Google Announces New SEO Myth Busting Video Series
On 6 June Google announced its new SEO Mythbusting video series on the Webmasters Central Blog.
With an ample number of videos already published on YouTube, episodes are uploaded every week and discuss SEO topics from the perspective of a developer, as well as the evolution of technical SEO itself.
So far, the series has covered:
- Microformats and structured data.
- Web frameworks.
- Web performance.
- The future of the web.
Yoast and Google Developers Propose XML Sitemaps for WordPress Core
A group of Yoast and Google team members have proposed the inclusion of XML sitemaps as a WordPress Core feature. The proposal also introduces the idea that an XML sitemaps API would extend functionality for both developers and webmasters.
Enabled by default, the sitemaps would allow indexing for a variety of content types, including:
- Core Post Types (Pages and Posts).
- Custom Post Types.
- Core Taxonomies.
- Custom Taxonomies.
- Users (Authors).
The proposition will include the majority of WordPress content types and will meet the minimum requirements of search engines. However, it will not cover image, video, or news sitemaps.
Additionally, the feature will not cover the caching mechanisms of XML sitemaps or UI controls that exclude individual pages or posts from the sitemap.
The API will let developers manipulate XML sitemaps in several ways, and will be able to:
- Provide a custom XML Stylesheet.
- Add extra sitemaps and sitemap entries.
- Add extra attributes to sitemap entries.
- Exclude a specific post type from the sitemap.
- Exclude a specific post from the sitemap.
- Exclude a specific taxonomy from the sitemap.
- Exclude a specific term from the sitemap.
- Exclude a specific author from the sitemap.
- Exclude specific authors with specific roles from the sitemap.
Wayback Machine Adds Changes Feature
On 26 June Cyrus Shepard tweeted that The Wayback Machine had added a beta feature designed to help users identify content changes on a URL over a given period. Using a colour coded system, the feature indicates the degree of relative change from one date to another.
Guide to Mining SERPs for SEO, Content, and Customer Insights Published
On June 17 Rory Truesdale published a guide on the Search Engine Journal on how to get the most out of SERPs when conducting audience research.
Truesdale notes that out of the 100 results that a SERP will provide, there will be, on average, around 3,000 words, which is a sizeable amount of content and information. The ability to analyse the information provided is, therefore, highly valuable to webmasters and SEOs conducting research to understand the needs and desires of customers.
In the article, Truesdale covers a variety of techniques for doing this, including:
- Using Python.
- Analysing data through DeepCrawl or Screaming Frog.
- Conducting SERP data and linguistic analysis.
- Cleaning text for analysis.
- NGram analysis and co-occurrence.
- Part of speech (PoS) tagging and analysis.
- Topic modelling from SERP data.
Link to any Word or Paragraph on a Page
Back in February of this year it was reported that an upcoming feature addition to Chrome would allow for linking directly to a specific word or phrase on a page. Similar to the way that Youtube allows users to link to a particular timestamp.
Using Chrome’s Canary version, you can now test out this feature and link to any given word, sentence, or paragraph on a webpage using Scroll to Text.
Google has often been seen (both openly and behind the scenes) to push the benefits of long form content and this feature allows for users to more effectively point others in the direction of the most pertinent piece of information when dealing with pages that can boast a large word count.
New Features Described in Chrome 76 Beta
On 13 June the Chromium blog published a post detailing the new features within the Chrome 76 Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows.
The article highlights a detailed list of changes, including the new dark mode feature, improvements on the payment API, improvements for Progressive Web Apps, and the updating of WebAPKs.
The new release has also removed certain features, including the lazyload feature policy, outputs from
MediaStreamAudioDestinationNode in the web audio node, and more.
June 2019 Core Update
On 2 June Google announced the rollout of a broad core algorithm update. Named the “June 2019 Core Update”, while reportedly not as significant as some previous updates, saw sites such as the Daily Mail and CBS reporting large traffic drops in the immediate after period.
