April 2015, Google announced that they’ll change the way they represent URLs in mobile search results. This post explains what is changing, what this means for you and how our Yoast SEO plugin will help you with these changes.
What is changing in the search results?
In their blog post Google say they’ll changing the following:
- The website name to be used instead of the domain name
- The URL structure of the URL as breadcrumbs
Up until now, if you have breadcrumbs showing like we do, it would show like this in mobile search:
As you can see that shows the domain name before the breadcrumbs. It already shows the “new” breadcrumbs that have been taken from the URL structure. In the new situation in the US, you can change the domain name to the name of the site, which looks like this:
Yoast in these results is yoast.com, WordPress is wordpress.org. It places a lot less prominence on the domain name. You can change the site’s name through new Schema.org site name markup that was announced in the same blogpost.
In that post they also point at the breadcrumbs markup, which should make those breadcrumbs taken from the URL structure change into your own breadcrumbs. We have to admit: we have breadcrumbs on our site and yet Google is using the breadcrumbs taken from the URL structure for the first two of three total results in that screenshot. We’ll investigate the why and how of what’s happening and keep you up to date.
What this means for your site
This change means that your site’s URL structure becomes even more important than it already was. Ugly URLs will be even more visible in the search results than before. In our site structure course you can learn even more about how to improve your site structure for SEO.
Read more: Intelligent site structure for better SEO »
It also means you have to make sure that your site’s name is reflected well in the search results, so you should use that new markup. In our experience, leaving this to Google is not always the best idea, though it still might ignore what you feed it.
This does mean that whatever you choose as your brand name is reflected more in the search results, and you have to think really hard about what you want that to be. Whether this change positively or negatively impacts keyword rich domain names remains to be seen. It also potentially opens up all sorts of spoofing, where people using yoast.yetanothertld would look the same in the search results as yoast.com. We’ll see how Google responds when that happens.
How WordPress SEO helps you with these changes
Coming Monday (morning US time, evening EU time) we’ll be releasing a new version of WordPress SEO, version 2.1, which, amongst other things, will contain improvements to the breadcrumbs markup, as well as support for the new site name markup. On the Dashboard settings page, you’ll find this in the Your Info tab:
As you can see, you can now enter a website name and an alternate website name for Google to consider. How Google will use these, especially the alternate name, is of course unknown at the moment, as the feature is brand new.
So: all you have to do is update to 2.1 on Monday, enter your website name and optionally an alternate name and you’re set. Optionally, if you don’t use our breadcrumbs yet, you could choose to implement those breadcrumbs on your site as well.
As more becomes clear about what works and what doesn’t work well with these new features, we’ll be sure to update you in blog posts here. If you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
Note: this article was updated to reflect the fact that, at least for now, this change only affects mobile search results, as mentioned by several people in the comments.
Keep reading: SEO friendly URLs »