can help customers find your website easily because they help you show up prominently when customers search for what you do or what you sell. Failure to apply these best practices obviously doesn’t help you show up in Google, Yahoo & Bing. There are also quite a few things that small businesses actively do on their websites that hurt search rankings.
Bad SEO practices …
Some of these mistakes may be due to some persistent SEO myths that people still believe. But most of the time these mistakes happen by accident. Here’s a handy list of 25+ SEO mistakes you should avoid. If they’re not obvious or clear to you, please ask questions in the comments below … or call us.
Google’s testing a change that may destroy some site rankings
Google has announced that they’re testing a big change in the index of websites they use for ranking search results. I may not affect most sites, but if your site is built a certain way it can really hurt your Google rankings.
The change is in recognition of the fact that more searches are now done on phones than from desktop/laptop computers.
The Google Index
Google’s index is a complicated copy of the content of every web page, which Google uses to tell what the page is all about so it knows what keyword searches the page is suitable for. Since desktop and mobile versions of websites may differ, Google has been using the desktop version of a website in it’s index.
However, for many websites, the mobile version may be quite different from the desktop version. The mobile version may actually be like a separate website with less or different content from the desktop version to accommodate the limits of a small cell phone screen.
What’s being tested is relying primarily on the mobile index
If a website has different versions for desktop and mobile, that constant may be quite different. Content that’s well optimized for a critical keyword on the desktop may not be well optimized for that keyword in the mobile version.
By default, Google has up until now relied primarily on the desktop version of a web site in its index. If a website has a desktop version and a mobile version, Google uses the desktop index to decide what searches to display a given web page for. Only if a website exists solely in a mobile format does Google use the mobile version in its index.
Google wrote recently:
To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.
While it’s only under testing at the moment, we can reasonable expect this is the direction Google will be moving in going forward.
If your site is configured to have a separate mobile version with even slightly different content, you may be at risk. If your site is “responsive” then you’re probably safe.
Is your site “responsive”?
A responsive website is one that changes in appearance in response to the device that’s looking at it. Certain elements on a page may shift around to accommodate a different screen. So that site will look different on a tablet, a phone, and a laptop or desktop. But all the content remains the same.
Typically you can check this by changing the width of your browser window on your desktop. Make the window narrower and narrower until it’s roughly the shape of a phone screen. Does stuff change and move around?
If it does, you’re responsive. And you’re probably safe from this change.
If you’re not responsive …
You may need to check the mobile version of your site. Is it essentially identical in content to your desktop site? If so, you’re probably fine.
If it’s different,make sure it’s optimized as effectively for your important keywords as the desktop version. Otherwise you’re likely to suffer a drop in your rankings.
If your site isn’t currently responsive, you should be planning to make it so. And don’t put it off until your 2018 budget year, but plan for it now.
Google’s been reporting a surge in “near me” type searches, probably at least partly related to the increased use of mobile phones for search.
One of the problems centers around searches by town or city. If your business falls just outside the city limits, you were unlikely to show up in the Local Stack or the listings revealed when you click on “More Places” for searches focused on that city. People very close to you might find only listings within the city limits that are much farther away from them than you are.
We’ve been able to get good rankings in the organic listings for searches like this. But listings in the Local Stack and More Places have been very difficult if not impossible to achieve
Then Came Possum
Possum arrived on or about September 1. Search Engine Land calls this the most significant update since Google’s Pigeon update in 2014. And it seems to be doing wonders for those businesses just outside of the city limits. This is a good thing.
The physical location of the searcher is now more important than before in these searches as well. Normally that’s a good thing, especially for “near me” types of searches. However, a client of ours has headquarters in New Jersaey and a second location on the outskirts of Phoenix. While Arizonans searching for what they do in Phoenix find them in the Local Stack, if my client searchers from New Jersey they’re not there. Organic searches appear to be unaffected though.
On the down side, when there are multiple companies in the same line of business with offices in the same building, it appears most of them get filtered out, leaving only one of them in the Local Stack results. It’s as if Google thinks they’re affiliated with one another, like multiple doctors in the same medical practice.
Search Engine Land is reporting significant fluctuations in behavior leading them to conclude that Google is still tuning up the Possum algorithm. We expect it to settle down soon.
What changes have you seen in your local rankings since September 1? Let us know in the comments below.
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Google will soon split its index of web pages into two separate ones: one for desktop and one for mobile.
And the mobile one will be primary:Google will be updating it frequently while they will update the desktop index less often. This is a reflection of the fact that more than half of all searches are done on phones now—and the ratio of phone to desktop searches is continuing to increase.
According to Gary Illyes, a Google webmaster trends analyst, Google will make the change “within months” and will leave the desktop index somewhat less up-to-date than the mobile one.
So what does this actually mean?
The biggest impact of this is likely to be on websites that have separate mobile and desktop versions. The two website versions will be indexed and evaluated separately as if they’re different websites … because sometimes they are. Separate mobile pages are often optimized differently from desktop pages, so search rankings may differ dramatically depending on whether a customer searches for you from their desktop/laptop or their phone.
If your site is “responsive”, meaning your pages adjust how they display depending on the device looking at them, you ought to be okay since the content is always the same.
However, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your ranking penalty when customers search from their phones will get worse. Possibly much worse, though Google hasn’t actually claimed that yet.
Joost de Valk, who runs search engine firm Yoast.com and author of the highly recommended Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, recently said this move makes sense.
I think in part it is about pushing people to change their sites to be responsive rather than having a separate desktop and mobile site. By saying that their mobile index is more important, it will push people to focus on their mobile sites.
This bears watching, but if you’re a little late in making your website responsive, now’s the time to get on the stick and do it.
Live presentation with breakout sessions to answer your questions.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Website, Facebook, Content, Twitter, SEO – it’s just so much to master! If you’re having trouble making sense of your online presence, we can help.
The presentation will start with a panel discussion moderated by Walt Blau of Generic Brand Human/Ashland Studios, followed by small breakout sessions where each expert will spend time at each table answering specific questions. Come prepared with your questions about starting and maintaining a website, writing content that gets noticed, using SEO to land your company at the top of online searches, and gaining your prospects’ attention on social media.
Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Time: 8-10 am
Where: Ashland Studios 343 New Road, Suite 3 Parsippany, NJ 07054
If you think friends or colleagues will be interested in this event, please share it with any of the buttons on the left. And if you think it warrants a Facebook Like or a Google +1, you’ll find buttons for those at the top.