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!
- Make sure your website is mobile-ready as the mobile-first index is rolling out
- Add a description to your Google My Business listing
Mobile-first is here, apparently
Filed under: The SERPs > Mobile-first
The big news in search this month came on 26th March on Google’s Webmaster Central blog. They’d began rolling out their much anticipated mobile-first index. We’ve talked about this in every episode of SEO news you need to know to date, but if you’re not aware, Google have been talking about releasing an index that ‘reads from’ mobile pages ahead of desktop pages.
What does this mean for you as a website owner. Well, quite a lot actually. If you don’t have a mobile site or a responsive design, then the pages that are currently indexed on Google may suffer. They will continue to be indexed, but Google will prioritise indexation (yes that is a word) of mobile pages ahead of them.
We’re advised that website owners will receive notifications via their Search Console property when their sites are migrated to the new index. With over 644 million websites in existence (according to a quick Google search!), this of course will take some time to fully roll out and at the time of writing, to the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence of anyone having received such a notification. Hence the use of the word apparently in the headline.
Keep an eye on the messages in your Google Search Console. It’s highly likely you’re set up to receive emails when messages are added, but double check your settings. If your site is not verified with the Search Console, you should make that a priority for too many reasons to go into here.
Of course if you’ve not considered how your site is viewed by both users and the search engines on mobile devices, then now would be the time to act. Google have published guidelines about best practices for mobile-first indexing, so you’d be wise the check those out too.
Image by Zazu70.
Google rep confirms it’s quality not quantity that counts
Filed under: Content > Blogging
Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, host of the Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, responded to a Tweet last month which alluded to what most people suspected, that the volume of content you publish on your blog doesn’t directly influence the chances of the content ranking. That being said, if you do publish a lot of content , and it’s all good quality (serves a unique purpose, addresses intent better than the competition etc), then it may still be worth the investment. If resources don’t allow for this, then the message is loud and clear – your focus should be on quality, not quantity.
If you’re planning your content for the next few months, it might be worth asking yourself if the content you’re planning to create, definitely serves a purpose. Spending more time on less content might be the best course of action.
If you want to ask John Mueller any questions about your website directly, then the place to do that is the aforementioned Webmaster Central office-hours hangout. Find out when the next hangout is!
Core search ranking algorithm updates
Filed under: The SERPs > Algo updates
Earlier this month Google confirmed that they had updated their algorithm, and this may have had an influence on your rankings. They said in a statement on Twitter that they run ‘several’ updates of this kind each year – the intention being to boost the rankings for content they perceive as being of higher quality.
There’s nothing much to say here except that if you noticed changes to your rankings, this might have had something to do with it. Google tinker with their algorithm regularly, all you can do is continue to follow their published guidelines – or listen to the advice your SEO gives you!
If I suspect there’s been an update I tend to check the usual channels. There’s often a lot of noise on Twitter. For the complete picture, I think the Algo Change History page on Moz is hard to beat.
A good person to follow on Twitter about ‘this sort of thing’ is Danny Sullivan who fronts the Search Liaison profile on Twitter.
Page title field added to Image search results
Filed under: The SERPs > Image search
Google announced on their official blog last month that they’d updated the fields returned on image search results pages, on mobile devices, to include the title of the page where the image was found. This additional context is a welcome enhancement and should, IMHO, help ensure the user finds what they’re looking for more quickly, thus ensuring a better experience.
If you have images performing well on image search you might consider checking your page titles for the pages where the images are found on your site. Page titles have always been a very important field for SEO, and now even more so, so it’s worth a quick review of these to ensure they’re working as hard for you as possible.
Add a description about your business to your Google My Business listing
Filed under: Local > Google My Business optimisation
You now have the opportunity to add a description about your business to your Google My Business listing, which may in turn be displayed on your Knowledge Panel (that’s the part of the results on the right hand side that’s often returned for brand searches).
You have up to 750 characters within which to do this – these are the guidelines Google provide to help you compose yours – search for ‘Business description guidelines’ within the page.
Prepare your description. Login to your Google My Business listing, click on Info on the left hand menu, then ‘Add a description’ within the main page.
If you’re a Twitter user then it might be worth adding the GoogleMyBiz account to your list of people to follow.
For the record, adding a description, is on my to-do list too.
Main image by wenzlerdesign.