The Week In Search 18 August 2017

What’s the SEO News and Updates for this week?

Read the very latest SEO News and Updates for w/e 18th August 2017. It is packed with a fine array of news, insights, and actions to keep your SEO tip-top.

#SEO #HTTPS #StructuredData #MobileSearch #VoiceSearch #WebDev


Google Warns of Upcoming Chrome HTTP Warnings 

Summary – Chrome HTTP Warnings:

  • The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted the story I posted last week: Google Sending HTTP Security Warnings Now – you really should read it.
  • Google Search Console has been sending out warnings to the owners of properties in Google Search Console who do not have an https property also verified.
  • The warning advises that from October, Google Chrome will start to mark any page with  form element on it as Not Secure, if the URL is not on HTTPS.
  • The release date of this version of Chrome is October 17th, 2017. The email was generated two months prior to that release date, which unfortunately was  just just after midnight last Friday morning. Cue a number of people panicking over the weekend.

Google Search Console Chrome HTTP Warning

Actions to take – Chrome HTTPS Warnings:

  1. Read the actions in Google Sending HTTP Security Warnings Now.
  2. If you received a warning, but have an HTTPS variant of your website, include the HTTPS variant in Google Search Console. You should also 301 Redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.
  3. If you do not have an HTTPS variant, migrate your website to HTTPS, using 301 Redirects.
  4. Migrating is always not a super complex issue, but care does need to be taken to follow a sensible methodology from Point 1 to Point XX.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss migrating to HTTPS. I have a wealth of successful migration experience we can use to make sure traffic and rankings are preserved, or increased.

Discussion:

Google has been getting more and more strident in its clear wish that all websites should be served on HTTPS. This is a good thing generally, as it is valuable to for user to know that their information is secured on it journey between their browser and your servers.

Much has been made of some recent posts regarding the “issue”  that HTTPS does not make your website secure. This isn’t an issue, because it is not the point of HTTPS. You can still have as many open backends, or databases as you want. HTTPS is all about securing the data as it is transferred between the user’s browser and your server. Nothing more, nothing less.

More info:

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Google Issues Structured Markup Spam Manual Actions

Summary – Structured Markup Manual Actions:

  • Google has been issuing a bunch of spammy structured markup manual actions.
  • Webmasters / site owners have been receiving emails from Google Search Console.
  • If received, a manual action is in place and remedial work needs to be undertaken before submitting a reconsideration request.
  • The majority of actions appear to be for spammy review markup.
  • Note that this only applies to “rich” listings, it does not apply to normal SERP results.

 

Spammy Structured Data Manual Actions

Actions to take – Structured Markup Manual Actions:

  1. If you have received one of these notifications, it is time to review your structured data implementation.
  2. Note, it is also best to double check your Google Search Console installation, as there is always the chance that the email did not make it through.
  3. Review Google’s Structured Data Guidelines to check for obvious issues.
  4. Fix the issues, and submit the Reconsideration Request.
  5. Contact me if you would like to discuss implementing structured data properly on your website to maximise exposure in search.

Discussion:

Structured data is the new wild west of spam. And reviews are those fearsome border towns where there’s a shootout every 10 minutes, and gangs of outlaws roam the prairies (so to speak).

In most instances it seems these websites have been using review markup to carry across to non-product pages – eg “this website / business as a whole has a 5-star review”, rather than “this product has a 4 star review”. As is usual, there was a degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the injustice of Google running its search product the way it wants. Unsurprisingly as well, there is a good deal of fake reviews in the mix.

Webmasters who want to use a whole of business review rating need to find al alternative way of showing trust and quality to end users.

More info:

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Google Releases 6 Second Video Previews in Mobile Search

Summary – Google 6 Second Video Previews:

  • Google has released 6-second video previews into the mobile search interface.
  • These are currently only available on Chrome, or in the Google app on Android.
  • The video clips are algorithmically created from the video.
  •  In line with most other platforms, the video clips will only auto-play on WiFi unless you elect to auto-play on mobile data.

Google Six Second Video Clips

Actions to take – Google 6 Second Video Previews:

  1. If your videos are surfacing in SERP now, then expect further traction with these 6 second clips.
  2. The six seconds are chosen algorithmically, there is currently no way to influence which six seconds are chosen.
  3. Monitor your video analytics to see if your watch-time increases as a result of users heing primed with a preview.
  4. Contact me if you would like to discuss ways to surface your videos in Google’s organic search results.

Discussion:

Well, the world is going 6 second video mad. It’s interesting that this seems to be the length which gets people most engaged.

Facebook has had significant success with integrating video directly into the feed, LinkedIn has recently started to include video (although neither are using the 6 second format) and it’s only natural for Google to take a leaf out of their book.

You would imagine that following a six-second preview, a viewer of your video is much more likely to engage with it for a longer time, or click onwards. It will be interesting to see.

As a result of this, more people are likely to try video. It will be come more congested, and your video and video pages will need to be optimised better.

