Google deprecating AJAX crawling scheme

On Wednesday the 14th of October Google are no longer recommending the AJAX crawling proposal we made back in 2009 (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/proposal-for-making-ajax-crawlable.html)
They openly advise now to use #! in URLs over ?_escaped_fragment_= .

“Times have changed. Today, as long as you’re not blocking Googlebot from crawling your JavaScript or CSS files, we are generally able to render and understand your web pages like modern browsers. To reflect this improvement, we recently updated our technical Webmaster Guidelines to recommend against disallowing Googlebot from crawling your site’s CSS or JS files.”

Questions and answers

Q: My site currently follows your recommendation and supports _escaped_fragment_. Would my site stop getting indexed now that you’ve deprecated your recommendation?
A: No, the site would still be indexed. In general, however, we recommend you implement industry best practices when you’re making the next update for your site. Instead of the _escaped_fragment_ URLs, we’ll generally crawl, render, and index the #! URLs.

Q: Is moving away from the AJAX crawling proposal to industry best practices considered a site move? Do I need to implement redirects?
A: If your current setup is working fine, you should not have to immediately change anything. If you’re building a new site or restructuring an already existing site, simply avoid introducing _escaped_fragment_ urls. .

Q: I use a JavaScript framework and my webserver serves a pre-rendered page. Is that still ok?
A: In general, websites shouldn’t pre-render pages only for Google — we expect that you might pre-render pages for performance benefits for users and that you would follow progressive enhancement guidelines. If you pre-render pages, make sure that the content served to Googlebot matches the user’s experience, both how it looks and how it interacts. Serving Googlebot different content than a normal user would see is considered cloaking, and would be against our Webmaster Guidelines.

Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/deprecating-our-ajax-crawling-scheme.html

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project

Revolution is coming as Google announces a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is designed to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web.

For many, reading on the mobile web is a slow, clunky and frustrating experience – but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere. (https://www.ampproject.org/)

Aim is to enable webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to load instantaneously and also work with smart ads regardless of mobile device used. Such move will further expand Google advertising real estate and is definitely a smart move.

Google heralds AMP project as “the start of an exciting collaboration with publishers and technology companies, who have all come together to make the mobile web work better for everyone.”
At the moment Twitter,Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages.

AMP project will be focused on providing functionality focused on some key areas:

1. Content: The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project will provide an open source approach, allowing publishers to focus on producing great content using the shared components for high performance and great user experience. The initial technical specification is now available on https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml

2. Distribution: Google has designed a new approach to caching that allows the publisher to continue to host their content while allowing for efficient distribution through Google’s high performance global cache. This means that Google will follow up by opening their cache servers to be used by anyone free of charge.

3. Advertising: Google declares they will work with publishers in the industry to help define the parameters of an ad experience that provides the speed we’re striving for with AMP.

 

Questions? – Explore common FAQs around AMP

Original source: https://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/introducing-accelerated-mobile-pages.html

Google aggressively tackles hacked web spam

On Monday October the 5th Google has officially confirmed that it has been rolling out the updated algorithms geared more specifically towards identifying spam in SERPs coming from the hacked sites.
With large amounts of legitimate sites being hacked by spammers and used to engage in abusive behaviour Google has been “forced” to take decisive action. Common practices such as malware download, promotion of traffic to low quality sites, porn, and marketing of counterfeit goods or illegal pharmaceutical drugs are some of the most common offences Google is currently paying attention to.

As per information on Webmaster Central Blog. The algorithmic changes will eventually impact roughly 5% of queries, depending on the language. Webmasters are being warned as Google rolls out the new algorithms, users might notice that for certain queries, only the most relevant results are shown, reducing the number of results shown.
Google also indicated that due to the large amount of hacked spam being removed and fine tuning of their systems to weed out the bad content while retaining the legitimate results some of the SERPs may effectively clear out substantially.

cleared SERPs

All these changes put now more and more responsibility on webmasters to ensure they are site security up to date.

Google Mobile Friendliness and App Banners

Google have just posted about new update to mobile friendliness indicating that in order to provide good user experience on mobile devices app install interstitial can not any longer cover/hide significant amount of the on-page content.

“Starting today, we’ll be updating the Mobile-Friendly Test to indicate that sites should avoid showing app install interstitial that hide a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page. The Mobile Usability report in Search Console will show webmasters the number of pages across their site that have this issue.”

