Google Announces New Deadline for Mobile-First Indexing

Google has announced that the initial plan to enable mobile-first indexing for all websites in September 2020 was canceled. Google will be switching to mobile-first indexing at the end of March 2021.

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

How to prepare your website for mobile-first indexing

Google will only get the information from the mobile version of your website. For that reason, ensure that Google can find the full content of your website in the mobile version of your site. Here are some things that you should check:

1. Meta Tags

Your mobile pages should use the same robots meta tags and your desktop pages. If you mobile pages use noindex or nofollow in the robots meta tag, Google might not be able to index these pages.

2. Check lazy loading web page elements

Google says that you should avoid lazy-loading your primary content based on user interactions (like swiping, clicking or typing) because Google's web crawler won't trigger these user interactions.

3. Check your robots.txt file

Some websites block mobile URLs in the robots.txt file. If you want to be listed in Google's search results, your robots.txt file should not block your mobile pages. If you block your .css files in your robots.txt file, Google will not be able to render your pages correctly. That can have a negative impact on your Google rankings. You also shouldn't block images.

4. Make sure the content is the same on desktop and mobile

If the mobile version of your website has less content than the desktop version of your website, you should update the mobile version so that it's primary content is the same as on the desktop website. Remember that Google will only use the content of the mobile pages. Use the same clear and meaningful headings on your mobile pages as on your desktop pages.

5. Check images and videos

The resolution of the images on your mobile pages should not be too low and the images should not be too small. Do not use small thumbnails instead of regular images. Google considers thumbnail images low quality. Use meaningful image alt attributes that describe the contents of the images.

How to check your mobile website

The web has evolved from desktop to mobile. Without a good mobile website, you won't succeed. Google recommends responsive website design, i.e. one website that dynamically adjusts the design based on the device that is used to view a page.

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

Google says do not block Googlebot from 404 pages

Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that you should not block Googlebot from crawling 404 pages on your website.

    That sounds like a really bad idea which will cause all sorts of problems.. You can't avoid that Googlebot & all other search engines will run into 404s. Crawling always includes URLs that were previously seen to be 404.
    — John  (@JohnMu) July 15, 2020

    Billions of 404 pages are crawled every day – it's a normal part of the web, it's the proper way to signal that a URL doesn't exist. That's not something you need to, or can, suppress.
    — John  (@JohnMu) July 15, 2020

It’s better to redirect outdated URLs to new pages on your website. Use the website audit tool in SEOprofiler to check the 404 pages on your website. The website audit tool also shows the redirects on your website.

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

How to optimize your website for international rankings

Is your website available in multiple languages? Do you sell your products internationally? If you have an international website, you have to ensure that Google and other search engines index your web pages correctly. This article helps you to get your web pages into the right local versions of Google.


There are multiple ways to offer international website content. Some ways are better than others.

1. The best way: use local domains for each language

Country specific domains are the best way to serve international content. For example, use yourcompany.com for the USA, yourcompany.de for Germany, yourcompany.fr for France, etc.

It's much easier to get ranked on German search engines if you have a .de domain. Customers from Germany also tend to trust German website with German content more. If the local website for Germany only contains German content and a German domain then it is very easy to understand for website visitors and search engines.

A website that contains English, German, Spanish and other content is more difficult to understand for both search engines and website visitors.

2. Let your visitors choose which language they want to see

Another way to present international content is to let your website visitors choose the appropriate version. Your homepage contains a country and language selector to let users choose their favorite version.

After the selection, the user should be redirected to a web page that has a unique URL, i.e. each language version should use unique URLs. For example www.example.com/en/page, www.example.com/fr/page, www.example.com/de/page, etc.

If you decide to use this method, it is important that your web pages use the x-default rel-alternate-hreflang annotation for the country selector page, which was specifically created for these kinds of pages.

This method is more confusing than the first method. It's easier to make mistakes that can lead to problems with search engines.

3. Redirect visitors automatically

Instead of letting your website visitors choose, you can also redirect them based on their location and their language settings. You can do this with 302 redirects or by dynamically serving the right HTML content.

