Posts

Keeping a clean and orderly URL structure for your site can be more than just a helpful way of keeping your pages organized. SEO-friendly URL structure can also make your site easier for search engines to index and modestly improve how Google and Bing rank your site.

Unfortunately, establishing the absolute best URL structure can be a bit confusing. Some would have you believe it is more art than magic, while others would argue “everybody is doing it wrong”.

John E. Lincoln from Ignite Visibility and Brian Dean from Backlinko set out to clear up the confusion with a handy infographic that explains the best practices for keeping your URLs easy to index and easy for users to sort through, including the most common questions like URL length and keyword usage.

See the infographic below or at Search Engine Land.

SEOFriendlyURL

Source: Robert Scoble / Flickr

Source: Robert Scoble / Flickr

Despite once being the gold standard for assessing a site’s authority and optimization, Google announced this week it will be shutting down PageRank and all toolbars featuring the tool will no longer show a PageRank score.

The algorithm-based tool would assess web pages and rank them on a scale of one to ten based on numerous signals that Google uses to evaluate pages. It was an easy-to-understand way to quickly “score” a website and know if optimization, link building, or other marketing efforts were having a positive effect. However, the tool has not been updated in years.

Many webmasters have been holding onto hope that PageRank would get an algorithm update, but the company has been slowly moving away from it for some time. PageRank scores were never displayed inside Google Chrome, and the scored were dropped from Google Search Console in 2009. The Google Open Directory website, which showed PageRank metrics, was also shut down in 2010.

The last bastion of the PageRank score was the IE Google toolbar, which continued to show scores up until now.

Google has confirmed it will not be updating the tool for the public, but it will continue to be used by Google internally.

The move signals a big shift away from Google’s old way of doing things, but in practical terms it will change very little. Since PageRank hadn’t been updated since 2013, SEOs and webmasters have learned to rely on other tools and methods of assessing their marketing efforts.

Apps

Android users will soon be able to install apps to their smartphones directly from Google search results. According to Android Police, Google has begun testing the new feature which will let users bypass the Play Store and directly install an app by performing a Google search.

To try out the feature, open the Google app on any Android phone and search for any app you want to install. Within the Google card, which previously directed users to the Play Store, you will now see an Install button.

If you press the Install button, your phone will ask for the normal permissions that appear with all Play Store app download. If you accept, the app will immediately begin downloading and installing.

The feature hasn’t been rolled out to all Android phones, so there is no guarantee you will be able to directly install the app. Many users are still being directed to the Play Store.

Ryan Whitwam of Android Police speculates the feature is just in testing currently, and will see a wider rollout in the future. He also suggests the feature is likely to be available only in the Google app and not through Chrome.

AdWords In Store Visits

Since launching in spring, Google AdWords’ structured snippet extensions have shown themselves to be a powerful tool in the AdWords arsenal.

Structured snippets add an extra line of information with your text ads which specifically highlight important information for searchers. When implemented well, this can boost click-through rates for ads.

Now, Google has made these structured snippets even more visible in the search results by doubling the amount of information that can accompany text ads.

To do this, advertisers can select two predefined “Headers” which act as structured snippets. Then, those headers can be customized with two unique sets of values. Depending on the search results, these snippets have the potential to be displayed at the same time.

Google does say that each structured snippet extension is treated as its own ad auction, and like other ad extensions, may not always appear together.

You can boost the chances of having both extensions display at the same time by being thorough and providing as much information as you can. With more information, the ad auction is better able to select the highest quality combination of extensions. Not only does this improve your chances of having both snippets show at the same time, it also increases your overall ad performance.

Google is launching a new set of algorithm changes intended to remove hacked sites that spew spam from the search engines. According to the company, the changes will affect approximately 5% of queries and has already begun rolling out.

Google says it is cracking down on hacked spam to protect both searchers and site owners, but the move could have consequences for legitimate site owners unaware their site has been hacked. These sites are dangerous to those who visit them as they can lead to malware downloads, marketing of illegal goods, or completely redirecting people to unintended, low-quality sites.

For queries with a particularly large amount of hacked spam present in the SERPs, Google says you may see an overall reduction in the amount of results shown. According to the announcement, this is because Google is working to make sure users only see the most relevant results for their queries.

In some particular searches, as much as a quarter of the search results have been removed.

Google has said these changes will be part of an ongoing effort to continuously refine its algorithms to improve SERPs and cut out bad content.

google-alerts1

Google has issued a stern warning against those who repeatedly try to game the search engine. In a blog post published at the Google Webmaster Blog, Google’s Search Quality Team said any webmaster who repeatedly violated the Google Webmaster Guidelines and gets caught will face “further action” against their sites.

In the post, Google explored how site owners are getting hit with manual penalties, going through the extensive efforts to get the penalty revoked, and immediately going back to their old spammy ways.

However, Google says these people aren’t slipping under the radar like they may think. The Search Quality Team explains even the most subtle changes get picked up by the search engine:

“For example, a webmaster who received a Manual Action notification based on an unnatural link to another site may nofollow the link, submit a reconsideration request, then, after successfully being reconsidered, delete the nofollow for the link.”

These type of shenanigans won’t get anyone on the friendly side of Google, and repeat violators will see further reconsideration requests become harder and harder to earn. While they won’t say exactly what penalties to expect, they also say that sites it determines were deliberately attempting to spam will be hit with “further actions”.

