The Week In Search 11 August 2017

What’s the latest SEO News this week?

Read this TWIS SEO News & Updates for w/e 11 August 2017, and you will discover the following fabulous stories:

#SEO #AdBlocking #JavaScript #GoogleMyBusiness #VoiceSearch #SERP


Showing annoying ads? Google is about to contact you 

Summary:

  • As we revealed in the post Google Chrome To Block Bad Ads, Google is (almost) taking the scourge of annoying ads seriously.
  • Google blogged recently that they will soon start to notify webmasters of those sites with annoying ads that their ads are annoying.
  • They haven’t released a strict timeline beyond “over the next few weeks”
  • Nor have they announced how they will notify webmasters, but it will likely be through Google Search Console.
  • Apparently, Google has discovered that “small” websites rather than “mainstream publishers, like daily newspapers, or business publications” are the biggest causes of issues. Hmm.

Google Annoying Ads Contact

Actions to take:

  1. If you don’t have Google Search Console, use the Basic Google Search Console guide to help set one up.
  2. Once done, check your site against the Ad Experience Report to check if any issues exist yet.
  3. If there are, follow the instructions and guidelines to rectify.
  4. If there aren’t, you can always check your ads against the Better Ads Standards
  5. Or, you can wait to see if Google contacts you – either by message in Google Search Console, or by email to the verified owner’s address.
  6. Or, finally, you can wait to see if Chrome actually blocks your ads.
  7. Contact me to discuss ways to make sure your ads are compliant with the Coalition for Better Ads standards.

Discussion:

Google is playing an interesting game here. I think most of the web would be pleased that obnoxious ads are called out and removed. It will be good when Chrome blocks bad ads, and even better when Google actually stops ranking these sites in SERPs**.

I am a little surprised by Google’s claim that most issues stem from smaller websites rather than the larger publishers. I think this must be by domain count rather than by complaint count. Certainly some of the biggest publishers are also some of the most aggressive servers of annoying ads, and when web discussions erupt about these, they tend to mentioned veryu frequently.

Of course, the cynic in me wonders if that statement hasn’t been put out by Google as a means   of reassuring those brands and sources, as there is a touch of a symbiotic relationship between them. I would hope Google is already giving them the nudge, but we will see if they don’t drop these ads, and they continue to evade Chrome’s blockers, and rank well.

**Google’s various algorithmic ranking penalties don’t yet apply to “annoying” ads, but do to being top-heavy, dominant / content obscuring and mobile interstitial amongst others. Time will tell if these criteria also get included in Google’s ranking algorithms.

More info:

Return to Top


Google Advises SEOs to teach JS Devs

Summary:

  • John Mueller started a bit of a Twitter fest when he advised SEOs to learn from JS devs and share SEO knowledge with them.
  • You could say this touched a raw nerve, and a lively discussion took place.
  • JavaScript is great sometimes, and not great at other times – pretty much the same as SEO.
  • Both sides of the discussion need to work together. Too often, the JS side of things have been developed before SEO is a consideration, and SEOs just want to ignore JS.

Google JS Devs Learn From SEOs

Actions to take:

  1. Read the Twitter thread. There is an element of amusing spluttering.
  2. Don’t code solely in JS. It is not yet completely crawlable and indexable. Remember that Find, Crawl, Index are the foundation of SEO success.
  3. If coding in JS, run mini-tests using Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render to test what can actually be be read, and build incrementally.
  4. Remember Google expends extra effort to crawl JS.
  5. When building, ensure SEO is included right at the start of any dev project. Just before launch, or post-launch is often too late.
  6. Don’t rely on JS devs to do SEO, in the same way you wouldn’t rely on SEOs to dev JS.
  7. Contact me to chat about how to ensure JS and SEO play nicely together.

