What will you find in our New Year’s edition?
Google Ditches The Mobile First Indexing Deadline
URL Slugs Now Not Important For Rankings?
Keep Your 301 Redirects In Place Says Google
Google Ads Brings Image Extensions To Desktop Devices
What Facebook’s New Professional Mode Means For Advertisers
Google Ads Rolls Out New User Interface & Metrics
PR & Content Marketing
Why Search Experts Think Content Is The Most Underrated SEO Technique of Last Year
PR: Google Speaks Out On The Value of Brand Mentions
Backlinks: Why Deleting A Page Can Hurt Your Whole Website
After half a decade of warnings for sites to update to mobile first versions, Google has done away with its deadline for sites to switch over. As mobile usage has increased and Google has continued to push mobile factors for ranking, the plan was to have a set deadline to move over to Mobile First indexing. This would have meant that the mobile version of your site would be the preferred version.
This has now been removed completely after being pushed back several times. The number of sites updated for mobile over the years is estimated to be upwards of 70%, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a site which doesn’t work on mobile. Our advice is that you should still build your site for mobile. It is important for SEO in terms of usability and speed, as we’re still seeing increasing mobile usage compared to desktop. Mobile vs Desktop worldwide is roughly a 55/45 split, but for many of our clients we see it higher – often up to 75/25.
Recently Google’s John Mueller cast doubt on the importance of URL slugs for SEO, saying that category and topic names in URLs have zero impact on rankings. This is definitely a divisive statement, given that many in the digital sphere have regarded it as a significant ranking factor for a long time. Google had said in the past there was minimal advantage of doing this, but many SEOs and developers will insist on a hierarchical and keyword rich URL structure.
However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use a sensible URL structure. Doing so makes sense beyond direct rankings, as it helps with user experience, enhances breadcrumbs, and generally lets a user feel more comfortable with a URL. Shop.com/shoes/ feels much more legitimate than shop.com/wr57hr/, for example. If anyone is brave enough to switch to non-keyword URLs and just have nonsense in the slugs, then please let us know the results!
Google has confirmed that the best practice for 301 redirects (often deleted pages that are permanently redirected to another page) when it comes to SEO is to keep them in place for at least a year.
For many sites it is easy to keep them longer than this and you can just update your redirect list on a rolling basis. This way you can be sure that even the most obscure URLs on your site are redirecting to the most relevant pages. The main point here is for migrations and to ensure that Google crawls the redirect a few times to understand that the page has actually moved permanently.
From a user perspective it is useful to leave these in even longer. Checking out the hits on the redirects and changing the old source URLs is also beneficial for larger sites or those reliant on referral traffic.
Google Ads has announced that it is bringing image extensions to desktop drives, enabling businesses to show relevant images in ads to users whether they’re at home or on the go. Already available on mobile, image extensions may make your ads more visually appealing to your target audiences, which in turn can encourage visitors to click on them. If you’re already running image extensions on mobile, they’ll automatically show on desktop devices as this update rolls out, so make sure to monitor performance so that you can assess whether this is something that’s worthwhile for your brand.
With the way the ‘working world’ is currently changing, a lot more users are browsing on their desktops due to working from home, which means this is a great opportunity to optimise for these online behavioural changes. We would encourage businesses to take advantage of this change by producing imagery to run alongside their text ads, as it has the potential to better draw in even more users.
Meta has introduced a new ‘Professional Mode’ for Facebook profiles which (much like Instagram’s business profiles) will allow public content to be shared without the requirement of a friend request. This doesn’t just simplify the organic side of sharing content; it’ll also have a positive impact for content creators as they will be able to earn revenue through in-stream video ads on both standard and live videos. Note that the revenue scheme will only be available in the US and on an application basis to start with, but we imagine it will soon roll out to other territories too.
This update also gives content creators the chance to partner up and collaborate with other businesses and influencers through branded content, helping build relationships through paid partnerships. Professional mode will also provide tools to content creators such as a new two-step updated post composer for scheduling posts, which was only previously available for Facebook Business Suite.
Google Ads has announced that it will be shortly rolling out a new user interface for its custom columns, as well as new metrics. Advertisers will be able to reference Search, Click and Display impression share, phone call metrics, spreadsheet functions and more in their custom columns. Google said “we’ve updated custom columns to make it more flexible for advertisers to use. With the new UI, advertisers can more easily see their data and work with it to derive new insights by comparing different metrics. We’ve also added additional features based on advertiser feedback. We’re looking forward to bringing these new features to all advertisers in the next few weeks.”
This update provides us with a greater range of metrics that can be used directly in the Google Ads interface. This will help us with reporting and optimisation as we will be able to create custom columns to report on the metrics that matter to us. Currently, there’s sometimes a lot of switching between tabs to see different data sets, but this new update eliminates that, making our lives easier when reporting on performance.
Just how important is content for your SEO? Well, a new study, which asked 56 SEO experts about the best search practices, reveals that optimising content for ‘search intent and user experience’ was the most underrated SEO technique for 2021. ‘Search intent’ refers to the deeper meaning behind why a consumer decided to make a search. For example, a search such as “buy tables” shows a strong transactional search intent, whereas a query such as “how to paint a table” shows a strong informational search intent – where the person is looking for an answer to their query as opposed to a product or category page.
So how can we use this to rank higher? To rank highly for your target keywords your pages need to match the exact user experience that your target customer is looking for when they make a search. By understanding the search intent behind your target keywords, it is easier to create a user experience that perfectly matches what the searcher is looking for. Over time, if your page has the best user experience then Google can infer this by using Chrome tracking metrics such as bounce rate, time on page and pages visited etc.
Digital PR is key for leveraging your SEO performance because it is one of the best ways of securing high quality backlinks – which are one of the most important SEO ranking factors. But your typical PR campaign will often generate as many ‘brand mentions’ (aka a mention of your company name) as it does links. For around a decade, many SEOs have believed that brand mentions may have a direct SEO impact in a similar way that backlinks do. So how valuable are brand mentions for your site’s SEO?
Google’s John Mueller has recently confirmed that this isn’t currently the case because it is too tricky for their algorithms to identify brand mentions and the subjective context of the mention. But that doesn’t mean that brand mentions don’t have value, because they can generate awareness which in turn generates brand searches. This in turn can drive more traffic to your site which also has a potential SEO impact. It just confirms what we already know – that media exposure can drive online brand awareness and quality, relevant backlinks are key for SEO and search rankings.
Google’s John Mueller has recently confirmed that if you delete a page on your website which has lots of other websites linking to it, this will likely hurt the authority of your site overall. Backlinks from third party websites are a key ranking factor, however if a link goes through to a dead / 404 page on your website Google won’t count it for the whole domain. As a result, your performance in search engines could be impacted.
It is also highly advisable to look at what a page is ranking for on your site before you think about deleting it as doing so may also mean that you lose out on valuable traffic. So, before you go just deleting pages on your site, first look at what else you can do to improve that page to make it work better for search and your business.
We’ve always got some new blog content to cast your eyes over. Our Koozians have been busy putting blog content together, so you have a great source of information for any SEO, Paid, Content or PR queries and questions. We’ve recently published the following:
We are delighted to see in the New Year in style by welcoming our brand new SEO Specialist James Johnson to the Koozai team! James’s impressive SEO knowledge and proven track record of delivering excellent organic performance makes him an asset to the team, and we are excited about him joining us.
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