How to find Google Notes for your website and what those Notes could signal about quality, UX, the ad experience, and more

How to find Google Notes for your website and what those Notes could signal about quality, UX, the ad experience, and more
Google Notes experimentGoogle Notes experiment

Google released Notes as an experiment on November 15, 2023, which is essentially a global commenting system that can appear in the search results, in Discover, and now while browsing a webpage via “SGE while browsing”. It enables anyone that’s part of the experiment to post a note for a specific url and read Notes from other users. Notes can contain text, a background image, you can tailor the design a bit, etc. And after posting a Note, you can view impressions and likes via your profile.

I activated Notes in Search Labs the day it launched, and I have posted several Notes along the way. And I’ve also kept a close eye on the feature to see how it’s being used by other people across the web.

My goal today is not to cover the feature in detail. Instead, I want to explain how to find Notes *for your website or content*. And some of those Notes could provide insights into how people feel about your content, the user experience, the ad situation, and more. I’ve explained before how hearing real feedback from real people can be extremely powerful for site owners, and this is just another mechanism for understanding user happiness.

It’s also important to note (pun intended) that Google recently expanded Notes to “SGE while browsing” and to the url bar in iOS. So Notes are much more visible now while browsing the web. Those changes made complete sense since who would add a Note BEFORE reading an article or consuming a piece of content?? Now you can while reading an article or viewing a webpage.

Here is my tweet after noticing the expansion of Notes:

Can Notes Be Indexed and Rank in Search? Yep, they can.
First, Notes can be indexed by Google, and they can rank in the search results. So if someone is leaving a helpful note about your content, it does have the ability to rank in the SERPs.

I see about 290K Notes indexed right now.

Google Notes indexedGoogle Notes indexed

And the subdomain containing those Notes is ranking for a number of queries. Based on Semrush data, I see the subdomain ranking for about 15K queries now. And ahrefs yields about 29K queries.

Search visibility for Google Notes in SemrushSearch visibility for Google Notes in Semrush
Search visibility for Google Notes in ahrefsSearch visibility for Google Notes in ahrefs

Safety and Quality of Notes:
It’s also important to understand that Google can filter Notes or reject them based on a system it has in place to fight abuse (which includes both algorithmic protections and human moderation). You can also report Notes if they are offensive and violate Google’s policy for Notes. So just because someone can post a Note doesn’t mean Google will accept that Note and then index it.

Google Notes policy and protectionsGoogle Notes policy and protections

How To Find Notes For Your Website or URL:
Since Google is indexing Notes, the easiest way to find notes for a specific website is via a site query. If you combine a site query with the domain name, Google will return Notes associated with that website.

For example, I see about 1,650 Notes for reddit.com, which include image results based on those Notes:

Finding Google Notes for a specific websiteFinding Google Notes for a specific website

And to get more specific, you can include a specific url from your website to see Notes for that piece of content (like an article, blog post, etc.)

Finding Google Notes for a specific article or piece of contentFinding Google Notes for a specific article or piece of content

And I see close to 700 Notes for genius.com with one user asking for the lyrics in the Note itself! You never know what you’re going to find in a Note. 🙂

Google Notes containing feature recommendationsGoogle Notes containing feature recommendations

And if you are just interested in finding Notes about a specific topic, you can just enter that topic via the site query. Then you can view Notes across websites for that specific topic. And that topic could be an entity like a person, team, movie, etc.

Finding Google Notes by topicFinding Google Notes by topic

Notes, feedback, and another proxy for user happiness:
Based on researching Notes heavily since the launch, I have found some articles that have garnered a number of Notes. As you can guess, people will post Notes when they feel passionate about something. But beyond that, people will definitely tell you when they felt cheated by visiting your content. For example, clickbait articles, clickbait headlines, a super-aggressive ad situation, performance problems, and more.

Hearing from real people with real feedback can signal bigger quality problems. And remember, “quality” is more than just content. As Google’s John Mueller has explained, it’s about content quality, UX issues, ads on the page, how things are presented, and more.  

Google's John Mueller about qualityGoogle's John Mueller about quality

So yes, you should run an official user study if you can. They are incredibly powerful and can be eye-opening for site owners. You can read my case study about running user studies through the lens of broad core updates for more information. But don’t overlook user comments, or Google Notes, which can sometimes give you important clues as well.

For example, here are several examples that cover issues that site owners should pay attention to. With Navboost, we know Google is leveraging user interaction signals to impact rankings. So if you find UX barriers, content quality problems, etc., I would address them.

Google Note complaining about clickbait headlinesGoogle Note complaining about clickbait headlines
Google Note complaining about misleading headlineGoogle Note complaining about misleading headline
Google Note complaining about AI content or low-quality contentGoogle Note complaining about AI content or low-quality content
Google Note complaining about aggressive adsGoogle Note complaining about aggressive ads
Google Note complaining about too many ads and popups.Google Note complaining about too many ads and popups.
Google Note about video ads that were overwhelmingGoogle Note about video ads that were overwhelming

Pay attention to Google’s global commenting system.
I understand not all Notes are going to be super-valuable, but some could be extremely valuable for understanding certain “quality” problems across your site. If Google continues with the Notes experiment, and it finally rolls out for all users, then Notes could be a global commenting system available in the most visible parts of the web (including Search, Discover, and “SGE while browsing”). And remember, those Notes can be indexed and rank in the SERPs. So I would keep an eye on Notes for your brand, websites, authors, and content.

GG


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