Discussion:

Ah, life is funny. A few years ago Flash was the next big thing, and look where that is now: Flash Death Announced. JavaScript is currently riding high due to publishers’ desires for dynamic websites, but the lack of desire to foot the processing bill to serve them has driven the push to using our phones / tablets and computers to do the processing for them. Google has always loved low-powered distributed computing, hence its love for JS.

John is right, JavaScript is not going away in the short term, but it will not last forever. Its flexibility whilst being its strength will also be its downfall, as there is no core JS standard, but different frameworks or packages.

Google still has Issues With Crawling and Indexing JavaScript, despite all its best crawling efforts and it is foolish for any dev to rely on Googlebot expending the additional effort to send a JS URL to its Web Rendering Service. Its also foolish for an SEO to rely purely on flat HTML anymore.

Until there is a standard JS framework, it will always be a challenge for devs and SEOs,

More info:

Return to Top


Google Adwords Keyword Planner Lets “Okay Google” Results Slip

Summary:

  • Every now and again, Google is adding “okay Google {search query}” to the data returned by Google Adwords Keyword Planner, such as “okay Google mortgage calculator” in the example.
  • John  Lincoln showed this on Twitter.
  • This may be an error, in Google not stripping “okay Google” from the query.
  • It may also be users saying “okay Google” twice.
  • It may even be people typing “okay Google” into search, either because they think they should, or the want to compare voice results to typing.
  • It could also be people using the mic button on Google search and using “okay Google”.
  • There isn’t currently a way to strip out voice search data from other search volumes.

OK Google In Keyword Planner Results

Actions to take:

  1. Keep an eye on Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Google may eventually show voice search data.
  2. Remember that voice search keywords usually vary between conversational “show me…” and  a bare instruction, like a head term search.
  3. The query length stats show that the length for voice and typed queries are very similar, but this does not take into account the very different structures to the queries.
  4. Contact me to discuss ways to optimise content to surface in “okay Google” voice search.

Discussion:

Voice search, according to Google, is the coming thing. We’ve had Millennials Making Voice Device Purchases and Google Instant No More, as a result of mobile and voice search. I do have a feeling it will take as long as the mobile internet to arrive properly (I was looking as WAP websites on a friend’s mobile in 1998-99), and by properly I mean to be as ubiquitous as mobile search is currently.

This is perhaps the reason why Google doesn’t release much voice search data beyond generalised numbers which when you dig into them are PR-driven aggregations or conveniently indistinct classifications. This is a shame. I think a lot of people would really like to know how much voice search is actually out there, and whether or not they should prepare campaigns to take advantage, or even optimise their sites for voice search.

More info:

Return to Top


Google My Business Quietly Sneaks Out Action URLs

Summary:

  • They didn’t make a big deal out of it, but Google My Business has released links to specific action URLs into some listings. This is an extension of recent moves into Direct Actions.
  • These can be added manually to link directly to a specific action on site, or automatically to link to a third-party provider (as long as the provider is able to provide these URLs to Google).
  • The action URLs include: booking appointments, reserving tables, placing an order, viewing menus and searching for items.
  • Google doesn’t make mention whether this is available system-wide yet.

Google My Business Action URLs

Actions to take:

  1. Check your Google My Business listing to see if you can add Action URLs yet.
  2. If you can, consider adding them, following the Google My Business instructions here.
  3. If you use third party services to manage these actions, then your provider may already have been included, and your links may be showing.
  4. If they aren’t, then reach out to them, to find out if they have applied to be included in this effort by Google.
  5. Note that this is seperate to the update revealed in Google Posts Goes Live in Google My Business.
  6. Contact me to discuss implementation of this feature for your business.

Discussion:

It’s odd that this was rolled out quietly, as it’s potentially quite significant for GMB users. Perhaps Google My Business really wants to  use the third party data rather than the original source data. Using third party data would likely improve data purity and accuracy, possibly reduce spam, and also allow a charging avenue to the third party services.