Searchmetrics also reported a surge in the number of video carousels appearing in Google’s U.S. results, and stated that a number of trusted aggregator sites have also received boosts in visibility.
Tweeting on 17 June, Danny Sullivan stated that the update is not like the Panda Update, although he said that: “The old questions about improving after Panda are useful because at their core, they’re about improving content — not that they are Panda-specific.”
John Mueller Explains Why Google Can’t Offer Specific Advice Around Algorithm Updates
When it comes to core algorithm updates, Google and its employees have often refused to give specific advice about how to recover or “fix” sites once they have been impacted.
During a Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout on 14 June, John Mueller said that the primary reason is that there are simply so many fundamental issues that a site would need to resolve.
That said, he did say to consider three factors that you should analyse if your site was impacted:
- Does the site look outdated?
- Do people recognise the authors of the site?
- Are the author photos stock images rather than real images?
Google Rolls Out More Features for Small Businesses
Writing in The Keyword, Google announced the rollout of several new features for Google My Business on 20 June.
To attract more customers or clients, businesses now have the ability to:
- Add welcome offers.
- Claim short names and URLs.
- Upload cover photos.
- Enjoy more prominent logo features and photo features.
- Create offline materials.
Google also states that it is adding both physical and digital badges of honour for businesses later in the summer.
Google launches new site for small businesses
On 27 June Google announced the launch of a new website for small businesses to introduce them to relevant Google products.
Named Google for Small Businesses, the site was launched on International Small Business Day, and includes personalised plans to guide small businesses through the myriad Google products that can help them in contexts both on and offline.
Genius Accuses Google of Stealing its Content
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, media website Genius has accused Google of stealing its content and serving lyrics to users within information panels.
Speaking to The Verge, Ben Gross, Chief Strategy Officer at Genius, said that the company has: “Shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius in their Lyrics OneBox. This is a serious issue, and Google needs to address it.”
The site used a specific pattern of straight and curved apostrophes within songs to form a type of watermark. When converted to Morse Code, the message spells “Caught Red Handed.”
In response to the accusation, Google posted an article the next day, stating: “We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics.”
It continued: “The lyrics that you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis.”
Google has stated that it has asked its lyrics partner to investigate the issue to ensure that Google follows best practice procedures and that it will “soon include attribution to the third party providing the digital lyrics text.”
The story is particularly interesting to SEOs as Google has been accused of taking content from sites for rich results on a number of occasions. This is problematic for many reasons, especially when the search engine doesn’t attribute its sources. AJ Kohn, owner of the SEO site Blind Five Year Old, has also shown that click-through rates for search listings drop dramatically whenever a Lyrics OneBox appears in search results.
Google Penalising Unruly Favicons
In May 2019 Google announced that it would start showing site favicons in mobile search snippets.
- Both the favicon file and the home page must be crawlable.
- A favicon should be a visual representation of your website’s brand.
- A favicon should be a multiple of 48px square.
- A favicon URL should be stable
- Google will not show any favicon that it deems inappropriate, including pornography or hate symbols.
So far, sites that have been seen to abuse these guidelines have had their favicons removed from mobile search.
How Well Can Google Visually Crawl Videos?
Google crawls content and media so that it can understand their purpose, what information they provide to users, and their context within a website as a whole.
For video producers, the ability to let search engines know what your content is about is critical for exposure within search.
The question of how well Google’s crawler can visually analyse content within a video file, therefore, was asked by Justin Briggs on Twitter.
He also supplied information on how well Google can crawl videos depending on the kind of equipment used when using machine learning via the Video Intelligence API.
Preferred Domain Setting Removal in Google Search Console
In an article entitled “Bye Bye Preferred Domain setting”, Google announced on 18 June that it was sunsetting the Preferred Domain Setting within Google Search Console. From now on, when a website appears to be offering the same content on multiple URLs or protocols (e.g. http vs https, www vs non-www, rogue subdomains), the search engine will pick one URL as the “canonical” for Search.
