Weekly SEO recap: speed it up!

This week we’ve got to catch up a bit, as I was away on holiday for a while. Luckily Google took it slow in the last few weeks, basically doing nothing really interesting. They did put out a lot of stuff, it just wasn’t all that interesting. Let’s go over the bits that are interesting.

Joost's weekly SEO Recap

AMP it up

At conferences, with demo sites, in forums, in blog posts and even in Google Search Console, Google is working hard to get people to adopt AMP. We’ve written about AMP before and I still don’t like it. It’s very much WAP all over again, it feels like going backwards. At the same time I do see the need to make the web faster for people in low bandwidth countries. We don’t feel that need as much where we are. The office I’m writing this from will soon have 3 separate 500mb (down and up) fiber connections. That’s more bandwidth than most countries in the world have per 1 million inhabitants, according to this list.

So in the next few weeks we’ll be implementing AMP here on Yoast. We’ve already seen that the go to AMP plugin for WordPress works but we need to fix some interaction issues between it and our Yoast SEO plugin.

Read more: ‘Weekly SEO recap: AMPlified spam’ »

Instant Articles for Facebook

In the same trend as AMP for Google, Facebook’s Instant Articles will soon (as in, in April) be available to all. There’s a WordPress plugin for that too, which I’m also looking at to make sure it sends the right data when Yoast SEO is installed.

Amit Singhal leaves Google

In the beginning of this month possibly the most shocking news of all came out. Amit Singhal is about to leave the company (end of next week actually). He was their head of search and very important in recent years in terms of choosing how search works and how rankings works.

Singhal’s replacement will be John Giannandrea, who is one of the most important artificial intelligence engineers in the company. If that doesn’t tell you where Google is going…

That’s it, see you next week!

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Weekly SEO recap: don’t disavow the money!

This week was low on big news, and high on small tiny interesting tidbits, just how I personally like it most. The reason I like that most is that those tiny tidbits usually show you more about how Google and / or other search engines work than the big flashy news items. Let’s dive right in!

Joost's weekly SEO Recap

An AMP ranking boost

Google is promoting AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). We’ve written about it before. I’m obviously not a fan. Google is pushing it hard though, and in their latest release they’ve said that they’ll include AMP pages in the search results as of January and they “might” give them a ranking boost. This annoys me mostly because Google uses the phrase “might give a ranking boost” so often now that it’s no longer even worth listening to.

If everything Google said got a ranking boost did get a ranking boost, spammers would rejoice and big companies would lose all of their rankings because it’s impossible to keep up. So it’s not actually true. It just pushes us to do stuff. In the case of HTTPS / SSL, I’m all in favor and have been telling people why for years.

In the case of AMP I think that’s a stupid idea and we shouldn’t do it.

Google wants your appointments

Google is testing a feature that allows people to make appointments straight from the search results. Whether it’s for your practice, hotel, really whatever it is you have that requires appointments, this might be interesting. They’re testing it but they (accidentally I think) published the schema for it and then removed it, but of course, they were saved. It looks doable. If they go about opening this up to everyone we’ll probably add this to our Local SEO plugin.

Google on 301 redirects

If you create a 301 redirect, you have to really think about doing that. Because in HTTP, a 301 stands for permanent. Which is exactly how Google treats it, after a while. It can take a couple of weeks or sometimes even longer for a 301 to kick in and really transfer the value from one page to another. Once it has though, removing the 301 and getting the old URL to rank again is tough. This is a story about what you could do when you do decide to remove a 301. It basically says: really embed the page in your site, and have patience. Months of patience.

Disavow away

If you’ve been hit by Google Penguin, one of the tools you need to get out of that Penguin penalty is the disavow file. This let’s you tell Google “don’t count these links to my site”, basically saying that those links where bought or are otherwise low quality. The problem is: you can get too drastic in removing links.

This story is typical in that someone got an enormous boost in traffic when he accidentally removed a site’s disavow file. You really should only disavow the bare minimum, and not just disavow tons of our links because you will hurt your site too much. Play with this at your own risk though, the rewards can be big but the consequences can be too.

