Google: All about that mobile

Having a good mobile experience is increasingly important for websites. Advances in technology have made it possible for many more sites to be viewed on mobile devices, but the experience is usually much less pleasurable than viewing via desktop. Google wants to change that, and is again trying to move website design in the correct direction.Hyper Dog Media Mobile SEO

Google and Bing are currently locked in a battle to be the best search engine for mobile. They know users will judge them by the sites suggested during a search. When searchers encounter unusable sites from their query, they change search engines. Wouldn’t you rather have ten good sites given to you from a search than a hit-and-miss list?

Mobile is growing fast: Comscore estimates that mobile usage will outpace desktop usage this year! Google has already started showing “Mobile Friendly” icons in search results – and has even tested “NOT Mobile Friendly” icons recently!

So what to do? Here are some quick tips:
1. View your site in mobile
Try using this free testing tool from Google:

Google tells you if fonts are too small, there are missing “viewport” metatags, and other mobile usability errors.

2. Easy URLs
Keyword rich URLs have lost much of their power in the last few years, but are likely to lose much more: They aren’t as easy to type into a smartphone.

3. Responsive design
A responsive design is usable at any size. Previous efforts to provide different sites to different kinds of devices have failed as the many types of devices have exploded and crossed over into other categories, such as 2-in-1s and giant phones. Having several versions of your website might have also meant a nightmare in keeping all of them updated, and in sync. Googlebot in all it’s wisdom couldn’t figure out which version was canonical, either – and which to return a certain user to, based on their device.

Google’s new Mobile Usability reports (in Webmaster Tools) show the following issues:
– Flash content,
– missing viewport (a critical meta-tag for mobile pages),
– tiny fonts,
– fixed-width viewports,
– content not sized to viewport,
– clickable links/buttons too close to each other.

4. Access to site resources
Googlebot and Bingbot both want to see into your JavaScript and CSS files. It used to be a best practice to block access, and many have. But as time has passed, bots have missed important information about user experience: Are there ads above the fold? Is the user being redirected, or shown irrelevant content? Bots need to know, all with the framework of ranking “better” sites higher. And you cannot be “better” on mobile if the experience is bad.

Need a good interactive agency or website design firm? We’ve worked with many, and partnered with the best. Talk to us about your needs, and we’ll introduce you to the right match!

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Penguin 3.0: A year in the waiting

Google’s “Penguin Updates” target the easiest link building practices. Since Google’s algorithm uses links to determine whether a website deserves to rank, they use the Penguin Updates to punish sites that might be getting links in an automated fashion.

Penguin Update 1: April 24, 2012, dubbed v1.0Google Penguin Hyper Dog Media SEO
Penguin Update 2: May 25, 2012
Penguin Update 3: October 5, 2012
Penguin Update 4 : May 22, 2013, dubbed v2.0
Penguin Update 5: October 4, 2013
Penguin Update 6: October 17, 2014, dubbed v3.0

Penguin 3.0 was the sixth Penguin Update from Google, and actually much smaller than the original Penguin Update. It started on October 17, and is still rolling out. But it hasn’t been as much of a hit as previous updates:
1. Google says less than 1% of queries will be affected. That’s less than a third of the original Penguin Update.

2. No new “signals” have been added. It was more of a “refresh” than an update. For those sites that disavowed or removed heavy amounts of links, it was a welcome change.

3. Talk of a larger Penguin update has already started, expected in Spring of 2015.

Vigilance and Risk Management
Last year’s update also opened sites up to more dirty tricks from competitors. Negative SEO has been possible for a long time, and only recently acknowledged by Google. The newest forms of Negative SEO put a competitor’s site into Google’s crosshairs with:
– Links from the worst kinds of sites
– Links targeting the worst kinds of keywords
– Links targeting the right keywords, but in unnatural amounts

PSST! Need a Free Link?
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“How do you write great title tags and meta descriptions?”

“How do you write great title tags and meta descriptions?” That is the question that clients ask me most frequently. And it’s a loaded question for sure! There are several components to authoring great titles and descriptions, but there are also a few considerations that each client will want to consider for themselves.

Hyper Dog Media SEO Boulder

Where are those title tags? Find them in the tab of your browser.

I’ll address the considerations first. You want to write title tags that are Google-bot-pleasing, but you also want to have titles and descriptions that are functional and helpful to the human visitors to your website. This can be tricky when the approach can be different when thinking of writing for bots versus humans. My best advice: somewhere right in the middle is your best bet! Write naturally and use the same voice that you are using in your page content, but include keyword targets that are specific to the page

Title tags must fall in a range of characters, but also need to fall into a size range to appear complete in Google search. This size range has to do with the number of pixels that a title tag takes up on the page. For example, if you’ve got a title tag with a couple of w’s in it, that will take up far more space than a title with several lower case l’s and i’s. Just look at this spacing difference:  www lil. The three skinnier letters take up about as much space as one of the w’s! Why does this matter? Well, in Google search results, you are allotted a specific amount of space for the title of your page. This went into effect earlier this year when Google updated its search results page. So, you’ll want your page titles to appear complete in the results, while getting you the most out of this limited function. Unfortunately, this makes it really tricky to say that there is a specific number of characters that you should use for each title tag. Around 52-58 characters is probably a pretty safe bet, but if you think you might be using a lot of wide characters, choose to use a few less characters.

Hyper Dog Media Meta Descriptions

The meta description appears in search results, it’s that black text below the (green) website address.

Meta descriptions also have a size range that you want to target for full effect in Google search results. Meta descriptions are not used in Google’s algorithm, but a good meta description raises your organic click-through-rate. Google can tell human searchers are clicking through to your site, and likely takes that into account. Google also does see short or duplicate meta descriptions as a site quality issue – so I guess it is indeed part of their overall formula. Meta descriptions of between 139 and 156 characters seem to work best. Again, strive to convey your message to human visitors with your natural writing style, but include those keyword target specific to the page. When writing meta descriptions, entice users to click on your search engine result by listing benefits and a call to action. In addition, the meta description should be different for each page of your website.

I have written a plethora of title tags and meta descriptions for a wide range of clients and what I’ve learned is that if you are organized and set up systems, even the largest websites can have all new titles and descriptions before you know it. I recommend setting up a spreadsheet and setting columns for old titles, new titles, character count, old description, new description and character count. Once you get used to using the spreadsheet, you can set the width of the columns to help guide you to the right size while you are writing.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed about getting your titles and descriptions in order, just give me a call. I’ve just about got it down to an art and I’ve also got a few tools in my tool belt that can automate some of the process that may be bogging you down. I’m here to help! Questions? Shoot me an email or a message at @jannavance on Twitter. Good luck!