The Best Mobile SEO Updates Articles We’ve Published
Google Finally Rolls Out Mobile First Indexing
Google has kept this one over all our heads for the past year and a half, but they have announced, officially, mobile-first is here.
To refresh your memory:
To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
The last bit I wanted to highlight in the post is a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Mobile-indexing is rolling out more broadly. Being indexed this way has no ranking advantage and operates independently from our mobile-friendly assessment.
- Having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results.
- Having fast-loading content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better for mobile and desktop users.
- As always, ranking uses many factors. We may show content to users that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals determine it is the most relevant content to show.
Recovering From Penalties
So your organic traffic tanked–it’s probably a Google penalty, right?
Maybe you stopped investing in SEO but your competitors didn’t.
Maybe your keyword is seasonal but you didn’t realize it.
Maybe the search volume went away cuz no one’s searching for fidget spinners anymore..
But yeah, most likely it’s a penalty.
So what now?
Actually, this post is pretty helpful, and gives you a road map to follow, like confirming if it was actually a penalty or something else:
If you don’t have at least two years’ worth of search referral data (three years is better) you may mistake a normal seasonal change in traffic for the effects of a confirmed, verified search algorithm update. You should proceed cautiously because you could seriously hurt your site’s search optimization for one or more search engines if you jump to the wrong conclusion.
While I may not agree with every single thing in the post (different approaches to SEO), this is still a great resource, and I recommend following the steps if you think you’ve been penalized.
It’s been a long time coming!
We’ve been hearing rumblings for many many months now that a mobile first index is coming. Oh, man, you better have polished code and made it friendly to every single person who has ever wandered out into traffic or missed their bus stop or avoids talking to their loved one because they can’t peel themselves away from your buzzfeedesque list.
This volatility index from SERPwoo paints a pretty… uh… interesting picture.
Google, of course, downplays it a bit:
John Mueller from Google, after a bit of arm twisting, somewhat confirmed it yesterday in a webmaster hangout. “It’s possible that for individual sites we were kind of already indexing the mobile version but it’s probably like a really small number,” John said. John Mueller added ” I wouldn’t see that as saying like we’ve started with this but it’s more kind of still in the experimental stage,” which is his way of saying – no, we didn’t not officially officially start the mobile first indexing.
Either way, if you haven’t heeded any warning before today, time to make sure your site is mobile friendly, for real this time.
Google adds AMP-based Featured Snippets to the Mobile SERPs
I’ve heard a lot of (SEO/marketing) reasons not to implement AMP for mobile, but here’s one that might make all the hassle worth it:
Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that last week they have rolled out the ability for AMP links to show up in the featured snippets section at the top of the Google mobile search results.
Google tells us this launched last week as some started noticing. Google did confirm again that AMP is still not a search ranking factor. The only change is that the featured snippet result can link to an AMP page.
Your Site + Aggressive Ads = ↘Rankings
Interesting post on site that are hitting the (mobile) user with some heavy ads, and suffering in organic rankings for it.
From an aggressive advertising standpoint, I have seen disruptive, annoying, and deceptive ads hundreds of times while analyzing sites that were negatively impacted by quality updates. I have seen it so much that I have written about it numerous times in my posts about major core ranking updates focused on quality.
You could end up with a truly painful traffic graph like this, going from a cool million views to HALF that in just over a month.
This is due to the alleged (but hardly-ever confirmed) recent Google core algo update on May 17th.
What follows in this post is a nuanced and in-depth look at what can cause a site trouble, and how to avoid it.
If you’ve got a video-auto-playing, deceptive-advertising website and you’ve recently lost some ground in the SERPs… I’ve got some good news and bad news.
The bad news is: continue with these practices will eventually get your site slapped by the big D G.
The good news is: now you know to knock it off. 🙂
Does Voice Search Have an ROI Yet?
Voice search is finally close to actually being the “next big thing.” With the rise of Google Home, Alexa, and Facebook spying on you, voice search is pushing its way to the center stage.
You, a website owner that wants to dominate EVERY facet of a search engine, are probably interested in how voice search impacts your business as these in-home devices (to say nothing of smart phones) become ubiquitous.
So until voice search technologies evolve or you can make money on setting alarms, calling mom, or dictating texts — voice search is more hype than anything. With that, we’ve landed on the following action plan: we’ll keep up on the voice search baseline trends we’ve established while continuing to focus our clients on [potentially] “unsexy,” but ROI driven strategies that nail their 2017 goals.
SeerInteractive wrote a pretty solid post that takes you from “what even is voice search” to what should you do to best take advantage of this… whatever the opposite of fad is. Movement?