Mo’ money, less problems

Mo’ money, less problems, at least, that’s what Google seems to think. They’re testing out showing 4 instead of the regular 3 ads above the organic search results. Of course, this doesn’t make SEOs around the world happy. Not that there’s much we can do about it, but we’d rather have Google show our nicely optimized sites in the organic results.

The question is though: is this really surprising? There are keywords where I see people pay 10s of dollars per click. If Google can make sure you almost have to click an ad, it makes more money. That’s what it’s in the world for, despite what its fancy mission statement says.

Google is definitely not in the world to make a social network. It’s now dropping Google+ counts from its ads, just one more sign that the social network is truly dying.

Market share numbers

Every once in a while, Comscore and a few other companies will come out with market share numbers. In Europe, we’re all agreed that Google has like 95% of the market and usually more. In the US, that marketshare number is always remarkably lower. Remarkably, because most of the sites I’ve worked on in the US get 90-95% of their organic search traffic from Google as well, whereas it “should be” 70% or so according to those marketshare numbers.

This piece of research shows some signs as to those numbers actually not being very factual. At the same time, one of the reasons we’re seeing the difference between reported marketshare and actual traffic to websites is because Yahoo! and Bing are very effective at sending traffic to sites in their own portfolio.

Machine learning, human doing

If you’re interested in how Google uses machine learning, read this post. Basically John Mueller is quoted in it saying they have to balance machine learning and human decisions, which I’m guessing is hard. This part of the quote is key:

Sometimes it makes it hard for us to debug and diagnose what is actually happening there.

Googles sometimes don’t know anymore why something ranks where it ranks. I’ve noticed that before. It’s funny but not all that surprising given how many changes go in to the algorithm, the machine learning only makes it even harder.

That’s it, see you next week!

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Weekly SEO recap: Googlebot: Apples to…

A nice couple of small news bits this week, of course mostly about Google as usual, but also one about Apple’s spider! Let’s dive right in!

Joost's weekly SEO Recap

A Google phantom update

There was some discussion a few weeks back about whether an update had taken place. Our friends at SearchMetrics have shown that it was one without a doubt, and it looks a lot like the Quality Update we’ve seen earlier this year. They connect it to the quality guidelines I wrote about 2 weeks ago, which, if you haven’t, you really should read.

Penguin won’t be coming this year

Remember when I said last week that Gary Ilyes had been wrong before? I’ve rarely been proven right this quickly: Google Penguin won’t come till next year. Even though Google has said on numerous occasions, mostly through Gary, that it’ll happen this year. It is what it is, but if you were hoping to get out of your Google Penguin caused pain before the holidays, that hope is now completely gone.

Rel canonical everywhere?

We’ve done a lot of work with rel canonical here at Yoast. We were among the first to implement it and we still have the best rel canonical implementation in the business for WordPress. If you’re looking for a setting to enable it: no need. It’s always on.

In this weeks Webmaster hangout there were some questions as to whether it was wrong to have canonical on all pages. We’ve known this to be the right solution for most sites for quite a while, but it’s always good to get some confirmation.

No more changing your location in Google

If you were relying on Google’s filters to allow you to change the location you were searching from and see results for another country, tough luck. They’ve removed that feature altogether. I’m personally very sorry to see this go as it was sometimes fairly useful and now will need to switch to using proxies more often.

Applebot, disguising as Googlebot

If you see Applebot behaving weirdly in your logs (most people never bother to look and probably shouldn’t, but the best SEOs out there do look at those logs regularly), there’s a reason: it’s using Googlebot rules if you don’t have Applebot lines in your robots.txt.

Makes sense, I think, though I don’t know whether I like it much as a precedent. If every new bot would do this, it would make it impossible to do stuff specifically for Googlebot in your robots.txt file.

That’s it, see you next week!

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Weekly SEO recap: Facebook search, Yahoo! & Google

This was quite the week in terms of search engine events. Yahoo! & Google doing a deal, Bing losing a key person, Google in yet another lawsuit, etc. etc. etc. And while all that seemed so important Thursday afternoon as I was writing this post, Facebook dropped the bomb of improving its search dramatically. Let’s dive in!

