SEO Highlights in August
Has everyone been enjoying the summer holidays? Whilst we might have taken time off to relax over the past few weeks, SEO has continued to be hard at work. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.
Page Experience is live!
The roll out of the long-awaited Page Experience update is complete! Starting in mid-June, Google took to Twitter to announce the update was complete 2nd September.
Since the roll out began we have yet to see any significant changes to rankings for any of our clients. This isn’t surprising, as Google deliberately released this update gradually to prevent any abrupt changes to results. Though page experience is important, it is but one of many ranking factors Google considers. This is helpful in some ways, but it does make the impact difficult to isolate. Despite the lack of apparent change we’re still pushing for clients to update their sites and meet Google’s targets. After all, page experience doesn’t just affect organic traffic – there’s an omnichannel benefit to having good page experience.
Search Console data glitch in August
Google admitted to a little mishap on 23rd-24th August, where:
“An internal problem caused a data loss in Search and Discover performance during this period. Users might see a significant data drop in their performance reports during this period. This does not reflect any drop in clicks or impressions for your site, only missing data in Search Console.”
The performance report is a key Search Console report used in SEO. It gives us insight into how the site is performing and provides a lot of data around keywords such as clicks, impressions, CTR and the ranking position. All integral information to knowing what’s working and what isn’t.
Frustratingly, this isn’t data that will be backfilled; that data is permanently lost. This means that performance data for that period should be taken with a pinch of salt. Where you might see a drop on those days, there’s a good chance the data simply hasn’t been recorded and the data is incorrect.
Page titles seem to be getting some headline space this month!
An update to Page Title generation
First, Google published a blog where they announced changes had been made to how they generate page titles for search results. Google usually does this when they believe the page title you’ve provided doesn’t describe the page well.
Previously, titles could be changed depending on the search query. So where a page title is optimised for Keyword A and shown for Keyword A, Google might generate it’s own page title for Keyword B, which it believes better helps the user. The new system doesn’t have this approach.
The new system focuses more on the on-page copy and content visible to users. To be specific Google “consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags or other header tags, and content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments”.
Use of generated page titles shouldn’t affect rankings. John Mueller confirmed this following SEO chatter on Twitter. Though the title displayed changes, Google does not take anything different into account when ranking the page. CTR, however, may still be affected and is something to monitor.
However, Google say they’re making this change to help provide relevant page titles to users, which they don’t believe is consistently achieved by websites at the moment. I don’t find this explanation to be particularly helpful. When developing page titles keyword research, target audience and page contents is taken into consideration; by myself and countless other SEO individuals. So it would be useful to know how Google decides your page isn’t clear enough.
Google’s generated meta data often reads quite fragmented too, with bits of text cobbled together. Here’s hoping their generated copy reads more fluidly with this update.
A Twitter Study
A couple days later, SEO-er BowTiedWookie took to Twitter to share their findings in a little page title study they had conducted. The study looks at ten sites and five hundred keywords – a small scale experiment but the takeaways piqued our interest. Particularly the following: If Google changes the title it is pulling in the H1 >50% of the time.
This places even more emphasis on optimising your H1s and getting them right, which Google themselves have done in their latest statement on Page Title Generation. H1s shouldn’t be exact matches of your page titles – page titles may not provide good UX in a heading function. But it’s an ideal spot for the target keyword and should provide contextual relevance.
Spam is Nullified
Another update Google completed in August was the spam update. Originally planned to take 2 weeks, the roll out ended up extending across 4 weeks.
In part of their bid to cleanse our browsers of spam, Google release this latest update, designed to nullify spam. So rather than penalise sites that partook in dodgy link schemes or had built up spammy backlink profiles, they would simply ignore them. This has been an ongoing focus of Google’s since 2016. Spammy sites beware.
Did we miss anything?
If there was anything else that happened in August that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected]riseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.
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