It is common knowledge that, whilst pages with infinite scroll are often quite user friendly, they are not really appreciated by Google. The main problem with infinite scroll, as noted by the search engine giant, is that spiders cannot crawl the website as a user would without the ability to mimic behaviours, like scrolling to the bottom of a page, clicking to load more and so on.
Why is this bad for SEO?
It is important to remember that, if spiders cannot access the content, the chances of it appearing in organic search results are not very high. Spiders can’t always access all of the content on pages with infinite scroll, which leads to huge chunks of text not being indexed and whole websites being discounted from the results because they are not considered relevant.
How can we fix this?
To ensure that Googlebot can crawl all of the content linked via an infinite scroll page, it is recommended that either the webmaster or the content management system produces a paginated series that will coincide with the scroll. According to Google, infinite scroll is much more search friendly when converted to a paginated series (each component has a similar meta title).
Google has also shared a number of other SEO recommendations:
- Ensure that each page has a decent load time and that users who visit can easily find what they’re looking for;
- Ensure that there is no overlap in content between each of the component pages; and
- Test that the page works by checking that its values adjust as the user scrolls up or down.
John Mueller, the Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has created an infinite scroll pagination demo to help you out. The demo outlines two key search engine friendly features – that all individual items are accessible and that each item is only listed once in the series. This demo can be accessed by visiting the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
image source: google
In a video recently posted on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Maile Ohye (the Developer Programs Tech lead at the company), discussed a beginner’s approach to building an SEO strategy for a website. Whilst this is, by no means, the amount of work that can be completed by an SEO professional, it is certainly a start for anyone interested in optimisation.
Ohye outlines 4 steps to building an SEO strategy:
- Understanding the ‘searcher persona’ workflow
Basically, people will search for a particular query and will then select a website from the ranking and display shown. They will then read the page content and will be drawn in by the conversation and motivation. It is important to create a seamless searcher workflow.
- Determining company and website goals
Ask yourself a number of questions – what is your business’ goal? What can your product or service do that no one else can? What does success look like? What components are involved? How does your website play a part in this success? What do your competitors do well?
- Auditing the site to best reach the audience
You need to think about what sorts of groups you are targeting and where they are located. Then, think about their objectives and whether their query terms match your content. There is no point in saying “search friendly” when everyone searches for “SEO”.
- Executing and making improvements
You can use Google Webmaster Tools to further monitor and optimise your website. Improve search with better marketing, improve your page content to upsell your products or services, and offer a great experience and remarketing to encourage repeat customers.
Unfortunately, there are a number of obstacles that must be faced when creating an SEO or even just an online strategy. Fortunately, Ohye outlines many of these in the video (including people only being concerned with their own role and needing to know what sites competitors are linking to) and provides a few suggestions on how to overcome them.
With November well and truly under way, many people in the online realm are wanting to know what 2014 will hold for their websites. This is why it is time for use to release a brief look at the 2014 SEO ‘Playbook’, which will provide webmasters with some important points that they should begin focusing on in the coming months.
But first, how do we know what 2014 will hold for SEO? This information actually comes from 3 sources:
It should be noted that Google genuinely does want to be helpful – their vision, so far, aligns well with good marketing practices. Just remember that anytime a Google spokesperson reveals something about their algorithm, they are doing so with an agenda in mind.
As SEO’s, we depend on each other’s positive and negative experiences to discover trends and understand their significance in terms of our work. It has become clear that, these days, observation should be less about trickery and more about best practices.
Did you know that there are researchers who scour Google’s statements about search and SEO’s observations for whatever information they can quantify? They gather measurements on thousands of pieces of data, compare them to ranking results or site traffic and publish the results.
Secondly, we need to take a closer look at Hummingbird, which is Google’s newest algorithm and was a complete replacement of the old one. It was actually implemented a month before Google said it was and affected 90% of search results – but no one noticed. This is likely because the biggest changes occurred to long-tail queries.
So, what should SEO’s be focusing on in 2014? Based on all of the information that has been gathered, we can expect to focus on content and authority.
