Tag Archives: Google

Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Update

Search Engine Banner Google

Google announced that by September 2020 all websites will be crawled and indexed via mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing has been in the works since 2016. About 70% of the websites shown in search have already been switched over to mobile-first indexing, according to Google. This change isn’t a huge surprise to most, but it may be something that could affect older or out-of-date sites.

What does this mean?

Google Webmasters tweeted an excellent explanation of what is about to happen, “Mobile-First Indexing at Google is becoming the default later this year. Googlebot is leaving its desktop behind, and using a phone, like most of our users.”

This basically means that the means in which the Googlebots are going to be looking at your site is through a cell phone. This is going to be an improvement to our search results as users since 52.6% of website traffic worldwide is on mobile devices. 

How do you know when your site has been indexed with mobile-first indexing?

Within Google Search Console, you can check for mobile-first indexing in two places. The status can be found on the settings page as well as in the URL Inspection Tool. If your site has already been indexed with mobile-first indexing, it will be noted in these areas. 

If your site hasn’t been indexed with mobile-first indexing yet, you should receive a notice from Google with more information. Some of the notices could contain an issue detected. Here is a screenshot of a notice:

Google Mobile First Indexing Notice

On an analytics note, if your site hasn’t been mobile-first indexed yet, Googlebots may be all over your website soon. Google said “When we switch a domain to mobile-first indexing, it will see an increase in Googlebot’s crawling, while we update our index to your site’s mobile version. Depending on the domain, this change can take some time.” 

How to know if your site is mobile-ready?

There are a lot of different factors that go into mobile-usability. Google’s guidance on making websites work well for mobile-first indexing stays relevant for exiting and soon to be websites.

Google says, “In particular, we recommend making sure that the content shown is the same (including text, images, videos, links), and that metadata (titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) and all structured data is the same. It’s good to double-check these when a website is launched or significantly redesigned.”

Here are a few tools to utilize to check your site’s mobile health:

  • A tool that is within your Google Search Console is Google’s URL Inspection Tool. This tool provides you with Google’s indexed version of a specific page. This information could include structural data errors, AMP errors, or if Google ran into issues indexing that page.
  • Another tool within Google Search Console is the Mobile Usability Report. While the other tools within this list are just for specific URLs within your website, this report is for the whole site. It will give you a summary of what pages are valid and what pages are in error with mobile usability. 
  • A general overview tool is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. This tool is a simple way to see a specific URL’s performance across all devices. Once the test is complete, it will provide you with a list of any mobile usability problems that it finds.
  • Another great tool to utilize is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool shows you the speed of your website on mobile and desktop. After the test is complete, it gives you a score and suggests various fixes depending on the severity of the issues found. 

Now what?

At the end of the day, this all comes down to user experience. If you’ve run any of these tests on your own and don’t know how to fix it (or have no idea what any of it means), you are not alone. This is where we come in. 

If you are finding yourself needing a website overhaul or need advice on whether or not your site is mobile-first index ready, please give us a call.

Is Social Media Important for My Business?

Social media is an important part of getting your brand and message out to prospective and current customers. You’re probably aware of the marketing aspect of it, but did you know it can help with the SEO of your website? Google, Bing, and other search engines are incorporating more social media posts into their search engine results. Can you use social media to affect SEO? Let Team WTI show you how to use social media (and we can even handle it for you).

social media posts help SEO

Claim Your Profile

The whole goal of SEO is to make sure your pages and site are at the top of search engine results. The more information you have on the internet, the better your chances of hitting those top spots. People do all kinds of searches, so you must cover as many areas as possible. They not only use search engines to look for you, but they will also search for your brand on their favorite social media platforms.

People judge the authority and professionalism of a company by their social media presence. Having an amateurish appearance, inconsistent branding, or worse, no profile are all ways to turn off potential customers. If you don’t look like a “real” business or have no profile at all, your customers may go to one of your competitors. Also, if you don’t claim your profile or username, competitors or squatters can claim them. You should claim all your social media profiles, even if you’re not going to use them right now. It’s better to have them in your possession, in case you decide to use them later and to prevent someone else from using your name. If you do decide to use the platform in the future, you’re ready to go. You won’t have to jump through all the hoops it takes to not only sign up but the headache of trying to claim it from someone who “stole” your username.

