Google Search Console Eliminates Sitelinks Demotion Feature

On October 13, Google announced that they would be removing the demote sitelinks feature within the Google Search Console. This tool that was first launched in October 2007, gave Webmasters the ability to tell Google that they didn’t want a specific URL to show up within the featured sitelinks section within Google search results. Google reported that they are removing this feature for the sake of simplification.

What exactly are sitelinks? They are the popular links that can be found in Google search results under the snippet.

“Over the years, our algorithms have gotten much better at finding, creating, and showing relevant sitelinks, and so we feel it’s time to simplify things,” according to the Google+ announcement Google published.

With this recent adjustment, what are webmasters going to do about sitelinks they don’t want showing up within the search results? Here are a few suggestions Google provided within their announcement:

  • If you have to remove a page from search results completely, use a “noindex” robots Meta tag on that particular page.
  • Use Fetch and Render to ensure that Google can properly index the essential pages of your website.
  • Lastly, be sure your website has a clear structure. The best way to do this is to ensure that your website has a relevant internal link strategy and informative anchor text that isn’t repetitive.

If you still have any questions or concerns regarding this recent change, Google encourages webmasters to check out the Webmaster Central Help Forum.

Why Google Recommends That You Work With a Local SEO Professional

Google My Business recently published a new addition to their help section that encourages business owners to seek out help from local SEO professionals. Despite Google My Business being a free service, Google says getting help from a third-party is beneficial for a number of reasons. A third-party will not only help business owners maintain their listing, but they will also be able to offer unique insight when it comes to answering customer’s questions and responding to reviews. Google also stressed the importance of business owners understanding the benefits of investing in a third-party in order to get the best return on their investment.

Some of the best practices Google suggests for business owners who are looking to partner up with a local SEO professional include the following:

  • Be selective in your search
    Experience is key! It is important to know if the local SEO professional you are meeting with has handled other businesses accounts with similar budgets and target audiences. Third-party companies that have managed accounts of all sizes are likely to be very familiar with Google My Business. Also, be sure to check if there are any other services they can offer your business to help grow your brand.
  • Work with one SEO professional at a time
    Be sure you are only working with one third-party at a time. Even though you may feel like dividing your budget up amongst a few SEO professionals may be the way to see who comes out on top, it is important to focus your budget on one party. Dividing your budget up will not allow you to see the full effect a third-party is having on your business’ online presence, especially since a listing can only appear once on Google.
  • Become familiar with Google My Business
    When you go to meet with a local SEO professional, be sure you are up to speed with all of the features Google My Business offers. There are a number of resources and FAQs that Google My Business offers to ensure you understand how everything works. By staying on top of all the latest features and perks, you will be able to make more informed decisions about your local SEO strategy.
  • Monitor your brand’s overall performance
    Make it a priority to regularly check in on your business through Google My Business. Checking in every month or so allows you to evaluate how customers are finding and interacting with your brand on Google. You can also see what kind of results you are generating from working with a third-party and where adjustments can be made.

Remember to stay clear of third-party companies that are promising your business overnight success when it comes to placement on Google. Third-parties do not have any influence as to where businesses will appear within search results or Google Maps. Be sure to also have an official copy of your contract with your third-party on file to ensure that there is never any confusion over pricing. It is essential that business owners feel confident that the local SEO professional they have hired has their best interests in mind. By establishing a transparent relationship with your local SEO professional, you will always know exactly how users are interacting with your brand and all the data that includes.

Penguin Becomes Part of Google’s Core Algorithm

After numerous rounds of testing, Google announced that they have rolled out an update for the Penguin algorithm in every language. This update comes after many months of speculation as to when the update would actually go live. The original Penguin algorithm first launched in April 2012, and was established to catch websites that were displaying spam-related behavior within search results. The launch of Penguin really affected webmasters who were purchasing links or gaining them through link networks in order to advance their backlink profile.

So, what exactly has changed with the Penguin 4.0 update?

  • Penguin now operates in real-time

For anyone who had a website affected by Penguin’s initial launch, they will be pleased to know that the adjustments they made to their website will now be visible a lot sooner. Before the update was launched, webmasters that had websites that needed improvements, such as eliminating bad links, would need to wait for Penguin to be refreshed before they saw any difference in their online presence. Webmasters will now see how their improvements were received once Google recrawls and reindex a particular page on their website.

  •  Penguin is now page-specific

Rather than affecting an entire website’s ranking, this update allows Penguin to devalue spam on specific pages based on spam-related signals.

Google stated in their Webmaster Central Blog, that they will no longer be commenting on future refreshes, and that Penguin is just one of many signals they use to determine a website’s overall ranking.

Google Launches State-by-State Voting Guide

Are you not sure how or when to vote? Don’t worry. You are not the only one. Google has recently added a customized guide within their Google Trends Election Hub that can help you get started. This new state-by-state voting guide provides individuals with voter ID requirements, deadlines, mail-in ballot information and even explains how early voting procedures work. This new feature comes one month after Google created a tool that informed individuals on how to register for the upcoming election.

“Whether you’re a first-time voter, a resident in a new state, or your state laws have changed since the last time you voted, you can now come to Google for information on how to vote in the upcoming election,” according Emily Moxley, a Product Manager at Google. “We hope this customized state-by-state guide will help you find the information you need quickly and easily to help get your voice heard.”