This method also requires the x-default rel-alternate-hreflang annotation and you must also make sure that the language pages have individual URLs.

Automatic redirects can be annoying. For example, if a person from the US is on vacation in Europe, it is not good if the US version cannot be accessed then. It's also easy to make mistakes that can lead to indexing problems if you use this method.

Regardless of the method that you use to present your international content, all of your pages should have rel-alternate-hreflang annotations.

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

The June Google update gave a big boost to many government websites

On June 22, 2020 it appears that Google made some significant changes to their algorithms. While Google runs several updates in any given day, the June 22/23 update does appear to be one of significance. 

What we know so far

  • This was not a core update. Neither was it announced or acknowledged so far by Google.
  • The update appears to have benefited many official .gov and .org websites, but there is probably more to the story.
  • As Google has described in their document on how they fight disinformation, they describe that their systems are designed to prefer authority over other factors “in times of crisis”. If this truly is related to what we saw happen in June, these changes could possibly be reversed once the worldwide pandemic situation improves. 

SEO weather tools

These tools can often give us hints as to whether or not something significant happened in Google’s algorithms on a given day. The vast majority of these tools reported widespread turbulence in the SERPs at this time.

What types of sites were affected?

Lily Ray noted that a large number of government sites and official health organizations saw big boosts with this update.

Here are Ahrefs.com estimates of organic traffic for some of these highly authoritative sites. Each of these increases seen on the right hand side of the image start on June 22, 2020.

Thoughts on what happened with this update

We reviewed drops in keyword rankings and found that in most cases, they had only dropped one position for keywords that they had previously ranked well for. For quite a few keywords, with the June 22/23 update, they were newly outranked. But, the shift in their algorithms that seems to greatly prefer official organizations and government sites likely has promoted government sites above many of their pages.

However, we have several other sites in our profile that saw increases or decreases at this time where we could not connect those changes with Google giving more prominence to official organizations or government websites. One saw a 10-15% gain in Google organic traffic to the majority of their pages, but they are not a well recognized brand, an official organization or a government agency.

While we do not feel that June 22/23, 2020 should be considered a significant core update, we do think it is worth noting.

The following sums up our current thoughts on the June 2020 “government” update:

  • For many YMYL queries, Google may have given more preference to sites with very strong authority signals. 
  • In many cases, sites that declined with this update only lost 1-2 positions in keyword rankings. This leads us to believe that in most cases, sites that declined were not demoted, but rather, they lost a position or two in rankings because a .gov, .org or other largely authoritative website was promoted.
  • Google likely made other changes at this time as some sites affected either positively or negatively do not compete with government or official org websites.

What to do if you were affected by the June 22/23, 2020 update

If you have noticed a decline in your Google organic traffic at this time, we would recommend that you spend time looking at which keywords, and which pages were affected. Focus on determining which of your competitors saw increases in rankings at this time. 

If it is mostly government websites, or very largely authoritative websites that have taken your rankings, there may not be much you can do. If Google’s algorithms have determined that the safest place to send someone who searches for a YMYL query is an official/government site, it may not be possible to outrank them.

For example, let’s say you have a page on your website that explains in great detail every step you need to take to apply for a boat license in your city. Even if that article is significantly more thorough than helpful than what is on the official website for that city, most likely the majority of people who are searching for “how to get a boat license in [your city]” are looking for the page on the city’s website where they can actually apply for a boat license. Your content might be better…but Google’s algorithms that try to determine relevancy will likely prefer to rank the more official city site above yours because that’s what more people truly want to land upon.

In some cases though, if the government page that is ranking well is not thorough, we do believe it is possible that Google could choose to rank an extremely helpful article on your website provided that your website demonstrates very good E-A-T. It depends on the nature of the queries typed to get to your page.

It is possible that this change that Google has made will revert once the worldwide pandemic situation is better. In Google’s document on how they fight disinformation, they tell us that their systems are designed to “prefer authority over factors like recency or exact word matches while a crisis is developing.”

