Google Is out to Get Us: Highlights from BrightonSeo 2018
Tom Rose, our SEO Executive recently visited BrightonSEO and he’s here to tell us his insights on the day.
We’re back in Brighton for 2018 which means 3 things - sun, sand (kind of) and SEO. Yep, it’s Europe’s biggest Search Engine Optimisation conference and we’re not just there for all the free swag but to get all the latest tips, tricks and everything else in between on SEO.
Last year’s BrightonSEO was heavy on voice search and how voice search is becoming more and more popular with the introduction of Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. So what would this year’s headlines be? Well there was a big focus on the importance of getting those much sought-after rich snippets and it turns out that Google is out to get us, but more on that after…
So what were the main takeaways from this year? Well we turned our attention to technical SEO, algorithm updates, off-site SEO and on-SERP SEO and we’ve compiled our top 5 things to know from the day.
#1 Progressive web apps are better than mobile apps
Providing a fast user experience is key in not only retaining visitors but also to rank well, which is why progressive web apps are becoming increasingly popular opposed to normal smartphone apps. Progressive web apps render your website in the style of an app on your phone except they’re cheaper to make, easier to build and maintain and work faster. All the content is already cached meaning the site loads instantly and even supports offline loading whether you’re connected to the internet or not.
#2 Improve your crawl budget and indexing
Optimising your site is all well and good but what if it’s taking weeks or months for it to be fully crawled and indexed? We all know that if your site isn’t indexed than there’s no way of it ranking for anything. A few simple index signal alignments can mean more of your website is being indexed and is being crawled faster than before. Some simple changes you can implement include using more internal links, using internal canonical links, linking to all sites included in the sitemap, updating old internal links and ensuring all pages can be reached in 3 clicks or less. The most common issues that you should avoid are submitting URLs in the sitemap that have a NoIndex tag on them and submitted URLs being blocked by robots.txt, essentially you need to align your sitemap with your noindex tags and robots.txt.
#3 Snippets should be your main goal
Quick wins for traffic are becoming harder and harder, however, one blessing to the SERPs is the featured/rich snippet. They’re the quickest way to increase traffic to your site which in turn affects conversions and revenue. They’re also great for brand awareness and optimising for a featured snippet is optimising for voice search as these are often used to answer voice queries. Aiming for position 1 is no longer reasonable or entirely possible, however, page 1 should be the aim with the on-page content being produced for a featured snippet.
So how do you get them? Snippets are split between questions, prepositions, comparisons, data tables and more. Check Search Console for any branded + question search terms that you could capitalise on. Aim for transactional and informational queries to drive traffic and revenue. Find a problem query and answer it, don’t just rely on keyword research. Make your content amazing, including visual aids and related content. Make it easily digestible, understandable and grabbable (use schema.org) and you should be well on your way to getting a featured snippet.
#4 The Google Medic update was all about trust
August 1st saw a big shift in rankings thanks to Google updating its algorithm, with many sites being hit negatively and some seeing positive results. The sites that took the biggest hits were ‘Money or Your Life’ style websites, which includes mostly medical-related websites. But was it just a coincidence that Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines were updated right after this update? Or was it related?
Marie Haynes thinks this was intentional and maybe it was. The guidelines cover everything on how to improve your site and make it great for users. One of the main rankings factors is E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) and each site is scored out of 5 on each of these areas. Marie found that several of her clients had their rankings and traffic drastically drop due to their reviews and that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove they were experts in their field. The best way to increase these factors? Get reputable links to your site (obvious, right?) and make sure your reviews are as positive as possible or when your site is reviewed this could knock your score right down.
#5 Google is taking over the SERPs
Google’s main aim is to provide the best search experience for a user, so why rely on other websites when they can do this themselves? The lord and saviour of SEO, Rand Fishkin, finished the day off with his keynote on how Google is taking over its own SERPs and pushing websites right down the page. This means less visibility and therefore less clicks and is likely indicative of the future of SEO, and this is going to continue as they find new ways to answer our queries. They’ve been making changes to their SERPs for a while now including answer boxes, rich snippets, carousels, numbered lists, tables, knowledge graphs, the list goes on. We know these aren’t Google original answers as the information is pulled from websites on the rankings, which highlights the importance of using these SERP features now more than ever. Get those snippets!
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