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Technical SEO Roundup May 2019

12 Jun 2019 14 Mins

Google News

Evergreen Googlebot Announced

On 7 May it was announced that Googlebot now runs the latest Chromium rendering engine, and that moving forward, the engine would be updated regularly — making it evergreen.

This means that Googlebot now supports over 1,000 features, including:

Check out a video of the announcement at Google I/O below:

InfoAction Points

If you're using transpiling or any polyfills for Googlebot, evaluate whether the codes are still necessary. Googlebot still has issues with JavaScript, however, so ensure to read a summary of potential issues in this guide.

Any server log parsing that has historically used a static version number to identify Googlebot should now update to use a variable version number.

Three Reports Added to Google Search Console

On 2 May Google announced that it had added three brand new reports into Google Search Console. These were:

  • The unparsable structured data report.
  • The sitelinks searchbox & logo Enhancements reports.

The unparsable structured data report aggregates and alerts webmasters to structured data syntax errors that have prevented Google from identifying the feature type.

Google notes, however, that if a reported issue intensifies, webmasters won't receive another alert, so it is essential that the report is checked regularly for ongoing problems.

Doing so is particularly significant if your website has development cycles.

The sitelinks searchbox and logo reports can be viewed in Enhancements, where you can take note of error and warning trends alongside valid items.

InfoAction Points

Structured data is a powerful way for websites to communicate to Google's crawlers indexers and for featured snippet inclusion, often giving more real-estate on the search rank position listing. Google has also published a useful guide for understanding the unparsable structured data report, which explains the many error types that can appear.

Support Announced for FAQ and How-To Structured Data

On 8 May Google announced support for both FAQ and How-To structured data for both Google Search and the Google Assistant.

Google states that FAQ structured data should only be used on official questions and answers, which means the data should not be implemented on forums or pages where users can submit their answers.

You can learn more about implementing FAQ structured data with Google's FAQ developer documentation.

How-to structured data can be added to pages that provide information on how to achieve specific tasks, such as, for example, how to tie a tie.

Google states that a range of properties can be added within How-to structured data, including steps, project duration, and tools that could be required.

You can also mark up images or videos for each step, which is explained within this How-to developer documentation.

InfoAction Points

Both FAQ and How-To pages are incredibly useful for users and can provide sites with a great deal of traffic. Make the most of these pages by adding valid structured data to provide users with even more ways of accessing your site.

Read through the developer documentation mentioned above and remember to validate code using the Structured Data Testing Tool before implementation.

Google Adding Support for High Quality Images

During The State of Search talk at Google I/O it was announced that the search engine is to launch high quality image support, markup for 3D images, and the ability to swipe up images from AMP pages.

Google said that websites will be able to opt-in to a program that will allow high-resolution images to be submitted to Google Images.

It is unclear how this opt-in programme will work, but Google said that there would be an article appearing on its Webmaster Central Blog "soon".

During the talk, Google also previewed markup (currently in Beta) that might be used to highlight pages that have embedded 3D images:

3d models and high quality images in Google Images

The ability to swipe up in an image search to retrieve an associated AMP article is also going to be rolled out soon.

InfoAction Points

If this feature applies to images used on your site, watch for the forthcoming Webmaster Central Blog article to see how you could implement the new features.

Mobile Indexing by Default

Nearly three years after announcing mobile-first indexing, on 28 May Google stated that all new sites will be indexed on a mobile-first basis starting on 1 July 2019.

Continue to check your site for mobile-first indexing using the URL Inspection Tool in Search Console, as Google states that it will continue to monitor and evaluate pages for mobile-first indexing readiness.

You will get a notification through Search Console once Google considers them to be ready.

InfoAction Points

Google determines a site's readiness based on the parity of content, meta data, and structured data. Check all elements if your website is launched or undergoes a redesign. The search engine also continues to recommend responsive web design as the preferred method for building new sites.

Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines Updated

On 16 May Google updated its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines for the first time since July 2018.

Expanded by two pages, some notable changes include more detailed instructions for judging interstitial pages and the placement of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) within "Page Quality" sections.

InfoAction Points

It's important to remember that the guidelines don't directly affect a site's rankings, but the judgements are used to improve Google's search algorithms. If you aren't already familiar, reading through the text can give you a good idea for what Google expects from websites.

Consider how the E-A-T might reflect page quality and evaluate your advertisements to ensure that they don't appear intrusive.

Google to Consolidate Travel Offerings on Desktop

Speaking at Marketing Live on 14 May, Oliver Heckmann, Google's VP of engineering, shopping and travel, announced that the company is to simplify travel planning by introducing Trips to desktop.

Released on mobile in February 2018, Trips allows users to explore attractions and shop for flights, hotels, and holiday packages.

Google stated that by the beginning of June, users will also be able to manually add reservations for flights and hotels.

Speaking about the product, Heckmann said: "Our aim here is to help users connect the dots, organize their trip information better and make trip planning easier. And that creates more leads and more opportunities for you to connect with those users in their moment of intent."

InfoAction Points

As users can now research and save information on potential destinations and attractions, it could be possible to re-target visitors that have expressed interest in your business.

It's worth noting that the "Explore" tab features articles and videos, which, if uploaded by your business, could help it gain extra traffic.

Podcast Results Appearing in Search Results

Head of Product for Google Podcasts, Zack Reneau-Wedeen, announced on Twitter that podcasts would soon start appearing in Google's search results, both desktop and mobile.

Crucially, the files will be served by the content owner - Google will not be caching its own version of the content. Selecting an episode will begin the playback within a Google Podcasts branded page, however - even if hosted on a third-party platform such as Soundcloud.

