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!
- Create and add a favicon to your website if you don’t have one
- Use the new structured data markup that’s been made available
- Watch the Google SEO Mythbusting videos
- If you’re a restaurant owner, check your Popular Dishes content via Google Maps
The mobile SERPs have changed
Filed under: The SERPs > Design/Features
If you’ve used Google Search in the last few days on your mobile device – and I suspect that’s everybody reading this – you’ll probably have noticed the revamped search engine results pages (SERP) design that they rolled out towards the end of last month.
This has had the SEO community up in arms, mainly because some claim that it’s more difficult to distinguish between the promoted content (Ads) and the organic listings.
For the record we don’t actually agree with this.
Google have moved the urls above the titles in each content snippet and prefixed them with either the word ‘Ad’ for the sponsored/paid links, or a logo – or favicon as Google like to call them – for organic results (as below).The words in red on the image below were added by us I might add! Ad is the first thing you see when you read the content snippet from left to right. So we’re not too concerned. We think the new design is a much smarter look and content creators have their brand more visual on the SERPs.
Take a look at the SERPs for some of your content that ranks on mobile. Check Google have the right favicon for your listings. If you haven’t assigned a favicon to your website, they’ll use a default icon.
Google have published information for how to create and add a favicon. You may need a developer to help add it to your site.
Google announce mobile-first indexing for all new websites
Filed under: The SERPs > Mobile-first
Google announced via their Webmaster Central Blog, that from 1 July 2019, all websites created after that date will be indexed by their smartphone Googlebot, before their desktop version.
Google officially started rolling out mobile-first indexing back in 2016 and over half of all websites have their content indexed in this way.
This basically means that they crawl the content made available for mobile devices before they crawl the content for desktop devices.
What does this mean to you? Not a lot if you have a responsively designed website as the content will be the same for both. In this new blog post Google reiterate that they ‘recommend responsive web design for new websites.’
If you’re planning a new website that’s likely to be released after 1 July 2019, make sure you’ve considered how the content will be visible to Google’s smartphone bot.
New ‘how to’ and ‘FAQ’ structured data markup released
Filed under: Content > Structured Data
One of the big news stories at Google I/O – the annual conference Google host for their developer community – was that they had released markup for ‘how to’ and FAQ content.
For the record, we’ll cover any other relevant announcements as and when they’re rolled out here in the UK.
The ‘how to’ markup is specifically targeted at content that is formed of steps (i.e. step 1 do this, step 2 do that etc).
The goal for content creators who employ markup are the rich snippets available to help promote the content on the SERPs.
We’re not tried it out yet, but look forward to implementing it soon. If you have content that would benefit from having mark up added, then we suggest you go ahead and add it to your pages.
To find out ore about this new markup you could do a lot of worse than watching the video footage from the conference which includes some really useful demonstrations.
In the demo they mention the new Rich Results Testing tool that will in time replace the Structured Data Testing tool – but watch this space on that for further announcements. But perhaps bookmark it all the same.
New SEO mythbusting video series from Google
Filed under: Content > Guidelines
There’s been some conjecture about whether or not any myths have in fact been busted, but we think this is useful content and whether myths are busted or not depends on the viewers knowledge of the topic before they watch.
We definitely recommend you watch the second video in the series – Googlebot: SEO Mythbusting – as they discuss how content is indexed and how to improve your own rankings.
In short you just need to build good content for the users and you’ll be fine.
You can get a cup of tea in the middle bit where it gets technical.
Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines updated, again
Filed under: Content > Guidelines
Google have updated the guidelines they publish for their ‘quality raters’ who scour the web, and advise their paymasters if they believe their algorithm is promoting content they shouldn’t, and vice versa. The updated date on the guidelines is 16 May 2019 and this is the first time they’ve been updated since July 2018.
We wrote a digest of these guidelines back in May 2018 and we haven’t updated them to take into account either of these updates…yet!
Whilst we’re keen to get up to date, the two aforementioned updates broadly speaking, contains tweaks to the guidelines, rather than major changes. The vast majority of the information stays the same.
Jennifer Slegg has annotated the changes since the July 2018 version on her website the SEM Post and the highlights are below.
Many references to Expertise, Authority and Trust (EAT) have been replaced with ‘page quality’. Why Google have replaced many of the EAT references is open to debate, but it’s clear that this concept is still important, and that content writers should still be looking to display it, particularly for those all important ‘your money or your life’ (YMYL) topics.
Interestingly, they did confirm in this update that displaying EAT for non-YMYL topics, is no longer something they take into account when it comes to rankings. This makes sense. The vast majority of content on the web is related to non-YMYL topics, and for the majority of these topics, being able to display EAT is not important, as long as the process for creating the content has been carefully considered.
The use of interstitials was highlighted again. These are the popups you sometimes see, which can ruin a user experience, particularly on mobile, if they cannot be closed easily.
Also, it looks like raters as going to have to consider voice search results going forward.
If you’re a content creator that is concerned about organic rankings, you really should read the full guidelines. If you’re a business owner that doesn’t have the time to read a 166 page document written for Google’s ‘raters’ then you could simply read our digest, which our Google Analytics data suggests people spend 9 minutes and 28 seconds on average reading!
Google Posts now displayed as updates
Filed under: Local SEO > Knowledge Panel
Google continue to tinker with their Posts feature. If you’re not familiar, Google Posts are the short news updates that can be created by any business owner with a verified Google My Business (GMB) profile, which are subsequently displayed on the businesses Knowledge Panel.
This time they’ve been renamed the tab visible on mobile devices as Updates, where they were formerly just Posts, as per the before and afters below.
We think this is an improvement as we believe that Updates is more likely to attracts clicks than Posts would have.
Keep an eye on your GMB insights and see if this change impacts on the number of clicks your Posts receive.
Don’t forget you can add UTM tracking to any links included in your Posts to track these accurately via your Search Console.
Popular dishes added to Google Maps
Filed under: Google Maps > Features
We noticed an announcement via the Google My Business Help forum that popular dishes from restaurants have now been added to the business profiles when viewed through Google Maps.
And it’s rolled out herein the UK already.
If you search for a restaurant via Maps, then click on the Profile, and scroll down to just below the Q&A on the default Overview page you should see the heading, Popular dishes.
What’s particularly interesting is that if a name hasn’t been assigned to an image, the visitor is encouraged to add a name for the dish, as per the screenshot below.
The first image I would describe as an almost finished pint of Cobra.
This feature is driven by machine learning. If I were a restaurant owner I would be checking this feature regularly to ensure the descriptions are as they should be. We are told in the announcement that ‘Dishes names added by owners will get precedence over dish names added by customers.’