I asked Google Assistant, but it wasn’t helpful.
Maybe I’ll try Siri next time…
Rapid-Fire SEO Insights
Gary Illyes confirms in a tweet that Google tries to release every algorithm update globally (instead of rolling it out country-by-country like that previously did).
An update on the interstitial “penalty:”
Mobile popup algo update. Checked my list again this AM. Here’s a great one. Autoplay video popup triggers & just hangs. No rankings change. pic.twitter.com/jRUaAPw8A0
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) January 27, 2017
This is a great tutorial on how to add SSL and HTTP/2 to your site, if you’re so inclined.
Mobile Pop-Up Penalty Live!
Well, you had plenty of warning with this one: Google has officially begun penalizing sites that use really invasive and negative-user-experience-promoting pop ups–specifically those that cover whole areas of content and are hard to close.
Google announced this penalty first in August of 2016, promising it would roll out in January.
And here we are.
So, a little more than a week into the roll-out, what are we seeing?
According to Glenn Gabe, not much!
He has been tracking the role out and provides several examples of sites getting booted off page one, but other than that…
We are now seven days into the rollout of the mobile popup algorithm and I am still not seeing widespread impact. Yes, I have seen some examples..but there are still many sites employing mobile popups or interstitials that have not been impacted. I am now tracking close to sixty different sites that use mobile popups.
Examples include ‘whosampled.com’ and ‘pcmag.com.’
There will probably be more to this, as Google has historically been slow to roll out big changes. Stay tuned?
Breaking Up (with AMP) is Hard to Do
Google’s recent mobile push has put AMP (accelerated mobile pages) in the spotlight. On the one hand, it’s a way to get your site (in certain niches) in front of a bigger audience.
On the other hand…
If, like me, you made the mistake of trying out AMP on your website – you’re in a tricky position if you try to remove it. Google doesn’t like anything leaving its clutches.
After a few weeks of AMP, I decided that it wasn’t suitable for me. So I uninstalled the WordPress plugin. That’s when the problems started.
For particular searches that involve his website, the AMP version is still served in the SERPs.
Even though the AMP markup/plugin has been removed, Google continues to show the AMP result and not the regular site.
If you try and click through to the regular site through the broken AMP page?
It throws a GOOGLE 404 ERROR.
Lame. Just a cautionary tale for you that testing the AMP waters could have a long-lasting impact on your search result presence…
Mobile First Index Has Arrived
Google has started to implement its mobile-first index.
Just to be clear about this, the mobile-first index is NOT a separate index. There’s still only just one index.
So what’s the big difference?
Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.
Here’s how to know if you’re site is good to go, or if you’re about to (or already have) dropped a bunch of spots:
If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
Google and Facebook Squeezing Out Partners
And now, for something cynical.
I love Aaron Wall’s SEO posts and commentary. I’ve said that before, and it’s still very true.
In this post, Aaron talks about Google spending resources researching which symbols “alarmed users the most” to push their agenda of HTTPS and AMP (which, as the article points out, “is being used as the foundation of effective phishing campaigns).
Remember how mobilegeddon was going to be the biggest thing ever? Well I never updated our site layout here & we still outrank a company which raised & spent 10s of millions of dollars for core industry terms like [seo tools].
There’s a lot of quotable paragraphs in this article, but I will instead encourage you to go read the article and dive deeper into the example.
I hear a lot of people quoting Google on how to build links, or parroting something they heard in the Moz community about doing X or Y will cause a penalty.
Consistently, the best way to understand what works in the ranking of a site is to go and look at the SERPs. You’ll see:
Pages with insane keyword density ranking 1st.
Sites propped up with black hat or super spammy links.
Articles of 50 words outranking “epic content” all day long.
Do as Google says, not as they rank.
The article goes on to be critical of AMP, Google’s ad partners, Facebook’s edgerank, mobile-first index, and more.
My point (which different a bit from the article itself) is to encourage you to do your own research on what does and does not work, before you go and lose a bunch of money listening to SEO Experts who come by their expertise by reacting with fear to what Google says, and not with calm and clear-headed observation with what is actual working.
Good stuff–definitely give this article a read.
And PS — if you’re down with that, but too busy running your business, let us take the link building off your hands and…
Did Google Kill Mobile SEO?
Mobile search is dead.
SEO is dead.
Why even try?
Ok, I’m not really a fan of “X is Dead” kind of proclamations, but, headline-aside, this article brings up some really good thoughts on the state of mobile SEO and Google.
So is Google killing mobile SEO?
