Google Data Changes Clarified in Recent Statement

Recent Google data changes in the query reports obtained through the Google Search Console (GSC) has caused a lot of headaches for website owners. Google has taken note of the confusion and recently issued a statement in an effort to clarify these Google data changes.

For website owners (and for SEO companies) it was evident that Google had removed some of the query data within their search console performance reports. Google claims that they are only excluding anonymous queries, queries that used to be included in the chart sums but were never shown in the Search Console; therefore they are no longer included in the sum totals.

In Google’s own words:

Previously, we included the sum of queries that weren’t tracked in Search Console in the totals for ‘query not containing’. Eg, we might not track some queries that are made a very small number of times or those that contain personal or sensitive info. (anonymous queries).

Going forward, we’re only including the sum of those that we track and can match in Search Console. This change doesn’t affect the queries shown in Search Console, nor how we treat these untracked queries.”

The problem for website owners is that the results tend to look drastic when the query filter is added because they are witnessing very big drops in the query data sums. Even though Google is saying these are not really drops, it is difficult for website owners to view this as a simple change in how Google calculates the reports. To website owners, the reports seem to indicate that their sites are not performing as well as they should be.

Google claims they made the change “…to account for more queries and to support exciting Search Analytics features down the road.” However, this isn’t exciting news for website owners who are trying to gage how well their sites are performing now.

You can read more about these Google data changes on Google’s web page entitled Data Anomalies in Search Console under the Search Analytics Report / Performance Report.

About 1st on the List

Located just outside Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1st on the List is a boutique SEO Company that has been offering search engine optimization, pay per click, and SEO web design services since 1997.

To learn more about our services, please call us Toll Free at 1-888-262-6687 or send us an email.

 

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Is Your Website Being Marked as Not Secure in Chrome?

The Chrome 56 Update

Google has taken a very strong stance on website security over the last couple years and very soon its latest update will hit the web.

Set to release sometime late January 2017, the new Google Chrome 56 browser will label any HTTP website that collects passwords and credit card numbers as Not secure.

Have you complied with Google’s suggestion to make sure that your website is secure, whether or not your website collect sensitive information?

As time goes on, we are warned that Google will be even more strict and start labeling all insecure websites as Not Secure, even if they do not collect sensitive information.

Google will also begin giving even more favourable rankings to websites with SSL Certifications in place and HTTPS Everywhere active on all pages (and other areas) of a website. This is Google’s prerogative, and they are choosing to do so in an effort to make the Internet more secure for everyone.

How Do I Get Rid of the Not Secure Warning?

If you are a website owner, and your site is already deemed, or might be deemed, Not Secure by Google, you need to purchase an SSL Certificate through a Certificate Authority (CA) and have it installed on your website. This will turn your website URLs to HTTPS, meaning that your site pages are secure.

Google suggests, in their article titled Secure Your Site With HTTPS that you “ensure a high level of security by choosing a 2048-bit key.”

At 1st on the List, we have chosen to work with DigiCert because they satisfy the encryption standards that Google expects you to have for HTTPS Everywhere. We can help you install the 2048-bit key and implement the required site changes.

How Do I Start Implementing HTTPS?

The best way to begin implementing HTTPS is to give 1st on the List a call and chat with one of our SSL experts. They’ll need to know how many sites you have, how many subdomains each site might have, and some other details about your organization.

HTTPS Everywhere not only appeases Google, it will make your visitors happy because you invested the time and effort to prioritize their privacy and security needs. It can also help protect your organization from the liability of security breaches.

Call 1st on the List today about your SSL Certificate and discuss how HTTPS should be your next step toward creating a safer Internet for everyone.

At 1st on the List, we’ve been talking about the importance of HTTPS and SSL for a couple years. Here are some other articles we have written on this topic:

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Voice Activated SEO Strategy for Google Home Device

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. You can ask it questions or tell it to do things, much like the Google Search function on your computer or phone, but in a hands free speaker version.