Zack also confirmed that the feature will be available for all languages currently serviced by Google.

InfoAction Points

If podcasts are a part of your content offering, look to implement Podcast structured data to improve your chances of appearing in this kind of search result. Test how your podcast episodes appear in the results to ensure that titles and descriptions are displaying correctly.

Hotel Pricing Charts Appearing in SERPs

Search Engine Land reported towards the end of May that Google has started to show hotel price charts within search results.

The feature was previously tested in July of last year and was reportedly popular with users.

Speaking to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson said: "Our research has shown that travelers are looking primarily for price and availability information when searching for a hotel."

They continued, saying that: "To make our hotel search experience more useful for travelers and better connect them with travel providers, we are surfacing more price and availability information on the search results page."

InfoAction Points

If you work in the hotel sector, pricing needs to be accurate and transparent to ensure that it is correctly listed within Google and so that the most accurate information is shown to users. Displaying inaccurate pricing up front is likely to result in an increase in bounce rate.

Google Begins to Roll out Ad Label Redesign in Mobile Search

Writing in The Keyword on 22 May Google announced that it had begun rolling out a new design for Google Search.

The update includes newly designed text ads and organic listings and incorporates the "ad" label that the search engine had been testing.

This means that the label now appears at the top of an ad alongside the display URL in black text:

Google said that: "When you search for a product or service and we have a useful ad to show, you'll see a bolded ad label at the top of the card alongside the web address so you can quickly identify where the information is coming from."

Google Ad Label Redesign

The announcement also states that organic listings are also getting favicons, as can be seen in the above image.

InfoAction Points

It's important for both site owners and SEOs to monitor traffic to see whether this update has had an impact, as Google reports that two-thirds of users found the results easier to scan with the new design. Find out how to define a favicon for your site in this Google guide.

Bing News

Bing Publishes Step-by-Step Guide for Adaptive URL submission API

In February Bing announced that it was launching its adaptive URL submission feature, wherein webmasters could submit up to 10,000 URLs per day.

Reporting that thousands of websites had since submitted their URLs, on 23 May the search engine published a guide for webmasters that want to integrate the adaptive submission API into their sites.

The process can be done in two simple steps and requires the generation of an API key within Bing Webmaster Tools before, integrating the key into your website via JSON or XML request protocols.

The URL submission tool can be found here, while more information on the API is available here.

InfoAction Points

If you're a webmaster who would like to integrate Bing's Adaptative Submission API, the piece offers a relatively straightforward guide for doing so. Bing also urges webmasters to contact them if your site needs to add more than 10,000 links per day, an option that could prove useful for larger sites.

Yandex News

Turbo Pages Support Added to the Yandex.API

Earlier in the year, Yandex announced that it had added Turbo pages for desktop and stated that a new type of support was to be added within the Yandex.API. On 15 May the company published a blog stating that a new TurboPages service has been added for Turbo pages created within the Turbo Page Builder.

Furthermore, Yandex's Ads services also has the TurboPageId parameter, while Ads.get now has the TurboPageModeration parameter.

InfoAction Points

Yandex's Turbo pages are highly useful additions for sites that want to deliver pages quickly to users. Learn how the new features can help improve this delivery on desktop.

Development News

Study Shows top Ranking Sites are Neglecting Accessibility

A Searchmetrics study has shown that top ranking websites are neglecting accessibility for blind and visually impaired users.

In the study of 20,000 URLs, Searchmetrics used Lighthouse to investigate the technical optimisation of websites ranking highly within Google's results pages.

No less than 79 tests ran on each URL, and the average overall score for accessibility for sites within top 20 positions came to 66.6 out of 100.

Lighthouse scores accessibility based on a variety of factors, including how images, buttons, and online forms are described and tagged.

InfoAction Points

Ensuring inclusivity for all uses is imperative not only for SEO but also for the reputation of your sitecompany. Conduct a full audit to ensure that it is accessible to all userstypes of screen readers. You can view a complete list of how each audit is weighted within this Google Spreadsheet.

Google Pay Advice Published for Developers

On 6 May Google Developers published an article discussing key elements and features that developers should know about integrating the Google Pay API into websites and Android Apps.

As Google states, introducing Google Pay "is just a few lines of code away", and the piece provides a wealth of resources for integration, including the video below:

InfoAction Points

Google Pay has swiftly become a common payment system, and there are a variety of advantages for integration, including increased security and higher conversions. Read through the article and follow the step-by-step tutorials for adding the payment system to your website or Android App.

Additional Reading

Google Fixes Indexing Issues

Throughout May, Google was plagued with two indexing bugs in addition to the one that caused issues for webmasters in April. On 29 May John Mueller stated that if webmasters are still having indexing issues, it is not because of the bugs.

Order Food with Google Search

Writing in The Keyword on 23 May, Google announced that users would soon be able to order food from selected vendors directly from Google Search, Maps, or the Assistant.

Augmented Reality Brought to Search Results

It was announced at Google I/O that augmented reality was to be added to Search, with AR features rolling out through May. Read Google's accompanying article in The Keyword.

How Ranking Works in Google Search

A broad title for the answer to an interesting question - what does a newly hired search engineer learn when they first join Google?

Bible of Duplicate Content

An extensive guide to identifying and resolving the different types of duplicate content, by Builtvisible's Richard Baxter.

Creative Commons Search Engine

Creative Commons search engine comes out of beta with more than 300 million images - offering a new way to search for public domain content. The new release also includes an overhauled design and a faster search.

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