The Week In Search SEO News 03 Mar 2017
So, this week, we have the joys of over-reported AMP traffic, nestled up nicely against a report about the size of AMP traffic, followed (handily) by a reminder study about mobile speed benchmarking, the sad extinguishing of DMOZ and relief for programmers who use special characters when searching Google.

Google Analytics Bug Inflating AMP Traffic

Summary:

  • Sessions using where visitors view a page using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) format are likely to be over-reported in Google Analytics
  • Over-reporting may be up to four-fold
  • There will be a consequential increase in bounce rates

Actions to take:

  1. Separate your AMP traffic from your ‘normal’ web traffic.
  2. Create a separate Analytics property for the AMP traffic.
  3. If using the same property for both,  use the Data Source dimension to distinguish
  4. Be very wary of combining AMP and ‘normal’ into a Total Traffic number when reporting. There will be double-counting.

Discussion:

To some extent, the cause of this is down to the architecture of the internet and the rules governing how cookies can work. Thus it is a known bug, which may be very difficult, if not impossible, to fix.

If reporting on traffic levels from AMP pages (see below), then it really is tricky to get beyond pageviews and into sessions and unique visitors.

Lots of noise has been made in the recent past about how Analytics apps are dropping their reliance on cookies in favour of other tracking methods. However, this demonstrates that there may still be some way to go.

More info:

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AMP up to 7% of Traffic to US Publishers

Summary:

  • Adobe Analytics (via Search Engine Journal) reports up to 7% of top US publisher’s traffic is from AMP pages.
  • There is no comment on whether this is over-stated in line with the Analytics bug (see above).
  • Assuming the % is only for those that have implemented AMP, and allowing for a hypothetical four-fold increase (see above), 7% is a strong figure.

Actions to take:

  1. If you haven’t set your website up to use AMP, consider doing so, especially if development costs are minimal.
  2. Ensure AMP traffic is tracked to a separate Analytics property.

Discussion:

AMP appears to be getting stronger and although Google has a long history of promoting and then dumping products / projects, this has a chance of longevity. There is still some caution needed if investment costs are high. Some caution is also needed in light of the news re Analytics over-reporting of AMP traffic, but it is still a healthy percentage, when you take into account direct, referral and other sources of traffic, which are less likely to result on an AMP pageview.

It is likely that AMP will continue to grow in the short- to medium-term, and any SEO benefits from using AMP will likely grow larger.

More info:

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Google Releases New Mobile Speed Benchmarks

Summary:

  • The average load time for a mobile landing page is 22 seconds.
  • 70% of pages take 7 seconds to load the visual content above the fold.
  • 53% of users will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Actions to take:

  1. Double-down on optimising images, server response times and load times.
  2. Use the Test My Site tool to aid speed enhancements.
  3. Split-test KPIs (conversions, bounce, pages visited) between slow pages and fast pages.

Discussion:

There is no doubt that Google wants a faster mobile web (to display on their Android-powered mobile phones…). If the pages Google links to are slow, people will just ask on Facebook. Webmasters and websites are slow-moving beasts however, so this ground shift to a mobile-first, mobile-fast web world is taking a long time to eventuate, and as we are still seeing Geocities-like pages from the 1990s occasionally, may never fully happen.

Where most sites miss out is through an over-reliance on weighty images. Where possible, use text / CSS to remove the need for an image, and make sure your content caching is managed properly.  JavaScript load times and other issues pail in comparison.

More info:

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DMOZ Will Be No Longer

Summary:

  • DMOZ to close on March 14th 2017
  • No announcement yet on who will now take on the task of organising the web.

Actions to take:

  1. Remove any remaining “noodp” meta tags.
  2. Give up that grudge against the fabled DMOZ editor who just wouldn’t list your site.

Discussion:

DMOZ, like the also-defunct Yahoo! Directory was one the the last bastions of how the web “used to be”. Despite a remaining thirst for curated lists, neither of them could survive at their scale when faced with the exponential avalanches of content available.

Still, I do wish there was a good trustable source of quality, curated, organised content out there.

More info:

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Google Makes Programming Language Searches Easier

Summary:

  • Searches using 2-3 special characters will now return results relating to their programming language meaning
  • Searches including things like ==, +=, || will now produce meaningful results

Actions to take:

  1. Use more efficient operators when searching for programming tips.
  2. Be aware that disambiguation may now flow the other way.

Discussion:

On the face of it, this isn’t an earth-shattering development. However, this is no mean feat b y Google because “special” characters are just that: special. Usually they are discarded from input forms, or translated in some way as they have a habit of breaking the form, or the database, or in some instances the website. Escaping the characters, retrieving indexed content and returning it without falling into some backslash mess is pretty impressive.

More info:

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