Whether you’re still at work or heading off for a holiday in the sun, the SEO industry never seems to stop moving. If you don’t want to be left out of the loop, here’s five stories from this July to keep you up to speed with the latest releases, updates and functionality.
Google confirms the ‘/page & /page.html’ exploit
When overseeing the technical aspect of a client’s site, it’s easy to get carried away and look to cram in as many keywords as possible so to generate opportunities for a webpage to rank. Rather than create such unnatural pages, one confirmed solution – if executed properly – is to utilise similar but separate URLs.
Although many servers are programmed to consider pages marked as /page and /page.html as the same, those with significantly diverse content can in fact be considered as unique in their own right. This of course means more opportunities to place for various keywords and once more reinforces that good quality content is one of the principal factors driving good SEO.
However promising adopting this method may sound, it can very easily lead to a site becoming unnecessarily bloated, which ruins the user’s experience. Streamlining their experience on your pages for the sake of efficiency is likely to prove more effective and ensure quality rather than quantity that does little to aid user navigation.
US beauty appointments can now be booked via a simple search
With the intention of easing user navigation, a number of spas across the USA have begun to use ‘Reserve with Google’, which enables users to book their appointment via the search interface without even having to enter the company’s site.
Naturally this could very well lead to a fall in web traffic, but ideally would be offset by a rise in income from such a source thanks to the efficiency of such a service. This platform would also rely on a business optimising its available appointments for easy accessibility, especially if rival firms were offering such a service. However for the moment it appears that the service can only be used if a specific company or brand is searched for. No doubt many adjustments will be made in the future to make Reserve more intuitive for both users and businesses alike.
Search Console’s method of reporting is amended amid much uncertainty
Midway through the month, rankings across the world began to fluctuate seemingly at random, prompting webmasters to suspect something technical was playing up at Google’s end.
In truth though, there was no glitch or bug, but rather an amendment to how pages are being tracked. More specifically, Google clarified that ‘this change might cause increase in impressions, but also a decrease in average positions’. It should also be noted that rankings will only show this change within Search Console and that regular Google Search positions remain untouched.
Google ‘Follow’ feature aids in the personalisation of search results
Another tweak recently made by Google actually began back in December, but until recently has yet to properly go live. The update allows searchers to follow a certain item they may be interested in, giving all results related to this topic or even on this site priority in how they are displayed.
This once more ties in with Google’s development of self-learning algorithms, which are in this instance being used to gauge a user’s level of interest in a topic and which sources they prefer. If users keep seeing a certain site or topic they would rather avoid though, the unfollow option exists to demote these unwanted results further down the rankings.
Concern has been raised that this approach will lead to the rise of online ‘echo chambers’, but Google has implied they have ideas with how to tackle this issue and many further amendments are likely to follow.
Instant Search is discontinued for the foreseeable future
Having been a highly visible feature of Google searches for seven years now, Google Instant Search is on the cusp of being removed to make the search engine more mobile-friendly and ‘fluid’ in terms of layout and display.
As many of us have encountered, the overlap between virtual keyboard and suggested search results is not only clunky but often leads to clicking on results that are totally irrelevant to the intended question. New developments will hopefully be far less intrusive and make for a far smoother user experience.