Usually I start off these monthly updates with what I’ve learned this month, but I didn’t want to bury the important Google announcements. You can see my excitement and key takeaways from Mobile Moxie’s presentation later in this post. In the meantime, here are the big announcements over the last month that I wanted to share:
Google Announcements and Updates
Google has another bug and is selecting the wrong canonical URL
Here’s more from Google:
We’re aware for some pages, there’s an issue where we may have selected an unrelated canonical URL. In turn, breadcrumb trails on mobile might reflect the unrelated URLs. In rare cases, it might prevent proper indexing. We’ve been fixing this & will update when fully resolved.”
— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) April 25, 2019
If you think Google has selected the wrong canonical URL to index, you can follow this Google Search Console help guide to fix.
BTW, Google is still working on resolving the problem with Search Console’s indexed pages report.
Google podcast app surfacing Fraggles
Fraggles, a term coined by Mobile Moxie, allow Google to understand chunks of text, audio or video as standalone “answers” to a searcher’s query, and is a topic that we covered in our February update.
Google is now starting to automatically transcribe some podcasts that are registered with the Google podcast app and some have noticed fraggles ranking from those transcriptions. Just another notch in Google’s never-ending quest to index and surface fraggles!
For webmasters and podcasters here’s another reason to add your podcast to Google Podcast – they are making it easier for new listeners to discover your content. It’s best if you have your own transcripts created with timestamps, but even if you don’t you should register your podcast with Google podcast today.
Ahrefs announces that they are building a search engine to compete with Google
The announcement is part of a Twitter thread here.
Ahrefs is working on general purpose search engine to compete with Google. Sounds crazy, right?
But lets talk about two huge problems with Google which they will never want to fix:
— Dmitry Gerasimenko (@botsbreeder) March 27, 2019
The interesting bit is that they are working on building out a revenue sharing model with publishers. No beta to look at yet, but interesting to keep an eye on.
What type of pagination structure works best for indexing and crawling?
This informative pagination test (published here) walks through the best format for your pagination to ensure Google crawling and indexing. It shows that Google doesn’t effectively use rel=prev and rel=next. The author notes that he did his research prior to Google announcing that they no longer support that markup.
Mobile search image results up
In a blog post published on March 11, 2019, toolset provider RankRanger reported that Google was showing an increased amount of thumbnails within mobile search results snippets – from 4 on average to 5. Moz also reported a rise in images.
As an SEO who has been in the industry for 15 years, I can tell you that there has been a long term push from Google to surface more high-quality images, and most of the clients I do SEO audits for are not leveraging their images assets to drive traffic to their sites. All SEOs should be doubling down on utilizing their site’s images as a way to drive traffic through smart optimization.
This series is aimed at educating developers on how to make sites built with JS frameworks more SEO friendly. You can check it out the series here:
Mind Blowing mobile SERPs stats that impact your SEO reporting
This video from Cindy Krum of Mobile Moxie — originally given at the Engage conference in Portland, it’s really a MUST watch, and it’s conveniently online:
Here are the key takeaways:
- SEOs need to be aware that most of the tools that you use default to desktop search results reporting, but 50% of the worldwide traffic is mobile.
- In some cases (31%) of Desktop search results are not visible in mobile search results, and only 11% of URLs keep their positions in both SERPs. So you really can’t use desktop data to make mobile SEO decisions.
- Mobile SERPs are changing drastically. There are many clicks on answers that don’t drive traffic to a website.
Here’s a mobile SERP for “sea lion vs seal” as an example:
When a user clicks on “dog vs seal,” it triggers this result:
- Keep in mind that position 1 organic on mobile might be halfway down the page due to the increasing number of instant answers and other features at the top of the SERP result.
- Clicks from featured snippets, your content in carousels, expanders for the answer, etc. are not showing up in your analytics and may be hard to track in GSC. I mentioned this Google Search Console issue in a blog post this month.
- With 61.5% of mobile searches not resulting in a website click, there are impressions of your brand that aren’t measured if you are only looking at analytics data. This is because analytics data only measure clicks to your web property. To make mobile SEO decisions, you need to look at how your brand is represented in mobile SERPs, even if they don’t click through to your website. This is where having a tool that stays on top of mobile SERP features would be valuable. Consider RankRanger, or MobileMoxie…
Let’s show you an example. Here’s the mobile rank tracking for “blue whale” in Ahrefs:
And here’s what the mobile SERP looks like:
Do you see how the large entity box with tabs takes over the top and isn’t even referenced in Ahref’s SERP tracking?
A recent survey of search users and the impact of featured snippets
The survey results by Path Interactive are a must read. Here’s the alarming bit that stuck out to me:
The youngest searchers (13–18) are 220 percent more likely than the oldest searchers (70–100) to consider their questions answered without clicking on the snippet (or any) result.