As Google’s entry into the home market, the Google Home device was released in October 2016 (just in time for people to add to their Christmas wishlists) and is expected to ship nearly 3 million Google Home devices in 2017 (according to Strategy Analytics).

With voice only search devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo entering the home it is important to recognize voice only search within your SEO strategy.

As a business owner invested in an SEO Strategy for your website you may be wondering what does this mean for you?

To ride the upcoming wave of voice-activated SEO there are two significant concepts to become familiar with:

  1. Featured Snippets
  2. Good Abandonment

Why Did Google Create Featured Snippets?

Ever since the first iPhone was released in 2007 the search engines have continually evolved and adapted their results to more effectively present Search Results to mobile devices. Google’s Featured Snippets were part of that evolution. The thinking was (and is even more so now) that short, concise answers to questions right in the search result would more readily adapt to responsive design. It turns out, they also translate well (in most instances) to voice.

What none of the Search Engines had during the first years of smartphone devices was a means of successfully measuring or monitoring the satisfaction level of the answers shown in a Featured Snippet search result. For example, a mobile user would search a term, and if Google found an appropriate answer online, it would likely present it as a Featured Snippet to a mobile device.

If the answer satisfied the searcher, no further clicks occurred on the device (this is what we call “good abandonment” and will discuss next). Google was left wondering how to gauge the results, and most SEO firms were left trying to figure out how to utilize this information for their clients.

What is Good Abandonment?

Good abandonment is an abandoned, informational query addressed successfully on the results page which requires no further click or query refinement.

In a 2009 paper titled Good Abandonment in Mobile and PC Internet Search (Google et al.), they used the term Good Abandonment to describe just such a query. Essentially, the absence of any action on the part of the mobile user after the initial query was deemed to be Good Abandonment. The logic was, the user was satisfied with the answer (Featured Snippet) provided at the top of the result and no further action on the part of the searcher was required.

In a 2016 paper titled Detecting Good Abandonment in Mobile Search (Microsoft et al.), the research logic focused on gestures on mobile devices as underlying indicators of Good Abandonment. But in both studies, the principle units of measurement seemed to remain relatively the same. The absence of actions post-query was interpreted as the presence of a degree of satisfaction.

SEO for Google Home Device

So what do these things all mean for Google Home and voice activated SEO?

The SEO community is already writing articles as a result of what Google Home presents to users. A Moz piece titled How to Rank on Google Home is an interesting peek into what Google Home finds for a variety of different searches.

Google Home does a better job of presenting results for specific queries than it does for more general questions. And Google’s Explore Features section of Google Home helps provide a list of topic areas currently addressed by the device.

As Search Engine Land expresses in another article titled SEO without SERPs, I feel that the most applicable areas for SEO will currently be Facts & Info searches on Google Home, and Local Guide. While these regions may not leave much travel space for introduction into your specific SEO portfolio, look for Google to expand Home’s repertoire of responses in the coming months and years as they will no doubt refine and expand its infrastructure.

Focus on Featured Snippets

Until the SEO community does some research and exploration into other ways to optimize websites for Google Home, intensive focus on Featured Snippets seems to be the most likely method of gaining voice-activated entry in Home’s world.

The ability to summarize a question and uniquely answer that query in a way that garners Google’s attention for Home is likely to become a very specialized skill. The categories of questions (Facts & Info and Local Guide) available to pursue for Home do not provide much room to explore. They are not as much roadmaps for definitive voice search success but rather points of interest on a vocal highway which Google will undoubtedly continue to widen and pave as they explore.

If you have any questions about Google Home and SEO, call us today for more information at 1-888-262-6687.

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The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project Explained

Clunky. Slow. Frustrating.

These are the exact mobile web browsing issues that the Google-led Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project has worked rapidly in the last three and a half months to solve once and for all.

