google has added a new report to GSC which will let you see how your datasets are performing in Search. You can find it in the enhancements section under ‘Datasets’. That is if you are using Datasets markup on your web pages.

The new report shows errors and warnings, if applicable, as well as how many URLs have valid datasets markup on it. 

Wondering what Datasets are? Back in 2018, Google launched Dataset Search which is a search service helping scientists, data journalists, data geeks, or anyone else to find the data required for their work and their stories, or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Google stated that if you are not using datasets schema, the report will not show up for you. Though, even if you do, there’s a chance it might still not be there. One reason is that you’ve recently added the schema and it can take time for Google to process it. Why should we care? Having more information is a good thing. Therefore, knowing about the health of your pages in search, directly from Google, is a win-win. If you have implemented datasets schema, this newly launched report should be able to help you find potential issues and debug them going forward. 

Google Is Making Reviews In Rich Results More Helpful

The company announced it has applied “algorithmic updates to reviews in rich results” in order to determine if it should show the reviews (you know, those little stars) in the search result snippet. According to Google, this will “ease implementation” for the feature going forward. 

In short, Google will be showing review rich results only for a) a clear set of schema types for review snippets; b) non ‘self-serving’ reviews; and c) reviews that have the name property within the markup.

Which are the allowed schema types? According to the company’s post, “while, technically, you can attach review markup to any schema type, for many types displaying star reviews does not add much value for the user. With this change, we’re limiting the pool of schema types that can potentially trigger review rich results in search.”Here is a list of the schema types currently allowed:

Why do we care? If your pages (on your site) show reviews in rich search results, then you’d want to make sure they continue to be shown. Therefore, review the new rules, make sure your pages and schema markup comply with them. If they do, there’s nothing for you to worry about. However, if your review in rich results disappears – today or in the near future – it’s likely due to the new algorithmic update.

For more information about review snippets click here.

A New Snippet Setting In Google Search

Google has released new snippet settings which will allow webmasters to control how Google search displays listings. These settings work either through 1) a set of meta tags or 2) an HTML attribute.

  • New meta tags. The following four meta tags can be added to either an HTML page or specified via the x-robot-tag HTTP header: a) nonsnippet” (an old option with no changes) – lets you specify that you don’t want any textual snippet shown for this page; b)max-snippet:[number]” (new option) – lets you specify a maximum text-length, in characters, of a snippet; c)max-video-preview:[number]” (new option) – lets you specify a maximum duration in seconds of an animated video preview; and, d)max-image-preview:[setting]” (new option) – lets you specify a maximum size of image preview to be shown for images. You can use the meta tags standalone or combine them.
  • HTML attribute. According to the Google Webmaster blog, “a new way to help limit which part of a page is eligible to be shown as a snippet is the “data-nosnippet” HTML attribute on span, div, and section elements. With this, you can prevent that part of an HTML page from being shown within the textual snippet on the page.”

The company said these are directives they will follow, as opposed to being hints that it’ll consider but might ignore. 

Also, there is no real way to preview how these new snippet settings will work in live Google search. So, you just need to implement them and wait. However, you can use the URL inspection tool to expedite crawling. Once Google crawls it, you should be able to see the revised snippet in the live search results.

As far as we are aware, Bing and other search engines do not currently support any of these new snippet settings.

Final Thoughts

Do you have any suggestions or ideas what search engine news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

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