An interesting week this one, including an update that seems to have quite a bit of impact. There are also some nice new features in Google Trends, possible labels for slow loading sites and some more annoying news about Bing and keywords.
A Google update
It wasn’t Panda, it wasn’t Penguin, though both are still “to come”, but this week we had an update that gave several people in the SEO industry a shudder. Mozcast, which measures changes in the search results for a fixed set of keywords and calculates a “temperature” based on that, had one of its “warmest” days ever.
Dr Pete over at Moz wrote a post, thinking this change could be related to the HTTPS changes Google did earlier. This was quickly refuted by Googler Gary Illyes on Twitter. And of course, most SEO bloggers stopped thinking at that point and just wrote down that it wasn’t HTTPS related. I disagree with that. I think Googlers don’t necessarily always know anymore what causes something to happen.
Google’s algorithms are, in part, self-learning. They automatically determine factors that cause a site to be trusted. This week, Wikipedia started moving to HTTPS entirely. If more and more sites that Google trusts, like Wikipedia, the FBI and now also Reddit, all are on HTTPS, that factor might automatically become more important, simply because of that machine learning. So while Googlers might say they haven’t changed the algorithm, the algorithm might have changed itself. Note that Gary’s tweet said “AFAIK”. They do that more and more when talking about the algorithm. Simply because they don’t always know.
Of course, this is just a theory, and it would not explain all of the changes, but nothing ever does. My own thoughts on HTTPS haven’t changed much since January last year.
More Google news
Google did more this week. Google Trends got a nice update, including both real time data and data for YouTube. You should definitely just have a play with that for a bit. This Wired piece on it is good. Another interesting bit was that Google UK confirmed that more than half of their searches and YouTube views now happen on mobile. Have I reminded you to get your site ready for mobile enough now?
There was some fuzz the last few weeks about a Google backed company getting a penalty and then being reinstated in the search results within a week. Apparently John Mueller of Google said that everyone could get back this quickly. All you have to do is do a “fantastic job of cleaning these things up” and send in a “great” reconsideration request. I’ve spoken to a few SEO’s who do cleanups for sites that got penalized the same way this company did. No one had ever seen it happen, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Google is once again testing a “Slow to load” label in the search results. It’s hard to reproduce tests like that, probably in part because where I spend most of my time online, at work and at home, I have either 4G Internet or a 200 mbit fiber connection. Doesn’t really make sense for Google to show that label on those connections.
Another update from Gary Illyes making me kinda scared was this one. He said this:
Please be mindful with noindex directives and remember that most search engines will honour it, even if it’s in the BODY element.
Which brings back all sorts of bad thoughts in me, wanting to leave meta robots noindex elements in comments on posts. It’s a good reminder nonetheless. Another tweet from Gary pointed to new breadcrumbs documentation, unfortunately it doesn’t answer some of the questions I had from the old documentation so I’ve send another email to Google.
Bing stops being nice
I’ve always had a soft spot for Bing, in part because they employ Duane Forrester, who is a great guy doing Webmaster outreach there. I have to admit they’ve made me lose some of those warm feelings this week when they announced they were no longer going to pass on search queries (part of them also moving to HTTPS completely). In their words:
to further protect our users’ privacy, we will not include the used query terms.
I think that’s nonsense, because just like Google, they will give them to advertisers. I wrote a scathing piece about that on SEObook when Google announced that in 2011. This is no different. Of course Bing doesn’t really send most sites that much traffic anyway, so most of you won’t (and/or shouldn’t) care.
That’s it for this week!
We still have an action on our site reviews, for a little while longer you can get $100 off. See you next week!