If you run any kind of business, you should be on Google My Business, even if purely to take your spot. You should also take advantage of this to direct visitors straight into an action. With the advent of Google Posts,  even if we have doubts about it (Google Posts Not Quite Ready) Google is clearly taking a stab at the Direct Action part of the market.

More info:

Return to Top


Google Topic Tags Surfacing in SERPs

Summary:

  • Andreaa Calin spotted these distinctive topic tags in response to the query “latest Google update”, done on mobile
  • They are different to the current query expansion / extension pack and provided slightly different results.
  •  Interestingly the results for the query were poor (no QDF). I would have expected a stronger temporal element to the results and a link to pages listing the latest google updates. The dated listing is from March!
  • Clearly Google also had significant issue narrowing down the meaning of the search – “chrome”, “android”, really?
  • This is the second or third time this has popped up. It may be getting closer to general release.

Google Topic Tags in SERPs

Actions to take:

  1. If this is the way Google Search is going to take us, we are going to need to be very broad in our approach to on-page terminology used to describe content.
  2. If it’s not, and Google is going to get tagging a bit more relevant, then the same rules apply as they do currently.
  3. Occasionally research your keyword / topics through Google itself.
  4. See what is listed.
  5. Look at what related searches pop up.
  6. Build content that serves those needs to rank across the spectrum of searches.
  7. Don’t asssume that a page should focus on a single keyword, or that a limited set of keywords / topics should be all that you need for ranking success.
  8. Contact me to discuss how to build our keyword / topic research properly to appear in a much broader range of searches.

Discussion:

We know that Google is always testing different layouts, features etc in search, such as: Google Testing Featured Snippets, or Google Tests Auto Playing Videos in SERPs and it is often up to eagle-eyed SEOs to spot these fleeting tests.

The assumption is that there is a closed, or very small, group who weed out the really silly ideas, followed by a wider group who refine again, and then finally some of the general public get to see them and their actions will impact how soon it is before the change is implemented.

You have to think that by the time Google shows these things to a number of people, they are fairly close to being ready.

More info:

Return to Top


SEO Bits & Pieces

  • Google, in the latest example of Big Digital copying slightly smaller digital, is rumoured to be bringing a feature similar to Snapchat Discover to search. Apparently it will be called Stamp & be based on AMP.  Poor old Snap, it’s not having a lot of luck keeping its ideas to itself. Still, good testing ground for Google and Facebook.Snap Discover Google Stamp
  • Few tears were cried when a insurance link spammer generator slid out of business as colleges stopped responding to their “scholarship program” outreach. Having worked with insurance companies, they really struggle to keep things clean.
  • In unsurprising news of the week, John Mueller confirmed that the size of your CSS file didn’t really stop Google from crawling and indexing your content. “<10’s of MBs” was his phrase. I sure hope a file (or files) of that size are cached around the web, as that would be monstrous, and slow, to load every time.
  • In further unsurprising news, there is no such thing as an expired redirect. Remove the redirect and any value which passes through it goes back to the originating URL, or lost if it 404s, which is more likely. Which idiot SEOs recommend removing 301 redirects?
  • John Mu reminded webmasters that Googlebot doesn’t pass a referer. Although it may do when fetching embedded (src) files like CSS, scripts etc. Have these webmasters never looked at a log file?

Return to Top


TL;DR

  • Google is about to start rolling out notices to websites with annoying ads. Apparently big publishers are blameless;
  • JS devs needs to take a lesson or two from SEOs;
  • OK Google results make strange appearance in Adwords Keyword data;
  • Google My Business releases Action URLs very quietly;
  • Topic tags make an underwhelming surface in SERP;
  • Some very interesting Bits & Pieces.
  • Read the following: Find Crawl IndexMobile First Is Not Mobile Friendly, and The State of SEO in Mid 2017

Thanks for reading. If you would like to discuss what these changes mean for your web property, or would like to know how to implement them, please feel free to contact me.

Return to Top