Rising to the challenge of providing web pages that load faster and look better on mobile devices, this open source initiative means that websites using the accelerate mobile pages framework can have content that will load instantly through any source, including:

  • Messaging Apps (SMS, iChat, Hangouts)
  • E-Readers
  • Newsfeed and Aggregator Apps
  • Social platforms

At 1st on the List, our Technical SEO’s have put together an in-depth (yet not technically overwhelming) explanation of the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, how AMP-pages work, the benefits of AMP, Google Search guidelines for AMP, and how you can potentially use AMP to improve your SEO.

What is the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project?

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is an open source Google initiative to improve the mobile web for users and enhance the distribution ecosystem for publishers.

“With the recent shift to mobile, media consumption is changing. Users now consume content wherever they find it — sometimes it’s directly from a publisher’s website, oftentimes it’s not. Given how frustrating the mobile web can be, many content distribution platforms are seeking alternatives. In many cases, these alternatives tend to be platform specific, placing a burden on the publishers to support this fragmentation of formats and closing off the ecosystem.”
~ (AMPProject.org)

Essentially, the main goal of the AMP Project is to preserve the open web publishing model and protect all the revenue streams that go along with it. In order to do this, the AMP Project focuses on building a more common technical core between pages in order to ensure:

  • Consistent content appearance across all modern browsers and apps,
  • Fast loading, flexible and beautiful content, and
  • Compelling and effective ads.

Open source means that AMP is freely available, modifiable, and shareable because its design is publicly accessible. This encourages collaboration, community development, and transparency. Anyone can help enhance AMP.

Since its launch less than four months ago, over 5,200 developers have interacted with AMP. Contributors include people of all different job titles including Chief Strategy Officers, VP’s of Engineering, Editor in Chiefs, and CEO’s. Some of the big publishers contributing to and using AMP HTML include BuzzFeed, The Guardian, BBC, Mashable, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Additional technology companies include LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress.com and Pinterest.

The AMP Project Timeline

May 12, 2015 – Facebook launches Instant Articles

Early last year, Facebook was busy launching Instant Article which could load articles near-instantly, up to 10 times faster than the standard mobile web. The response from publishers was positive, who loved both the look and feel, plus loading speeds, it offered the end reader. Many saw Instant Articles as Facebook’s aggressive attempt to become the primary New Distributor on the web and to become the first and only place users did their Internet browsing. Some also think this triggered Google’s initiative to launch the AMP Project.

October 7, 2015 – Google officially introduces the project.

Since its launch, more than 5,200 developers engaged with the project and 16,000 new AMP pages have been created.

December 9, 2015 – Google announces their intention to send Search Traffic to AMP Pages.

Speculation by the AMP Project suggests that Google will start sending traffic to AMP Pages through Search Results starting as soon as late February 2016.

December 9, 2015Momentum for AMP Project picks up.

Richard Gingras (Head of News at Google) shares updates on the AMP Project including work in four key areas: Advertising, Analytics, Subscriptions, and Content Format. Plus several key players join the AMP movement:

  • WordPress will support publishers wishing to enable AMP pages starting early January.
  • Twitter will start linking to AMP content provided by publishers early 2016.
  • Pinterest is testing AMP pages in both their iOS and Android Apps (and finding they load 4x faster and use 8x less data that mobile optimized pages).
  • LinkedIn expresses their intention to support AMP early 2016.
  • By late February, Analytics Providers such as Google Analytics, comScore, and others will have AMP support in their tools.
  • Additional publishers around the world are expressing their intention to support AMP in 2016.

January 20, 2015 Google’s “Accelerated Mobile Pages Report” available in Search Console.

This is when we first noticed the “Accelerated Mobile Pages Report”  in Google’s Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools), within the Search Appearance section. With this tool, Google will give you a list of successfully indexed AMP pages on your site and prioritize any AMP-specific errors you need to fix in order to have them prominently served to mobile users. This tells us that Google wants to make AMP mainstream. We also take it as a strong suggestion to webmasters and developers to start integrating Accelerated Mobile Page HTML into their sites, where it makes sense to do so.

