search engine crawlers
Every year brings new SEO challenges and surprises. The year 2017 won’t be any different, but we do expect these topics to be important considerations in the new year:
Interstitials / Popups on Mobile Devices
We’ve all seen mobile sites with a popup covering the content we were trying to read. These popups will be punished by Google in early 2017. Like ads above the fold, Google feels these popups harm the user experience – and they do not want to send visitors to such sites. Many survey and tool vendors such as ometrics and surveygizmo have been proactive to make sure their clients are not at risk, but some vendors may not be aware.
SSL / HTTPS
Google is really pushing SSL, and this is the year they accelerate their plan to make the web secure. Having your entire website served over HTTPS used to be rare, and only credit card or health privacy transactions were secured. And even that was spotty. But Google has begun a campaign since 2014 to secure everything. Two years ago, Google introduced a rankings boost for sites entirely on SSL. Last year they provided better features in Search Console. And we started to see SSL as “must have”. But progress has been voluntary in many regards, with other business objectives prioritized first.
Next year, new developments will force your hand: Warnings will start appearing in Chrome. Come January 2017 the Chrome browser will show increasingly dire warnings for any site that hasn’t moved to HTTPS. Starting with pages that have credit card or password fields:
Initially, users will be warned:
With more dire warnings for insecure sites later in 2017:
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
AMP is the super-speedy loading of pages you’ve likely seen in some mobile results. After you setup AMP on your site, Googlebot places your content on it’s super-fast servers – but making it look like your URL. AMP was just for news sites, but now Google has opened AMP up to other sorts of sites – and 700k+ sites have been using it! If mobile traffic is important to your site, AMP will likely become vital over the next year.
Google just loves schema. We’ve seen over this last year as schema has helped increase pages indexed, and expect it to play a greater role every year. As artificial intelligence is used more and more in the “Rank Brain” algorithm, sites that can be easily categorized by Google will received more visibility. I for one welcome our new overlords… subject to future review.
Links are still an important part of Google’s algorithm. But sustainable, authentic link earning is always the best longterm approach in link building. So how can you get these links?
1. Content marketing
Produce great content, and reach out to authority sites and influencers in your space.
2. Business Development Link Building
All of those traditional activities such as sponsoring a baseball team, joining the chamber, or participating in online communities/forums are actually great ways to get links.
Publicity is that powerful branch of public relations that provides links and visibility from media sites.
These methods of earning links have the best longterm potential, and are quite powerful for building and keeping rankings.
The shrinking organic traffic (more ads at the top), increased competition, and ever-changing nature of organic search require more effort than ever. Gone are the days of getting your site “SEO-ed” and expecting free traffic. All traffic is either earned, or easily taken away. May you experience a great new year with SEO!
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.
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
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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“Do as I say, not as I do”
Sometimes Google does things it warns others not to do:
1. Don’t be top heavy
Google just updated it’s “Top heavy” algorithm. For sites that show many ads at the top, or make users scroll to see content, penalties can apply.
2. Don’t scrape content from other websites
Matt Cutts of Google is actively seeking reports of what would be considered “scraper sites”. One SEO responded with a screenshot of Google scraping wikipedia. 🙂
In other news, Google will now start showing restaurant menus for those keyword searches. But the restaurant brands do not know exactly where Google is scraping this data from, and how to update it.
Read the whole scoop here: http://searchengineland.com/now-official-google-adds-restaurant-menus-search-results-185708
3. Links on user generated content sites that pass pagerank
For most sites, Google insists that links created by site visitors are “nofollow”. But Google+ allows links that are curiously “dofollow”. Other sites could indeed be penalized by this.
4. Sell Links
Almost $17 billion of Google’s almost $17 billion in revenue from last quarter was from “selling links”. But of course, they aren’t “dofollow”.
A couple more items have garnered Google’s attention:
1. Rich snippets should be used for good, not evil
Google has been levying a manual penalty against sites using rich snippets in a spammy fashion.
2. Don’t try to insert too many keywords with your business listing
There used to be an distinct advantage in having your keywords in your business name. Now Google wants to make sure the business name you use in your business listing matches you business name.
– Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title.
– In addition to your business’s real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers.
– Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.
– Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are “Starbucks Downtown” or “Joe’s Pizza Delivery”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery”, or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.
See more: https://support.google.com/places/answer/107528?hl=en
So what to do?
Create a content generating, curating, sharing machine.
1. Post full versions of your content to your site, but also Google+, linkedin, and promote your content at other relevant places around the web.
2. Tag your content with rich snippets, facebook open graph, twitter cards to increase it’s “sharability” and categorization.
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We’d like to help you promote your own business, hoping more work for you brings more work our way! Join our newsletter for our suggestion this month: It’s a site with a pagerank of 9!