These are the topics of our SEO Weekly Review this time: Google’s fight against search spam and spammy websites / clarifications about mobile first indexing / the question whether it plays a role in ranking, where in the title the keyword is written / whether ratings are ranking signals / why images are becoming increasingly important for SEO / what a blog needs to have in order to provide rankings.
GOOGLE HAS IMPOSED 2017 MILLION PENALTIES AND WARNED WEBMASTERS
Google’s search engine lives from providing users with relevant content for search queries as much as possible. To ensure this, the algorithms not only search for the best search results, they also identify pages that use tricks to give the impression that they are relevant for certain search queries (keywords).
Google calls such pages search spam and deliberately draws an analogy to the well-known mail spam. Without spam filters, our email inboxes would be useless. It would take far too long to distinguish the important e-mails from the spam mails. In addition to the search spam that violates Google policies, Google is also fighting spammy pages. This includes, for example, fake shops, pages that lead to subscription traps or hacked pages for spreading malware and the like.
By using its own systems and working with website operators, Google is doing a lot to keep the web healthy. Google has now announced on its blog that in 2017, more than 45 million website operators were warned or alerted to possible problems on their websites. Around 6 million webmasters received a penalty in 2017, so they were specifically asked to change certain things on the website. In the worst case such a penalty leads to the exclusion of domains from the rankings.
In the blog post, Google asks that users continue to contact the company when they come across search spam or spammy pages.
GOOGLE CREATES CLARITY ABOUT MOBILE-FIRST-INDEXING
Google now treats mobile pages primarily as opposed to desktop pages. In short, this is the Mobile First indexing program that Google has been rolling out since March/April 2018. Pages are indexed immediately after crawling (roughly speaking: “scanning”) web pages.
With indexing, Google assigns meanings to the crawled pages. If the meanings of a page (X) match those of a search query (Y), the page (X) comes into question as a result of the search query (Y). Indexing is therefore a central component of the search engine. The switch to prioritize desktop to mobile for page ranking is correspondingly important.
That there has been some confusion about the implications and consequences of mobile first indexing in the last few months, Google has now corrected some misunderstandings via Twitter:
- URLs displayed on the search results page: If there is a mobile AND a desktop version for a page, Google always indexes the mobile version, but always refers to the desktop version on desktop devices.
- Number of crawlings: Google will crawl pages neither more nor less frequently than before the switch to mobile first indexing. Only when switching to Mobile-First indexing pages are crawled more often for the time being.
- Pages stored in the cache: Currently Google does not show a cache version for some pages (already indexed as Mobile-First). This is not an intention, but a bug that Google is working to fix.
- Page Speed and Mobile-First: In July 2018 Google rolls out its “Speed Update”. The speed with which mobile pages are loaded becomes a ranking factor. However, this update has nothing to do with mobile indexing.
- Design (1): “Accordions” (pop-up menus) and “hamburger menus” (three horizontal stripes as symbols for menus behind them) are good solutions from Google’s point of view on mobile websites.
- Design (2): For mobile first indexing, it does not matter how the page is designed, whether as an external mobile page, as a responsive design or even only for desktop devices. However, Google also recommends switching to mobile-friendly designs
- The mobile index itself is not a ranking factor: Mobile-friendliness, on the other hand, is it already
WHERE THE KEYWORD IS PLACED IN THE TITLE DOES NOT PLAY A ROLE FOR RANKING
This clarification was provided by Google spokesman John Mueller in a tweet this week. He wrote: “If you’re swapping the order of keywords in a title, I wouldn’t expect that to have an effect on ranking.” However, Mueller points out that it may make sense to try out whether swapping the word order leads to a title “working” better, i.e. causing more clicks. Such tests could be carried out in advertisements or social media.
RATINGS ARE NOT RAKING SIGNALS – EXCEPTION: LOCAL SEO
Google does not use page ratings and surveys for the page recommendations on the search results pages. This was revealed by John Mueller in a hangout. One of the most important reasons for this is that Google usually does not know how the rating should be weighted, as there are too many different rating systems (e.g. 5 stars, 3 cups etc.). For Local SEO, the case would be different. Google can clearly classify the ratings there, which is why they are also included in the rankings.
The good old search with a keyword gets competition – the Visual Search: Apps like Google Lens make it possible to scan objects with the mobile phone camera and to search for information or online shops with corresponding offers. In the future, webmasters and SEOs will therefore have to concentrate more on images in order to display for search queries that are made exclusively via images. What becomes important in this context was written down by Jes.Scholz in the blog of MOZ.
BLOG TEXTS DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY GUARANTEE HIGH RANKINGS
Blogs have become part of the content strategy of many sites. The problem: Blog texts rarely guarantee high rankings – at least that is the result of a current Sistrix study. The most important reason for this is that blog texts often treat topics so focused that they can hardly be assigned to specific search queries or keywords.
However, the study should not be generalized. Sistrix admits this and gives examples of blog texts that achieve very good rankings. Finally, Sistrix uses the study to refer to the in-house concept of high-performance content formats (HPC formats). This means content formats that achieve an above-average number of top 10 rankings (with over 20 percent of keywords). Such HPC formats are optimized in terms of both content and technology. Ergo: Who simply writes down texts, will hardly improve rankings. Blog texts must also be well thought out and analytically planned.