What Does an Accelerated Mobile Page Look Like?

An accelerated mobile page contains static content built to render fast on any mobile web browser and to be heavily cached. Think of it as a “diet” or slimmed down version of your regular page, like the AMP-page we just made of our latest blog post:

amp-blog-post-example

 

AMP HTML, Javascript, and Content Delivery Network (CDN)

There are three technical parts to AMP:

  • AMP HTML – the AMP HTML variation of the page includes restrictions for reliable performance, plus extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML.
  • AMP JS – the AMP Javascript manages resource loading, gives custom tags, pre-calculates the layout of each element, and more, to ensure a fast rendering of the page.
  • AMP CDN – the AMP Content Delivery Network is responsible for fetching and caching the page, and has a built-in validation system that confirms the page is guaranteed to work.

How Do Accelerated Mobile Pages Work?

In its simplest form, AMP works by combining limited technical functionality with a distribution system built around caching. The result is a faster and better performance and stronger audience development, in any modern browser or app web view.

Here are four specific ways AMP achieves this goal:

  • Limiting HTML functionality.
  • Following site speed best practices for both technical and architectural approaches.
  • Using a common technical framework between all AMP-pages
  • Caching AMP files in the cloud to reduce time to a mobile device.

More on AMP and Caching

AMP HTML versions of your pages are accelerated by caches created by third parties such as Google. AMP makes it easier for platforms to cache your content while you still maintain full control of the content. In true open source style, Google will provide a cache to anyone to use at no charge and all AMPs will be cached by Google. Other companies can also develop their caching system if desired.

What are the Benefits of AMP?

There are several reasons why you may need to consider AMP for your website.

  1. Better user experience for mobile users.
    Readers can now access your best content regardless of what app, platform, or device chosen. Delivery of content is also blazing fast.
  2. Publishers maintain more control.
    As the publisher, AMP gives you more autonomy and reduces your effort to distribute content to 3rd Party platforms.
  3. Better advertising and revenue streams.
    As the publisher, you can also maintain economic control of your content and develop effective advertising on the mobile web.
  4. Maximizes reach of content.
    AMP boosts the usage of your mobile pages and increases the reach of your content.

Plus, Google says if your AMP-compliant pages include a few additional pieces of information, they can also benefit from special display features in Google Search results.

Accelerated Mobile Pages & SEO: Improving Speed Performance

There are several ways that AMP HTML pages speed up your website and have the potential to improve your SEO:

  • Asynchronous scripts keep JavaScript from delaying page rendering.
  • Static sized resources determine each element’s size (ex. image) before it is downloaded so that the page layout can load without waiting for resources to download.
  • Extension mechanisms (ex. Instagram or Tweet embeds) do not block page rendering.
  • Third-party JavaScripts are kept out of the critical path.
  • All CSS is kept inline and size-bound (50 kb maximum)
  • Font triggering is kept efficient and not delayed.
  • Style recalculations are limited to one per frame.
  • GPU-accelerated animations.
  • Resources are prioritized so that the most important resources are download first, such as ones likely to be seen by a user, are above the fold, or if user likely to scroll down quickly.
  • Pages load instantly because an AMP can predict and render the next page before the user explicitly navigates to it.

AMP Google Search Guidelines

Google indicates that they like validated AMP pages because they can be crawled, stored in, and served from a cache that allows them to be served even more quickly. If your website page has a valid AMP version, Google Search may direct mobile users to the cached AMP.

Here are the five steps Google says to follow to take advantage of AMP’s benefits:

  1. Follow AMP specifications.
  2. Make sure Google can find and index your AMP-pages, and understand the link between the non-AMP page and its AMP page.
  3. Test that your AMP pages are valid and work as expected.
  4. Follow Google’s structured data policies.
  5. Check your Google AMP status report.

Are Accelerated Mobile Pages Right for You?

