The Week In Search SEO News 31 Mar 2017

What’s happened this week?

Rich, structured, pickings this week as schema.org 3.2 is released, Rich Cards Go Global, and podcasts get rich markup. Also, mobile interstitials get clarified and Google Optimise is released for free.

#StructuredData #RichSnippets #OrganicSERPs #MobileStrategy #CRO #GoogleOptimise

Schema.org 3.2: Menus and Courses

Summary:

  • Schema.org has released version 3.2 of the detailed markup schema.
  • Amongst a few additions, the big additions are schema for menus and schema for educational courses
  • This represents a significant opportunity for restaurants and educational establishments to markup their content
  • Doing this will enable them to stand out better in search results and provide faster ways for users to locate information.

Actions to take:

  1. Restaurants with a published menu should implement schema markup on the menu HTML page.
  2. Convert any PDF or Image versions of the menu to marked-up HTML.
  3. Educational establishments should include schema markup in the information and descriptions of their courses.

Discussion:

Even though schema, likes lots of collaborative technical projects, moves slightly slower than cold treacle on a cold day, it has over the years become an invaluable additional tool in the search ranking armoury – the SERPs stand-out increases clicks and out-performs position.

These moves to include menu breakdowns and educational courses are fantastic, in my view. It is likely that educational institutions will adopt more widely, if not more quickly. as a lot of their data is already well-systematised.

It would be fantastic if restaurants adopted this swiftly. There is almost nothing more frustrating than looking for a restaurant’s menu and having to open up a PDF, or worse, an image, or even worse, some sort of Flash abomination. However, most restaurant websites, aside from chains, are poorly designed, with a greater interest on artistic impression than acquiring customers.  This may change one day.

More info:

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Rich Cards Go Global

Summary:

  • There was a quiet update of the Rich Cards Introduction post announcing they have gone global and sites from across the world can now use them.
  • Rich Cards can be used for Movies and Recipes, and possibly, restaurants.
  • There are a number of content types listed in the Search Gallery. The likelihood is each of these will eventually have a Rich Card functionality available .

Actions to take:

  1. Cinemas, Movie Festivals and Recipe or Food websites should review the Developer Guide linked beneath.
  2. Other websites should review the content-types listed in the Search Gallery: Recipes, Events, Products, Reviews and Courses (educational) and include the mark-up as a matter of course.
  3. Implement the structured data markup, as per the guide.
  4. Review analytics and other measurement tools for increased traffic and engagement.
  5. Note – using the markup does not guarantee display, but if it’s not being used, then it definitely won’t be displayed.

Discussion:

For me, Rich Cards vary between incredibly useful and incredibly annoying. I am very pleased that the cards have gone global as a number of my favourite recipe websites were not US based and the occasional rich cards from other sources, were sometimes annoying.

From personal experience, you still have to have the product to back up the card, otherwise it’s even more of a let-down.

More info:

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Podcasts Getting Rich Results

Summary:

  • Another quiet addition to the Rich world: podcasts have been added as a data-type for display as Rich Data in Google search results.

Actions to take:

  1. If producing regular audio content, consider framing it as a podcast and following the developer guidelines.
  2. If running an existing podcast, update pages, content and RSS Feeds to match the specifications laid out by Google.

Discussion:

I was sure podcasts had disappeared off the planet, what with the advent of streaming services, but it seems not. In fact, based on their popularity (possibly to the techie community), they are now worthy of their own schema markup.

It will be useful to be able to hunt for a podcast through the Google interface, rather than going through the (usually) painful interface of whichever podcast player is being tried. It would be even more handy, if, as well as tap-to-listen, one could right-click, or long-tap to subscribe in a player of your choice.

More info:

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Mobile Interstitials: Chat Boxes & Store Locators

Summary:

  • JohnMu fended off two webmasters last week asking if their user-experience pop-ups on mobile wold be seen as mobile interstitials
  • They would.
  • An interstitial causes the obscuring content to be indexed rather than the obscured content. Googlebot indexes what it sees.

Actions to take:

  1. Don’t pop up an interstitial on mobile. Or on desktop for that matter.
  2. If using an interstitial, or a pop-up, work out the user experience, so the user can generate the action by click or tap.
  3. Or use a small signal like a banner, or a small slide-out instead.
  4. Action 3

Discussion:

Auto-triggered pop-ups and interstitials (once known as Full-Page Ads) have annoyed internet users since time immemorial. Don’t do it. If the only way to alert a user to an option (or an email to sign-up for) is to use a pop-up then there is something very wrong with the site’s UX and information architecture.

One interesting thing to come out of this was the information that the content in the pop-up overlay would be indexed rather than the content underneath. This is a great example of Google indexing what it sees, and the ability to understand and interpret the difference between the code and the display.

Just remember that Googlebot is pretty smart, so if the thought strikes “well, we won’t serve the pop-up top Googlebot”, then remember that has the absolute potential to be seen as cloaking with all the dire de-indexing penalties potential.

More info:

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Google Optimise For *Everyone*

Summary:

  • Google has opened up its Optimise product to everyone, for free.
  • Now all businesses using Google Analytics have the opportunity to A/B test their website traffic.
  • Google’s Optimise 360 is still pay-to-play

Actions to take:

  1. Sign-in to Optimise with the Google Account which runs Google Analytics.
  2. Try the WYSIWYG Visual Editor and targeting capabilities.
  3. Set up a test test to see how much using an A/B Testing regime might impact sales, bottom-line and decision making.

Discussion:

I’m pretty sure my addled mind has this down as being a revamp of Google Website Optimiser, which disappeared a few years ago.

Even though Optimise isn’t a full-featured suite of complex testing tools, for the price (free), it really is very good.

Apparently 45% of SMBs do not use any form of A/B Testing. To be honest, I’m surprised it is that low. I would have figured that a much larger percentage of them do not, or some of them who think they do run tests, in reality don’t.

More info:

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Bits and Pieces:

There were quite a few little snippets this week, so I thought, I’d add in some extras.

  • Fred Update
    • This has now been confirmed, and consensus seems to be settling on ad-heavy, thin-content sites being hit particularly. The ad-heavy, thin content sites Google has been hitting for about 15 years now. H/T SE Roundtable
  • GMB Automated Conflict Resolution
  • Facebook Likes Really Aren’t Counted by Google
    • I’d like to think the Twitter conversation starter “LordofSEO” was being ironic..
    • Google can’t access the Like data. Likes can be gamed (even FB doesn’t use them as a main surfacing metric). Likes only occasionally correlate as a measure of a site’s utility to a user – and even then the correlation is very weak, owing to different social & engagement strategies.
  • Google has updated their Safe Browsing Site Status Tool
    • Very useful if you want to check and fix your site – especially if you think you may have been hacked.
  • Local Spam
    • This is a great blogpost on Moz showcasing some interesting discoveries around businesses using keywords to name themselves for the purpose of enhancing their Google Local listing.
    • On the one hand, it’s a bit spammy. On the other hand, it is useful to know if a company is a (say) Personal Injury Lawyer, rather than trying to work it out from the name Sue, Grabbit & Runne.
  • That’s it 😉

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