SEO News & Updates 3rd November 2017

What are the latest SEO News & Updates for w/e 3rd November 2017?

I’m excited by this week’s SEO News & Updates.

I think they make for really good reading, but I am biased:

#SEO #SEONews #SERP #GooglePosts #StructuredData #AMA #PageSpeed


Google Releases New Curvy Mobile Results

Key Issues Summary:

  • Google has started to roll out a new curvy look on its mobile results.
  • This is a significant update to its look and feel on mobile. Probably the biggest since the 2013 “card” design was first rolled out.
  • It includes all boxes including Universal Search boxes and ads.
  • This appears to mix elements of Google’s Material Design (see its Web Fundamentals area) and the rounded corners of Bootstrap and *cough* Apple – remember that argument?

Google Search Goes Curvy On Mobile

Key Actions To Take:

  1. It has to be said, there are few actions to take in response to this.
  2. You should take the next two points to anyone who has a hand in designing your mobile site though…
  3. One point to note strongly as you admire the corner radii of the new Google look is that Google’s key links under the search box are not hidden away in a hamburger.  Keep your key navigation links displayed, even on mobile.
  4. The second point about the key links is that they are *under* the search box, the key action people want to take on the page.
  5. Logo, action, key links, content. Make sure your mobile designers remember this mantra.
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss making your site more user friendly on mobile.

Insights & Discussion:

Google is constantly fiddling with look and feel. They must have whole departments whose job it is to change and test CSS.

Testing, analysing and improving are good things to do on any website, at any time, although Google does have the luxury of a few squillion daily visitors to test on and get good confidence scores from their tests.

As far as the design goes, I have been known to wear rollneck jumpers, but I’m no critic. As long as the design makes it clearer for the user to do what they want to do, I’m all for it. I do feel that boxed content works well in some instances to distinguish separate areas (like on this page), but I’m not sure each search result should get its own result – as they are seen as distinct entities then, rather than a body of results. You would probably find that the result of “boxing” is that clicks gravitate towards the top, rather than distribute down the page.

More Information:

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Google Posts Impact Rankings

Key Issues Summary:

  • Well, well. A study has been conducted by Joy Hawkins on SE Land, and it appears that adding Google Posts to Google My Business has a minor, but long-lasting impact on local rankings.
  • The study wan’t a huge one by any stretch, but the implication is clear: if you engage with Google, you are more likely to be rewarded.
  • It is unlikely to break out of any local filtering, however. Or give you a listing you didn’t already have.

Google Posts Impacts Local Rankings

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Try Google Posts. I’ve been recommending them to clients for a while now for promotions, events and the like.
  2. Follow the Google My Business Posts instructions to add your content.
  3. Remember that these posts expire quickly, unless they are for an event.
  4. Remember to add campaign (UTM) tracking to your URLs to track through to Google Analytics.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss your options for implementing Google Posts and seeing if they work for you.

Insights & Discussion:

The single best thing about Google Posts is the ability to have a CTA button and link it directly to an action. Combined with the recent addition of Google enabling direct bookings, Google is really stepping up into the “put the action directly into search” realm.

For businesses whose users search for them through Google, this is a great option. You do need to carefully manage what appears in search, and where it links to, but the benefits are likely to significantly outweigh the costs on this one.

If I’m very honest, I don’t see ranking impacts from adding Google Posts lasting very long. Fairly soon, they’ll be on everyone’s radar and it’ll be standard practice. It’s also likely that Google would start to algorithmically filter low quality results from being shown.

The effect of this is likely from the fact that the GMB listing is in effect being updated with fresh content. Remember that Google likes fresh content (not as much as relevant content), but it does like fresh stuff for its spiders to munch. There may also be some effect from more relevant content being added to the listing (assuming the posts are relevant and, in all likelihood, product-related.

More Information:

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Google Wants To Drop Structured Data

Key Issues Summary:

  • Google, as part of a long-held dream, wants to stop using structured data.
  • It can’t, at the moment, but it would like to.
  • In the future, Google would like its algorithms (AI, of course) to remove the need for structured data, schema and the like.

Google Wants To Drop Structured Data

Key Actions To Take:

  1. This doesn’t mean you can ditch structured data right now.
  2. Google is stating a longer-term aim, like the idea of having websites which don’t need HTML.
  3. What you should be doing is using structured data right now.
  4. If you are not using structured data, you are missing out.
  5. (Use JSON-LD – Google much prefers it)
  6. Note that in the future, based on where Google is at now, you will still need to structure data in some way for it to be intelligible.
  7. Click here to contact me to discuss how using structured data can improve your web presence.

Insights & Discussion:

Structured data does my head in. Mainly because its current incarnation is structured in a very literal sense, which means it makes sense to computers and data munchers, but very little to users.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take every opportunity to understand how it can and should be used on your website.  You should, you really should. It won’t necessarily help your rankings, or drive featured snippets, but it may give you more exposure in search by taking up more valuable real estate. The other thing is that all the other bots which read structured data can also suddenly read and interpret your content – that in itself is a big win for controlling what is excerpted from your content.

Over the longer term, Google really wants to take the web as it is and have the algorithms to interpret every bit of content, without the need for special code to help it. That’s a noble aim, much like the designer’s desire to separate layout from code, by adding CSS instead of HTML. But…. we’re really a long way from this happening. You can see Google’s first baby steps in this area  in Featured Snippets which are not driven by structured data, but instead are as a result of Google’s text parsing abilities.

(Speaking of AI, don;t believe the hype. What we have now are very complex algorithms based on rules. Even where they are self-learning, they are still based on rules. Once we move to origination of code, we’ll have AI. Until then it’s fancy code).