It can sound tempting to try to earn some short-term gains by bending and breaking the rules, but in the long run you are digging your own grave. Google doesn’t forget, and it certainly won’t stop checking on your site after you get a penalty removed. If you want to stay out of trouble, make sure you stay on the right side of the Webmaster Guidelines.

letters-718843_640

As you may have heard, yesterday Google announced massive restructuring that included launching a new parent company called Alphabet and appointing a new CEO. This is obviously big news, but it has also left many webmasters scratching their heads wondering what impact the new “slimmed down” Google will have on search.

Under the announcement, which was made by former Google CEO and new CEO of Alphabet Larry Page, Google will now be scaled down to only include the operation of the company’s primary internet products, while the newer research and innovation ventures will fall under the Alphabet umbrella.

For example, these ventures include Wing, a drone delivery system, Calico, a company focused on anti-aging, as well as robotics research and more.

The new, smaller Google will be led by new CEO Sundar Pichai. Since the announcement, several former and current Googlers, such as Matt Cutts, have expressed excitement about Pichai’s new leadership and think he is a great choice for moving the company forward.

Page says the restructuring will allow for a renewed focus on Google and described Pichai as someone who cares deeply about innovation.

While it is hard to predict the long-term implications of the restructuring, it seems as if there will be no immediate changes to Google search or AdWords. So, you can breathe a sigh of relief for now.

Starting now, Page will no longer be a part of day-to-day operations at Google, instead running Alphabet with President Sergey Brin. The pair says they are excited to be able to give attention to “more ambitious” projects, and they have no plans to turn Alphabet into a large consumer brand. Rather, Alphabet is set to be a platform for companies to grow their own brands.

When Google rolled out its Mobile-Friendly Algorithm the results were initially underwhelming. Despite weeks of frightening articles about the so-called “Mobilepocalypse” or “Mobilegeddon”, the search results listings were largely the same in the immediate wake of the algorithm launch. However, a new study from Moovweb shows brands without mobile-friendly sites are starting to feel the pain.

The new study, which tracked clear visibility and ranking, shows consequences are beginning to affect sites who have yet to make their site easily usable for mobile searchers.

Screen-Shot-2015-08-05-at-4.12.51-AM-800x573

Moovweb has been tracking “1,000 important e-commerce keywords in a range of industries” ever since the rollout of the Mobile-Friendly Algorithm on April 21 to see how the new algorithm is impacting mobile rankings on Google.

According to the study, top listings for search keywords were mobile-friendly 83 percent of the time, and 81 percent of the time the top three listings were. A review of the full page results showed 77 percent of page one results on Google mobile SERPs were mobile-friendly.

Screen-Shot-2015-08-05-at-4.12.28-AM-800x527

The chart above shows the percentage of mobile-friendly sites in each of the top 10 positions across all keywords tested.

The company says mobile-friendliness in search results varied by vertical, with some industries being distinctly more mobile-friendly than others. Out of seven categories studied, retail had the most mobile-friendly results and transportation showed the lowest percentage of mobile-friendly results.

Screen-Shot-2015-08-05-at-4.12.43-AM-800x594

It may have taken months, but the impact of Mobilegeddon is starting to become more obvious, but there is good news if you are starting to feel the pain. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm runs in real time, so you can make your site mobile-ready any time and expect to see fast results on mobile SERPs.

 Panda

Google has confirmed it has released a Google Panda refresh over the weekend, over 10 months after the last update to the algorithm.

The latest refresh is unique from past updates as it went virtually unnoticed by webmasters until it was announced by Barry Schwartz. This is because it is being rolled out far slower than in the past. Previous updates were rolled out usually over a period of a few days or at most a couple weeks, but Google says this latest update could potentially take months to fully roll out, even on a site-by-site basis. However, as it is a site-wide algorithm, it will not be on a page-by-page basis.

Google was not willing to provide any information about why the rollout is being done so slowly.

Unfortunately, the slow rollout does not mean you can expect to make any last minute changes to save your site. It is too late to change your fate with Panda 4.2, although it’s always good to make any improvements you know are needed.

Schwartz also noted his personal SEO news site, which was penalized by Panda 4.1, does show an increase in organic traffic since the update. That means others who were hit by the last update may see small improvements as well.

The Panda refresh is expected to impact approximately 2-3% of queries, meaning it is a relatively small update.

While the refresh may be good news to webmasters who were impacted by 4.1, most people are less pleased – particularly by the slow rollout.

It may be months before we know the impact of the refresh thanks to the slow implementation, but, considering there hasn’t been an update since October of last year, it was past time for it to happen.

 GoogleSearchConsole

A Google Sitemaps bug is causing many webmasters to see significant indexed page count falls within Google Search Console, but a fix should be on the way according to Google.

Google Search Console, known as Webmaster Tools until recently, is experiencing an issue causing confusion and concern among webmasters and marketers as huge declines are appearing in the indexed pages shown in the Google Sitemaps report.

Barry Schwartz is one expert who has seen hundreds of thousands of pages being suddenly displayed as no longer indexed by Google, and shared an example of how the problem can look on a report:

index_error-800x322

Google is already aware of the issue and is hard at work to resolve it. Google’s Gary Illyes responded to Schwartz on Twitter saying “it’s confirmed and we’re working on it.”

If you’ve encountered similar drops in indexed page counts on your reports from July 14, there’s no cause for alarm. The glitch will be fixed soon and won’t affect your traffic or rankings through the search engine in the meantime.