SEO News: November 2016
By Britt Bischoff on November 16, 2016 in Digital Marketing
Editor's note: This post was originally published on 11/17/16, and is frequently updated with recent industry news.
It's been a busy fall for Google, and there's been some continued updates on long term projects, potential algorithm updates, and more. Here's what's most important to know for November 2016:
Google tests new user interface in search
November 14, 2016
What was changed? You honestly might not notice. They swapped the gear icon for search settings undereneath the search bar with a text label for “settings”. Although it was a minor change, it may impact how people use the search settings in the future.
Google tests AMP news carousel design
November 10, 2016
Google’s testing a new layout for the top news carousel, which only features AMP content and doesn’t affect rankings of other search types. However, AMP and this top news carousel is an important consideration if you publish news content.
*Potential* Google search algorithm update
November 10, 2016
Notice your rankings and traffic dancing in the SERPs? You're not alone. Although not confirmed by Google, large fluctuations and turbulence in Google search were reported on this day. Some industries saw greater fluctuations than others, for instance sites in the tech space, and most fluctuations in traffic and rankings have leveled out since.
Google's 30-day penalty for safe browsing repeat offenders
November 9, 2016
Google’s getting serious about laying down the law with safe browsing with swifter and harsher punishments for those that violate their safe browing policy with malware, unwanted software, phishing, and social engineering. This simply means that sites who have violated this policy in the past and exhibit this same behavior in a short period of time will be classified as “Repeat Offenders” and removed from Google search indexing for 30 days. Only after the 30 days have passed and you’ve will you be able to request a reconsideration review to get back into Google search and lift your “Repeat Offenders” status. If you are hit with a “Repeat Offender” status, you’ll be notified via your Google Search Console account.
Safe browsing helps protect users by warning them about entering potentially dangerous sites or files. It also works to help site owners and webmasters by notifying them and helping to find resolution when their sites may have been compromised. Our advice is to always adhere to the safe browsing policy, and we know that bad things can sometimes happen to good sites. With that, our advice is to always keep an eye on your Google Search Console notifications, be proactive in monitoring your website, links, and maintaining your site security.
Read more about Google’s safe browsing policy: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7104997
Google experiments with mobile-first indexing
November 4, 2016
Google's previously stated that they will be launching a mobile index as their primary index and shifting desktop indexing to a secondary index, and it's going to happen soon. Google still uses desktop signals for mobile rankings and this is going to change when the mobile index is rolled out. This means they’ll be using a mobile user agent to view your site. They also stated that their algorithms will 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 their results. This is a small scale experiment right now, but Google promises to ramp up this shift in indexing over the coming months.
Here's what's important to know for your site with this mobile-first index:
- Since their announcement about experimentation on November 4th, Google has confirmed that your desktop site will take priority over your AMP versions in mobile-first indexing if you don’t have a mobile site but have desktop and AMP.
- They’ve said that if you have a responsive or dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything
- However, if you have a site configuration where primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, changes will need to be made.
- Structured markup should be served for both desktop and mobile versions. When adding structured markup to mobile, avoid large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
- Verify that your mobile version is accessible to Google by using the robots.txt testing tool.