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Yahoo! has a search deal with Google, again

Yahoo!, which got its results and ads purely from Bing for quite a while, now has a deal with Google too. It said:

In October, the Company reached an agreement with Google that provides Yahoo with additional flexibility to choose among suppliers of search results and ads.

Google could serve these results for Yahoo! in a specific set of countries / regions:

Yahoo may use Google’s services on Yahoo’s owned and operated properties (“Yahoo Properties”) and on certain syndication partner properties (“Affiliate Sites”) in the United States (U.S.), Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Middle East, Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Australia and New Zealand.

Notice anything in that list? Hell yeah. Europe is missing. Let me put on my tin foil hat for a wee bit and say that maybe, just maybe, Google and Yahoo! knew that doing this in Europe would raise some serious anti competitive alarms with the European Union. Where have we heard that story before? Anyway…. The most comprehensive coverage of this story is to be found on SearchEngineLand.

Yahoo! has its own mobile algorithm?

You’d think Yahoo! has enough choices now, as it can chose between Bing and Google to serve its results. But apparently, it has its own mobile algorithm and serves its own mobile search results. This explains, at least in part, why Yahoo! is still crawling the web. I’m curious to see where this goes… Could be big, as Yahoo! is one of the few companies on the planet right now with the cash and the knowledge to actually build a search engine that matters.

There are a few other companies that could do search and do it well though… One of them being Facebook.

Facebook search gets real

Facebook just dropped a very splendid little bomb. It improved its search capabilities dramatically. This video speaks boatloads about their ideas for this.

I can’t stress enough how important this is. Google already has a problem with the amount of mobile searches people do, this will only decrease that number of searches. Because people don’t search less on mobile, they search elsewhere.

Facebook has a ton of data to search through. According to the Verge, Facebook has 2 trillion posts in its index. Personalized search (search adapted to your behavior, friends, etc.), which for Google has been something they’ve needed to grow into over the last few years, is something that comes very natural to Facebook. In fact, it would probably suffer if it had to make un-personalized search results.

This has a profound impact on how you share on Facebook: no longer can you just write something interesting. No, you should really make sure that your target keywords are shown in your Facebook description and in the title of your article as it’s shared on Facebook.

Bing suffers a loss

Bing is the little kid crying in the corner on all of this of course. They’ve also just lost one of their finest. My good friend Duane Forrester, their head of webmaster relations, is dropping the mic (his choice of image, obviously).

In this picture, taken at SEOktoberfest this year, Duane is the guy on the right, next to my wife Marieke:

Duane is the guy on the right, next to my wife Marieke.

Duane was the last man standing in terms of search engines talking to webmasters. Google’s Matt Cutts has been on extended leave for what seems like forever now and Duane was one of the very few that had actually seen the inside of running a search engine and also had true SEO experience. I hope Microsoft replaces him with someone capable.

Luckily I know I will see Duane again at SEOktoberfest next year and I wish him all the best in his new endeavors!

Other Google updates

The NY Times reports that Deutsche Telekom (the parent company to T-Mobile) is starting a new antitrust case against Google in the EU. This adds on to the already quite big stack of complaints against Google in Europe.

I’m waiting for the next court case now, the one in which Google and its sibling company Youtube are said to be abusing their market dominance to bring more paid subscribers to YouTube. Because that also happened this week; YouTube became a competitor to Netflix.

Finally, it looks like Google let loose a few more Pandas this week.

That’s it, see you next week!

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Weekly SEO Recap: Alphabet, CTR and Local

Joost's weekly SEO recapHaving been away on holiday for 3 weeks, and not being able to write a recap last week yet, this is the first one in over a month. A lot has happened, but not all of it will directly impact your search environment, luckily, so let me cover 3 things that stood out for me:

Google Inc becomes Alphabet Inc

Google changed its corporate structure. While this is interesting mostly if you’re too geeky about Google like me or you’re an investor, some changes do matter. Sundar Pichai officially became the CEO. He’s smart, but has a different management style. This is already becoming clear in articles like this one. About Google Now and whether it’s a priority or not. We’ll have to see what this leads to, but it already puts pressure on some parts of Google.

