Archive for October, 2015

Title: Google Gives Webmasters A New Warning

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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Google is warning webmasters that they will take action if they catch a site engaging in “sneak mobile redirects”. This refers to a URL that loads one thing from the desktop, but redirects users to different content from mobile search results.

Do you see this often while using Google Search? Do you think it’s a major problem? Share your thoughts in the comments.

That’s the nutshell version, but as with most of these things, it’s not always that simple. Thankfully, Google is aware of that.

For one, there are legitimate reasons to show mobile users different content than desktop users, though typically this will come in the form of an altered, mobile-optimized version of the same content. Google is fine with that and claims it understands such modifications “very well”.

There are also times when sneak mobile redirects are actually happening without the webmaster’s knowledge or explicit consent. This can come from what Google refers to as advertising schemes that redirect mobile suers specifically as well as from a site being a target of hacking. In these cases, sites still face action from Google, but as long as they’re set up with Search Console, webmasters should be able to stay on top of any such issues that arise.

“It’s a violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines to redirect a user to a page with the intent of displaying content other than what was made available to the search engine crawler (more information on sneaky redirects),” Google’s Vincent Courson and Badr Salmi El Idrissi write in a blog post. “To ensure quality search results for our users, the Google Search Quality team can take action on such sites, including removal of URLs from our index. When we take manual action, we send a message to the site owner via Search Console. Therefore, make sure you’ve set up a Search Console account.”

“Be sure to choose advertisers who are transparent on how they handle user traffic, to avoid unknowingly redirecting your own users,” they add. “If you are interested in trust-building in the online advertising space, you may check out industry-wide best practices when participating in ad networks. For example, the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Inventory Quality Guidelines are a good place to start. There are many ways to monetize your content with mobile solutions that provide a high quality user experience, be sure to use them.”

To detect if your site is doing any sneaky mobile redirects, Google says to check if you are redirected when you navigate your site on your smartphone, listen to users, and monitor users in your analytics data. You can look at the average time on site by mobile users. As Google notes, if you notice that a significant drop in this metric from mobile users only, you might have a problem.

“To be aware of wide changes in mobile user activity as soon as they happen, you can for example set up Google Analytics alerts,” the Googlers write. “For example, you can set an alert to be warned in case of a sharp drop in average time spent on your site by mobile users, or a drop in mobile users (always take into account that big changes in those metrics are not a clear, direct signal that your site is doing mobile sneaky redirects).”

If you’ve already detected sneaky redirects on your site, Google advises you to make sure your site isn’t hacked and conduct an audit of third-party scripts/elements on your site.

You can look at Google’s Security Issues tool in Search Console. Google will give you information there if it has found your site to be hacked. The company also suggests looking at its resources on typical symptoms of hacked sites and its case studies on the subject.

In terms of conducting an audit of third-party scripts/elements, they suggest the following three steps: remove the ones you don’t control one by one from the redirecting pages; check your site on a mobile device or through emulation between each removal and see when the redirect stops; if you find one that you think is responsible for the sneaky redirect, remove it from your site and “debug” the issue with the provider.

More information about how to go about doing these things is available here.

Have you ever found a third-party to responsible for unintentional “sneaky” redirects on your site? How did you solve the problem? Discuss.
Image via Google

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Title: This Google Stat Has Major Implications For Your Site

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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In May, Google casually noted in a blog post that mobile searches have overtaken desktop searches in ten countries including the United States and Japan. It didn’t elaborate on what the other countries were.

Do you get more mobile traffic than desktop traffic? What’s the split like? Discuss.

The following month, Google mentioned another country by name, adding the United Kingdom to the list. Matt Jackson at SocialMediaToday reported at the time:

During a presentation at London Tech Week, Google’s Eileen Naughton said that not only are more searches conducted on UK mobile devices than on UK desktops, but that more UK YouTube searches were also conducted on mobile devices.

The YouTube part is interesting as well, as Google hadn’t mentioned that before when talking about this subject, at least to my knowledge.

The growing mobile search trend obviously illustrates why Google has put so much emphasis on websites being mobile-friendly and begun taking app indexing into account when ranking search results.

The world is going mobile, and websites that don’t follow are going to be left behind. A recent study found that the mobile-friendly update bumped down about half of pages it threatened to, but it’s still early days. It’s not as if mobile-friendliness is going to become less of a factor going forward.

Last week, Search Engine Land spoke with Google, and was told that mobile searches have now exceeded desktop searches worldwide. In other words, more than 50% of Google’s searches happen on mobile.

Danny Sullivan wrote, “It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that desktop searches have diminished. Stats on desktop search from comScore routinely show the overall amount has risen from month to month. Rather, it’s that mobile searches have been a growing new segment that have caught up and now overtaken desktop search. On the whole, desktop search has grown. As a percentage, it has dropped.”

Google’s John Mueller said in a Google+ post (via Search Engine Roundtable), “More than half of Google’s searches are now coming from mobile. If you haven’t made your site (or your client’s sites) mobile-friendly, you’re ignoring a lot of potential users.”