Webmasters can indicate to Google what the preferential URL is by:
- Using a rel=”canonical” link tag on HTML pages.
- Using a rel=”canonical” HTTP header.
- Providing a sitemap.
- Using 301 redirects for retired URLs.
If a preferential URL is not implied via one of these methods, Google will “choose the best option” – which is to say, the option it believes to be best.
Social Knowledge Panel Markup Support Undergoing Depreciation
Tweeting from the Google Webmasters account on 25 June, Google announced that it was depreciating support for social profile markup.
This means that the search engine will no longer pay heed to markup added to pages specifically for social media knowledge panels.
Google says that it will now automatically discover profiles, and if webmasters have already claimed a knowledge panel, they can suggest which profiles should not be included in this discovery.
Mobile-First Indexing Features Added to Google Search Console
Taking to Twitter on 26 June, Google announced that it was adding mobile-first indexing features to Google Search Console.
Under property settings, you can now see which Googlebot is indexing your site.
Furthermore, if it happens to be Googlebot smartphone, you will be able to see the exact date that crawling switched from desktop to mobile.
Google Search Console Performance Report Showing 90 Days’ Worth of Data
The performance report within Google Search Console now shows up to 90 days worth of data. A significant upgrade from the previous 28 day limit.
Email Alerts Sent for Top Query Changes
Google Search Console is now sending out alerts for changes in top queries.
The email shows the changes in ranking positions according to Google Search Console data and will arrive with the subject line, “change in top queries for your site.” An example of the email can be seen in the following tweet by Dawn Anderson:
Sitemaps Indexed Counts Not Returning on Search Console API
John Mueller confirmed on Twitter that Google does not support showing the indexed count within sitemaps commands.
Writing on 11 June, John said: “As we removed that functionality from the UI a while back, we’re no longer returning sitemaps indexed counts in the API either.”
He also apologised, saying: “We should have communicated this better – sorry for the hassles.”
Bing Introduces Batch Mode for Adaptive URL Submission API
Writing on 12 June, Bing announced that it had launched the batch mode capability for its Adaptive URL Submission API.
This allows webmasters to submit URLs in batches to avoid excessive API calls when submissions are made on an individual basis.
An example request for the Batch URL Submission API for supported protocols can be seen below for a JSON request sample:
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Successful submissions will result in a HTTP 200 response, and the URLs will be checked for compliance with the Bing Webmaster Guidelines.
Once or if they pass, the URLs will be crawled and indexed within a matter of minutes.
Turbo Page Information Now on Site List Page
The page list of sites is one of the most popular areas of Yandex Webmasters as it supplies a significant amount of data and information.
On 20 June Yandex announced that site owners would be able to view even more data, as information on Turbo pages is now present within the section. This includes:
- Turbo page notifications.
- Total number of Turbo pages present.
- Detected Turbo page issues.
- Autosparsing information.
Google Adds Share GIFs Section to Image Search
GIFs are becoming an ever-popular way to communicate quickly and effectively. As a result, Google now allows users to share GIFs directly to apps from Google Images.
Google Explains How it Fights Fake Businesses in Maps
Scammers have long plagued Google Maps with fake businesses. On 20 June Google [published an article to explain how it was combating the issue.
Google Rolls Out Q&A Auto Suggest Answers
Google rolled out a Knowledge Panel feature that automatically suggested answers to new Google Q&A questions in April. In the start of June, the search engine rolled the feature out to desktop browsers.
Yelp Offering More Paid Profile Upgrades for Business Owners
On 25 June it was reported that Yelp is offering a range of new profile upgrades for paying customers, only a week after Google announced its new promotional tools in Google My Business.
ContentKing Publishes Comprehensive Guide for Image Search
Image Search is in a state of constant evolution. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide about best practices, this guide by ContentKing is currently one of the best.