However, the final takeaway that is more reassuring:
Searchers are still prone to gravitating toward the regular blue links, both organic and paid. They are largely skeptical about taking all of the information included in rich results at face value.
I’d recommend that clients with younger audiences double down on Featured Snippet optimization (a recommendation I’m making for other reasons as well). Keep an eye on that statistic. Also, consider becoming active in encouraging smart searching education for your kids and in your schools. There are great tips here on how to become a better searcher.
Google is not flawless and smart searching behavior will result in you being a more educated human being.
OK. I’m off my soapbox.
Google Search Console’s new reports:
Discover Performance report
The new Google Search Console now has a new report that shows information from Discover, a feature on the Android Google apps, with data back to March 2019. That traffic was previously just measured as overall Google organic traffic to your site in your web analytics package, and now you can segment out that activity.
The Discover Tab is content being presented to a searcher without them searching for it based on what Google knows about their browsing history or interaction with Google products. Let’s face it, they are potentially using other data Google can grab from their device.
To optimize for more of your content to appear in Discover, Google has an optimization guide which focused on the following:
- Creating content your users will find interesting
- Use high-quality images (that are at least 1,200 px wide) or provide video.
AMP story traffic
If you have created an AMP story, you can now measure that activity if it’s displayed via either regular search or via Discover.
Search Console has been updated to include AMP story traffic from both Search and Discover. Learn more about AMP stories at https://t.co/t3lKqDgI3k
— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) April 10, 2019
How to measure your local map pack activity in GSC
Google measures positions and ranking in GSC in a way that does not make intuitive sense (to me at least). I covered some of the issues in this post.
But, a new article highlights another set of issues you’ll encounter if your business shows up in the map pack. I’m bookmarking this one for later.
New Tools and Resources
Google’s Masterful with Mobile
Currently, this resource — which is focused on industry mobile benchmarking around usability and performance — is only evaluating retail, travel, and finance. We’ll have to keep an eye out if they roll out more studies focusing on different industries.
Yoasts new schema tool
Schema.org markup is most powerful when you can connect your entities to each other and to other outside references related to those topics. But rolling out markup automatically in a way where the entities and attributes are organized well has been a challenge. Yoast’s newest tool seeks to make this easier.
Email measurement tips
There are some great email marketing and measurement tips here including:
- Make sure your email is less than 102KB in size. Gmail will clip your message when it arrives and asks the recipient to ‘download’ the rest of it.” This also means that your tracking pixel at the bottom of the message will also probably not load and fire, and you won’t be able to track the message as “opened.”
- Additionally, mail recipients may consider a large message (that isn’t fully rendered from top to bottom) as broken, and they might either delete immediately or mark the email as spam, which will impact future email deliverability.
Social Media News
10% of Twitter users create 80% of tweets
On Twitter, 10% of users create 80% of the tweets. Based on Pew Research Center study of 2,791 US adult Twitter users, those users are more likely to be women, college educated, and have incomes over $75,000. They’re nearly three times as likely to be younger than 50 (73%). Only 27% are older than 50.
In contrast, the median user tweets just twice each month.
I had this conversation all the time while I was at Ketchum. Why are you launching on Twitter? Is your audience there and are they active users? Are their influencers there? Does it make sense for you to maintain yet another channel, or focus your efforts on channels where there’s research to show that your target audience is there and active? Do you have the budget for promotion on Twitter?
Unless you’re trying to court SEOs or journalists, I’m not sure a Twitter strategy makes sense to most, and everyone should answer the above questions before adding another social media channel to your management load.
Another startling stat: Messaging Apps now have more users than social networks
There are more people using messaging apps than social media now. See the chart below:
(Source) Is your business considering a messaging app strategy?
Another stat: Facebook Messenger marketing has 10-80 times better engagement than email
No joke. Email as a channel has a 5-10% open rates and a 1% clickthrough rate. Facebook Messenger, by contrast, averages 70-80% open rates and 20% clickthrough rates. Have you considered a Facebook messenger strategy?
YouTube is testing new engagement metrics
There are actually 2 new engagement metrics are being tested by YouTube that will impact whether your videos are seen as successful (and then algorithmically shown to your target audience). One is focused on tracking total time people spend on YouTube (including comments they post and read (not just the clips they watch).
They are also working on an additional internal metric called ‘quality watch time,’ which aims to identify what type of content users find constructive. This has been two years in the making and is currently actively being tested.
Facebook is launching a voice assistant
As reported on CNBC, Facebook has announced they were working on a voice assistant. I’m personally not sure what I would ask Facebook – though maybe it will help you verbally dictate a new post? The effort is reportedly being run by Facebook’s augmented reality and virtual reality division, and that group has already contacted suppliers in the smart speaker space.
That’s it for this month. Stay tuned for next month’s updates, or follow me on Twitter (@KWatier) where I share noteworthy updates in real time.
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