A word of advice from Yoast, a leader in the SEO world: If you don’t plan on using your social media right away, you can pin a post to the top of most platforms. The post should let visitors know that they have reached the correct brand and they can contact you through the platform. You can provide other ways that they can contact you, such as email, phone number, and physical address. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you.

Team WTI can set up your profiles for you. We’ll use your company or brand name, along with your logo. We’ll fill in all of the information that a current or prospective client will need. Our Social Media team will make sure that your profile looks professional, up-to-date, and is helpful to visitors. We’ll make sure your brand is consistent across all platforms and your website, ensuring that visitors know that they are visiting the company they are looking for.

How Social Media Helps Search Results

More and more search engines are incorporating social media posts into their results. Your social media accounts can appear when people search for your brand name. In the image below, you can see the Google Knowledge Panel for one of our clients, The Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany. Their Facebook profile is included near the bottom of their panel.

social media in a knowledge panel

By having your social media profile included with your knowledge panel, it tells visitors that these are the authentic websites and social media profiles for your business. By clicking on that social media icon, they will be taken to your profile.

In addition to the knowledge panel, Google has been adding tweets from Twitter to search results. They may show up in the results as a “Tweet Carousel”. This is just being rolled out by Google, so it’s not seen a lot, but we’ll probably see more of it in the future.

Make Room in Search Results

As you may have noticed, the space for organic search results is getting smaller due to more paid ads and other information on the result page. You can take up that valuable real estate by making sure your website pages get ranked well, in addition to social media pages and posts. The more room you take, the less room there is for your competitors and the bigger the chance of a customer clicking on your page or website.

The more visibility you have, the more people will be talking about you and sharing your information with others. By being discussed, Google will see that you are relevant to what people are looking for. This will increase your search engine rankings, which, in turn, will improve the traffic to your site.

You can share the content of your site through social media. The more people that read your blogs and pages and like what they see, the better your chances of converting visitors to paying customers.  When people like your content, they will share it or click “like”. Either option makes the social media algorithms “happy” and they’ll make sure it shows up in front of more viewers. The new people that see your posts and pages may like your page or profile and start following you. You’ll be top of mind if they are looking for your product or service. If your profile is engaging, informative, and useful, they will have a positive feeling towards your brand.

Combine SEO and Social Media Marketing

Having a social media presence alone won’t necessarily help with your search engine rankings. However, combining it with a good SEO strategy will help beef up your results. Many factors go into SEO and social media marketing is just one of them. Social media isn’t going away anytime soon, so you should take advantage of every tool available to you.

Maintaining a good social media profile takes time and effort. Contact Team WTI to learn how we can handle your SEO and Social Media Marketing for you. Our team works together to give you the biggest bang for your buck. We look forward to helping you increase your search rankings and improve your conversion rate.

Do Image File Names Matter for SEO?

oil painting of william shakespeare

William Shakespeare didn’t know much about SEO, but he did know how to make his writing memorable.

“A photo by any other name will help your SEO,” said William Shakespeare. Or at least, he would have said it had he not been busy writing about roses (and living in the 1500s). 

Photo file names is an oft-forgotten aspect of SEO (search engine optimization). Too often, leaving the default straight-from-the-camera file name is the easy route to take. After all, it’s the photo people are looking at, not the image name, right?

When you use a digital image you’ve taken, it often comes with a default name like “IMG_81103.” While that name might help your camera digitally order the images chronologically, it’s not a very memorable name.

You won’t see file name “IMG_81103” on your computer desktop and have it bring back fond memories. On the other hand “Swimming Pool with Seth and Rachel” could help you recall sunny summer days. At the very least, you’ll assume a swimming pool is in the photo.

The same principle applies when you’re naming files for your website. Changing the default name will help search engines better understand the image.

Avoid the default image name

The more search engines understand your site, the better it helps your SEO. 

college ruled spiral bound notebook

If you want to make your image file name matter, avoid the letters and number comb.

Imagine you run a site selling stationery. You could label this photo “paper” or “notebook.”

But as a stationery shop, you might sell dozens of different notebooks. Labeling each photo “notebook-1,” “notebook-2,” etc. is OK, but doesn’t really maximize your photo’s SEO potential.

Instead, if the image was named “college-ruled-spiral-notebook” search engines would have a better understanding of the image.

Use Image Names as a Way to Help Search Engines Better Understand Your Site

The best way to customize your image name is to keep it short and include keywords in your description. 

Taking the time to appropriately name your image files is a way for the photo to pay double dividends. 

