Why you should watch this replay!
We’ve been talking about lots of interesting SEO news in our March webinar!
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Topics and resources
- 3:23 – Google says goodbye to the URL Parameter tools
Google does spring cleaning every year. This year, they’re getting rid of the URL parameters tool. We’re not sad to see it go away. But the only thing we have a problem with is that they tell you that they can now handle crawling properly and they can’t. We wish they would come and produce a smarter solution to crawling than just crawling every single URL version they can find all the time. We’re afraid that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
- 5:10 – Prepare for the future with Google Analytics 4
Google announced its sunsetting Google Analytics 3 in July 2023, which gives you just over a year to get ready to use GA4. If you haven’t set up Google Analytics 4, please do that right now or else you are missing valuable data collected over the coming months. If you haven’t checked out GA4 and you don’t have overly complex analytics needs, you might be better off looking for an alternative to Google Analytics. Please investigate your options.
- 7:09 – Google launches Visual Stories in the US mobile search results
We’ve talked about web stories before, Google just gave these a much more prominent role in the US mobile search results. This story format is a different type of content but it’s still a page on your site with images, text, and links. Look into how they might fit into your content strategy.
- 8:26 – Google Shopping Experience Scorecard promotes merchants providing excellent customer service
One of the worst product names ever from Google, but an interesting development, nonetheless. Historically, Google Merchant Center and Google Shopping were different things, but it’s increasingly becoming part of the same shopping ecosystem. Now, Google will evaluate your reputation, your customer service, your reviews, and more. If you score well on those, it will boost your visibility in Google’s organic shopping listings, which quite often turns up in Google’s normal organic listings.
- 9:58 – Overcoming the language barrier in videos with Aloud
This is automatic video transcription by a start-up supported by Google. You produce a video in your native language, and you write the text content for it like you would a normal transcript and then this system automatically turns that into audio in a way that sounds right and matches the video content with a bunch of AI and machine learning.
- 12:01 – Google refine this search and broaden this search now live in search results
With these new search refinement options, Google helps users along their search journey. This is very helpful for topics that they are not an expert on, and they don’t know how to evolve their search. Instead of a specific keyphrase, Google is steering users to think and behave more on topics and journeys. In return, your content should cover all of that and it should also discuss related concepts and terms and then cleverly use internal linking to cross-reference and talk about related topics and stuff.
- 13:28 – Google says internal linking is super critical for SEO
It might sound a bit like the sky is blue, but Google has once again confirmed that internal linking is super critical for SEO. We’ve been doing SEO for the longest time, and it’s never stopped being important. Internal linking is so important because it actually helps rank pages. It’s one of the things you have full control over and that gets results.
- 15:38 – Google product review update: More helpful product reviews on Search
This is the biggest news that almost flew under the radar. A year ago, Google launched a product reviews update which set up guidelines on what it really takes to rank content well. Also, a lot of signs that are suggesting this is how they’re starting to think about content more broadly. It’s worth meeting these guidelines and thinking about them even if you don’t explicitly do product reviews. The barrier to getting content ranked is getting higher and you really need to want to be the best result!
Microsoft Bing news
- 19:02 – Microsoft Edge now automatically generates image labels for screen readers
This is awesome. Research shows that almost half of the images found online do not have alt text. Screen readers, therefore, can’t inform their users what’s on those images. Now, Microsoft in the Edge browser will automatically use their machine learning systems and AI and vision APIs to generate alt text on them.
- 21:06 – WordPress 6.0 to introduce performance improvements for custom pages
A long-standing issue will be fixed in WordPress 6.0 which will improve the performance of the CMS. This bug concerns the loading of unnecessary processes when WordPress tries to load a robots.txt file on custom pages when there isn’t a physical one available. This process concerns 42.000 function calls and that is finally getting fixed.
- 22:33 – The WordPress Performance Lab plugin has been released
In the same area of things, the good people in the WordPress core performance team, including some of our co-workers at Yoast, have launched the Performance Lab plugin. Be sure to install this plugin to get the latest performance enhancements for WordPress, including support for webp images and lots of other cutting-edge stuff.
Social Media news
- 24:09 – Twitter accelerates ecommerce push with Twitter Shops
Like many other platforms, Twitter is moving into ecommerce. Since GDPR, most of the platforms have been devoid of first-hand transaction data so they can’t target their ads properly anymore. What we see now is the move towards owning that transaction so that it can have and use that data. Of course, the functionality is cool but it’s being built with a reason.
