2019 Week 45 SEO News Recap

Get faster with the new Speed report in Search Console

To help site owners on the quest to fast web experience, Google has been iterating on the Speed Report in Search Console based on all the feedback from beta testers and has begun public rollout. The Speed report automatically assigns groups of similar URLs into “Fast”, “Moderate”, and “Slow” buckets. The report classifies URLs by speed and the issue that causes any slowdowns. Drill down on a specific issue to see examples of slow URLs to help you prioritize performance improvements for them.

EU’s Vestager says Google’s antitrust proposal not helping shopping rivals

European antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said that Google’s efforts to drive more traffic to European comparison shopping rivals have essentially failed. This is a reversal of her previous support for the changes Google made in response to a European Commission finding in 2017 that the company had “abused its market position” in shopping search.

Google: Do Not Use Robots.txt To Block Indexing Of URLs With Parameters

Google’s John Mueller said you should absolutely not “use robots.txt to block indexing of URLs with parameters.” He said if you do that then Google “cannot canonicalize the URLs, and you lose all of the value from links to those pages.” Instead use rel-canonicals and link consistently throughout your site.

2019 Week 44 SEO News Recap

Goodbye, Flash

Flash is disabled by default in Chrome (starting in version 76), Microsoft Edge, and FireFox 69. Soon, Google will also move on from Flash in indexing for Google Search. In Web pages that contain Flash content, Google Search will ignore the Flash content. Google Search will stop indexing standalone SWF files. Most users and websites won’t see any impact from this change.

Google Changes Expandable Featured Snippet Look

Google has had expandable featured snippets officially for over a year now but Google seems to have recently been testing changing the design and layout of those. It is now showing less content in the expandable element.

Google Tests Q&A Videos in Search Results for Universities

Google has been spotted testing Q&A videos in the knowledge graph cards for universities. The videos feature university faculty answering common questions about their school. They’re quite similar to the celebrity Q&A videos Google introduced last year.

2019 Week 43 SEO News Recap

Understanding searches better than ever before

For the first time Google is using the latest Cloud TPUs to serve search results and by applying BERT models to both ranking and featured snippets in Search, Google is able to do a much better job helping find useful information. In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.

Google Corporate Contact Markup For Knowledge Panels Deprecated

Google has officially deprecated the corporate contact markup for knowledge panels. Lizzi Harvey from Google posted about it on Twitter, she said “Corporate Contact markup for Google knowledge panels is deprecated. If you’re verified as an official rep of a Google knowledge panel, you can suggest a change directly.”

Google’s Advice on How to Determine if Your Business Needs a Website

If your business only has a physical storefront, then Google recommends starting with Google My Business. If your business sells products online, then Google actually recommends investing your time in social media before building a custom website. Google suggests building a strong social media presence while maintaining a basic e-commerce storefront. When a business grows, then Google recommends investing in a custom website built from scratch.

2019 Week 42 SEO News Recap

Google may be having issues showing new content again

Google seems to be having issues showing new and fresh content from web sites and publishers. This seems to be impacting both large and small publishers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN and even, Search Engine Land. If you filtered Google News to show content within the past hour for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, sites that both produce a ton of content all the time, you will see Google showing very few stories.

Bing Spotted Showing Domain Sources In Image Carousels

A new image carousel feature is being tested by Bing that features a preview of the image accompanied by the page title and domain name on its main search results page. “We’re experimenting with it on a set of image answer queries,” the Bing Images team said. This test was seen by digital marketing consultant Frank Sandtmann, who, although based in Germany, noticed it showing in US results.

Google: Redirecting A Domain To A Brand New Site Is Not A Site Move

Over the weekend, John Mueller of Google had an interesting back and forth with an SEO about a redirect. In short, it seems someone took an old domain, redirected that domain to a new domain, with completely different content on the new domain. The SEO felt the site would just rank because of the redirect. Redirecting unrelated domain names to migrate the links from that unrelated domain name doesn’t really work well since Google knows the links to the original domain name should not be counted on this new domain, because they are unrelated.

2019 Week 41 SEO News Recap

Google Is Testing Search Results without URLs

Google appears to be testing the complete removal of URLs from search results, displaying only the website name instead. Google has slowly been moving away from showing full URLs since the introduction of breadcrumbs a few months ago. Now it seems Google is testing the impact of removing URLs altogether, to the point of not even showing the domain name.

The new evergreen Bingbot simplifying SEO by leveraging Microsoft Edge

Microsoft announced Bingbot will be evergreen as Bing adopts the Chromium-based Edge browser to render web pages and run JavaScript. The transition to Edge will be happening over the next few months.

New Google Local Discovery: Search by Photos

On mobile, Google is showing a new image based search interface. It is currently a supplement to the 3 Pack for local keyword searches and it shows local results visually based on an image matching the search query. The new mobile focused search method does not yet appear on the desktop. It is not clear how permanent this new feature is but it is interesting in a number of respects.

2019 Week 40 SEO News Recap

Updating the user agent of Googlebot

Google announced that starting in December Google will update Google’s user agent to represent the version of Chrome that GoogleBot is running. Sites that follow their recommendations to use feature detection and progressive enhancement instead of user agent sniffing should continue to work without any changes. If your site looks for a specific user agent, it may be affected.

Google Search Console adds Change of Address tool to new interface

Google announced on Twitter that they have added the Change of Address tool to the new interface of Google Search Console. The change of address feature was available in the old Search Console but was not migrated when Google shut down the old interface.

Google Says H1 Headings Are Useful but Not Critical

On a Google Webmaster Hangout someone asked about the role of H1s on a web page. John Mueller responded that heading tags were good for several reasons but they’re not a critical element. John did confirm that H1 headings are good for outlining the page structure.