Images already are vitally important to how users interact with your site. Research has shown people are 80% more likely to read content that includes an image. They’re also 64% more likely to remember what they read afterward. 

You want people to remember your company and you want search engines to understand your site. Spending time on your image file names is an easy way to maximize your site’s SEO potential. 

At Team WTI, we’re experts in SEO and can help improve your site’s visibility. Contact us today for more information.

Google to Make Slow Sites More Apparent

Google badging slow sitesWe’ve talked before about the importance of site speed. If a website or page takes too long to load, the user (read: potential customer) will go to another, quicker site. By “too long”, studies show that this is about 3 seconds, so you don’t have a lot of time to play with. Slow sites can cost you customers and conversions.

Google Chrome’s Scarlet Letter

According to a blog post from the Google Chrome team, Google is looking to apply a badge to websites that load slowly. The Chrome team states that “[t]his may take a number of forms and we plan to experiment with different options, to determine which provides the most value to our users.”

The badge would highlight sites that are designed in such a way that they load slowly. The attributes that Google will look at include such things as historical load latencies, device hardware, and network connectivity. If a site is deemed too slow by the Google checklist, there are a couple of ways that Google is looking to warn Chrome users.

Warning! Slow Moving Site Ahead!

The Chrome team says that they are experimenting with either a splash screen or a colored loading bar that would be green for fast sites and, we’re assuming, red to alert the user to a slow site.

The Chrome team is working with other Google teams to “explore labeling the quality of experiences at Google.” Their end goal is to set the bar for what makes up a good user experience and is something that can be used by all of their developers.

No Set Date for Implementation

As of this writing, there has been no information shared in regards to when the new badging system will appear. Google unveiled its plans at the Chrome Dev Summit in mid-November with a lot of vague information. It is most likely that Google is looking for feedback from web developers before they launch the system.

Get Your Site Up to Speed

If you’re not sure if your site is running fast enough, give Team WTI a call. We can test the speed of your test and work with you to make sure your site isn’t branded a slowpoke by Google.

Google’s Betting BERT Can Understand You

For those of us that use search engines a lot, you know that there are certain ways you have to phrase things to get the right results. According to Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, Google receives 5.6 billion searches every day and of those, 15% are queries that they’ve never encountered before. (I can’t imagine a question that Google hasn’t seen, but if my math is correct, 15% of 5.6 billion is 840,000,000. So: a lot.)

Google Home Mini voice assistantGoogle has created ways to find results for those never-before-seen queries. Sometimes the questions are unique because the user isn’t sure how to phrase it correctly or how to spell a word. Face it, if we’re googling something, we probably don’t know much about it. It makes sense that we may struggle to write our queries perfectly. We learn to speak what Google calls “keyword-ese”.

What is Keyword-ese?

When using keyword-ese, you type related words together, but they aren’t necessarily grammatically correct. It’s kind of a computer baby-talk. For example, we may type “weather Friday Geneseo” to find out what the weather is going to be like for the high school football game. We don’t talk like that; unless we’re chatting with Tarzan or Frankenstein’s monster.

Google has announced that they’ve improved search to better understand the way that people think and speak. They are utilizing an open-sourced neural network to “teach” their search engine how to better process natural language. Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT, allows search algorithms to consider the linguistic context. In the past, they solely relied on keywords. Stop words like “to”, “for”, and “in” can give the search engine trouble.

An example that Google provided used the search query “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa”. In the past, search results would have been about U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. But after BERT was implemented, the correct links were provided. (See image below)

Google search result

Voice Assistants on the Rise

The three big names in voice assistants, Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa, are all becoming more popular and easier to use. Of the three, Google Assistant is considered the best at understanding and answering conversational questions and commands. I have a Google Home Mini and an Alexa Echo at home and the Google Home usually gets the results right the first time, without having to correct them. I hear my kids saying, “Alexa, no! Alexa, stop!” a lot when trying to get her to do something.

Google states that by using BERT, they can improve one in ten English language searches in the United States. It is only a matter of time before BERT is used to assist other language speakers.

Google On an Updating Frenzy

GThere are always a few major Google algorithm updates every year, but it seems like they are coming fast and furious lately. In the last 30 days, there have been updates on August 29th, September 4th, 13th, 16th, 19th, 24th, and 26th.