More info:

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33% Increase in Google Voice Search Languages

Summary – 33% Increase Voice Search Languages:

  • Voice search is really starting to ramp up now. Or at least Google is hoping it will.
  • Google has increased the number of languages it talks in voice search from 89 to 119, a 33% increase.
  • The languages are not all small, or minor, by any stretch of the imagination, including Bengali, Swahili, Amharic.
  • The other thing Google has snuck into this update is the ability, in the US at least, to include emojis in voice search / voice typing. “Insert winky face emoji etc”.

Google Increases Voice Search Languages

Actions to take – 33% Increase Voice Search Languages:

  1. If you haven’t already started optimising for Voice Search, you should, although we arer still a very long way from this being the dominant type of searching.
  2. Most Voice Searches are either relatively simple voice research queries: “what time is…”, “when is…”, “where is…” for an instant answer, or they are natural language versions of detailed search queries to pull up the search results page.
  3. Create voice search content which answer specific research queries.
  4. Create content which uses natural language versions of search queries.
  5. Contact me to discuss how to create optimised content for voice queries.

Discussion:

We are still a long way from voice search being the dominant type of searching. The fact that Google hinted at the beginning of 2016 that Voice Search numbers would be coming to Google Analytics “soon” but we haven’t yet seen anything indicates that uptake is slow. (Google will be tracking the data, but it is choosing not to break it out – probably it it still statistically insignificant).

Still, it is always better to be prepared. Look how long it took mobile to become the dominant force in search, somewhere approaching 8-10 years. It could be that voice search takes as long, or it could ramp up supremely quickly now that we all have a mobile in our hand.  As we saw recently in these two posts voice is getting there, and everyone wants a piece of the pie: Millennials Making Voice Device Purchases, and Google Lets Okay Google Keywords Results Slip Out.

More info:

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How to Block Your Staging Server and Remove URLs from Google

Summary – How to Block Staging Server:

  • John Mueller wrote up a piece on Google+ re how to best block your staging server from prying eyes
  • He also included how to remove it from the Google index using Google Search Console.
  • You’d be surprised how many sites have their staging server open, available and potentially causing duplicate content, security, all sorts of issues.
  • Beneath is a snapshot of some Australian staging servers available. A few big names, who really ought to know better, or pick more technically adept design / development agencies:

Open Staging Servers Australia

Actions to take – How to Block Staging Server:

  1. If listed above, you should remove your staging server from Google’s index.
  2. 301 redirect the staging URLs to the live URLs.
  3. Use an XML Sitemap to give Google all URLs to 301 redirect.
  4. Alternatively, remove using the Google Search Console URL Removal Tool.
  5. Next time you’re on staging, use a username and password to control access.
  6. Ensure the noindex tag is used, just in case and, then removed pre go-live.
  7. You could also canonical to the live URL, but this is probably a bit tricky.
  8. Contact me to get help removing your URLs from Google’s index, or preventing your staging and development URLs from getting indexed in the first place.

Discussion:

I find it quite shocking some of the companies listed in that screengrab. They really ought to know better.

Having staging server URLs in the index can cause duplicate content issues, or canonical URLs issues, or even, embarrassment issues as content on staging may be placeholder and never intended to go live.

However you look at it, having Staging URLs in Google’s index, is not a Good Thing, and it is easily preventable and remediated.

More info:

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Bits & Pieces

  • URL structure is not important for SEO – says Google. It’s not terribly important, and people spend far too long fussing over it, but I’d still rather have a decently organised URL structure. Especially if it is used to drive the Information Architecture, and other taxonomies.
  • Allergy sufferers may be relieved to know that Google is about to attempt to surface local pollen levels in its search results / local information panel. This is not to be sneezed at.
  • Want to know if your page is mobile friendly, but really can’t be bothered to set up a Google Search Console account? Now all you need to do it query “mobile friendly” and Google will pop up a little test box to run a URL through. Of course, it could be a competitor URL.
  • Google dislikes algorithm monitors, calling them “blackhat scrapers”. Which is a little strong in my opinion, but there you go. I sometimes wonder how much traffic in the Keyword Volume data is actually tool monitoring traffic. I don’t think Google purposely runs interference on these tools yet, but it would probably like to.
  •  In exciting XML Sitemap news, Google says it cares about URLs and Last Modification date in them. Not a surprise, and neither is the fact that they ignore Update Frequency and Priority – most of which have been spammed to death. Pro tip: don’t bother updating your Last Modified if you haven’t actually updated it. All you’ll do is remove Google’s trust in the information and cause them to crawl your site less often.

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TL;DR

  • Google is busy sending out HTTP warnings to HTTPS laggards;
  • Google issues structured data spam manual actions. Spammers moan;
  • Google releases 6 second video previews in mobile search;
  • Whopping 33% increase in voice search languages;
  • How to block your staging server, and other essentials for silly WebDevs;
  • As well as some exceptionally interesting bits & pieces.
  • Want to get indexed, but don’t know where to start? Check out the Basic SEO Guides.
  • While you’re there, check out the Find, Crawl, Index mantra.
  • Have fun 🙂

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.

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