If you are seeing less traffic from Google after this update, we would recommend the following:

  • Thoroughly read Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. Pay close attention to any examples given that are in similar verticals as you.
  • Pore over the questions that Google recommends you ask about your website in their blog post on what you should know about core updates.
  • Do all you can to keep your site technically sound. 
  • If you have had a history of building links that you are worried about the webspam team seeing, seriously consider a link audit and disavow, or at minimum, ceasing in building links just for SEO. We do not feel that this update was connected to link quality, but this is worth mentioning as so many SEO’s spend huge amounts of time building links that likely are not helping the site’s ability to rank well.
  • Have an outside person review some of your pages as compared to competitors. You may think that your pages are the best of their kind, but if most people would prefer to see your competitor’s pages, this is a problem. Google wants to rank the pages that best answer the user’s query and, if YMYL, have excellent elements of E-A-T.

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

 

Google’s Gary Illyes: better do not use JavaScript

Although Google can parse JavaScript pages, it is better not to use JavaScript for critical website elements such as content, links, or redirects. Google's Gary Illyes has just confirmed this on Twitter.

In a discussion on Twitter, Gary Illyes said that JavaScript redirects are not a good idea. He said that IP based server-side redirects were better to redirect visitors based on their location.

Pre-render JavaScript pages

In general, it is much better if your server handle's most of the work. If your website uses a lot of JavaScript, it is better to pre-render your pages. That's what Google's Aleksej Dix said on Google's Webmaster Conference in Zurich.

Server rendering generates the full HTML for a page on the server in response to navigation. This avoids additional round-trips for data fetching and templating on the client, since it’s handled before the browser gets a response.

Rendering on the server makes it possible to avoid sending lots of JavaScript to the client, which helps achieve a fast Time to Interactive (TTI). With server rendering you’re just sending text and links to the user’s browser.

With server rendering, users are unlikely to be left waiting for CPU-bound JavaScript to process before they can use your site.

This is important if your want to get better rankings

If you have a JavaScript based website, you should use server side rendering if the website is public, and if the rankings of the website on search engines are important. You do not need SSR if the website is not public.

In short: If you want to get high rankings on Google, use server side rendering if you have a JavaScript based website.

 

Bing Announces New Webmaster Guidelines Detailing How it Ranks Websites

Bing has new webmaster guidelines. The new guidelines explain how Bing finds and indexes websites, how they understand web pages, how they rank content, and they show the things that you should avoid.

Which ranking signals are used by Bing?

Bing's new webmaster guidelines list six main categories that Bing uses to rank your web pages:

1. Relevance

The content of your web page should match the intent behind the search query. If the web page contains the search term, and if the links that refer to the page also contain that search term, the page is relevant to Bing. Bing also considers synonyms or abbreviations that have the same meaning as the original search term.

Bing's new webmaster guidelines list six main categories that Bing uses to rank your web pages:

2. Quality and credibility

Bing evaluates page to determine the quality and credibility of these pages. That includes factors such as the reputation of the website and/or the author and the level of discourse (articles with citations and references to sources are considered higher quality that articles without sources). According to the guidelines, Bing might demote pages that contain offensive statements or derogatory language. The completeness of the content and transparency of authorship also have an impact.

3. User engagement

The interaction of users with the search results has an impact on the rankings. The number of clicks on a result, the time spent on the clicked pages and the number of people who return to Bing after clicking through to a page have an impact.

4. Freshness

Bing prefers content with up-to-date information. Some websites contain content that wills till be relevant years from now, other websites might have content that is going to be out of date quickly.

5. Location

The location of the user (country and city) has an impact on the rankings, as well as the language of the document and the location of other visitors of a web page.

6. Page load time

Many visitors will leave a website if it has a slow load time. For Bing, slow websites provide a poor user experience and an unsatisfactory search result. Webmasters should try to balance page load speed with a positive user experience.

 

Google: penalizing websites is old school

Google’s Gary Illyes said on Twitter that Google doesn’t want to penalize bad links anymore. Google’s algorithms simply ignore the bad links:



Monday, August 3, 2020





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