CTR as a ranking factor?

Is CTR (click-through-rate, specifically from the search results to your site) a ranking factor? A lot of SEOs, including me, thought so for a while, but thinking about it more, it’s also something that’s relatively easy to game. This piece of research was done pretty thoroughly and seems to indicate that no, it isn’t really a ranking factor. This piece says it is. I personally side with AJ Kohn, who puts it better than I could:

The evidence suggests that Google does use click-through rate as a ranking signal. Or, more specifically, Google uses click data as an implicit form of feedback to re-rank and improve search results.

Changes to Google Local results

A change that does affect you if Local SEO is something you think about: Google changed the way its local pack looks. Specifically, it changed it to a pack with 3 instead of 7 results:

relatietherapie Google zoeken

This new local pack has become way more prominent over the last few weeks. This means that for results that have this pack showing, it’s now in the #1 position 93% of the time where it used to only be #1 25% of the time.

If (a part of) your business is Local, now is the time to start investing more in Local SEO. We have both a WordPress plugin for Local SEO to assist you and some articles.

That’s it for this week, see you next week!

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This post first appeared as Weekly SEO Recap: Alphabet, CTR and Local on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Weekly SEO Recap: Google Panda 4.2

Joost's weekly SEO recapFirst things first: I type this as I’m getting ready for a holiday, so the next weekly SEO recap will be on August 21st. Luckily, Google released Panda this week, so I can cover it now. And there’s more, including a statement by Google about the new top level domains. Let’s dive in:

Google Panda 4.2

Google has rolled out Panda 4.2. There are several posts out there, like on SearchEngineLandTheSEMPost and Search Engine Roundtable, covering it. Let me try to explain the most important details about this update in layman’s terms.

Panda 4.2 is not an update, but a refresh

Technically, Panda 4.2 is not an update: Google didn’t introduce new signals, it just reapplied the same signals on new data. This needs some explaining for most people, so let me try: Google Panda is the result of a very deep analysis of Google’s index. One that it can’t run continuously, like it does its normal ranking, but a calculation that takes months. So this is what we call a “data refresh”: it has run the analysis on a new set of data.

Because Panda needs to be “refreshed”, it has a very negative side effect, especially as these updates don’t exactly run often. The previous update was 10 months ago. If you were hit then and have been improving your site since, this was your first chance to “get out” of Panda. If you think that’s harsh, you’re not alone. Many SEOs out there take issue with this but I’m guessing that’s not going to help them. If you get hit now, you should be aware that recovery is going to take several months, probably up to 10 or 12, even if you get it right the first time.

The fact that Panda needs refreshes also means that making changes now won’t do you any good in terms of staying out of Panda. It has a cut-off date and it won’t see anything after that. That being said, now is always as good a time as any to start improving your site.

Panda 4.2 is a slow Panda

The quote from Google’s spokesperson says it all:

“This past weekend we began a Panda update that will rollout over the coming months”

You read that right. This Panda rollout will not take hours. Not days. Not even weeks. It will take months. This is probably why nobody noticed the update as it began rolling out. This slow roll-out will also make it virtually impossible to correctly assess a win or loss as a definite Panda issue.

If you want to read more, I think Jen’s coverage over at theSEMpost was the most extensive.

Don’t want to be hit by the Panda? Don’t be bamboo!

If you’re afraid of being hit by Panda, and want us to make sure you’re not going to be a candidate, order a website review. We’ve seen many Panda victims over the years and we know we can help. Both when you’re hit or when we think you’re bamboo (also known as: a likely victim).

New TLD’s and Google

Other things happened besides Panda this week, and a few warrant being mentioned. The most important thing for many (aspiring) domainers out there was this post by John Mueller on Google’s webmaster blog. It details how Google deals with new top level domains. In short: like it would with any other domain. This bit is very important:

Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

Another important bit is whether Google would treat new domains like .london and .amsterdam as local TLD’s or as “global” TLD’s, aka they can rank anywhere in the world. The answer is clear:

Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia.