This actually has a number of sub-categories. First, we need to use concepts – go through your current content and make sure it uses phrases that match how people think and search. Second, we need to focus each piece of content on a specific concept. And, third, we need to employ a 4-point content strategy.
This also has a number of sub-categories. First, it is important to not substitute social media for link building. Second, architecture and URLs need to be kept simple and readable for people (every page should be accessible within 4 clicks of the homepage). And, third, non-canonical issues should not be ignored.
If you work in the SEO industry, it is likely that the above information is going to prove important in the coming months for ensuring that your client’s websites continue to rank well and draw in traffic.
Did you know that, each year, Google changes its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times? Whilst most of these changes are minor, there will occasionally be a major update that severely affects search results. Search marketers like to stay on top of these changes to help them explain changes in ranking and traffic.
- January 22nd – Panda #24
In late January, Google announced their first change of the year – to Panda, one of their biggest updates to date. It was claimed that only 1.2% of queries were affected, so it wasn’t too major.
- May 22nd – Penguin 2.0
It was only after months of speculation that the 4th Penguin update was released. There was only a moderate impact on search results with evidence suggesting that the change was more targeted on the page level.
- June 11th – “Payday Loan”
This was a targeted update that tackled niches with notoriously spammy results (specifically payday loans and porn). Whilst this is when the change was announced, it would take a month or two to roll out.
- July 18th – Panda Recovery
Whilst Google confirmed that a change occurred around this date, they were unclear whether it was part of a 10-day rolling update or not. It actually seemed to soften some of Panda’s previous penalties.
- July 19th – Knowledge Graph Expansion
The very next day, people began to notice that queries with Knowledge Graph (KG) entries and expanded by more than half. This meant that more than a quarter of all searches showed a KG entry of some kind.
- August 6th – In-depth Articles
It was announced that Google had added a new type of news result known as ‘in-depth articles’, which is dedicated to more long-form content. To begin with, it only appeared across around 3% of searches.
- August 20th – Hummingbird
Although this update was announced on September 26th, it was suggested that it actually took place a month earlier. It has been compared to Caffiene and is believed to power changes for months to come.
- October 4th – Penguin 2.1
Due to the 2.1 designation, it is believed that this update was primarily in regards to data and didn’t comprise any major changes to the Penguin algorithm. Even so, some webmasters said they were hit hard.
Whilst there have been plenty of other updates rolled out by Google this year (a couple of unnamed ones and a few adjustments to Panda and Penguin), the ones that we have outlined above were the ones to cause noticeable differences. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?
2013 has seen Google make some dramatic changes and the Penguin update that occurred on May 22nd had the biggest impact on small business websites. Whilst this led to some severe drops in traffic, some webmasters have been reporting some traffic increases during August. It is believed that this is a result of a Panda softening from Google.
This impact has led many webmasters to change the ways that they tackle SEO for their small businesses. Because they have very little funds to spare for spending on optimisation services, they are often reluctant to increase their budgets. But here are 4 reasons why this is exactly what you should do:
1. Google Wants You To
Even though many people will simply dismiss this as PR, Google has clearly stated that the SEO tactics that used to work in 2008 are no longer tolerated. This includes article spinning, keyword stuffing, paid links, thin content and duplicate content.
2. Recovering From Updates Is Expensive
Whilst there are plenty of websites that have recovered from the Penguin updates, it is important to remember that each case is different. All of the tactics that can be used to help recovery (such as technical, onsite and offsite issues) are expensive to undertake.
3. SEO Has Merged With Marketing
By now it should be clear that SEO is no longer a technical exercise and that it is rapidly merging with marketing and public relations. It seems that many small businesses, however, are frequently failing to harness groundbreaking SEO opportunities.
4. ROI Is High In SEO
According to recent data, SEO is still a great investment. This suggests that small businesses shouldn’t be shopping for the cheapest SEO vendor but that they should be considering their return on investment (ROI) if they were to spend more.
At the end of the day, it is important to recognise that all technologies and industries mature, and that price-points will typically change along the way. SEO is no different. If you take anything away from the above 4 points, it should be that spending more on optimisation now will benefit small business greatly in the long run, both in ROI and authority.
