Why you should watch this replay!
We’ve been talking about lots of interesting SEO news in our February webinar! Both Google and Bing have been trying out new search features to help guide users through content journeys. Besides that we’ve been discussing the role of AI in search, research about Google’s title tag rewrites, new features on social media platforms… and a whole lot of privacy issues. Watch the replay or read our recap below!
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Topics and resources
- 1:04 – Welcoming the new Search Console URL Inspection API
This month Google has released a new Search Console URL inspection API, enabling you to connect to GSC and pull up data, which is really cool. It’s going to allow us to do bigger, better stuff now that we can extract more data and key information about our pages. At Yoast, we’re already looking at what we might do with that data and how we can integrate it into different workflows. We’re really excited about this, it offers a lot more transparency than we had before.
- 2:22 – How AI powers great search results
There was an article from Google this month about how AI powers great search results. We’re still a bit skeptical about the influence of AI on search results, and recently there’s been a lot of talk in the SEO space along the same lines. Nonetheless, this piece is a nice introduction to the history of Google products that use AI. If you want to understand more about how those products fit together and what the roadmap looks like, this was a nice overview.
- 3:17 – Study: Google rewrote 61% of the 81.000 page titles
Zyppy has produced some nice research about Google rewriting title tags. There were some things in there that we already knew, like that Google will find overtly spammy titles and try and make them less spammy. But there were also some helpful tips, things like not repeating the brand name, and considering the word order. Really, this is just about thinking about the user, and how you communicate clearly and succinctly what a page is about. The takeaway is to put more time into crafting title tags, but don’t be sad if Google ignores them.
- 5:01 – Google “People search next” search refinements
Similar to ‘Related searches’, Google has now added a new section about what ‘People search next’. This can tell you so much about how people search and what people search for. You should really use this in your content strategy. How do people search for your keywords, and how are they understanding that search? Quite often, the search journey isn’t just: “I type in a keyword. I select a result. I consume the content”. Often users will visit multiple websites and refine their search.
- 6:41 – Google adds Journey to Chrome: search your history by topic
Talking about journeys, Google has added a new ‘Journeys’ feature in Google Chrome. It seems that it’s still in beta, as we haven’t seen this in our own Chrome accounts yet. Basically, this is like a layer on top of your history data. So if you go into your Chrome browsing history, you can see your previous searches grouped by topic. For instance, you might see a group of searches related to holidays. Especially for longer and more complex research activities, this lets users review what they’ve seen already and pick up where they’ve left off.
- 8:08 – Google tests buying guides in mobile search results
Another new feature in the search results this month is buying guides. Google has already been adding information about stock availability and delivery in the search results for ecommerce, and this is a similar feature but for editorial content. So for example, if you’re searching for baseball bats, you can now see suggested questions about things like “What is the correct length for a baseball bat?”. Clicking on that opens up relevant news articles and recommendations, explaining your options, which is really useful. This is the next playing field to compete in SEO, but it’s not going to make our lives easier anytime soon.
- 9:42 – Google shows more product rich results for pages without structured data
We’ve seen that Google has started using ‘guesswork’ to add rich results for some pages without structured data. For instance, if you sell something and there’s no schema markup telling them what the actual price rates are on that page, they’ll guess at the price range and add the word ‘approximately’. This isn’t ideal — it’s better to actually give them schema mark-up with the exact price ranges of products on your page, rather than let Google guess.
- 11:51 – New: advanced car information on Bing homepage
On the one hand, we see Google adding AI-generated information about what people search for next and buying guides. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been doing something similar, but offering a more tailored journey that handholds you through that kind of buying process, starting with advanced information about cars. We’re interested to see if Microsoft will expand this outside of the US and across a wider set of topics.
- 13:27 – Reach millions of people with Bing News PubHub!
Microsoft has launched Bing News PubHub, its own equivalent of Google Publisher Center, although it works a bit differently. With Bing News PubHub, you log in, you tell it that you are a news website, you point it to your news articles and categories, and they attempt to digest that and do some new stuff with it.
Social media news
- 14:44 – Twitter: working on new feature to let users write full articles
Twitter have introduced the option to add long form content as Twitter articles. We’re not sure about the value of this, as there’s a really strong argument against adding long form content on Twitter. If you’re writing that sort of thing, it’s probably better off on your blog on a website or a domain that you control, where you’re growing an audience and building a newsletter and gaining access, etc. — all the good SEO stuff. If you’re writing articles in Twitter, they may be just be lost to the wind. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to be discoverable next week.
- 15:44 – Instagram adds new features for Safer Internet Day
With Safer Internet Day, Instagram has added new features for a safer internet. The short version of this is Instagram has really upgraded its overview tools. They’ve made it much easier to go in and see how you are representing yourself, and to browse the history of everything that you’ve interacted with.
