SEO Research

SEO Research in 2019 - A Summary of Rank Ranger's Findings


The best part of my job is the ability to spend time pondering, analyzing, and researching anything and everything within the world of Search. It's in these moments where I feel I'm making a difference by helping advance the SEO conversation. With this sentimentality, let's have a look back on 2019 and revisit some of the insights we've uncovered here at Rank Ranger over the year.

Featured Snippet Synchronicity: URL Match Study


So you've won a Featured Snippet on desktop, does that mean your URL shows within the zero-position box on mobile? How often does the URL that resides within a mobile Featured Snippet match the desktop URL? Is there even a desktop Featured Snippet? What is the likelihood that a Featured Snippet win on desktop equals a Featured Snippet win on mobile?

Here's a look at how often Google shows the same URL on desktop and on mobile.

The September 2019 Core Update: What Happened & Who Did It Happen to?


On September 24th, Google sent forth its latest core algorithm update incarnation - the September 2019 Core Update. The third official algorithm update of 2019, like all other core updates, presented a unique set of ranking data at the niche level. More than that, a look at some of the site's impacted may shed some light on how Google looks at Your Money Your Life content.

Here's a look at what the data says about the September 2019 Core Update's size, scope, and overall impact!

One Giant Leap! How Google's Entity Understanding Has Advanced [Case Study]


How good is Google at understanding entities?

It's an important question since so much depends on exactly that, especially since Google now profiles sites (i.e., treats them as entities). While Google has some hangups when it comes to understanding entities, it's also made some giant leaps. 

Have a look at how Google is reaching deeper than ever into entities and why it might be on the verge of taking things to a whole new level.

Google's Ability to Understand Entity Sub-Profiles [Case Study]


Google has gotten really good at recognizing entities and how various entities relate to each other. There's no doubt about it. That said, how well can Google truly profile an entity? What happens when an entity has more than one profile? Is Google able to pick up on entity sub-profiles? What if someone is both an actor/actress and a director? What happens when a celebrity goes into politics? How does Google view the secondary profile of these entities?

Google's July 2019 Algorithm Update: What Made the Rankings Go Wild?!


Almost out of nowhere, Google unleashed one of the most volatile days in SEO history. July 18th, 2019, saw an unprecedented amount of rank fluctuations unlike the industry had seen for years. Yet, the unconfirmed algorithm update left as quickly as it came when rank fluctuations returned to normal levels on a dime.

It all begets the question: Who was impacted and what in the world just happened?

Here's a look at the data on Google's unconfirmed July 2019 algorithm update.

Are Featured Snippets Getting Shorter? [Study]

It's always nice when theory meets reality. Not too long before I undertook the research for this study I wrote an article about why I thought Featured Snippets would be getting shorter. When I noticed that Google was throwing content barely a few hours old into Featured Snippets it seemed the content within them was a bit on the thin side. Thus, I took to analyzing 150 Featured Snippets to see if my anecdotal observation was correct.

Long story short, Featured Snippets are shorter... sort of.

Dissecting Google's June 2019 Core Update & Site Diversity Change


On June 4th, 2019, Google released its second official broad core algorithm of 2019 (which was appropriately dubbed the June 2019 Core Update). At the same time, and further complicating the ranking picture, Google made a significant change to the top of the SERP by increasing domain diversity. Combined, the two "changes" created quite the substantial "ranking event."

With that, let's have a look to see how the June 2019 Core Update impacted rankings and how to look for signs of top-of-the-SERP domain diversity within your rankings!

When Google's Intent Targeting Goes Too Far [Case Study]

I'm on the hunt for user intent insights in 2019. I've resolved to make this year about going deep into intent and how Google handles it. Instead of getting into the finer points of user intent and Google's proficiency in meeting it on multiple levels, I'm going to showcase where it doesn't work. Meaning, while I generally think Google's increased ability to parse user intent and pick it apart is a fantastic step forward, it does not work universally. As Google offers users results that would satisfy any number of intents the search engine is going to increasingly be faced with the issue of not meeting any of them adequately. Allow me to demonstrate.

How Diverse is 'People Also Ask'? An Intent Analysis Study

Related Questions, or as most of us know them, People Also Ask (PAA), has developed into one of the more intriguing features on the Google SERP. The feature is both prominent and powerful. This dynamically loading set of what are all but Featured Snippets has the potential to seriously alter a user's search process or search 'journey' if you will.

I wanted to qualify that potential a bit by analyzing what intent looks like inside the PAA box.

  • How many intents are represented by the initial four PAA questions?
  • Does Google prefer to dig deep into one specific topic or does Google prefer to offer a broader topical look with its PAA questions?
  • Does Google give one intent more attention than another?
  • Does Google treat one keyword category and type differently than another in regards to the PAA?

Who & What Was Impacted By Google's March 2019 Core Update?

The first official Google algorithm update of 2019 has arrived! With it, of course, comes much speculation over its enormity as well as what niches and sites were the most impacted. Throw the Medic Update into the mix and we have ourselves quite a bag of potential SEO tinder on our hands here.

However, just how big was this update compared to the Medic Update? Were YMYL sites targeted? Were certain niches more affected than others? Was the March update some sort of reversal? Once the dust settled who were the big winners and losers?

Let's have at it then, shall we?

What Is the Market Share of Featured Snippet URLs? [Study]

To what extent do URLs share a Featured Snippet? What happens when Google uses more than one URL inside a Featured Snippet? Is there one URL that dominates the zero position box? What happens when Google oscillates between more than two URLs - how much visibility does each URL get?

Based on the results of our last Featured Snippet study, which analyzed how often Google changes a URL inside of Featured Snippets, we wanted to know what the market share of a Featured Snippet URL looks like.

Here's what we found.



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