On the app indexing front, Google has also indexed over 100 billion pages within apps so far, and it’s only really getting started with this on iOS.

Yahoo’s Flurry recently released a report looking at people’s addiction to their mobile devices. In short, addiction is on the rise.

“On June 29th Bank of America released the findings of its second annual report on Consumer Mobility,” said Simon Khalaf, SVP of Publisher Products at Flurry. “The report showed that the US population is perpetually plugged-in with 71% of those surveyed disclosing they actually sleep with their smartphones. This prompted us to revisit the study we conducted in Q2 of 2014 in which we first uncovered the rise of a new breed of mobile users: the Mobile Addicts.”

According to the report, worldwide mobile addicts grew 59% over the last year.

Year over year, the total population of smart devices measured by Flurry grew from by 38% from 1.3B to 1.8B. Regular Users (those who use apps between once and sixteen times daily) grew by 25% from 784 million to 985 million. Super Users (those who use apps between 16 and 60 times daily) grew 34% from 440 million to 590 million. Mobile addicts (those who launch applications 60 times or more per day) grew 59% from from 176 million to 280 million.

According to Flurry, if the amount of mobile addicts were the population of a country, it would be the fourth largest just behind the United States.

Flurry shares more analysis on its findings here.

Related Reading: Will ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’ Help Google Rankings?

Is your site in good shape when it comes to reaching mobile users or do you have some work to do? Let us know in the comments.

Images via Google, Flurry

The post This Google Stat Has Major Implications For Your Site appeared first on WebProNews.

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Title: Don’t Do This If You’ve Been Hit By Google’s Panda Update

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

Google’s Panda update has been around since February 2011 and continues to wreak havoc on websites when it finds content issues. Sometimes it’s not clear that the site suffering Panda’s wrath actually deserved to be algorithmically penalized. Either way, some sites have been hit really hard by it over the years, and one tactic that has sometimes been employed has been to delete content. Don’t do that.

Do you think deleting content is a good idea when you’re trying to recover from Panda? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Perhaps the most famous victim of Panda over the years has been Demand Media – particularly its eHow property. The site was largely considered to be a content farm, which is precisely the type of site expected to be targeted by the algorithm update. Even though eHow escaped Panda when it first launched, the algorithm eventually caught up to it in a big way. In an effort to recover its Google traffic, Demand Media redesigned the site and deleted a ton of content of questionable quality. In 2012, it looked like things were looking good again for the site, but that didn’t last. The company has since had to become less reliant on Google as such a big chunk of its traffic.

These days, you can Google “how to fix a toilet,” which would be a prime example of the type of query you might legitimately expect eHow to rank for, and eHow is nowhere in the top results.

Google is now flat out saying that you might not want to delete content in response to Panda. Google’s Gary Illyes said on Twitter, “We don’t recommend removing content in general for Panda, rather add more highQ stuff.”

SEO Barry Schwartz, who first reported on Illyes’ comments, says, “Now Gary is saying generally it does not make sense to remove content. Generally you should improve your site. But the sites that are hit badly by Panda, often have serious structural issues with the site where they can consolidate content and remove a lot of the pages. I’d say generally, removing or consolidating content is the approach most SEOs take to tackle Panda issues. But Gary is saying otherwise.”

Illyes went on in a series of tweets to say, “We see way too many people cut the good [content]. Careful what you trim…use search analytics: look for pages that don’t satisfy users’ information need for the queries they rank for…Thin content: make it better, make it…thick and ADD more highQ stuff….Don’t remove content someone might find useful…What you really need is content created with care for the users, that’s it.”

In other words, just avoid getting rid of stuff and focus on improving the stuff you already have. Depending on how big your site is, that could be easier said than done, but that is the guidance you’re getting right from Google itself.

Illyes did have additional advice at PubCon. Jennifer Slegg reports (via Search Engine Roundtable):

While responding, Illyes did make an interesting recommendation for those who are removing thin content for Panda reasons. Rather than simply use a 404 or a 410, he strongly recommends that webmasters should use noindex on those pages, ensure those pages are listed in the sitemap or add them to the sitemap and then submit the sitemap to Google.

Of course Google has a list of 23 questions to ask yourself about your site and content when it comes to high quality versus thin:

1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?

2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

6. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

9. How much quality control is done on content?

10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?

11. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?

12. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

14. For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?

15. Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

16. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

17. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

18. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

19. Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

20. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

21. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

22. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

23. Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

These have been around for years, but it never hurts to take a look again to remind yourself just what Google is looking for when it evaluates quality.

The latest Panda refresh is still rolling out. Illyes appeared at SMX East last week and said this is the case. Google always said it would be a slow roll-out, and it wasn’t kidding. It began in mid-July. If you were waiting to recover after being hit by a previous Panda update/refresh, you may still have a shot (assuming that you’ve taken steps to fix the problems that got you hit by the update in the first place).

Penguin is expected to return before the end of the year.

After seeing these comments from Google, do you still think there’s a case for removing content to recover from Panda? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The post Don’t Do This If You’ve Been Hit By Google’s Panda Update appeared first on WebProNews.

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