In terms of the timeline for this update Google says that after November 1 any mobile web page that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered as mobile-friendly.

Google won’t punish sites using the standard app install banners in Chrome and Safari; this is aimed at the huge annoying overlays purposely blocking access to the desired content.

Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/mobile-friendly-web-pages-using-app.html

HTTPS Content Mismatch Errors May Not Earn Ranking Boost

In recent August 28th Google hangout on Google+, John Mueller indicated a very important fact by saying at 18:30 mark that Google may not give HTTPS web pages the desired HTTPS ranking boost in case the page serves up HTTPS content mismatch errors.

What does it actually mean? It’s relatively simple, when your web page uses HTTPS protocol but somehow there are some elements on the page that are not secure e.g. images not over HTTPS or any social media plugins etc.
So far Google has been quite liniment and your pages might have benefited from move to HTTPS, even if they are not fully HTTPS secure.

However according to John Mueller this may change moving forward;

I imagine at some point, we will say you will have to serve really clean HTTPS for us to show that in the search results. I don’t know. I don’t think that there will be any kind of penalty around that. Just that we may say, we won’t count this as HTTPS, so it won’t get that small HTTPS ranking boost.

Summarising, think twice when planning to move to HTTPS as many of my industry piers have been already noticing site visibility drops after move to HTTPS even despite keeping all clean and tidy in the process. I’m still of the opinion that there always should be strong business case to support move to HTTPS rather that doing it for the sake of compliance with Google’s advice.

Trail Marathon Wales 2015

On Saturday 20 June 2015 I had run my first marathon. I wanted to choose the course I will remember forever and I have to say Trail Marathon Wales has actually surpassed my wildest imaginations. The course is in the most beautiful mountains of the Snowdonia National Park Coed y Brenin. The 42km course features single track paths over 3500ft elevation gain across up 20% inclines. I made it in 4:49 minutes which gave me 167 place out of 340 participants. Testimony to how hard the marathon was that some of the previous marathon runners didn’t manage to finish the full race. After talking to some of the fellow runners pre and post race it was necessary to add on average 1 hour to the regular marathon time to cope with TMW.

For running down hills which are abundant and steep there I used sound advice on technique from Sage Canaday https://t.co/pxBIzDVPSE

A couple of pictures including course map and elevation profile of the race;

tshirt nearlythere crossingline screenshot-app.strava.com 2015-06-21 21-43-56screenshot-app.strava.com 2015-06-21 21-46-21

 

Sascon 2015

Today I had an opportunity to take part in the panel Technical vs Content during first day of Sascon Manchester ; We were discussing what has the biggest impact on organic performance, the technical architecture of a website, or the content.? A view on the market concensus on where you should be spending your time. Speakers included: myself on behalf of iProspect Manchester; James English, BBC and Edward Cowell, Mediacom.

Content below has been originally posted by Emily Diment on http://www.pushon.co.uk/blog/technical-vs-content-sascon-2015/

The panel for this session comprises of Radek Kowalski Group Technical Search Manager from iProspect Manchester, Teddie Cowell, Director of SEO at MediaCom and James English, Senior SEO Analyst for BBC Sport.

Everyone on the panel believes that the content vs technical debate is an interesting one. It’s something that is sometimes a bit of a contentious issue, but it’s one that always needs to be considered when planning an SEO campaign or organic strategy.

Technical SEO has moved away from just a tech audit to mobile, platform builds and commerce platforms which takes tech away from short term projects to more long-term tech SEO projects, according to Radek, which makes having technical knowledge a requirement for an SEO.

So, how much do other people within agencies know or care about SEO?

At MediaCom, SEO is a core focus within other departments’ agendas. There is a big desire within the industry to get content marketing to work harder. SEOs in general have a really good understanding of how the web works. The majority of the budgets being spent on brands aren’t being spent on SEO; they’re being spent on brand budgets.

SEO considerations are increasingly becoming a part of brand marketing conversations from the very outset because SEOs are good at joining the pieces of a campaign together from the beginning. SEO helps to maximise value from budgets.