The updates can cause some volatility in search engine rankings, but they tend to level out. SEO specialists have to be patient and examine the data to try and interpret what the changes’ impact is. It is very rare that Google will even acknowledge an update, let alone explain what the update entails.

rankings and updates

Don’t Panic!

Sometimes people that don’t work closely with SEO will panic when they see a sharp drop off in their rankings. There are many reasons for fluctuations in rankings, so it is better to take a “big picture” look at the rankings. A dip one day can lead to a peak the next. It is futile to try and outsmart the next algorithm update. Your best course of action is to just put out quality content that the average person can navigate and understand.

Google is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make their algorithms “smarter” and more focused on the user experience. By posting content that is written for people, as opposed to bots, you have a better chance of keeping your rankings moving upward. The Google algorithms are getting good at detecting bad and old SEO tactics and penalizing sites that use it.

It usually takes a couple of days for an update to start impacting sites, so the change can be subtle for a few days, then a noticeable drop or bump may be seen. Many times the increase will correct a drop from a previous update.

Keep Calm and Trust Team WTI

It’s our job to monitor the SEO results and search engine rankings for the websites we work on. That’s our job. Your job is to take care of your business without worrying about how your website is doing. Our SEO specialists keep up on Google updates and the results of those changes. Team WTI will make sure that your website is constantly being optimized to provide you with traffic and conversions that you need.

Making drastic changes to your website in reaction to updates can make a small dip bigger. Team WTI has the software, knowledge, and tools to monitor your website and adjust accordingly. We want the content and layout to be useful to people that come to your website.

Contact Team WTI for your SEO and Digital Marketing needs.

Google Offers Assistance With Hacked Passwords

It seems like our “secure” information is constantly being hacked, and if you’re like most people, you probably use the same login information for a variety of sites. It may be hard to remember what sites have been hacked and which credentials have been compromised.

If you are one of the over 300 million users of the Chrome browser, Google has given you a tool to manage your hacked passwords.

Free Password Checkup Extension

You can download the Chrome extension HERE. Once you have the extension installed on your browser, it will run in the background, checking the logins that you use. If the credentials you use match any of the 4 billion compromised logins in the Google database, a red warning box will appear.

 

Google Chrome extension to scan for hacked passwords

The warning states “Password Checkup detected that your password for [website] is no longer safe due to a data breach. You should change your password now.” If a new breach occurs, the extension will notify you if any our your passwords were compromised when you log into Chrome. If this is the case, you will get a list of the compromised sites and you can click on them to update your login information.

The extension is encrypted, so no one, including Google, can see the data that you enter.

From the Google website:

“Password Checkup was built with privacy in mind. It never reports any identifying information about your accounts, passwords, or device. We do report anonymous information about the number of lookups that surface an unsafe credential, whether an alert leads to a password change and the domain involved for improving site coverage.”

Contact Team WTI today for any questions and help with your website.

Mobile First is the Future

According to Fortune Magazine, 85% of American adults read the news on a mobile device in 2017. That has jumped from 54% in 2013 and 72% in 2016. 85% was the number two years ago, one can imagine the number is even higher. People want information where they are and they want it and when they think of it. Most likely they are away from their computer and are looking at their phone. Even if they are at home, feet away from their computer, it’s more convenient to access the information on the device already in their hand.

Mobile first for mobile devices

Unfortunately, many website owners still have sites designed for desktops. At WTI, we find some clients that are resistant to a redesign or want us to force their old design into new technology. This can be done, but it isn’t the best way of doing things. It is much better to create the website to be optimized for mobile and, secondly, works well on a desktop. Last year, Google announced that they are using a Mobile First policy for ranking and indexing websites.

Google’s Mobile First Policy

So what exactly does “Mobile First” mean when it comes to Google? In the past, Google would use the desktop version to determine how to index and rank the site. As of March 2018, they now use the mobile version of the page. This is to help the majority of people that use Google find the information that they are looking for.

Site owners will notice the Smartphone Googlebot will be crawling their site more and Google will show the mobile version of the pages in their search results. Google states that they don’t use mobile-first indexing to populate rankings, but they do take into consideration on how useful a page is to a user. Having mobile-friendly content can only help you with rankings and search results. As Google puts it: “We may show content to users that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals determine it is the most relevant content to show.” That’s a lot of signals you have to have correct to overcome not being mobile-friendly or slow loading.

If you are looking for ways to get performance out of your site, looking towards a mobile-first design is probably one of the best steps you can take.

