In June of 2022, Mordy Oberstein first spotted a new SERP feature being tested called Google Explore. That’s where a feed of content shows up after a user scrolls through several pages in the mobile SERPs. It has a special treatment in the SERPs and looks like the combination of Search and Discover. As of now, Explore contains a lot of article content and videos. Since it does resemble Discover, I’ve been joking that a Web Stories and Short Videos carousel could end up there (and maybe it will!)
After Mordy spotted Explore, I was able to trigger it a number of times and covered it in my post about the latest experiments and SERP features I was seeing. It’s a wild feature and I’ve been in the test many times since then.
I’m seeing Google Explore more and more recently…
Well, over the past few weeks I have seen Explore more and more in the mobile SERPs. I’m not sure if it has officially rolled out, or if this is just more testing, but it’s worth noting. And I’m seeing Explore trigger for a range of queries, including people and companies now. Melissa Fach pinged me on Twitter about Explore triggering for various companies she was searching for and I was able to replicate that yesterday.
For example, you can see Explore showing up for various types of queries in the tweets below:
Here is Explore showing up for Aaron Rodgers:
More Google Explore activity. I’m now seeing Explore trigger for people, as well as topics. I love how the first category in Explore for Aaron Rodgers is about him playing the guitar. 🙂 That said, there are many subtopics showing for Aaron… pic.twitter.com/dSlLlKQ9XE
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) November 14, 2022
Here is Explore showing up for Tom Cruise (via Khushal Bherwani):
Yes, 🧵 pic.twitter.com/XPrld9UNSG
— Khushal Bherwani (@b4k_khushal) November 14, 2022
And here is Explore showing up for Wix (via Mordy Oberstein):
Yeah def see them for companies but often not as prolific pic.twitter.com/2mWBeyCnVL
— Mordy Oberstein 🇺🇦 (@MordyOberstein) November 14, 2022
Tracking Google Explore in GSC: Good luck.
I’ve said several times on Twitter after triggering Explore, good luck trying to track the feature in GSC!
And believe me, I have tried tracking it… Well, after triggering Explore many times in the SERPs, I ended up tracking an article showing up in Explore from one of my clients. It showed up in GSC in the Performance reporting under Web Search and ranked #32 in the SERPs…
Let’s face it, there’s no way I would be able to tie that to Explore unless I knew it was showing up there. So, you could very well have Explore data in GSC right now, but there’s no way to surface it specifically as Explore. That’s why a filter in GSC for “Explore” would be amazing.
I checked for GSC when a client was ranking there, it’s like normal Web Search (so you won’t know it’s from Explore). If this ever rolls out, they should add a filter for Explore (but I’m not sure that would happen). 🙂
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) September 10, 2022
Google (Sort Of) Officially Announces Explore At Search On 2022:
During the Search On 2022 live stream, Google did mention that Explore was rolling out, but it seemed focused on travel-related queries. They didn’t cover Explore heavily but did mention it (see the video clip below). And Barry was one of the few people to actually document what he called “Scroll to Explore” in his blog post recapping Search On 2022.
Here is the segment from Search On 2022 where Google explains you’ll be able to “scroll and then branch out and get inspired by related topics…”
Be on the lookout for Explore:
So, if you publish a lot of article content, videos, etc., then be on the lookout for Google Explore in the mobile SERPs. You can trigger it by scrolling several pages on mobile. Sometimes it triggers after just one or two scrolls, but other times it requires four to five scrolls. Again, it’s a fascinating SERP feature that is flying under the radar right now. So scroll away and see what you find.
Forum discussion at Twitter.
Search Engine Roundtable’s 19th Anniversary
It has now been 19 years that I’ve been writing on this site, covering what you – the search marketers are talking about from within the search community. Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable. I’ve been writing about search for over 45% of my life – which is insane – it is like almost half of me. More importantly, I’ve been doing it consistently every workday, several times per day, no matter how I feel, for 19 years straight. And as I say every year and think almost every day, it is hard for me to fathom that I still can find several new things to write about every single day on this niche topic of SEO, PPC and search marketing.
19 Years Of Passion:
19 years ago today, I started this site as a way to kind of keep notes on what the search marketing community was talking about. A roundtable of discussions between the smartest search marketing minds, if you will. That passion and that mission have not changed – I still try to cover what the search marketing community is buzzing about, what the community cares about, and what the community is saying about those changes in our space. It is fewer stories pointing to the forums these days, as sadly most of the old fashion online forums have slowed down, but social media platforms have picked up in their place and hey, who knows what will happen with Twitter (at least we got Mastodon…). But the community is chatting and discussing and I try my hardest to find that discussion, no matter where it is (public only) and highlight it here for you all.
I still continue to publish several stories here a day and on Search Engine Land. I still produce my weekly video recaps, which I think has been improving a lot lately (make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel). I also continued to do the search vlog where I try to bring more attention to new and maybe old individuals in our community, this has still been a challenge since COVID hit, but things seem to be getting better. I also now publish these videos on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player. Don’t forget about the fun daily photos and big monthly Google webmaster reports. These are all aimed to save you time while catching you up on new topics and making you smile at the same time.