The answer (as you’d expect from inbound and local marketers and SEO specialists) is organic search is not dead, but there is no doubt that the game has changed immeasurably, and continues to change every time Google introduces a new innovation, including on-going changes to paid search, Google My Business listings, Knowledge Graph and its latest baby Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
This article doesn’t lend itself to being easily summarized, so I recommend you go and read it. It really highlights the struggle with trying to rank in the mobile SERPs, and gives and consults with several experts on how to frame your mobile SEO efforts for the best long term strategy.
The struggle is real, ya’ll.
Is Google AMP Stealing Your Mobile Traffic??!
Sorry-not-sorry about that click-baity headline.
There was an interesting article published recently from a publisher looking at how his site was presented using Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Here’s the main argument:
[…] I was surprised to find out that instead of redirecting users to an optimized version hosted on my server, Google was actually serving a snapshot of the page from their own cache. To make things worse, Google was injecting a large toolbar at the top of the snapshot encouraging users to get back to Google search results…
The post generated a lot of interesting discussions on Hacker News. This comment by some guy named Cyrus Shepard was probably the most noteworthy:
In essence, this means that what was once a publisher-owned page is now shared property: between the Google and the publisher. By controlling the top navigation, Google more easily controls the content the visitor sees, keeps visitors on Google longer, provides greater opportunity to track visitors, and perhaps most importantly has the opportunity to earn more ad revenue.
Now imagine if this was a requirement for ALL pages served in Google search results. You publish a page and it appears in Google, but when the user clicks on it Google has pasted a new navigation on the top of your page. This is exactly what is happening with AMP.
But then Malte Ubl (the tech lead of Google’s AMP project) shows up in the comments to weigh in.
I personally find it very important to respond, because “stealing traffic” is literally the opposite of what AMP is for. The original idea behind AMP was to allow content to be distributed to platforms (such as Google, Twitter and Pinterest) in a way that retains branding and monetization control for the publisher. AMP traffic is the publisher’s traffic. Period.
We’re looking at ways to make the source link more discoverable and will update once that is done. AMP is super flexible in terms of how a publisher can direct traffic to their site. Typical ways to get to a publisher’s homepage (like clicking the logo) should just work and are in no way restricted. Also, make sure to check out amp-sidebar (https://ampbyexample.com/components/amp-sidebar/) for adding a menu to your AMP pages.
Google Switching to a Mobile First Index
This is actually a pretty big deal.
Google has mentioned this possibility before, in the past, but it looks like things are about to get a lot more real.
Gary Illyes at Pubcon announced today that Google is switching to a mobile first index. This means that Google will be indexing the mobile versions of pages and not the desktop as its primary index.
There is no timeline of when this will happen, but, as the article states, Google has given many a heads-up before making big changes re: mobile, so…
Get your sh*t together with your site and how friendly it is to mobile browsing. Google is not playing around about prioritizing mobile, clearly…
Google Serving Ads in (mobile) Local Packs Now
Well… this is a thing now.
Google doesn’t seem to show both the local ad 4-packs with regular Google AdWords ads. It selects either regular AdWords ads or the local pack ads to display for ads in the serps. Google WILL show regular AdWords at the bottom.
Just want to point out here, that all of those listings are ads, as indicated by the little green “ads” tag at the top. Props to Google for making it really clear that those are ads, and really prioritizing the user experie–
AMP Facts, Straight From Google
All joking aside, getting your site optimized for AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is, until Google suddenly cancels it because it takes away from ad clicks, important.
Get your site on that AMP carousel for some extra-special organic traffic.
Google has some tips on how to make this happen. Click through for the details, but here are the most important:
- Sites built on on popular CMS (like WordPress) will be easy to optimize for AMP
- AMP is great for all types of static web content such as news, recipes, movie listings, product pages, reviews, videos, blogs and more.
- You can AMP up a single page (it doesn’t have to be the whole site).
- There’s no “ranking boost” from optimizing for AMP, just featured placement on a carousel at the top of the SERPs.
You can get AMP help here: https://goo.gl/Z6qscF
Rapid-Fire SEO Insights
Will AMP become a ranking signal?
Yes you should move to HTTPS.
Follow this example to move your own site to HTTPS send this link to your developer cuz you’ll only F it up.
Google has deindexed a bunch of webpages due to copyright claims.
To date, over 20 million requests have been submitted, leading to the removal of 1.75 billion URLs from 888 thousand domains.
Accelerated Mobile Pages. 40% of users will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This affects Google’s bottom line, and so by implementing AMP they can turn this around and you can maybe rank better if you use it (eventually).