Of course, Google wouldn’t be Google if they didn’t add an exception to that straight away:

There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice.

Sigh. So. They’re global, for now. Over time, they might become local.

My opinion on the new TLD’s

You didn’t ask, but I’ll give you my opinion anyway. I like the concept. I would have liked 3-5 new TLD’s. A number that would work and that maybe people could remember. The gigantic amount of new TLD’s now is pure nonsense in my opinion. Would I use it for a transactional site? Probably not for a while longer. If trust is one of your main issues, and let’s face it, with eCommerce it still is, using a TLD that some of your users might have never heard of is not a good idea. The same goes for getting links to domains like that. It’s going to be harder.

Another problem I see with the new TLD’s is that they won’t work nicely as an email address for quite a while. Of course, you can receive email just fine. Email validation in forms will be broken for at least another decade or so, which means that it will tell you your new hipster email address is invalid when it isn’t.

Overall, I think what the new TLD’s do more than anything, is strengthen the value of .com domains. If you have a nice short and rememberable .com, I think you’ll be stronger in the long run.

Featured snippets and how to get them

This post on SEL by Eric Enge should be required reading material for anyone playing in SEO. This quote, from the end of his article, explains best why you should know about this:

… getting a featured snippet for key pages on your site is a good thing. The business value depends on identifying common questions that a potential customer might ask related to your market space.

I’m thinking of some experiments for our own site right now, but they’ll have to wait. It’s time for my holiday first. Did you notice the banner with my sleek summer outfit? If not, check out the Yoast SEO Premium sale we have. If you’ve been pondering buying it, now’s the best time to do so.

That’s it, see you next month!

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This post first appeared as Weekly SEO Recap: Google Panda 4.2 on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Weekly SEO Recap: Newsflash!

Joost's weekly SEO recapI’m a bit feisty this week. I apologize upfront. We’ve been doing tons of website reviews after last month’s sale and it had me quite busy. But there’s good news this week if you’re looking for a job as an SEO: here’s your chance! Google is hiring one. SEO’s all over the web had fun with that this week, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The only thing Google just did is acknowledge that SEO is worth doing. So much that they hire people to be in charge of it. Luckily, there was more!

Twitter blocking robots? Guess not.

There was quite a bit of fuzz on Twitter the last few days about Twitter blocking robots.txt and how bad this was:

Luckily my buddy Martin MacDonald looked for two more seconds and discovered this wasn’t exactly the case. Why Twitter doesn’t just 301 redirect www.twitter.com to twitter.com is completely beyond me. That would be the only real SEO solution in my (not so) humble opinion.

Penguin is months away

In not so surprising news (as it’s bloody hot here and penguins aren’t known for their love of heat), Google’s Penguin update apparently is months away as they are “working on making it real time”. We’ll see.

Google sends notifications, then wonders why

In another not so surprising move, Google is starting to realize that some messages are not making much sense to each site owner. They send out a ton of hreflang messages this week, only to realize not everyone might be interested. So now they’re asking for your feedback on how you like the messaging coming out of Google Search Console.

Lots of us would probably rather have them fix issues like the current issue with index numbers. And maybe help their colleagues on fixing the referral spam in Google Analytics.

Flash is dead, bye bye!

Firefox is now blocking Flash by default. Flash was always a stupid idea, but in the off chance that you’re still using it on your site, you probably should stop for real now. I mean, we have animated GIFs for annoying content!

Flash is dead

XML Sitemaps are hard

Gary Ilyes from Google tweeted about how to properly format the last modified time in XML sitemaps:

His answer also states “in most of the cases it’s ignored by search engines”. We knew that, but it doesn’t hurt repeating it. The same is true for the priority field, which is the reasons our Yoast SEO plugin doesn’t have a ton of interface to change them. They simply don’t matter that much.

That’s it, see you next week!