At this point in time, the AMP Project is still fairly new and we are closely watching how it will play out with Google Search Results and interact with SEO.

We know that AMP makes the most sense for publishers of day-to-day pieces such as journalists and bloggers. Static content with a simple title, text, and perhaps an image are well suited for AMP HTML. On the other end of the spectrum, advanced apps and web pages with interactive elements and complex design may not be well suited to AMP.

Keep in mind that you can have both an HTML and a stripped down AMP HTML version of your website pages.

Visitor experience is a major aspect to consider when deciding to integrate AMP. If you answer yes to any of these questions you may want to consider AMP:

  • Do your visitors expect to find simple text on a page that loads with the blink of an eye that they can quickly read and digest?
  • Would you call your website visitors “Readers” or “Followers”?
  • Do you regularly post new content on your site and do you expect your visitors to consume this content on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Is your website page likely to be shared or viewed through messenger apps, newsfeeds, and social media?

For more information on Accelerated Mobile Pages and upgrading your site to include AMP HTML, or to explore the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading your website to include AMP HTML, please call our SEO Experts at 1-888-262-6687.

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SEO News and Google Updates – September 2015

Here’s what’s making news in the SEO community in the last several weeks.

Google Says HTTPS Sites May Get Ranking Boost

In a hangout this month between Bruce Clay and Gary Illyes of Google, Illyes reconfirmed that Google’s HTTPS ranking boost may serve as the tiebreaker if the quality signals for the two search results are equal.

He went on to say that he wishes all websites would use HTTPS but that it is perfectly fine if you don’t:

“I hope that I see more and more websites on HTTPS because I think that privacy, for example, is important, but of course I can’t expect everyone to go HTTPS. Some people don’t have the resources for that.”

You can learn some of the other reasons why HTTPS and SSL matter for your website with this Slide Deck.

Google Logo Change Represents the Google of the Future

What do you think of Google’s new logo?

In launching their new logo, Google shares a story of how search has evolved from taking place on just a desktop PC to a number of different ways people interact with Google products across all platforms, app, and devices.

The new Google logo and its updated identity represents a “world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).”

Google says that this new logo not just represents Google of today, but the Google of the future.

Does Structured Markup and Rich Snippets Influence Google’s Ranking Algorithm?

This month Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz posted an article on Google hinting it may use structured data in its ranking algorithm in the future. In the past, Google has said that these do not directly lead to your page ranking better in its search results.

This speculation comes from a comment John Mueller made in a hangout session that Google may start using Rich Snippets and Markup as a ranking factor in the future:

“If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard … So I think in the long run, it definitely makes sense to use structured data where you see that as being reasonable on the website. But I wouldn’t assume that using structured data markup will make your site jump up in rankings automatically. So we try to distinguish between a site that is done technically well and a site that actually has good content.”

Check out our Advanced SEO page for more information about Rich Snippets, Microdata, and Schema.

Continued Discussions About the New Google Local Search Display

We first mentioned the new Google Local 3 Pack last month and it has been heavily talked about in the Local SEO world since.

In his article The New Google Local Search Display, Jason Decker reiterates that several of the changes to local search results first seen in August are a “blow to local businesses” and provides several implications for searchers and local businesses:

  • The new Local 3 Pack is so plain it may reduce clicks to the website.
  • Display results may reduce phone calls to businesses as the phone number is hidden in most desktop results.
  • Local businesses may need to consider paid advertising to maintain their previous level of visibility in local search results. Decker points out that as more businesses resort to paid local ads we will most likely see competition and click costs spike.
  • Home service ads (currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area) may eventually remove local search pack or push it down lower for certain business types.

Reasons for Consumers to Lose Trust in Your Website are Also Key SEO Factors

This month MarketingCharts.com shared a study by Neustar on what causes consumers to lose trust in digital brands. As we reviewed the top reasons your visitors may lose trust in your brand we quickly noticed that almost all of them have a direct impact on your rankings and Search Visibility.

