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SEO News Round Up: In Brief (5th August)

August 5, 2019 - Chris Garner

A lot has happened in the world of SEO over the last week, so here is a summary of all the SEO news from the last 7 days.

Google’s August Algorithm Update

To kick off August, Google made some changes to their featured snippet algorithm that they launched back in February. This algorithm aims to keep featured snippets up to date and relevant for the user.

The aim is to better understand what users are searching for and provide more timely information. As you would expect, this is going to affect queries around dates and events.

This update is by no means perfect, yet, but shows that Google is continuing to make improvements that enhance the experience of the user. This also reinforces the importance of including schema mark up around content.
Adding schema mark-up to your content provides additional structure to the information it contains and increases the chances of being shown in ‘Position 0’

Google’s Core Algorithm Guidance

As a relief to some SEO’s, Google has provided some guidance on how not to fall foul of their core algorithm updates.

This is great information for those new to SEO or for those looking for some reassurance that what they are doing follows best practice. The documentation provides 4 areas of focus and the questions you should ask yourself when producing content. These include:

Content and quality questions

Some examples on how to review your content from a information and quality perspective include

  • Does your content provide original information, research or analysis?
  • Does your content provide additional insight which goes over and above the obvious?
  • Is the headline descriptive and provide a helpful summary of the content?
  • Is it the type of content that you would bookmark or share?

Expertise questions

These are the kind of questions you would about your content that show it has been researched properly

  • Is your content free from easily verifiable factual errors?
  • Would you trust the content for issues relating to your money or your life (YMYL)?

Presentation and production questions

Whilst reviewing your content, take a look to make sure that it is readable. Cover areas such as

  • Is the content free from spelling, grammatical and stylistic errors?
  • Does the content display well on all devices; desktop, mobile and tablet?
  • Are there too many ads on screen that will detract from the overall user experience?
  • Does the content look well written or does it look hastily produced?

Comparative questions
When producing content, you will need to look at what else is out there, so it’s worth bearing these questions in mind

  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Is the content interesting to visitors?
  • Has the content been written in an attempt to see what might rank in search engines

As with any guidance, these lists are not exhaustive, but provide the basics on how to produce insightful and relevant content. Every website is different, all with differing audiences and readers, so content should be produced to a standard that resonates with the reader.

Remove noindex directives from robots.txt file

Google are now starting to email webmasters who include the ‘noindex’ directive from their robots.txt file.

Announced back at the beginning of July, Google will no longer support, and therefore acknowledge, any unsupported rules within the robots.txt file.

There are a number of options to get around this, to stop content from being unintentionally indexed. These include:

  • Adding the noindex tag in the robots meta tag
  • Utilising the 404 or 410 HTTP status codes either through a redirect plugin or directly in the .htaccess file
  • Password protecting your content through a subscription or behind a paywall
  • Using the disallow directive within the robots.txt file
  • Requesting removal of the URL(s) through Google’s Search Console URL Removal tool

Recommended URL length confirmed by Google

John Mueller recently stated that website URLs should be kept under 1,000 characters.

In most cases, this isn’t a problem for most websites, but the inclusion of parameters and sub-folders can increase the length in no time. Browsers themselves can handle URLs of uptown 2,000 characters, which is why Google’s confirmation of 1,000 is worth noting.

At the end of the day, keeping URLs as short and concise as possible is best practice. Not only for search engines, but also for users.

You can watch the video in full, but if you want to skip ahead to the section where John speaks about recommended URL length at the 42 minute mark

Suggested clips no longer take you to YouTube

A recent change in Google’s SERPs means that suggested clips no longer take you to YouTube.

Instead, Google will automatically take you to the point in the video which answers the users query. When you click to watch the video, a modal (or lightbox) is displayed and the video plays.

The impact of this on content creators means they are likely to miss out on subscribers, whilst others are going to miss out on video views which would have come through the suggested videos overlay.

No SEO benefit to adding ‘nofollow’ to outbound links

It’s common practice for a number of SEO’s and websites, but there is no benefit to adding the rel=nofollow directive to outbound links.

Google’s John Mueller even confirmed that doing this too often has the possibility of creating problems further down the line due to the unnatural link profile of a website. The effect being, your website ranks lower than it should, or could.

Here is John’s Webmaster hangout video, where he talks specifically about nofollow on outbound links at the 55 minute mark.

If you would like more information on your SEO strategy, require assistance with technical SEO or are looking for a website redesign that will make your site more search engine friendly, get in touch with Fifteen today.

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