SFIMA Recap September 2018 with Gary Illyes – SEO Tips From a Google Rep
SFIMA with Gary Illyes
Gary Illyes, the Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, joined South Florida Interactive Marketing Association, SFIMA, last week to share some interesting insights on Google’s state of search, and what kind of changes can be expected moving forward – and it was interesting, to say the least! Here’s some thought-provoking information we learned during his session.
Good URLs Are Critical
When creating good URLs, never use fragment identifiers for your content (e.g. “example.com/#home”). This is a bad trend, since this will lead search engines to misunderstand the URL. Every new page must have a unique URL.
Canonicalize & HTTPS
Gary Illyes mentioned one new trend taking place on search engines like Google is the use of canonical tags. Add canonical tags such as “<a>” and “href” for search engines to read your webpage better. In addition, use “https” instead of “http” to show that your webpage is secure. Web browsers will warn users that your site is not secure if you don’t incorporate “https” in your URL. Users will most likely not access your webpage if this happens.
This can be a bit challenging for mobile, due to less real estate for content. Always use accordion menus to hide and reveal your content for better user experience. You also don’t have to worry if this affects crawlers, because internal linking does not negatively affect search engine crawling.
Metadata Still Matters
It’s still important to keep in mind that page titles are important. Metas are key for your webpage to be found by search engines. Remember: meta descriptions have no limit, so don’t be afraid to use as much as you like!
When adding alt-text, you must use it wisely while including captions. Also use lazy load with <no script>. Lazy load helps speed up page load time by loading content only when users scroll to that part of the site, as opposed to loading everything on the page when the page is opened.
When creating content for webpages, always remember to write legibly. Consider Voice Search when writing – think about what and how users are searching. Also, only use ads when necessary, such as pop-up contact forms, sign ups to newsletters, etc. This leads to negative user experience and a lower rank in Google mobile.
When gauging the speed of your webpage, feel free to use any testing tool you like. Don’t just use single metric, e.g. only relying on Google Page Speed Insights. Ranking from (1-100) is not comprehensive, this may suggest a fix you can’t do from your end. Find other tools to find speed optimization opportunities, e.g. Google’s Lighthouse Tool. Webpages should have speedy page loads, as this helps improve user experience and increases conversions.
Structured data cannot be seen by users; instead, it gives more hints about what your content is about to Google. It’s also easier for Google to understand. When including structured data to your webpage, only use it when necessary. Stay up to date with new types of structured data found on schema.org. Don’t forget to check for validity!
Structured Data Case Study
Rokuten, the largest site in Japan, publishes food recipes. By using structured data for their recipes, they’ve gained 2.7x more traffic and 1.5x more session duration.
How Search Works – A Review
An extra step of indexing is rendering. Google’s rendering is currently using the old Chrome version, Chrome 41, which has no ES6 and no storage APIs. Fast pages render better.
Deferred Rendering (TBC)
There are many tools available to run tests for rendering: Fetch & Render as Google, Mobile-Friendly Test, and Rich Result Test.
Mobile-First Indexing (MFI)
Google has converted close to half of sites to MFI and more sites are to be moved. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will also start being moved by Google. This may affect your webpage’s ranking, and if the site is not friendly, it must be converted now.
All content, images, and video should be quasi-equivalent on BOTH versions of your site (desktop & mobile). Make sure that your critical content – content you want to rank for – includes meta data, structured data, etc. This content shouldn’t be limited by firewall, host load limits, etc.