There has been a huge change in SEO over the last three years, says Radek, moving heavily towards content. In fact, people are becoming obsessed with content: how to do it better, how to get better ROI. iProspect Manchester has become very good at creating SEO content which supports massive campaigns. Technical optimisation can’t be forgotten. It’s almost like a vehicle for how content can be deployed. If the range of clients is small it can be very easy to technically deploy content, but if you’re trying to work on massive eCommerce systems for very large brands it can be difficult to deploy content. The technical element to content-based SEO is now more important because it has to work with your content.

You could have good content with a good awareness but it could be more successful if you have the technical element sorted.

Whatever you do for a project you have to make key stakeholders happy by educating them about how SEO can make things better but still keeping technical standards high.

Educating clients of the value of SEO is one of the most important aspects of any SEO campaign, says Teddie.

SEO at the BBC

One of the most interesting things about doing SEO at the BBC is being able to see that they are competing on a different landscape – they’ve got the brand authority but it’s more about the way people are able to find the content that is becoming one of the challenges, as is the growing amount of competition the BBC has for news. They can’t just rely on the fact people will be searching for their content via brand searches. Its easy to become complacent but it is a highly competitive landscape.

Some big technical SEO priorities for the BBC at the moment are sitemaps and newsfeeds as well as being able to react quickly to big news stories and high profile events such as the World Cup or Olympics.

Educating clients

We can create a piece of content that is technically sound but it still needs to go on a client’s website and that is generally when errors and problems appear, says Radek. Changing wireframes can be expensive and daunting for clients. Similarly, UX does not always go alongside technical SEO priorities. Some elements that are great for UX may not work well with the UI and can break on different devices such as mobile or tablet.

Teddie believes it is an ongoing process because IT professionals sometimes have different ideas and different priorities to people working in and doing SEO.

What would you say works well for smaller websites? Should they focus on technical or content?

According to Radek, small sites with fewer than 500 landing pages should choose a good platform like WordPress with free plugins which can do 80% of technical work for you.

The smaller the site is, the more important the technical excellence is for you. He has seen small sites with no backlinks and a really well optimised technical elements that are ranking really well. Sites need to comply with technical SEO standards and make sure themes pass site validations for mobile friendliness and page speed amongst others.

Teddie agrees: there is still the role for technical SEO for smaller sites. They need to consider essential technical things including consistency for URL and header elements like h1s.

When you see content being produced that is great, what do you see are key technical elements that are often forgotten or missed?

With storytelling content using parallax pages, which is a popular design trend, the technical issue for SEOs is that is parallax pages are losing performance for searchers and some search queries.

James feels that it is important to experiment with different content formats to try to give the best experience for the user online. We are always trying to match the best experience for the user and match it with the site hierarchy.

Something designers love is Flash and JS but try to stick to HTML5. This is because it’s very flexible and easy to digest for the search engines. Sometimes different types of content make a page not mobile friendly and you are running the risk of making the page unconsumable on certain devices, says Radek.

70% of your audience may access your content using mobile (think about that). If you work in an industry that focuses on young adults they don’t really care about desktops, laptops or even tablets. They see the world via mobile phones and any campaign should be mobile friendly.

You have to remember that different clients have different issues, says Teddie. Not every brand was well prepared for the mobile update app. What Google did by forcing the point of the mobile agenda was a really good thing to do. Brands needed a wakeup call and that’s what the Google update did.

How much of a role does UX play for SEO?

SEOs need to define the two different elements – UI and UX. User interface will help to make your site more accessible and more compliant. BBC has been focused for years on making their website accessible for different users. BBC creative should be used as a standard for accessibility UI.

Google has been giving people massive amounts of technical information and guidance which people should be listening to. Google will start to become more and more picky, and is giving messages like “be mobile friendly”, “be clean”, “provide a good UX”. This is because they care, but they want to save their own money because their infrastructure to crawl the www most likely costs billions.

What is content to you? What is a good piece of content, what are you talking to clients about?

At MediaCom content can be lots of things, says Teddie. Anything that connects a brand to their consumers or something that people choose to engage with such as YouTube, press partnership or the website itself. It’s about how the users are moving around the content.

James believes like Teddie that it is anything that connects users to the brand. He tries not to use the word content much around journalists because to journalists content is like a dirty marketing term. They call content other words such as features, articles, interviews, video content, TV content.

The final question for the panel was a good one.

Where do you spend a limited budget that has to get results? Technical or content? Consider that the client is a retail company of a medium size.