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This post first appeared as Weekly SEO Recap: Newsflash! on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Weekly SEO Recap:

Joost's weekly SEO recapIt’s all about Google today, sorry, so let’s be quick about it. Luckily, we’re allowed to forget about Yandex now, sorry, bad pun, I know.

Let’s get on with it:

Is Google’s webmaster communications failing?

We’ve “lost” Matt Cutts as a spoke person to the SEO community about a year ago. Some other Googlers have stepped in and apparently not everybody is as happy with them as they were with Matt, judging by this article. I have to admit that Matt definitely had more “klout” within Google, but I don’t really know whether that was always a good thing. I find it’s easier to reach a Googler now than it was a couple of years ago, and it’s also less limited to a specific group of high level SEO’s.

Google indexing Twitter more

Earlier this year, Google gained access to Twitters “firehose”, the feed with all tweets sent out. It turns out that since that time, Google has started indexing more and more tweets, now indexing 5x as much as before. 96% of tweets still go unindexed, but let’s be fair, most of them probably are a waste of indexation space and time anyway.

Should you ask for links?

Well, of course you should. You should ask because the stuff you write is awesome and very interesting for other people’s readers, right? If you’re asking purely for the SEO value, you might be in trouble. But none of you do that, ever, right? Oh and in case you wondered, yes even that link from that German SEO friend on his German blog is worth while.

Speaking about links, Sophos uncovered a massive case of link spam. Might not change anything for you but it’s interesting to see the scale at which SEO poisoning takes place.

Google testing giant ad / knowledge panel

If you wondered where Google was going to take those knowledge panels, here’s your answer. This is one direction I’ve fully expected to see happen, an integration of ads and content that makes it incredibly hard to figure out what’s paid for and what’s not. This cannot be a good thing if you ask me, but for Google it probably means mo’ money.

That’s it, see you next week!

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This post first appeared as Weekly SEO Recap: on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Weekly SEO Recap: Search landscape changes

Joost's weekly SEO recapThis weeks news has some drastic changes to the search landscape that could mean… Well, anything really. There’s also some smaller news about Google which is worth mentioning, so let’s dive in:

Microsoft Bing to power AOL Search

AOL Search, while relatively small, is still a thing. Microsoft just signed a deal to power it for the next 10 years, while giving a big part of their ads business to AOL. What’s more surprising to me is this news that came out on the side: Bing is now sustainable in itself. Microsoft has been pouring money into it for quite a while, as far as “we” knew, but now apparently “It’s a multibillion dollar business, and it does pay for itself”. Good news as that means they’ll keep on competing with Google!

Yahoo! testing Google

Yahoo! is testing Google as a provider for it’s search results, instead of Bing. First noticed by Aaron Wall at SEOBook, this could have quite some impact. SEOs should really watch what happens here mostly because it impacts how much traffic a good ranking in Google will give you. The reasoning is probably simple: Google ads are worth much more than Bing ads, so this would increase Google’s revenue. The fact that Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is an ex-Googler probably doesn’t hurt in this deal either.

DuckDuckGo expanding

To show that search is alive and vibrant even outside these three historical enemies, DuckDuckGo is expanding their “suggest” feature to 34 new regions. They’re not exactly a big traffic driver yet, but I’m very happy to see other options grow slowly too.

Google becoming smart about Search Console

Google has put out some questions that are interesting as they show what they’re thinking about. This post has details, but this sentence specifically made me happy “To view a combined Search Analytics report that includes different URL versions of your site (http and https).” Yes. Please. www and non-www too and we’re about done if we can also verify them all at once.

The Panda is a “couple of weeks” away, we think

Nothing more fun than guessing when a new update is going to hit. People at Google estimating when it might happen are usually wrong, but the latest is “a couple of weeks“. We’ll see. Just know that it’s coming. Just like Winter.

Google in other languages

If you think about how Google’s algorithm works a lot, you’re bound to think “but how does that work in language X”. Welcome to the world of a polyglot. This post has some interesting insights.

