Wow. 2018 is coming to a close and what a year it has been for search updates! It’s also been a big year for me personally and professionally. It’s been nice over the last next few weeks during the holiday break. I’ve used it to catch up with my own reading and professional development. I hope you have had a happy holiday and are enjoying some “down time” as well.
Without further ado, here are the updates from December that I thought you should not miss:
Google UpdatesTips for Mobile First Indexing
Google gave webmasters a heads up that they are noticing mobile URLs of sites often lack the same structured data markup as that site’s desktop pages. They are also seeing a lack of alt text on mobile pages and wanted to encourage site owners to fix both of those issues since they crawl and index mobile pages first before desktop versions of the sites.
Google introduces structured data for livestreams
Are you running a livestream? Google has rolled out new structured data markup that will make site owners eligible for the following enhanced search feature:
New documentation from Google about enabling enhanced search results for your site
This information was available before but is now rolled out in a new format that is easier for site owners to select which structured data markup works best for their particular site and the associated search feature that the site would be eligible once the markup in place.
Google confirms domain level metrics
This has been a bit of back and forth with the SEO community for years, but Will Critchlow from Distilled finally got John Mueller from Google to confirm that they use domain level metrics in their ranking algorithm. You can read more from the exchange here. This means that the domain metric approximations used by all of the SEO software tools are valid metrics to track and work to improve and that a higher overall domain authority will translate into a more preferred treatment in search results.
New Google News audio test
Google is launching a voice-driven version of Google News for smart speakers/phones:
Google is launching a voice-driven version of Google News for smart speakers and phones – this could be a game changer https://t.co/oSYhcVg135
— Barry Adams 📈 (@badams) December 10, 2018
This is a new experiment where online news sites will act like a radio station once a user triggers their news on Google Home or via another Google audio device.
Here’s more from Google on the initiative:
Imagine if you ask for news and get a quick update on the stories of the moment, then you get stories that speak to your personal preferences and interests. It’s like your radio station…
said Liz Gannes, a former reporter for Recode, Gigaom, and AllThingsD who is leading the initiative. In short, if you tune in in the morning on your phone, you might get a quick update. If you listen in your car — or anywhere else throughout the day — stories you heard earlier will NOT repeat.
Google is now looking for more publishers to submit their single-topic story feeds and become part of the news experiment. To qualify, you need to be a verified Google News Publisher. If you’re uncertain as to how to qualify, I’ve written a detailed guide to getting into Google news.
A “how to” video about how algorithms work
This is a great video that I honestly might share with clients. It also goes into whether algorithms are “fair” and “balanced”, or if they are biased to the searcher or based on the political bent of the Silicon Valley company that created them. If you’re in SEO, you should watch this:
Google Search personalization debate
There’s no search personalization – unless there is based on location and previous search history *wink*.
This report by DuckDuckGo certainly caused controversy last month. I was part of the original user test – supplying my search results for them to analyze. Here’s the takeaway:
76 people searched Google for “vaccinations” at the same time, incognito, logged out…and saw SEVENTY-THREE different search results (92%). https://spreadprivacy.com/google-filter-bubble-study/
However, in September, Google told WIRED that only 2 to 2.5 per cent of results from searches that are typed into the search box are meaningfully personalized. Here’s the Danny Sullivan tweet with an explanation:
My Duck Duck Go results compared to colleagues were also different. Again applying DDG’s own statement to itself: “With no filter bubble, one would expect to see very little variation of search result pages — nearly everyone would see the same single set of results.” pic.twitter.com/zFemD4XHj2
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) December 6, 2018
Then there’s this article from the NiemanLab about how many people truly have Google filter bubbles.
Using Google Chrome dev tools for SEO
This is a useful post if you’re new to using Chrome dev tools. I found the tip about finding dead, unused code very helpful as it was completely new to me! If you touch technical SEO, you should check out this post.
HTML formatting is important to SEO!
Google admits that it uses headers to better understand context on any given page. You can see the mention a recent Google Webmaster Hangout Notes here. I think online formatting is super important for SEO and I covered this and other references from Google in my post about how online formatting impacts SEO.
New Tools and Resources
New Google WordPress resources
Google has created a free WP plugin that makes it easier to integrate Google tools into your WordPress Installation. You can sign up to beta test Site Kit with WordPress. This is a free WP plugin that integrates Search Console, Analytics, AdSense and PageSpeed Insights.
Export your GSC data by day
If you need to back up your daily rankings from Google Search Console (or even export it) you’ll notice that you can’t do that in the new Google Search Console interface. But never fear! There’s now a Google Data Studio report template you can use to make that easier. I am bookmarking this one and would like to hear from you if you have experience with this template.
New AB testing tool
AB Rankings just launched! It’s a new tool to help you A/B test your SEO rankings. You can run one live test on one website for free, so you should check it out to see if it works for your needs.
Embed docs and videos in your Google Data Studio reports
Google announced that you can now embed a Youtube video or an external data source into your Google Data Studio reports. This is a very powerful feature that will allow you to really allow analysts to pull in all of the data you need to analyze per month into one dashboard.
Transcribing audio for free
If you have to transcribe audio and have no background noise on the computer, there’s an option for transcribing that audio for free.
Re-sharing my top hack of 2018…
If you have to transcribe audio – say, of interviews – here’s how to save yourself time/headaches/£££:
1) Upload the audio to YouTube as a private file
2) Come back 30 mins later
3) Download transcript
4) Thank me later
— Sharon O'Dea (@sharonodea) December 3, 2018
Google helps you grow your technical skills
Google has a whole online resource area to help you grow your technical skills. The classes include basic programming, machine learning. Check it out here.
Learn JS IOS app
A free app to help you learn JS. Even as an SEO you need to know the basics of how these programming languages work so you can communicate recommendations effectively to the developers you work with. You can download the app here.
SEO research worth reading/watching
International mobile app store optimization (ASO)
Do you need to ramp up in International mobile app store optimization (ASO)? Mobile moxie has a four-part blog series (three are published as of 12/29/2018) that is a must-read.
Answer engine optimization web series
I thought this was a great webinar series about how Google has transformed itself into an “answer engine” and how to optimize for that specific focus. It’s a must watch for anyone who is working on website transformation plans where you need to optimize for where Google is going in the future.
There were fewer Google algorithm updates this month and hopefully that allowed you (and others in the SEO world) to get a much-needed break for some #selfcare so we can ramp up and hit the ground running starting January 1st! I hope that you’ve had a great holiday break and are energized for what’s to come in 2019.
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