James: Technical

Teddie: Depends on the nature of the business. but for medium size retail, technical.

Radek: investing in technical can be immediately seen as having a positive impact.

 

Better presentation of URLs in mobile search results

Google has announced today that in order to help mobile searchers understand your website better in mobile search results they’re updating the algorithms that display URLs in the search results to better reflect the names of websites, using the real-world name of the site instead of the domain name, and the URL structure of the sites in a breadcrumbs-like format.

These changes are rolling out gradually and affect only mobile results.

Source:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/better-presentation-of-urls-in-search.html

Google drive app installs through App Indexing

So far Google using App Indexing has already been helping people to engage Android app after they’ve installed it. Google also indicates that they have well over 30 billion links within apps indexed.

Google has now made next step, as of this week people searching on Google can also discover an app even if they haven’t installed it yet.

If you’re an app developer and have implemented App Indexing, then there is a big chance that if content from an app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for this app in search results. These buttons will take visitor to the Google Play store where they can install the app, then continue straight on to the right content within it.

Source:http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/drive-app-installs-through-app-indexing.html

Google Launches New Search Interface For Slower Mobile Connections

Google announced on Wednesday 8th April;

“To make sure you’re not waiting on Google when you need it most, we’ve rolled out a streamlined Search results page that loads fast, even on those slow connections. You’ll get all the info you need in a simpler format that’s beautiful and easy to use. Best of all: there’s nothing new to download or update — the lighter version will kick in automatically when needed!”

Source: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+google/posts/XZo6qgrNDE9

Taking into the account almost 7 billion mobile contracts and over 30% smartphone penetration plus unstoppable growth in Africa and Asian countries this is very important development.

Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Unlikely to Impact Brand Searches

With mobile algorithm update closing by (21st April) John Muller has confirmed during Webmaster hangouts on 7th April that brand terms are unlikely to be affected even for the sites which aren’t mobile friendly;

“So in general, what happens with these kind of demotions is that we try to demote the sites a little bit and what will happen with a branded query or one where we know it is very navigation is we know that this is a really strong result and even if we demote it slightly it will still be up top. So it’s something where I’d say there is no effect at all on branded queries because there is somehow magically different. It’s just that these sites are often very relevant for these queries and even if they are slightly demoted then it is not going to drop them from page one or drop them, sometime snot even from the first position. So that is something where we don’t treat the brand queries in any way special there, but these pages are really relevant and sometimes even if they are demoted slightly, then there still the top result.”

Source; https://www.seroundtable.com/google-brand-mobile-friendly-algorithm-20115.html
Video source (John Muller 37:53) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipiV2EH8d-M#t=2273 ” title=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipiV2EH8d-M#t=2273

The upcoming mobile-friendly change is for mobile users not including tablet users

According to Google the upcoming algorithm update on the 21st will only impact searches done only on smartphones with exclusion to the tablet searches. This does not impact desktop searches and it does not impact tablet searches. That should definitely make life a bit easier and let’s hope Google will stick to its promise.

Source; https://twitter.com/googlewmc/status/583384126977363968

Mobile friendliness a ranking factor

As part of the mobile market’s evolution, Google recently announced changes to their SEO ranking algorithm that significantly improves the experience of using the web on smartphones.

The goal of these changes: to improve search results for smartphone-friendly websites and penalise sites that make mobile browsing difficult.

Big news: Expected Algorithmic update – April 21

Google has announced two major developments, regarding mobile friendly search results, in their Webmaster Central Blog.

1. Mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal

This update will definitely shake many webmasters;

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

2. More relevant app content in search results

Second announcement was focused on how Google includes and cross references app content in the SERPs;

It’s important to know that, moving forward, Google will be using mobile friendliness as a stronger ranking factor that will “significantly” affect rankings worldwide.Good news is that Google provides test which will analyse a URL (any given page of your site) and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

You can find more information regarding mobile SEO in dedicated section on this site.

Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries No Longer Rounds Data

In the recent days we’ve seen a very promising development in Google Webmaster Tools console. John Muller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst has announced that site data & metrics will be more actionable than ever with GWT search queries no longer be rounded & bucketed.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/search-queries-not-rounded.html

Google collects “impressions” & “clicks” to the site and displays in Webmaster Tools console for the last 90 days. This is definitely a great development in the light of sharp increase in the “not provided” dat

Google Matt Cutts on guest blogging video

Matt Cutts Head of Spam at Google has just released new video about guest blogging. In the video Matt explains when guest blogging can be perceived as spammy and what to avoid when guest blogging. He advises to use it in moderation and always to approach it with “how I can add value by sharing my knowledge” and also embark on creating actual relationship with blog masters rather than using it just for the link building.

Here is the video

Future of SEO and Google Semantic Search

We all ask this burning question – how will future of SEO look like?. In the wake of Google Penguin 2.0 and 2.1 killing backlinks,Google Humingbird algorithm update and sudden growth of “not provided” data triggered by Google defaulting to SSL search, just like any other SEO I’ve been trying to systemise and answer my own questions and doubts caused by all the changes we’ve recently experienced.

Some of my recent thoughts and questions worth crunching on;

• Discovering user intent using keyword data
• Predictions based on location, search history, circles and type of the device
• Google Hummingbird, Knowledge Graph, Voice Search and Google Now
• Matt Cutts search experience optimisation is the future of SEO – more info in the video here
• What experience do we want a visitor to have on our site?
• What are touch points, key actions and conversion points SEO and CRO.
• Technical SEO will prevail
• From links to answers
• Search engines want to “understand” more using structured data / microdata – I recommend you study schema markups at http://schema.org if you haven’t already
• Schema as technical language creating identifiers or entities that Google is very and will increasingly be interested in. That is how together with Knowledge Graph Hummingbird will be “connecting dots”.
• Google is rapidly adopting semantic search technologies
• Schema as technical language creating identifiers or entities
• Entity search, knowledge graph helping bots to better understand, match and create better response to a query

Use of semantic search coupled with semantic markup allows will be sharply increasing as Google needs more information and quickly for its Knowledge Graph. That is how Hummingbird will be able to increasingly provide better answers to user queries on various devices – wow, that is nearly like intelligent & learning algorithm. I therefore recommend to focus on technical SEO and definitely embracing semantic markup.

To conclude this space is definitely worth watching…….

Google says thank you to top contributors

Google has launched last week second Top Contributors Summit after testing the idea for the first time in 2011.

If you don’t know who the Top Contributor is let me explain; Top Contributors are highly experienced individuals helping (for free) to resolve various problems or sharing useful tips on how to get more out of Google range of products. They’ve have been a vital line of help in resolving many Google related products issues for the growing range of official Google product forums; https://support.google.com.

According to Google Top Contributor volunteers contribute across 250 product communities in as much as 26 languages.
During summit Top Contributors were also able to test latest Google products and technologies including Google Glass. It’s really nice to see that Google utilises and appreciates advocacy of such individuals.

My own experience with Top Contributors has always been a positive one, particularly for Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics support forums.

So thank you all, job well done for being there and helping us all when it seems as Google itself is not able or willing to help.

You may find more details on the event in the original blog here – http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/saying-thank-you-to-our-google-top.html

Tough Mudder Google Expert

Google Expert has now officially acquired rights to brag about being the toughest and muddiest Google Expert.

Team effort has resulted in nice amount being collected for The Mustard Tree – http://www.mustardtree.org.uk/ – a fantastic organisation that looks after the homeless and those marginalised by society.

Thank you all for your generous donations: http://www.justgiving.com/tough-muppets

tough mudder google expert
More event pics here

Google Penguin 2.1 spam filtering algorithm update now live

Google’s is seriously busy this month. We all still try to get our heads around the recent new Google “engine” Hummingbird and now we get confirmed update to this new algorithm already.

If you are not familiar with what Hummingbird algorithm is, I encourage you to read my previous post – http://www.googlexpert.co.uk/google_hummingbird_algorithm
Head of webspam Mutt Cutts has confirmed launch of the new update on the 4th of October and indicated that roughly 1% of searches will be affected.

Penguin 2.1 is another evolution of Penguin 2.0 which has caused major shift in the whole SEO industry by targeting spammy backlink profiles including paid links and black hat SEO tactics.

If you have already been hit by Penguin 2.0 and taken actions to remove and disavow part of your backlink profile this week make sure you’ll pay close attention to your rankings. You may either see improvements or further drops driven by this recent update.

Here you can find more information on what the Penguin update is – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html