Is it time to address these key issues on your site in order to boost both rankings and visitor trust?

91% do not trust websites with errors or mistakes.

Google says websites need to provide high-quality content and that its ranking algorithms look for signals of low quality content, which may include grammar and other mistakes. Errors on your website may naturally come over time, such as old hours or out of stock products. The more up to date and error free you keep your website, the better you stand to do both in the ranking and trust department.

88% do not trust websites that frequently go down.

Significant downtime from site maintenance or server issues hurt your rankings and can result in your pages getting deindexed. Think about it: if your website is frequently down when the Search Engines try to visit why would they then want to send visitors to your website, which would likely be down?

75% do not trust websites that take too long to load.

Fast websites not only increase your visitor trust but can improve your rankings. In 2014, site speed was Search Metric’s top ranking factor. Check out our slide deck on Website Speed to understand how making your website faster will ultimately increase your bottom line.

55% do not trust websites without security safeguards to protect personal information.

As mentioned above, Gary Illyes of Google has said that secure HTTPS websites may be the tiebreaker between two equal quality websites.

Take some time to review your website from a visitor perspective, paying attention to these key Trust indicators. What do you need to improve?

For more information about what is happening in the SEO world or what it will take to improve the visibility of your brand online, give us a call at 1-888-262-6687.

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SEO News and Google Updates – August 2015

Here’s what making news in the SEO community in the last couple of weeks.

Moz Ranking Factors Preview

Moz is getting ready to publish its latest set of Search Engine Ranking Factors and gave author Eric Enge early access to some of the data. Here is what he has found:

  1. More and more Top 10 Results are Mobile Friendly:
  • 75% of Top 10 Results for commercial searches are mobile friendly.
  • 64% of Top 10 Results for informational searches are mobile friendly.
  1. Using HTTPS is a very new and minor ranking factor:
  • 17% of Top 10 Results for commercial searches use HTTPS.
  • 11% of Top 10 Results for informational searches use HTTPS.

Gary Illyes of Google confirmed HTTPS as a minor ranking factor on July 22, which we are told is used as a tiebreaker when two competing sites are similar in all other aspects. Google has warned that they will continue to increase the weight of this ranking factor over time.

Actionable Takeaway: Mobile Friendliness has arrived. To maintain or improve your rankings your website needs to be Mobile Friendly. HTTPS is on the horizon and many are waiting to see the impact this will have on rankings and the best way to implement on various types of websites.

Google Showing 3 Local Results Instead of 7

We started noticing this ourselves last week and Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable confirmed it on August 7. Google is now showing just 3 local listings with a link to see more. Previously, it had shown 7 local listings in Search Results.

Many SEOs and businesses are upset that just 3 make it to the Google Local Pack, making the competition even tougher.

There are a number of other big differences between Google Local 3-Pack and 7-Pack, as pointed out by Jennifer Slegg:

  • Exact addresses removed (just street name is shown)
  • Phone numbers removed (mobile version still has “call” button option)
  • Google+ links removed
  • Store hours added
  • “Google Reviews” now called “Reviews”
  • No fly out listing when you hover over a business (must click to see information)

When you click on a business from the Local Pack you will see a list of 20 additional local listings (competitors) in the left column, the selected business’ local listings information in the middle, and a map of the area on the right.

Google says they are exploring the best way to bring a better search experience but many business owners and marketers are wondering how this will impact potential calls and clicks.

Actionable Takeaway: Make sure you do everything possible to have a complete Google+ Profile including customer reviews. Make sure your website is properly optimized for the opportunity to show up below the Local Pack. You need to do everything you can to try to get in the Top 3 Local Pack, have a complete profile for if searchers click on you from the list of 20 Competitors on the side, and have a great ranking site if searchers scroll right past the local listings all together.