More Information:

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Google Gary’s SMX AMA

Key Issues Summary:

Google Gary Illyes SMX AMA

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Read Eric’s post there are some gems in it.
  2. Try not to deconstruct Gary’s words too much. There are things he can’t say, bosses he has to report to, and internal politics play a part in what actually makes it into the algorithms.
  3. That said, try not to take everything he does say absolutely literally for the same reasons as above.
  4. Stop pruning content and disavowing links. There are better ways to achieve better outcomes.
  5. Say thanks to reddit for giving us the AMA!
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss this further.

Insights & Discussion:

We’d all love to have the insights into Google algorithms that people like Gary and John Mueller have. However, it is really worth remember that they are cogs in the machine. They do not and cannot know everything. They will be across big changes, and may know some of the detail, but will not know it all at the exact code level.

In fact, it’s better to surmise that unlike Coke’s recipe, there is no central list of everything that goes into the algorithm that one person could know. If there was, we’d have a leak by now and the “secrets” would be revealed. Humans are much poorer at keeping secrets than computers.

For a long time I have advocated that no one knows the algorithm, and I think this is borne out by the post-update fluctuations we see, as Google reacts to unintended consequences. If they knew the algorithm, those fluctuations would have already been sorted before release. Too many people spend too long assuming the algorithm is knowable. It’s not.

More Information:

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Code Cutting To Improve Page Speed

Key Issues Summary:

  • Ian Lurie published an excellent write-up of his adventures in code cutting and trimming in his quest for more Page Speed.
  • Essentially, it revolves around using Google Chrome’s Code Coverage report to remove the navel fluff of code that accumulates in all websites.
  • Think unused CSS, extraneous JavaScript and general code bloat.
  • I like the approach, and think it was a really interesting exercise, but I’m not sure it is truly scalable unless you are working at the template level. It’s part of the solution, rather than being the solution.

Code Cutting for Page Speed

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Read Ian’s post. It’s a good read, especially if you like a bit of geekery in your life.
  2. Follow his instructions and be very, very careful in what you excise.
  3. Once completed, revel in your masterly domination of The Code.
  4. And then make your website, rather than a single web page, quicker by other means as well, like caching, using common resources, tweaking and improving your web server and hosting service. Doing that will yield greater benefits over a longer period.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss how to speed up your website.

Insights & Discussion:

Google’s fascination with Page Speed is good. Anything which speeds up surfing is an excellent thing to pursue.

But Google’s PageSpeed too means that people focus on a single web page rather than a website and rather than selecting and executing upgrades which would have a more significant effect. People unfortunately believe that a number on Google’s Page Speed tool are the answers to their speed prayers, and they aren’t always.

Code should always be sparse. CSS should only be what you need. JavaScript should process no more than it needs to change a dynamic element. Wherever possible you should cache things over the internet for as long as possible.

But you should also make sure that your hosting and serving environment is top-notch. The better your environment, the better equipment your data gets routed through, the higher the priority your packets are given as they route through the TCP/IP algorithms which keep the internet pumping. Too often web sites underspend on their hosting, and that is critical to success.

Every time I’ve upgraded hosting properly, I’ve seen increases in traffic and revenue between 50% and 200%. Speed really isn’t to be sneezed at.

More Information:

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SEO Bits & Pieces w/e 03 November 2017

SEO Bits & Pieces 3rd November 2017

  • Uh-oh. A US court has instructed Google to pay no heed to the Canadian Supreme Court’s recent edict we covered a while ago: Canada Orders Global Google De-Indexation. Cue closed borders, and shrinking supply of loonies to the US. I told you it would get ignored. In reality, it was never going to happen. Courts are generally sovereign within their own borders, but not beyond.
  • Google recommends using the Fetch & Submit if you’re really having trouble getting a URL crawled and indexed. Of course, it’s still not a guarantee for indexing, but it may help if you’re having particular trouble.
  • Majestic is continuing the All Tools to All People development arms race, as all tools adopt each others features, by adding ranking data from Google Search Console into its rank tracking. As ever, use the GSC ranking data wisely. It’s useful, but can sometimes be misleading if interpreted wrongly. Still good on them for not being seen as a black hat scraper, which was Google’s old attitude to ranking tools. Next week, I expect them to give us back the Not Provided data in Analytics.
  • PSA from Google: your ALT language pages do not need to to exact word for word translations. Well, of course not. HREF.lang has nothing to do with canonicalisation & duplication. The word in use has always been a “version” of your page. Version does not mean exact copy. The flip side is that if your international copy is an exact copy of each other, especially if same language, then getting indexed and ranked in that locality can be a challenge.
  • Google says structured data is not needed for Rich Snippets (see Structured Data post above), but it is currently recommended.
  • Click here to contact me to discuss these devilishly distracting SEO Bits & Pieces further.

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TL;DR

  • Google has updated the look and feel of mobile results with much more curvy panels. Looks a bit like Twitter if you ask me.
  • Using Google Posts can have a small impact on your local rankings. I told you to use them.
  • Google wishes it was smart enough to not need structured data to interpret the web. But it does. And will continue to do so for the foreseeable.
  • Gary Illyes gave a good AMA session at SMX East. Lots of interesting stuff in it, a lot of which I’ve covered.
  • Ian Lurie posted a long piece on code cutting to improve page speed.
  • And some highly enjoyable SEO Bits & Pieces
  • Bullet 3

Thanks for reading the SEO News & Updates for w/e 3rd November 2017.

If you would like to discuss what these changes mean for your web property, or would like to know how to implement any of them, please feel free to contact me. I don’t bite.

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