- 16:21 – YouTube outlines its evolving efforts to combat the spread of harmful misinformation
And the same has happened with YouTube, it’s almost exactly the same story as Instagram. YouTube is investing in better content management tools, and better detection. This is both platforms growing up whilst it’s easy. These are really sophisticated, mature ecosystems now. And you need to think about how that integrates with your SEO strategy.
Other tech/internet news
- 17:28 – Wix users with multilingual sites can use the subdirectory structure (/en) in their URLs
Wix is doing extremely well. They are building nicer and nicer features and I cannot do anything else than commend them for it. So they now have proper ways of setting up multi-lingual sites. Something that WordPress still does not have, even though we have wanted it for years. So, well done Wix! Let’s make sure that we get this in WordPress.
- 17:55 – German court rules websites embedding Google Fonts violates GDPR
This story made us laugh. I’m sure everyone here has come across Google Fonts, and chances are you’re browsing websites that use it daily. In fact, probably even this site does. Everyone uses Google fonts. Typically, the way you install Google Fonts as a webmaster is you pick your font and you paste the code in. However, the way that works for a user of that site means you load that font from Google servers, and that comes with GDPR privacy issues, and all sorts of problems. Germany, as ever ahead of the privacy game, has slapped various sites with fines for leaking that information. Now, the good news is there are better, GDPR-friendly ways to use Google fonts.
- 20:24 – GDPR enforcer rules that IAB Europe’s consent popups are unlawful
The IAB is the Interactive Advertising Bureau, but literally everyone who runs ads is combined into the IAB, and they came up with these consent pop-ups that we saw everywhere. Which is why all these consent popups looked sort of the same. But it turns out they’re not good enough because nobody is really explaining why you give consent for 22 trackers on an average domain. And nobody really wants to do that, either. This means that the consent popups that we’ve seen on a lot of sites are unlawful and will need to be changed. And all the technology stacked behind them, that power all the advertising networks and all the adverts and all the revenue behind those industries will need to change too.
- 22:08 – Privacy Sandbox (coming to Android)
Google is planning to make a privacy change similar to Apple’s, which is a good thing for Android users. But unlike Apple, they’re saying that they’re going to talk to everyone in the industry about it first. And they’ll keep everything online for the next two years or so, so everyone can train their advertising models on what they’re rolling out next, and then move to it.
Yoast SEO news
- 26:20 – Yoast SEO 18.0, 18.1 and 18.2 and Yoast SEO for Shopify
We’ve done a couple of releases since our last webinar. Recently we have fixed things and enhanced things but it’s not really huge new features that we’ve released. You can read more about the fixes in Yoast SEO 18.0, 18.1 and 18.2 in our release posts. And the same is true for our Shopify app — sometimes you need just need a few releases to clean up after yourself and slowly improve code as you go along. You can read about these small updates in the Yoast SEO for Shopify changelog. However, the teams are hard at work on a lot of nice new stuff, so stay tuned!
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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
To rank highly, and to gain (and keep) customers, your pages need to help to solve their problems. Sometimes, you’re not going to be able to do that – or not going to be able to do as good a job as other sites. In those cases, the best way that you can help that user is by referring them to someone else. That helps to cement your reputation as a ‘trusted advisor’ and forces you to focus on helping the right customers – or to improve your content so that you are the best solution (replay time 30:45 – 34:00).
There aren’t many situations where you want to set a whole page to nofollow. You might want to noindex a page, but in most cases, you’ll still want search engines and crawlers to be able to follow links out of that page and to discover the rest of your content.
There’s no “universal” strategy for keyword research. But the key thing to keep in mind is to really think about the journey a customer takes in your market and to put yourself in their shoes. Use the expertise and experience you have about your products and market to think about all the kinds of questions and challenges that your audience might have. Then you can fire up some tools and explore. Look for gaps where you can help users, solve problems, and produce better content than the competition. There’s no point just focusing on high-volume keywords because that’s what all of your (less sophisticated) competitors are doing!
Learn how to reach your audience with our keyword research course (replay time 34:59 – 40:43).
Yes! Online video has been booming for years and there is no end in sight. From the hours of video on YouTube to short-form videos on Instagram and TikTok. Some content is especially good for a video format, like explainer videos. Other times users are specifically searching for videos on certain content. Make sure your content matches the search intent, whenever it’s a blog, a video, or something else. We also know that Google is increasingly assessing content in all formats, and providing users with a mix of result formats. If your audience isn’t watching your videos, they’re watching your competitors’.
At the moment, they’re only doing that guessing on pages that don’t have structured data. And until they’re not doing a perfect job of that – which won’t be any time soon – it makes sense to continue to provide your information. And don’t forget, there are other systems apart from Google which relies on structured data. So, you really want to take every opportunity to craft and manage how you present your information in this way.