Reviews Deliver ROI

Myles Anderson has spent a lot of time and resources uncovering the true value of reputation management for local business marketers. Some of his latest findings include:

  • 83% of marketers believe reviews and reputation management absolutely delivers a good ROI,
  • 61% ask customers for reviews, and
  • 73% spend less than 20% of their time on review/reputation related tasks.

The results suggest that Review Management doesn’t have to take up too much of your time, is as simple as asking customers for reviews, and can provide a great ROI.

Anderson sought out an additional four experts in the area to provide advice on reviews, which included:

  1. Positive reviews can mean more clicks than your competitors.
  2. No reviews can be just as detrimental as bad reviews.
  3. Take the time to read, mine, and apply your reviews – both good and bad.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask multiple times for a review.
  5. Remember all sources for reviews … Facebook, Yelp, Google+, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Houzz, Healthgrades, and more. Niche sites in your industry are important too.

Actionable Item: Follow Anderson’s advice in thinking of this process as Reputation Development rather than Reputation management. How can you further develop your reputation?

Recent Google Algorithm Ranking Updates

Google makes hundreds (300-600) of changes to its algorithm each year. Many are minor and go unnoticed but there are some more major updates that affect a significant number of websites and get the SEO community buzzing.

So far in 2015 there have been several Google ranking updates that people are still talking about:

  • Panda 4.2 – July 17, 2015
    This is the 28th Panda refresh that is expected to take months to fully roll out. Panda was first launched on May 20, 2014 and is designed to target low quality content.
  • The Quality Update (aka Phantom) – May 3, 2015
    The SEO Community started buzzing about large scale ranking changes and named this update “Phantom” before Google would officially confirm it. Google did finally confirm this as a quality signals update that has a broad impact.
  • Mobile Update – April 22, 2015
    For the first time ever Google preannounced a ranking update before it happened plus the exact date it would hit, giving website owners a deadline to upgrade to a mobile friendly or mobile responsive website. Many took the warning seriously and upgraded their websites to become mobile friendly. So far the update has had a smaller than expected impact on websites although it is expected to increase in the future.

Actionable Item: Google is making changes to how your site might rank each and every day. Focus on Google’s best practices and principles, and take a holistic approach to SEO and online marketing as a whole.

Have you kept up with all of these changes, or do you need assistance going mobile friendly or secure? Do you have enough reviews and local exposure?

Call us at 1-888-262-6687 for advice.

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Will Your Rankings Drop on April 21?

Today we published our new SlideShare presentation on Google’s Mobile Friendly website ranking update scheduled for April 21. Check it out!

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Google Mobile Search Algorithm to Update April 21 2015

This is the first time in the history of Google that we can remember them giving official notice of an upcoming algorithm update and telling Webmasters the exact date the algorithm will go live!

In the Google Mobile Algorithm announcement last week, they say:

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.

Many believe this announcement is game changing yet does not come to our surprise. Check out our post from two weeks ago where we talk about being ready for a potential Google mobile ranking algorithm update.

Is your website ready? Here are a few ways to check it out before the Google mobile algorithm update takes effect.

  • Pull out your phone and open up your website. Does the screen resize? Is text easy to read without zooming in? Are links in the navigation easy to click?
  • Head over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly test and check out your score.
  • Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and use the Mobile Usability Report for a complete list of issues you will want to fix before April 21, 2015.

Let us know soon if you need help making your website Mobile Friendly before the Google algorithm updates that we know will take place on April 21, 2015. Call us at 1-888-262-6687 or fill out our quick contact form.

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Google Sends Notices to Webmasters With Sites That Are Not Mobile Friendly

Google has made two strong moves towards encouraging (or gently forcing) all webmasters to become more Mobile Friendly. Could this mean Google is launching a new mobile algorithm update soon?

The first move was in November 2014 when Google added a “mobile-friendly” label into Search Results (see our recent Is my website mobile friendly post). This means that people searching on their Smartphone may see your website in Search Results and scroll right past it because the lack of a “mobile-friendly” label means it could be slow to load, hard to navigate and difficult to view.

