If you follow SEO news closely you wouldn’t have missed the ‘long awaited’ news that on 23 September, Google finally announced the launch of the real-time Penguin 4 update.
Penguin is now realtime and part of the core algorithm. It took a while to launch it, but totally worth the wait imo https://t.co/ItQM8XxuQ5
— Gary Illyes (@methode) September 23, 2016
What is Google Penguin?
For those who do not know, Penguin is a filter launched by Google in April 2012 to penalise sites that abuse anchor text.
Previously, Google released Penguin updates at specific times. Any sites that were then penalised would have to wait until the next update in order to see if the penalty had been dropped. Unfortunately, this could take some time e.g. the previous update was 2 years ago!
Penguin Update History
- Penguin 1: April 24, 2012
- Penguin 1.1: May 26, 2012
- Penguin 1.2: October 5, 2012
- Penguin 2.0: May 22, 2013
- Penguin 2.1: October 4, 2013
- Penguin 3.0: October 17, 2014
- Penguin 4.0: September 23, 2016
So What is Different about Google Penguin 4.0?
The main information from Google is that Penguin 4.0 is real-time. This means you will not have to wait for the next update in the hope that the penalty has been removed.The main information from Google is that Penguin 4.0 is real-time. This means you will not have to wait for the next update in the hope that the penalty has been removed. Click To Tweet
According to Google, this new update will be far more accurate. But what does that really mean? We know that Google loves to muddy the water and never reveals everything, making it difficult to make a definitive opinion. However, we can assume that if certain pages are penalised, the rest of the site could still be indexed correctly.
Voice Search and the Impact on SEO
Smartphones are Increasingly present in our daily lives. We’re connected to our watches and our consoles; even voice search is expanding to better capture the nuances of internet users.
The need for a keyboard is becoming less and your voice replaces the need for an equipment based interface. Google can now provide a precise answer to a voice search query, and this will eventually impact your SEO strategy.
When was Voice Search Launched?
In October 2011, at the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple unveiled Siri, the first search application based on voice recognition. Since then, Microsoft launched Cortana and Google Now arrived with its famous voice trigger “Ok Google”. Moreover, Google has integrated its search bar with its voice recognition tool. In Chrome 46, you simply click the microphone to initiate voice search, while on Chrome OS, “OK Google” is still the launch cue.
Voice Search is no longer the realm of science fiction. In a 2014 Google study, 41% of adults and 55% of teens perform at least one voice search per day.
The study revealed that when we are on the move or when our hands are busy doing something else, we have more tendency to initiate voice search. It was also found that, when driving, people are connected to their cars via Bluetooth and the latest in-car kits are more compatible with search and voice commands on their smartphones.
Fast forward to Google IO 2016, Google stated that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches, introducing Google Assistant:Fast forward to Google IO 2016, Google stated that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches, introducing Google Assistant Click To Tweet
The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users’ questions.
What this space for updates…
SEO And UX
Search engines are striving to better understand and behave like everyday users. We’re already seeing this trend with personal assistants like Siri and Google Home as they learn more about us and how we interact with devices like Chromecast.
As search engines behave more like a user, user experience best practices will have a greater impact on SEO. Technical SEO elements that interfere with UX will disappear, e.g. Tactics like hiding CSS files and adding special HTML to paginate content will be penalised or completely ignored.
As Google continues to approach a site more like a user and less like an algorithm “reading” the site code, the practice of UX will affect search even more. UX designers already emphasise creating websites that work well for users on all devices—especially mobile. Attributes like site speed and mobile-friendliness will get rewarded more and more by search engines.As Google continues to approach a site more like a user and less like an algorithm “reading” the site code, the practice of UX will affect search even more. Click To Tweet
Which leads me to …
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
If you check your Google Analytics often, which you should “be!”, then you’ll have noticed that year on year mobile visitors to your site are on increase. Google, as mentioned above, is continually striving to return results faster and improve the all-round user experience.
Last October, Google officially unveiled the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). A project based on a new open source framework that will eventually display a web page almost instantly, even if it contains rich content.
The principle is quite simple. Google provides an open source framework based “on existing web technologies” . This is the HTML AMP framework, which part of the code is already available on GitHub. An official plugin is also available for those webmasters who use WordPress as a CMS.
Google’s argument is very simple: as more and more people own a smartphone or tablet, these people normally have to wait for the pages they want to read to load -this is annoying for users and causes frustration and the reporting of repeatedly high bounce rates. From the publisher perspective, there are so many missed page views and sessions and ultimately potential conversions.
Pages hosted on Google’s servers
On the other side, Google offers partners the opportunity to host their content in HTML format AMP directly in the Google cache. This is what will allow these pages to appear instantly, regardless of the device or the platform on which the user is viewing a web page. The pages will display in an instant, even if they contain videos, GIF or many images.
Google already offers its partners the chance to create web pages in HTML AMP format and has begun to reference this AMP cache first before returning the search query results.
Here’s an introduction on getting started with AMP to pass on your developers:
The good news is that you don’t require a separate sitemap for AMP optimised pages as Google’s John Muller states:
— John Mueller (@JohnMu) October 13, 2016
There’s also an AMP Page Validator to check your pages. This is called AMPBench and has been developed by Pieter Greyling (Senior Developer Advocate and Partner Engineer @ Google). See his recent post about it here.
It’s simple to use:
- Copy and paste the following URL https://ampbench.appspot.com/validate?url=
- Add the URL of the page you want to check e.g. https://ampbench.appspot.com/validate?url=https://rebelhack.com/blog/4-key-areas-in-seo-you-cannot-ignore-in-2017/
- Review the results
And finally …
I hope you can see the benefits of implementing these 4 key SEO factors; to you and your site visitors.
Of course, the usual suspect questions are inevitable:
- How can my developers implement these?
- Are they a priority in my development sprints?
- What will be the impact if I don’t implement them now?
Well, only you can answer these, however, you can rest assured that if you’re not (at the very least) considering how to implement these your competitors are…
So how long do you think it will be until you implement one of the above factors? Let me know in the comments below and if you have found this post useful please consider sharing it on Twitter by simply clicking below
4 Key Areas in SEO You Cannot Ignore in 2017 by @LeeSmallwood Click To Tweet And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date Follow @RebelHackHQ
Thanks, Lee! :O)