An Update on Mobile Search Results from Google
Google is tired of your inconsiderate pop-ups blocking all the content on your site when viewed on mobile, and even worse being close to impossible to close them.
So they’re going to wield the SEO stick and smack sites that have a bad mobile user-experience down in the serps.
How to avoid this? Don’t do any of these things:
We previously explored a signal that checked for interstitials that ask a user to install a mobile app. As we continued our development efforts, we saw the need to broaden our focus to interstitials more generally. Accordingly, to avoid duplication in our signals, we’ve removed the check for app-install interstitials from the mobile-friendly test and have incorporated it into this new signal in Search.
You have until January 10, 2017…
A Preview of AMP in the SERPs
Google has released a demo of what the SERPs will look like when Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) makes their big-time debut.
To clarify, this is not a ranking change for sites. As a result of the growth of AMP beyond publishers, we wanted to make it easier for people to access this faster experience. The preview shows an experience where web results that that have AMP versions are labeled with The AMP Logo. When you tap on these results, you will be directed to the corresponding AMP page within the AMP viewer.
You can go here to try the demo for yourself.
App Store Optimization Checklist
App Store Optimization (ASO) is essential for bringing organic traffic and downloads to your app. Just as important as SEO, neglecting ASO is a sure way to stay in obscurity forever.
This Moz article highlights the 10 most important items for optimizing your app.
App indexing allows you to drive downloads and app store traffic directly from a search engine results page.
App indexing has quickly shaken up the world of search, with 40% of searches now returning app indexed results. The world is going mobile, and those apps ahead of the curve in ASO and app indexing trends will be those that nab market share from traditionally web-dominated search results. (For more ways to move beyond the app store with your marketing strategy, check out our guide The 2016 Guide to App Marketing Channels.)
AMP Structured Data
This post from Google is helpful if you’re trying to get your news stories in the AMP carousel, or if you’re trying to get your AMP-enabled stories discovered by Google in the first place.
Top Stories with AMP is a Google Search results feature that displays articles and video pages from sites using the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) specification for their web page. The carousel allows users to quickly find and consume AMP content with Google.
The Top Stories carousel links to content from multiple sources on the web in one horizontal panel that users can browse by swiping on their mobile device. Each card in the carousel displays the publisher’s logo, an image thumbnail from the page, the title of the page, and a timestamp. To the left of the timestamp, the AMP annotation indicates a fast loading page and a consistent browsing experience for consuming content.
Schema mark-up, along with the AMP info we linked to in last week’s update will get you well on your way to taking best advantage of this new opportunity.
Getting Started with Accelerated Mobile Pages
AMP this, AMP that, it’s time to really dive into what accelerated mobile pages are, how they can help your mobile SEO, and how to take advantage of them.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a very accessible framework for creating fast-loading mobile web pages. The open-source initiative is designed to enable publishers to easily improve speed (and consequently, the user experience) for their mobile readership without sacrificing any ad revenue that they may rely upon.
Thumbs up for quicker loading sites and better user experience.
Here’s an interesting bit about AMP that SEOs will want to pay attention to:
you will have to maintain at least two versions of any article page: The original version of your article page that users will typically see, and the AMP version of that page.
Looking at the details of implementing pages, it can get a little overwhelming to the average webmaster without some serious coding muscle.
There are some interesting tools popping up to help with this. Such as this WP plugin:
Page Frog: http://pagefrog.com
This tool helps you create both AMP and Facebook Instant articles. I have not tried this plugin yet, so i am not recommending it THAT strongly. But it looks interesting and there are some good reviews, so if setting up this content is on your todo list, start with Page Frog.
The SEJ article gets into using schema, official WordPress plugins, and more. Check it out.
Connection Speed’s Impact on Mobile Search
Reminder about a big change in the mobile space:
This February, Google will begin ranking AMP pages in mobile search results. These will provide mobile users access to news articles that universally render in about one second.
Neat. This article jams on the symbiotic relationship Google has with speed in all facets of its relationship with search, from the speed of displaying results to how fast a page loads on mobile platforms.
You know that Google wants you to have a good experience searching, but don’t forget how your good experience equals money for them:
Google’s interest in varying search results by connection speed is critical to their larger goals. A large portion of mobile searches are for entertainment, and the need for entertainment is unending and easy to monetize. Subscription models provide long-term stable revenue with minimal upkeep or effort from Google.
Additionally, the more time searchers spend consuming media, either by surfacing it in Google or the ChromeCast app, or through Now on Tap, the more Google can tailor its marketing messages to them.