New: The MozCast Feature Graph – Tracking Google’s Landscape

Posted by Dr-Pete

Over the last year-and-a-half of tracking Google’s daily “weather”, it’s become painfully clear to me that there’s much more to future-proofing your SEO than just the core algorithm. From Knowledge Graph to In-depth articles, Google is launching new features faster than ever, and pages with nothing but ten blue links will soon be a memory.

So, we started working on a way to track how features change over time, and today I’m happy to announce the launch of the MozCast Feature Graph. It looks a little something like this:

Three tools in one

The Feature Graph is really three tools in one. The top graph shows a 30-day history of four major groups of features: Ads, Local, Knowledge Graph, and Verticals. The legend is color-coded to the bars at the bottom, which show the current density of each feature and the day-over-day change for that feature. So, for example, “Adwords (Top)” in the graph above shows that 77.9% of the queries tracked by MozCast displayed ads at the top the last time we checked them.

The third tool is my favorite, and the one that probably delayed this project the most. I’ve attempted to put some of the power of the raw data into your hands, and we’ve created a mini laboratory to find and preview SERPs.

The SERP mini-lab

Let’s say you’re looking for a SERP that has a Knowledge Graph entry, image results, and shopping results. Just check on the boxes next to those three features. As you add each feature, you’ll see the “Matched Queries” box populate with a list of search terms:

Click on any of those queries, and you’ll be taken to the corresponding Google search (parameterized to match the original capture as closely as possible). For example, if I click on “vespa”, I get the following:

You can see the paid product placements and Knowledge Graph on the right, as well as the image results after the third organic listing. Note that these links are to live SERPs on Google.com – in some cases, the page may be slightly different from the one we visited the night before. This is especially true of AdWords placements, which can vary considerably from visit to visit.

When you select a feature or set of features, you don’t just get sample queries – the 30-day graph at the top changes to match your search:

The lines on the graph now show the trends for each of the individual features you’ve selected. You can mouse over any point for the exact percentage on that day.

Bonus feature: new ads

There’s one feature that works a bit differently than the rest. We’ve started tracking the prevalence of Google’s new AdWords format, which is in large-scale testing but not fully live yet. The “New Ad Format” feature tracks the percentage of ads using the new format across the queries that displayed ads (not the entire query set). Please note that the new ad format is only rolled out for some users, so the search/preview function won’t work properly (you may see the old ads). I’ve added this feature simply to track the roll-out over time.

Some technical notes

The Feature Graph is powered by the MozCast 10K, a set of 10,000 queries across 20 industry categories. Half of the MozCast 10K is delocalized and half is locally targeted (1,000 keywords each to 5 major cities). Local SEO features are measured only from the local data (5,000 total queries). All results are depersonalized.

A few thank-yous

I’d like to thank the inbound engineering team (Casey, Devin, and Shelly) for their help making this a reality, and our design leads, Daan and Derric, for hashing out a few ideas with me. Special thanks to Devin, who had the thankless job of translating my old-school PHP into something Moz-friendly that won’t break 50 times/day.

Have fun with it

The Google SERP Feature Graph is live as of last night. This data has powered quit a few insights and blog posts over the past few months, and I’m excited to release it to the public. My hope is that people will use the tool to surface new SERP combinations and make their own discoveries. Let me know what you find.

Editor note: We had non-launch related outage of Mozcast around 12:30am PST, 12/10/13, if you had errors then. Service has been completely restored at 1:20am PST, and the new features are working. Enjoy.

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December 14, 2013  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

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TechNetSource » New: The MozCast Feature Graph – Tracking Google’s Landscape