- 25:59 – How much is ‘link in bio’ real estate worth? Linktree’s new valuation says $1.3 billion
This is because Instagram is dysfunctional in a way, and all kinds of solutions are built to solve those dysfunctions. But what if Instagram changes? This valuation of things like Linktree would suddenly go away. Instagram only disallows links in posts because they want to protect themselves against affiliate spam and becoming Twitter. The take away from this is it turns out that links are quite big – who knew!
- 26:56 – Shopify launches Linkpop, a ‘link in bio’ page with shoppable links
In the same vein, Shopify launched a similar service that includes shoppable links to products in their stores. This connects your Shopify products directly to your link in bio things so you can have an Instagram presence pointing to your link in bio service and then people can buy Shopify products directly from that. Again, it’s the same premise and wanting to own more of the conversion funnel on that data.
Other Tech news
- 27:39 – Safari 15.4 comes native support for lazy loading images
- 29:17 – Apple teams up with Google, Mozilla, Microsoft to improve browser interoperability
Apple is teaming up with Google, Mozilla, Microsoft to improve browser interoperability, which is awesome. It’s the opposite of the browser wars. For 20 years or so, these companies fought to decide who would win and whose standards would play out. And of course, they all invented different versions of each other’s standards, which is why the web is such a mess. But now, they’re coming together to try and work out what the next generation should look like.
- 30:24 – 43% of shoppers abandon online checkouts at last minute for Amazon
Finally, recent research uncovered that loads of shoppers abandon their carts at the last moment to purchase at Amazon. It’s becoming normal behavior for people who are making a considered purchase to visit two or three websites over a couple of days. Maybe add things to that cart, browse around some products, and then ultimately just go to Amazon because they know that they can probably get it cheaper or faster. It’s going to become harder to stand out as a store and offer such an excellent experience that people will want to hand you their money and not Amazon.
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Joost de Valk
Joost is the founder and Chief Product Officer at Yoast. He spends most of his time at Yoast working on Yoast SEO and its add-ons. As Chief Product Officer he makes sure the roadmap for all our products is managed.
Jono is a digital strategist, marketing technologist, and full stack developer. He’s into technical SEO, emerging technologies, and brand strategy.
Questions asked during the webinar
The short version is no. A lot of redirects shouldn’t necessarily be bad, but minor optimizations to your slug probably aren’t worth it. So only update your slug if it’s a radiant improvement and if it’s easier to recognize or remember. But if it’s some minor optimization, we would probably not do it.
The most important thing for 2022 is learning SEO really well and producing awesome content. Sign up for Yoast SEO academy. Don’t wait. Install Yoast SEO Premium and sit back and relax. Do all the different SEO workouts, which should keep you busy. Then, start writing good copy. And if you don’t know what good copy is for SEO, then we have courses about that in our academy. We can talk about a whole lot of technical things but, if we’re honest, the reality is these days they don’t matter that much if your site is reasonably fast. What does matter is an excellent content!
By the main page, do you mean the homepage? In which case, probably not as a home page has quite a specific role. It’s designed to help people see immediately where I am, what thing is this? What business is it? What site is it? What are my options? What are the top three or four things I can do and help them get through to that page? And if you’ve got a decent brand and you set your sights on that, your homepage really should be ranking for those key brand terms. Don’t cram your homepage full of thousands of words for the sake of it, put them in the right place, put them where they make sense.
There are some differences internally in WordPress, like does it have an author and can it be paginated, and does it have other bits? But is it a URL with words on it, then Google doesn’t treat it differently? The whole concept of pages and posts is not something that Google sees. We wish it did, but it doesn’t. So, it’s just text on the page regardless of the type in WordPress. That said, you should still think about which of these is the best for my content and how does that make sense in my site structure, and how do I want these to behave?
This topic keeps popping up. Honestly, yes you will see a slight drop in Google for a bit. It depends on how often Google crawls your site and how fast your site is and a couple of other factors on how fast that’ll go. It could be anywhere between a couple of days and a couple of weeks. This is why we usually say don’t change redirects. Or don’t change slugs if it’s not really a good improvement, that’s what you should think about here. If it’s better than just go for it and it might be beneficial in the end.