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California looks into Google, 28% CTR for Google’s top spot and what WSJ’s video carousel reporting found: What we read this week (7/17)

Without further ado, here is what the News Dashboard team read this week.

Google target of California antitrust probe

Last week Politico reported that California launched an antitrust inquiry into Google. California was rather late to the party, however. Forty-eight states announced an antitrust investigation in September.

The only state not currently looking into Google’s dominance of digital advertising is Alabama.

Google is also under investigation by the Justice Department.

At this point it’s probably easier to list which governments AREN’T investigating the world’s most popular search engine.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee scheduled a virtual hearing with execs from Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon on antitrust issues later this month.

Our thoughts: Google is bobbing, weaving and trying its best to dodge regulatory jabs from governments across the world. Despite offering an olive branch of sorts to publishers (in an effort to quell an uprising over advertising revenue) it may have been too little, too late. My guess is, eventually, Google will have to take its licks.

Google Images expands functionality on mobile

Could some publishers see a bump in Google Image traffic? Maybe. This week the company announced that information from the Knowledge Graph would now appear on relevant images when a user searches on mobile. “That information would include people, places or things related to the image from Knowledge Graph’s database of billions of facts,” the company said in a blog post.

Fundamentals: So, if you haven’t already it may be time to revisit best practices for image optimization.

‘Wall Street Journal’ alleges Google boosts YouTube videos over competitors (paywall)

“The Wall Street Journal” used a series of bots to collect data on which videos appeared in the video carousel on Google SERPs. What WSJ found was YouTube videos dominated search results despite duplicate videos posted to rival platforms garnering more views.

Google provides guides to publishers on how to optimize their sites for the search engine, including how to optimize natively published video. In theory, a properly optimized native video SHOULD have as good of shot at landing in a video carousel as its YouTube counterpart.  But the Wall Street Journal report found otherwise.

Google bought YouTube in 2006. YouTube is the world’s most popular video platform and the world’s second-largest search engine by volume.

Context: A few years ago video was the next big thing for many U.S. publishers. The “pivot” was touted as THE thing that could reinvigorate advertising revenue and save U.S. publishers. But, the investment in video wasn’t the white knight some hoped it would be.

For a dose of self-flagellation you can doom scroll through these think pieces saying as much.

With the investment in video came a bigger magnifying glass on video platforms and video SEO. Publishers wanted to optimize properly and ensure a return-on-investment (naturally).

Our thoughts: See “Google target of antitrust probe” above.

The News Dashboard data: News Dashboard data confirms that YouTube absolutely dominates the video carousel rankings on desktop and mobile. We’ll have a more thorough analysis of this data soon. Stay tuned!

The first search result on Google is gold, study finds

A study by Sistrix found that the first organic search result on Google has, on average, a 28.5% click-through rate (CTR). The CTR for subsequent positions dropped exponentially. By the 10th position, the CTR rate drops to a measly 2.5%.

Sistrix analyzed more than 80 million keywords and billions of search results, the company said.

The study is quite impressive with breakdowns for many popular ranking types and SERP layouts. Definitely bookmark it and check it out when you get a chance.

Our thoughts: The biggest takeaway in our opinion is that search volume isn’t the only factor affecting CTR. Depending on the keyword the SERP layout may change and different layouts have vastly different CTRs for blue links. For evergreen publishers SERP layout should be a consideration when targeting a keyword.

5 accounts to follow this week:

  • @CaseyNewton – Casey Newton, tech writer for The Verge / The Interface
  • @Backlinko – Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko
  • @vahearabiianseo – Vahe Arabian, founder of State of Digital Publishing, SEO professional
  • @rustybrick – Barry Schwartz, founder of the Search Engine Roundtable
  • @fighto – Paul Shapiro, technical SEO for Conde Nast.


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Read more

Google Rich Results, Redirects 101 and SEO in the age of paywalls: What we read this week (7/10) 

WordPress analytics, data for events and prepping for the election: What we read this week (7/2)

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