If you’re extremely pushed for time we’ve condensed this month’s post into the one-minute video below.
Your to do list this month!
- Check your inbox for notifications of move to mobile-first
- Consider rewriting your meta descriptions for your best performing content
Mobile-first index, first invites received!
Filed under: The SERPs > Mobile-first
We reported last month that Google had announced that the mobile-first index has started rolling out and that Google would notify webmasters via their Search Console when their sites had been moved across. People started receiving notifications towards the end of last month, according to Search Engine Land.
Make sure you’re ready for the transition to mobile-first indexation!
Take a look at your site again from a mobile device. Is the experience as rewarding as from a large desktop screen? If you’ve got a responsive site is what you see on mobile exactly the same as what you see on desktop? On some sites the menus can differ, as can some of the features.
Ask your SEO to crawl your site for mobile devices and compare the results with a desktop crawl. They may just be surprised what they find.
And keep an eye out for that notification that your site has been moved, or ask your SEO to check your server logs.
Image by peterstuartmill
Is it worth rewriting your meta descriptions?
Filed under: Website optimisation > On-page
Yoast, creators of the widely-used WordPress SEO plugin, published the findings of some research they’d conducted into their own website, about how Google use meta descriptions. These are the text descriptions that appear below the title and url in a snippet returned on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
If you’ve spent anytime looking at on-page fields such as the meta description for your content, and the SERPs on which your snippets appear, you’ll probably have noticed that Google don’t use your descriptions in every instance.
Towards the end of last year Google confirmed they had doubled the maximum length that meta descriptions could be, from 160 to 320 characters. Since then many webmasters have been asking themselves whether it’s worth making changes to their descriptions, especially since there’s little to no guarantee that Google will use them.
You can read about the study on Yoast’s blog. I’d agree with their key takeaway that unless you’ve got lots of time on your hands, start by considering changing your meta descriptions for your best performing content. If that means using the additional characters at your disposal, then so be it. Then work your way down the list.
As above, pull a list to show your best performing content – I use Search Console data for this – and merge this information with a crawl of a site. Start from the top and work your way down.
Image by steve_a_johnson
Google autocomplete. Ever wondered how they do that?
Filed under: The SERPs > Design/Features
Google published a blog post last month about their autocomplete feature, which, if you’ve searched for anything ever (that is everyone right??), you’ll have noticed.
Designed to save you time and improve your search experience – because theoretically you don’t need to type as many characters when you search – autocomplete they claim reduces typing on average by about 25%. They go on to make it clear that this is a predictive feature based on previous searches on their engine. It’s not making suggestions for what you should search for.
Whichever way you look at it I’m sure you agree it’s pretty clever and useful, so hat tip to the clever people at Google from here.
Take a read of the blog post to find out more and to see see how much time this feature saves you over the course of the year. Mind-boggling!
Did you notice a change in your keyword rankings?
Filed under: The SERPs > Algo updates
Google confirmed, via their Search Liaison account on Twitter, that there had been an update to their broad search algorithm last month, as they ‘routinely do throughout the year’. Their advice is that there’s nothing for webmasters to do, and that any updates of this nature should benefit ‘under-rewarded’ content/websites.
The way I read this advice is to keep on doing the things we’ve been told to do i.e. publishing quality content that specifically addresses the intent of searches. And to do it a little better than the content that already ranks well.
Take a look at your keywords rankings and be aware that if you notice any fluctuations, that this broad algo update may have had something to do with it. Other than that, keep on keeping on!
What influences who shows up in the local pack?
Filed under: Local SEO > Local Pack
There’s been much written in the past about the factors which influence which businesses rank in the local pack on the SERPs. A quick reminder that the local pack is the map with businesses listed on it, which tends to appear directly below the sponsored links and over the organic listings.
We’ve not had anything from the horses mouth (for horse, read Google) on this, but the largest recent and respected study, Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, suggested the most important factors were Business Signals, Link Signals and then On-Page Signals, in that order. Business Signals includes the data collected about the business from their Google My Business listing. Of course these listings include the address of the business, and many SEOs would agree that proximity – i.e. the distance between the searcher and the location – is the most important factor, at least for searches with a drop-in intent – i.e. the searcher wants to visit the business in-person, for example for [shoe shop near me] or [restaurant] queries.
This being said, and I’m holding out for their 2018 study for the latest, RankRanger published a study last month reporting that they’d seen a trend where one of the three businesses listed in the local pack was in fact located further away than the other two, and are calling this the 2:1 pattern.
None really, but this is one to keep an eye on. If you’re keen to research your own rankings in local packs outside of your own location, then you can use Bright Local’s fantastically nifty tool to do this.
And we’ll keep an eye out for that Moz 2018 study!
Image by manuzoli
More results button ‘drops’ on mobile devices
Filed under: The SERPs > Design/Features
Google’s Search Liaison also announced last month that it has rolled out the More results button in a change to the design of its SERPs, on mobile devices for now.
The button replaces the page navigation we’re all familiar with, which you can still see on desktop SERPs, just above the related searches feature.
What’s brought about this change? Well Google must believe this makes is easier for the user to open up search results beyond the first page. If it’s good for the user experience, its good for Google.
Take a look, file away in your own internal knowledge bank!
Main image by MabelAmber.