Google’s second move occurred just two days ago (January 19, 2015) when they started sending out notices through Google Webmaster Tools. The “Fix mobile usability issues found” WNC-451500 message looks like this:

 Google Notice Not Friendly Website

Note that Google warns website owners that “these pages will not be seen as mobile friendly by Google Search” and will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users”.

Did you receive one of these notices? Are you worried yet? With most websites averaging between 30-50% of traffic from mobile users a drop in mobile visibility could be hugely detrimental.

Several thought leaders in the SEO industry believe that this is just one more indicator that Google is going to be launching a new mobile algorithm soon. Others think that Google has targeted this message directly to website owners who are knowingly not mobile-friendly.

Stop putting off a mobile website upgrade before it’s too late! Give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to discuss your mobile website or preview all our Mobile Website services.

More news articles on this topic:

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The Big 3 Search Engine Ranking Factors for 2014

SEO Buzzwords for 2014

In today’s article we will discuss 3 big SEO buzzwords for 2014 that you simply can’t ignore any longer. Both the changes in Google ranking factors (aka its algorithm) and changes in the way people access the Internet make it critical that you at least understand, if not act on, these three SEO trends in 2014.

1. Semantics – the way Google understands the intent behind a search

Semantics isn’t really a new concept to SEO but has emerged in the spotlight since the Google Hummingbird Update in September 2013. Now semantics are intrinsic to almost every operation performed by the search engine.

So what is semantics? Semantics is understanding the meaning of individual words and the context of the words when placed together in a search result. It accounts for synonyms and modifiers and seeks to understand the intent behind the terms in order to generate more relevant results. The goal of semantic search is to fulfill your search as well as providing related concepts associated with the phrase.

Here is a very basic example. When you search for “types of apples” the algorithm will conceptualize the definition as the fruit apple and provide results such as types of apple trees, apple pies and apples for baking. However if you search “types of apple products” you will find results for iPads, iPhones and even iTunes. It uses the search words to apply meaning to the search rather than finding everything related to apple. Make sense?

2. Mobile – the way we use Tablets, Phones and PC’s to browse the web

Mobile website statistics are overwhelming – mobile phones and tablets are quickly replacing the use of PC’s in many homes. If your website is not set up to be viewed in the scaled down versions of web browsers on mobile or tablets you likely have some huge visitor experience issues. Google also favors mobile-friendly websites when completing a search from a mobile device so you will soon (if not already) be left behind in a large percentage of search results.

Many marketing reviewers and SEO gurus are being so bold as to suggest that new sites should be built as mobile sites first and a PC version should only be secondary.

3. Local – the way we find websites that are close, reviewed and credible

The final SEO buzzword for 2014 that has been around for a few years already is local. There are three items you must factor in when becoming a leader in your local search results:

  1. Location – searchers expect to find their local service providers with a few key strokes. Most buyers are incredibly loyal – they want to support their town, their area, their country, so tell them where you are. If you are trying to be listed for Vancouver based search results but your business address is in a suburb an hour out of the city you could have difficulty ranking. Type in a search for your service and desired city and see where top ranked businesses are located.
  2. Reviews – both the Search Engines and your customers use online reviews to evaluate the quality of your services. Local websites with several reviews (even if some are negative) are more favorable in the eyes of the Search Engine than websites without any reviews.
  3. Credibility – because the internet has no real rules of credibility (anyone can put up a website), more and more searchers are checking out your credibility. In addition to reviews, “citations” or directory websites that confirm your phone number, address and other business details add to your credibility.

The changes that Google has implemented in ranking factors and the changes in internet usage can no longer be ignored. If you are a small business we can help you further understand Semantics, Mobile and Local so that you can properly address the big SEO trends in 2014. The websites that do will come out ahead as the biggest winners in 2014.

Contact us at 888-262-6687 to arrange a free consultation or use our contact form to send us your info so we can be in touch.