Platforms like WordPress, Drupal and Magento combined with easy to install plugins make it easy to set up websites adhering basic SEO requirements nowadays. Does that mean Technical SEO is becoming less important? Have a look at what is going on in the most competitive niches and what can we expect from Google in the upcoming months and decide for yourself. Make sure you keep updated about the latest developments regarding the following topics:
Google’s focus on Mobile
In the beginning this is purely a user experience factor: Google wants to satisfy their users as much as possible. They have been pushing mobile already for a long time but currently, after the introduction of a mobile friendly label Google finally made a big change to their algorithms to incorporate user experience as a factor. Mobilegeddon was top of mind for many SEO’s: How to Prioritse and Prepare for the Mobilegeddon! Building a mobile friendly website, that complies to Google’s rules and also is converting is not something you can take lightly. Invest in a proper website setup, preferably use responsive templates.
Currently Google is doing research on stripping down your website if a user experiences a slow loading time. So if you don’t take care of your website, Google will do it for you and I can not imagine that will have a positive influence on your average ranking position in the search engine result pages. Something Google has been testing for the past months is a separate mobile index: Details on Google’s Separate Mobile Index. The main issue is that Google can only index one piece of content per URL, but it is not user friendly to present mobile users the same content as desktop users.
When you also have an app, make sure users can find the same content as within your website. Google’s App indexing results in deep links in the search results, so user can directly navigate to the content within apps. In practical terms: if you perform a search on a mobile device, the search results include content in apps next to webpages. This is not new, Bing already supported it for a few months, but has a big impact on engagement from users.
- Making your app content searchable is quite technical, but in short you need to take the following three steps:
- Enable deeplinking to specific content within your app by adding intent filters (a user clicks on a link with the intent to read a product description)
- Interlink your app deeplinks by annotating the corresponding web pages via the Sitemap.xml file or by adding a rel=”alternate” tag.
The Semantic Web
Most marketeers were introduced to the Semantic Web once Google started using structured data to show additional information in the search engine result pages. Availability and complexity of data and specifically web content is increasing at an incredible rate. Structured data by using specific web standards make it more easy to read, understand and apply this data, as is the case with the Google’s rich snippets. The concept of the semantic web is already discussed since Tim Berners-Lee introduced it in 2001 but during the past three years, companies outside scientific institution are starting to make use of the possibilities a semantic web is offering. For us as marketeers this means more companies are starting to adapt Semantic Web technologies, of which structured data and Schema.org are just a small component. The web is moving from an informational based to an interaction based model. Think about Google adding buy buttons directly within the search results for example.
Adaptation and implementation of Schema.org & Structured Data
Finally Google is fully moving towards advising to use JSON-LD as the most preferable markup language to use as structured data, this also opens up new possibilities and requires to develop knowledge about yet another way of marking up your data. JSON-LD became a new official Web Standard in January 2014, developed not specifically to be used for the Semantic Web but for web developers that are working with data that should be available and could operate universally. The caveat is, that the more structured data Google can find, the more selective Google’s use will be. If all websites have similar features and ratings, it does not contribute to a better user experiences.
Schema.org now also includes all example codes in JSON-LD, which cannot only be used for webpages but also within apps or e-mails (Gmail Actions!). If you browse though Schema.org, you will find much more than just recipe, local business or review markup. Schema.org makes it more easy to use structured data for more than just a few yellow stars in the search engine result pages. With the web moving towards are more semantic based web, this will be one of the main future developments across the web. Google already uses it to fuel answer cards in Search and more and more companies are adapting their apps to be included via Google Now:
Optimizing for Google’s Knowledge Panels and Answer Cards
The Knowledge Graph is Google’s system for organizing information about millions of well-known “entities”: people, places, and organizations in the real world. Google’s algorithms merge information about entities from many data sources. For some types of information, though, the best source of data is the entity itself.
Google already has offered one possibility to input data into their knowledge graph: you can now customize your company logo, contact details and social profile links. Read Google’s documentation about Customizing Your Knowledge Graph and making sure Google shows the correct information in your brand knowledge panel. Next to the Knowledge Panels we have the already famous answer cards that state facts:
Or Google generates the most likely answer based on their web index:
Google has promised that they will start updating the Search Console later this year to have it include information about answer cards but for now we can only guess what is happening. During tests I have found the following factors increase the chance of being included in an answer card:
- <title> element: Contains the main subject of the required answer
- H1 heading element: Contains the main subject of the required answer
- Page content: Within the content, the question is answered in a single sentence
@thebcco but that is about deprecating ?escaped_fragment, not support for ajax as a whole https://t.co/ItccCbgcMt
— Gary Illyes (@methode) 28 april 2015
Long live Technical SEO
With over 500 updates a year, Google changes a lot. But not only Google changes, the web changes too and Google will have to adapt. Make sure you understand the implications of moving towards an semantic based web, where interactions will become more important than information. One thing will never change: people will always use search and companies will always need to be ahead of their competition. Long live Technical SEO!