It is nice to see some things get back to normal but now that we are in this recession, it is also sad to see friends lose jobs, struggle and deal with financial issues. That being said, we’ve been through this and we will be through more – we are a strong community and we will get through this, as we did the pandemic and previous recessions.
If you want, you can read last year’s recap – the 18th year anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable as well.
Our Growth & Analytics:
While in 2020 we saw a 13% decline in traffic, this year we saw a 6% increase in traffic from the previous year. Search traffic increased 11% year over year when we saw it decline over 30% last year. Our direct traffic was also up about 6%, last year it was up a whopping up 22%, email traffic was up 65%, and social was pretty level from the previous year.
Mobile traffic share is 43%, which is down from 47% last year – I am not sure why. I guess people in SEO still love to use their desktop browsers. 70% are on Chrome, then 17% on Safari, and the rest are under 4% share each. US traffic is 30%, then India at 12%, and the UK at 7%, so those are the top countries. 65% of the readers are male according to Google Analytics and about 30% are the age of 25 to 34.
There are now about 34,500 stories on this site, I wrote over 31,550 of them – about 92% of them. I posted about 2,000 stories this year alone! We also had about 9,000 approved comments posted this year on the stories, so thank you for all who comment – I do read them all!
With YouTube, my channel – please subscribe has over 2,200 new subscribers (now at ~15,100 subscribers). I’ve been obviously making an effort to grow that channel, but it is going slowly. I have over 6.5 million views on those videos, with over 60,000 hours of watch time. Oh, and I made just under $1,500 in YouTube ad revenue in the past year, which is $100 less than last year’s revenue. Although, if you watch, you will see I have video sponsors now – thank you sponsors!
Most Important Stories In Past 12 Months:
The story this year was told in the incredible number of both confirmed and unconfirmed search ranking algorithm updates. From the May 2022 and September 2022 broad core updates, to the product reviews updates, page experience update, spam updates and then the new helpful content update – Google is working like crazy to show more relevant and useful content in its search results. We had other updates, all of them are listed below, it might be too much to even scan through. We had a ton of local search updates too. At least we learned that Panda evolved into Coati before it was assimilated into the core updates.
Google replaced Google Webmaster Guidelines with Search Essentials, pushed out an updated search quality raters guidelines, spoke a ton about E-A-T, released some spam updates/guidelines and much more. Search Console and Merchant Center had tons of upgrades this year as well.
Google rolled out tons and tons of features, a lot focused on products and shopping and visual search. We also got the new ad label and new favicons and sitenames in the search results.
Google had far fewer crawling and indexing issues this year than last, so that is a good thing. Google Ads on the other had seemed to have way more lag and issues this year than previous. FLoC to no one’s surprise turned out to be a flop. And Google launched a more acceptable Google Partners program.
Bing continued to push IndexNow and at the same time, pushed the new BingBot.
Oh and of course, the Google Analytics 4 news.
There was a lot that I wrote, like I said above, but here is what I think are the most important stories over the past 12- months or so (if I missed any, let me know in the comments):
Google Broad Core Updates:
Google Helpful Content Updates:
Google Spam Updates:
Google Product Reviews Updates:
Google Page Experience Updates:
Misc Google Search Algorithm Related:
Unconfirmed Google Search Algorithm Updates:
Crawling & Indexing:
Google Search Console / Merchant Center:
Most Viewed Stories In Past 12 Months:
Here are the most viewed stories in the past 12 months of 2022 based on Google Analytics. I should note that my analytics does not combine AMP URLs with the canonical non AMP URL, so this might not be in exact order of popularity:
Looking Forward To 2023:
Last year I said it I would expect a ton of announcements from Google around MUM and more AI/machine learning efforts in search in 2022. You will see more with local search, you will see more with multimedia and that. So I was kind of wrong but Google did tout a ton of AI things this past year, just that MUM didn’t go as wide as I thought (at least Google didn’t communicate that). I also said Google would do “a big revamp in quality algorithms.” I think that is dead on with the updates listed above between the core updates, product reviews update, spam updates and the new helpful content update.
In 2023, I think we will see a lot more for the helpful content update, in a very big way. The core updates, I think, may be lighter and less impactful. I do think we will see stronger spam updates in 2023 as well.
I hope MUM will expand more and be used more in more places in web search. I do think AI will become used more in SEO, for better or worse. And I do think we will continue to see a trend in more visual search interfaces, because of the TikTok effect.
And of course, on the ad side, more AI, more automation and Performance Max really taking over more than it has already (but everyone knows that).
As I said last year, I deeply appreciate and thank you all so much for reading every day, commenting (or ignoring the comments) and for sharing the stories here. Keep up the chatter and let’s build an even better search community this coming year. Everyone stay safe and healthy!