Responsive Mobile Design Isn’t Enough

Many people try to convert their website from desktop to mobile. Aside from the fact that you are probably using old methods, old SEO tactics, old code, old images, and so on, it isn’t the most efficient option.

Converting an old site would be like when television stations stopped broadcasting standard definition images and moved to HD. Some programming remained that was not shot in HD or formatted for the larger screen shape. People could still watch the old programs on their TVs, but as more and more programming switched to HD, the difference between the two formats was more noticeable. The images didn’t fit the new ratio and there weren’t enough pixels to make the pictures very clear. It wasn’t as enjoyable or useful to watch old methods of broadcasting on the new technology.  The same goes for making a desktop site responsive. Yes, it will work, but it won’t be optimized for a mobile device. People will choose to use the sites that are easy to use and navigate.

Mobile First works on mobile devices

The responsive desktop site may do the job for a limited amount of time, but if you are going to spend the time, money, and effort to redo your site, you may as well do it right from the start. In the example given above with the TV, broadcasters and creators were able to make their programming ready for the change or they had to play catch-up. While you are trying to match the new technologies with old-fashioned methods, your competitors are stealing your market share.

The Difference Between Responsive and Mobile First

There are similarities between these two options, but the differences are what matters.

If a site is responsive, the CSS uses code to adjust the site to fit the type of device it is being viewed on. This takes a complex code and the desktop version is still considered the “main” website. The website is designed for desktops and is made to fit on mobile devices.

When a site is designed with Mobile First in mind, it is created that way from the beginning.  It is also responsive, but it is designed with mobile users in mind. Instead of designing a website for a minority of users then forced to fit on devices for others, the site is created for the majority of users on the internet. Over 65% of the population has a mobile phone (that’s around 5 billion people) and of that number, over half are smartphones. As of 2018, over 50% of all global internet traffic was done on a mobile device.

Making a Site Mobile First

There are several steps you can take to make your site user-friendly for those on mobile devices.

Streamline Content

As a writer, this one hurts, but it’s the way of the world now. People don’t have as much time or desire to read, so you have to make sure your content on the main pages is concise and easy to read. (It’s still true that long blog posts bring more leads than short ones, but that’s a subject for another, uh, blog.)

In addition to sparsing your content, you need to format it in single-sentence paragraphs, whenever possible. There is no place for redundancy and flowery language.

KISS (Keep It Simple, Sugar)

People today are bombarded constantly by information, whether they are wanting it or not. Websites are no different. By keeping your site simple, it is easy for the user to find the information they are looking for, which in turn should lead to contact with the user regarding your goods or services. Just provide and ask for the basics to complete the task. If something is complicated or takes too long, people will move to another site that easier to use.

Text Over Voice

A Gallup Poll states that texting is the most used way of communication for American 50 years old and younger. Many people don’t want to make phone calls or wait for your business to open to speak to someone. Make it so they can text or message you. I’m not saying to take your number off, there are times when a potential customer needs to speak to a human, but provide other means for users to communicate with you.

Call To Action, Activate!

Some website owners (and poor designers) don’t think about mobile any further than the front page. A Call To Action (CTA) is worthless if it doesn’t work on a mobile device. The CTA may lead to a page that isn’t responsive or a form that is difficult to fill out on a phone. People are not going to fight to give you their business, make it as easy as possible to let them get in touch with you.

Make your CTA something that is mobile-friendly like a chatbox or an SMS text messaging option.

Design for Mobile

The Design Council released a report stating that companies that made sure their graphic design was forefront, did better than other companies by 200%! The study also showed that people found well-designed websites more memorable, trustworthy, and easier to use. Just because the site is designed for a mobile device doesn’t mean you should cut corners on the graphics.

The designers at WTI make sure that our sites are not only user-friendly but look good, also. Some of the aspects of graphic design that we make sure are in every site include vibrant colors, the right font, eye-catching color schemes, custom graphics, and photos and videos that are generated from your company’s projects.

These elements are combined with easy navigation to make a site that is appealing and useful.

Mobile First statistics

WTI Can Make Your Site Mobile First

We talked a lot about why and how you should make your site mobile first, the next step is yours: contact the professionals at WTI and make your site work for your site visitors. It can seem daunting to make all of these changes, but we make it easy. You let us know you want to make your site mobile first and we’ll do all the hard work. We know the steps to make and the best way to optimize your site to help you drive more business to your company.

We want you (and your users) to love your website, let us show you how!