Ever since Google released their customized voter registration guide, they have seen millions of individuals using the tool to learn how to vote in the United States.

“In fact, compared to the same time four years ago, nationwide searches for voter registration are up 190% nationwide,” Moxley said.

To show the fluctuations between 2012 and today, Google created a map to show where the searches for “voter registration” have shifted the most. In their research, Google stated that some of the largest fluctuations have been seen in New York, West Virginia, California, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

“We’re committed to making it easy for people to find information, and have their voices heard in November,” Moxley said. “So we’re also making the data that powers our “how to register to vote” and our “how to vote” search results publicly available, so nonprofits and organizations promoting voter education can benefit and expand the reach of this critical information.”

5 Points of Discussion When Meeting with an SEO Specialist

1) Review Your Budget

One of the first aspects of setting up an effective SEO strategy is to discuss your company’s budget. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or a Fortune 500 company, it is important to be realistic about what it will cost to achieve those sought-after spots on search results. However, it not only takes money to land those top spots, it also takes money to maintain an honest, long-term placement. Despite there being so many variables in the SEO world, our team is well-versed in proper SEO practices and tools. These tools will allow our SEO team to review your industry’s landscape and help you set up a strong approach to enhancing your company’s online presence.

 2) Consider the Competition

When it comes to establishing a strong online presence, it is important to consider who you are up against within your industry. Our SEO team can help you determine and offer suggestions when it comes to showing search engines that your company’s website is worthy of being considered a reliable source. Whether the issues you are having are due to a lack of content or the structure of your website, our SEO team will help get you back on track.

 3) Discuss a Timeline

If someone within the SEO industry is promising you a quick fix or guaranteeing your company instant improvement, more than likely, their intentions are not in your company’s best interest. Proper SEO practices are constantly changing and algorithms always have updates, so there is just no such thing as a “quick fix” when it comes to SEO. Our SEO team understands that changes cannot happen overnight, but we are more than ready to get you started in the right direction to achieving the goals you have set for your company’s website. Our SEO team stays up-to-date on the latest trends and adjustments in the SEO world in order to help our clients see long-term success.

4) Pinpoint Strong Keywords

Another important aspect of preparing a strong SEO strategy that will need to be discussed are the keywords your company is using to target your audience. It is imperative that you are sure that the keywords you are using are correct so you can get the biggest bang for your buck and turn potential clients into lifetime customers. Industry relevance, searcher intent, overall traffic and industry competitors are all important aspects that our SEO team will review with you in order to find the strongest keywords that best represent your company’s products or mission.

5) Understanding the Report

When it comes to reporting, it is important that you know what you are looking at. The last thing you want to be doing is shuffling through spreadsheets trying to make sense of the SEO strategy you are paying for. At Intertwine Interactive, our SEO team will show you a sample of how we construct our monthly reports during the initial meeting to ensure you understand every aspect of your campaign. Our reports can show returns that have been generated, impacts from previous adjustments, potential obstacles, overall traffic and much more! Are you looking for very specific results? Not a problem! The SEO team at Intertwine can customize your report so you see only what you are the most interested in.

 

Google Cracks Down on Intrusive Interstitials Techniques

In their most recent Webmaster blog post, Google announced two changes that will not only affect mobile search results, but will make finding content easier.

When the mobile-friendly labels were first introduced two years, it made a huge impact on how users found relevant and readable content on their devices. These labels allowed users to know that the content was appropriately sized for mobile viewing, and that they wouldn’t have to zoom in and out to review it.

“Since then, we’ve seen the ecosystem evolve and we recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label,” according to a Google Webmaster blog post.

In order to keep the layout of search results streamlined, Google has decided to remove the label. However, that doesn’t mean that the criteria for mobile-friendly content will no longer be considered a ranking signal.

“We’ll continue providing the mobile usability report in Search Console and the mobile-friendly test to help webmasters evaluate the effect of the mobile-friendly signal on their pages,” according to the blog post.

With so many websites adopting the criteria for mobile-friendly viewing, there are websites out there that are showing intrusive interstitials to their users. Even though the content the user is looking for is present and indexed by Google, the information is blocked by an interstitial. These pop-ups can make viewing content difficult, if not impossible at times, which ultimately leads to a poor user experience.

According to Google, websites that use these pop-up tactics may see their ranking take a hit after the first of the year.

“This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly,” according to the blog post.

What exactly is an interstitial? There are a few different types of interstitial techniques, and chances are you have experienced them all.

Poor interstitials techniques include:

  • Pop-ups that cover the sought-after content immediately or while a user is searching through the page.
  • Website layouts that put content above-the-fold of the page and the content has been inlined under the fold.
  • A single interstitial that the viewer has to exit in order to see the main content.

Mitch Laursen, a SEO specialist at Intertwine Interactive, reached out to John Mueller with Google to see if the incoming penalties for intrusive interstitials would also include newsletters. Mueller confirmed that newsletters will also be included.

Despite those types of interstitials being a frustrating reality of searching the web, there are in fact techniques out there, if used in a responsible manner, that will not be affected by the upcoming change.

Responsible interstitials include:

  • Prompts regarding cookie usage
  • Age verification alerts
  • Reasonably sized banners

Do you want to learn more about this upcoming change? Be sure to check the Webmaster Central Help Forum for more information.