These days, the interest in social media is continuing to grow at exponential rates and it is important that your business is taking advantage of this by making brand-oriented accounts on some of the more popular platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. To help you out, here are some tips that you can use to make your website social media friendly:
- Killer Content
Have you ever heard the saying ‘content is king’? Whilst this is true of anything that you upload to the internet, it is especially true of social media, as you need to stand out from the crowd. Ordinary content won’t cut it anymore because there is simply too much out there.
- Social Buttons
Users expect convenience when they browse the web; they want to be able to share things they like or find interesting through their social media channels as easily as possible. This is why your website should include buttons (such as ‘like’ and ‘tweet’) to streamline this.
- Social Content
Whilst social media platforms are built with the intention of connecting people, you can actually take a similar approach with your website. Why not incorporate a blog section where users can post comments? Or post your advertising material on Facebook to see the reaction?
- Titles & Images
You need titles that are eye-catching and straight to the point, otherwise users won’t read your content (no matter how interesting or relevant). You also need images that explain the main points of your content in the same kind of tone that you have written in.
Whilst a website does provide you with a foundation for establishing a successful online presence, social media will provide you with an avenue for even wider coverage and more opportunities to connect with your customers. By using the above tips, you can effectively integrate social media with your website and will, hopefully, start to see it working for you soon.
Late last week, it was discovered that Google had quietly updated their ranking article help document to reflect changes that they have made in their messages of late. The change was spotted by internet marketer, Erik Baeumlisberger, and suggests that building quality websites is actually more important than building quality links, which is actually contrary to Google’s past messages, which have stated that links are important to your ranking.
Barry Swartz of Search Engine Roundtable said that the “change is to keep Google consistent with their general change in messaging that content is what webmasters should focus on, not links”. This means that it is more about increasing the number of people who will want to use and share your content, which will actually help to build quality links in the long run; the webmaster’s focus, however, should be on the content.
But what was the actual change that Google made to their article? It originally read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.” As of the 27th of May, however, this part of the article was changed to read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
This is not to say, however, that links are not important to your ranking and that being social is actually more essential (as this is how users will share links to your content). Being social is currently not important at all, but many people believe that this will change in the future as more and more people share links and content. Instead, what has changed is the way that webmasters should think about their content, as it will not be shared if it is not interesting or engaging.
Earlier in the week, Google announced that they will soon be rolling out several ranking changes that will affect websites that have not been optimised for use on smartphone devices. These changes will effectively force owners to fix their mobile website configuration issues otherwise they will risk being downranked in search results. Website owners who have yet to jump on the bandwagon of the mobile trend will need to act quickly if they want to be spared.
A number of the ‘mistakes’ that Google will be targeting with these changes include: desktop pages that redirect smartphone users to irrelevant pages on the mobile website (usually the homepage), desktop pages that redirect to 404 error pages instead of the smartphone-friendly page, incorrect handling of Googlebot-Mobile, and many more. The most damaging mistake, however, will be the use of embedded video that does not play on smartphones, such as Flash.
If you have ever used your smartphone to browse the internet, it’s likely that you have dealt with some of these problems first hand. You do a search, tap on a result in order to read the corresponding article and find yourself staring, dazed and confused, at the website’s mobile-optimized homepage. What happened to the article you wanted to read? Who knows! As well as being annoying, Google understands that dealing with this is a waste of your time and bandwidth.
Google said that “smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment” and that they want them to “experience the full richness of the web”, which is why they are rolling out these changes. Because Google has such a big influence on the internet – they have 83.18% of the search market share on desktops and 81.02% share on mobiles worldwide – these changes are set to change the way that we browse the web and other browsers are sure to follow.
So, how long do website owners have to make the changes that Google has said they will be trying to wheedle out? The internet mogul has yet to announce the release date of these changes to their algorithm, only saying that they will occur in the “near future”. What this really means is that website owners should be making their websites mobile-friendly as quickly as possible, especially if they want to ensure that their ranking is unaffected when the changes are made.
Image Source: XKCD