SEO at Pinterest

I’ve been meaning to share this article (which was written in January) for a while, and keep forgetting. It details how Pinterest experiments with SEO. Fun read, might give you some ideas for testing.


That’s it, see you next week!

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This post first appeared as Weekly SEO Recap: Search landscape changes on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Weekly SEO Recap: Google & HTTPS, Bing no longer nice

Joost's weekly SEO recapAn interesting week this one, including an update that seems to have quite a bit of impact. There are also some nice new features in Google Trends, possible labels for slow loading sites and some more annoying news about Bing and keywords.

A Google update

It wasn’t Panda, it wasn’t Penguin, though both are still “to come”, but this week we had an update that gave several people in the SEO industry a shudder. Mozcast, which measures changes in the search results for a fixed set of keywords and calculates a “temperature” based on that, had one of its “warmest” days ever.

Dr Pete over at Moz wrote a post, thinking this change could be related to the HTTPS changes Google did earlier. This was quickly refuted by Googler Gary Illyes on Twitter. And of course, most SEO bloggers stopped thinking at that point and just wrote down that it wasn’t HTTPS related. I disagree with that. I think Googlers don’t necessarily always know anymore what causes something to happen.

Google’s algorithms are, in part, self-learning. They automatically determine factors that cause a site to be trusted. This week, Wikipedia started moving to HTTPS entirely. If more and more sites that Google trusts, like Wikipedia, the FBI and now also Reddit, all are on HTTPS, that factor might automatically become more important, simply because of that machine learning. So while Googlers might say they haven’t changed the algorithm, the algorithm might have changed itself. Note that Gary’s tweet said “AFAIK”. They do that more and more when talking about the algorithm. Simply because they don’t always know.

Of course, this is just a theory, and it would not explain all of the changes, but nothing ever does. My own thoughts on HTTPS haven’t changed much since January last year.

More Google news

Google did more this week. Google Trends got a nice update, including both real time data and data for YouTube. You should definitely just have a play with that for a bit. This Wired piece on it is good. Another interesting bit was that Google UK confirmed that more than half of their searches and YouTube views now happen on mobile. Have I reminded you to get your site ready for mobile enough now?

There was some fuzz the last few weeks about a Google backed company getting a penalty and then being reinstated in the search results within a week. Apparently John Mueller of Google said that everyone could get back this quickly. All you have to do is do a “fantastic job of cleaning these things up” and send in a “great” reconsideration request. I’ve spoken to a few SEO’s who do cleanups for sites that got penalized the same way this company did. No one had ever seen it happen, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Google is once again testing a “Slow to load” label in the search results. It’s hard to reproduce tests like that, probably in part because where I spend most of my time online, at work and at home, I have either 4G Internet or a 200 mbit fiber connection. Doesn’t really make sense for Google to show that label on those connections.

Another update from Gary Illyes making me kinda scared was this one. He said this:

Please be mindful with noindex directives and remember that most search engines will honour it, even if it’s in the BODY element.

Which brings back all sorts of bad thoughts in me, wanting to leave meta robots noindex elements in comments on posts. It’s a good reminder nonetheless. Another tweet from Gary pointed to new breadcrumbs documentation, unfortunately it doesn’t answer some of the questions I had from the old documentation so I’ve send another email to Google.

Bing stops being nice

I’ve always had a soft spot for Bing, in part because they employ Duane Forrester, who is a great guy doing Webmaster outreach there. I have to admit they’ve made me lose some of those warm feelings this week when they announced they were no longer going to pass on search queries (part of them also moving to HTTPS completely). In their words:

to further protect our users’ privacy, we will not include the used query terms.

I think that’s nonsense, because just like Google, they will give them to advertisers. I wrote a scathing piece about that on SEObook when Google announced that in 2011. This is no different. Of course Bing doesn’t really send most sites that much traffic anyway, so most of you won’t (and/or shouldn’t) care.

That’s it for this week!

We still have an action on our site reviews, for a little while longer you can get $100 off. See you next week!

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This post first appeared as Weekly SEO Recap: Google & HTTPS, Bing no longer nice on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!