As quickly as one technology trend arrives, there is another one right behind it, so it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all this digital innovation that is readily available at our fingertips.
In the last twenty years, we have gone from the very early stages of mobile phone usage to a world where we can do our grocery shopping with a few clicks on a smartphone. The capabilities of the Internet seem endless and the stats show us just how much impact the Internet has had over the last few years.
This infographic reveals some very interesting digital information that might surprise you. For example, did you know that across the world there are over 4 billion Internet users? A massive 2 billion of that population is located in Asia and there are now 3.2 billion social media users (as of Jan 1st, 2018).
It is hard to imagine a world without the Internet now that it has become so integral to our daily routines. Social media is not just a way for people to connect with friends; it is also a strong business marketing channel with 90% of businesses now actively using social media.
Watching videos on YouTube has become a regular hobby for all generations and particularly the younger generations. There are now more than 1.5 billion YouTube users worldwide and anyone can quickly record a video using their smartphone or create their own tutorial on a webcam.
52.2% of website traffic is now via mobile phones and we have seen changes in website development to reflect this by making websites more mobile friendly. In 2018 over a billion voice search queries per month were recorded and this is a trend that is expected to continue through 2019.
As Google makes the big change to mobile-first indexing, it’s important that your site is ready for the shift. Are you fully prepared?
Let’s start at the beginning.
What Is Mobile-First Indexing?
The mobile-first initiative is an effort to address the growing percentage of mobile-users in today’s search landscape.
Back in March, on their Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that they are rolling out their mobile-first indexing initiative more broadly which is a big change to how Google crawls and indexes your site. The push is on now and Mobile Indexing is being fully implemented.
What’s Changing about Google’s Rankings?
Per Google, “Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your websites content for indexing and ranking.”
But what does that mean?
Currently, Google crawls and indexes your site based on the desktop version of your site and the content that exists there. With this change, Google will be looking at your mobile site first and the content on that version to determine how your site is ranked.
Over the course of the last year, Google has been slowly experimenting with a small percentage of sites to make the switch to crawling, indexing, and ultimately ranking sites based on their mobile experience, not their desktop as they always have.
This doesn’t mean your desktop site isn’t important anymore, it just means that they will be looking at it as a secondary source, not the primary one for crawling, indexing, and ranking as it has been in the past. But even if your site is doing well organically, if it’s not responsive (mobile friendly), your ranking will drop substantially. Don’t lose those years of building your search engine position, contact us today.
How Mobile-First Indexing May Impact Your Site
Depending on how you handle mobile, this change may or may not directly affect your site.
If your site is built in responsive design, you will see no impact, as your site adapts to all devices.
If you have a separate m. site (or something similar) and your primary content does not exist on it, then you are at risk of seeing a negative impact as Google will no longer be looking at your desktop version.
If you do not have a mobile site/experience then this change will negatively impact you. Also, it’s 2018: if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site then you have much larger issues that this change.
What Mobile-First Best Practices Can I Follow To Ensure I Maximize My Opportunity?
While there are many things to consider and you should read through the entire list above, two major points are ensuring you have mobile-friendly content and that your site loads as fast as possible. Site speed is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, which coincides with users’ needs to get everything as quickly and seamlessly as possible. With the rapid adoption of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) and the popularity of Progressive Web Apps (PWA’s) growing, it’s not surprising to see Google pushing site owners in this direction.
How Do I Know If Google is Using Mobile-First Indexing for My Site?
Google will be notifying site owners that their sites are migrating to mobile-first indexing through Search Console. The message will look like this:
So you need to make sure that if you have an m. version of your site, it is verified in Search Console.
You will also see a significant increase in the Smartphone Googlebot crawl rate and Google will show the mobile version of pages in search results and cached pages.
What Do We Think About This?
This is a major change in how Google interacts with our websites and makes sense as more and more traffic continues to move to mobile. While your desktop site will certainly remain important and Google will not be ignoring it, users have been trending towards mobile usage for years and this is the natural progression of our industry.
Companies need to take notice of this change. Thinking mobile-first should not be something that is kicked down the road and moved down on priority lists, from a search perspective this should be top of mind for all organizations large and small.
Should you be concerned? If you haven’t been paying attention to how your site functions on a mobile device, this probably isn’t going to pan out for you. The good news is that all websites are living documents and can be changed and updated. If you are coming in a little late to the game on mobile, then now is the time to improve that experience and ensure your site is set up to provide value to mobile users.
This is yet another banner that Google is waving to signal the importance of your mobile experience. If you have been neglecting it, now is the time to rectify that and putting people and resources behind it.
If you think your site is not mobile friendly or have tested it and know, contact us for advice to bring your website up to speed with the current technologies.
In the wake of Google’s removal of the ‘view image’ button, contributor Anthony Muller polled top news and entertainment sites to share their Google image traffic data. The results? Overwhelmingly positive — image search is back.
These declines were even more drastic for large enterprise-level brands that had spent considerable effort optimizing their image catalogs, content management system (CMS), captions and eXtensible markup language (XML) sitemaps for the search engines.
This decline was due to searchers who clicked “view image” being sent to a page with only the image asset and not to the site hosting or licensing the image when using Google image search.
Getty bites back
Approximately three years after Google added the “view image” button, Getty images filed an anti-competition complaint with the European Commission (EC) against the search giant. The gist of the complaint was that Google was using Getty images in a way that was diverting users from Getty’s website.
Fast forward to February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day), and it appears that Google blinked.
Google had reversed their stance and as of February 15, 2018, removed the “view image” button. A message from Google SearchLiaison tweeted confirmation that these changes (view images) came about due to the settlement with Getty Images.
Image SEO rises again
It has been fewer than 90 days since Google made the change, and I was chomping at the bit to see just how immediate the effects would be. I reached out to a number of different properties across different worldwide verticals and asked them to share their Google image traffic data.
The response to my data requests was very positive. Overall, I compiled the percentage increases from 58 different properties worldwide.
These increases were from Google images pre- and post-February 14, 2018. All sites fell into one of three different verticals, entertainment, photography and news, with a large majority being news-oriented. All sites surveyed have significantly large catalogs of images (over 100,000).
Since the only number reported from all sites was a percentage increase in image traffic from Google, it was the only number I could properly find the mean increase for at this time.
The overall data from the 58 different sites, shows an average of a 37 percent increase in clicks from Google image search.
In the image traffic data below, we can see how a single enterprise-sized entertainment site with millions of images spiked for approximately an additional 600,000 visitors from Google images every month. While this was on the higher end of the mean increase, the 47 percent seen below is pretty indicative of how most saw their traffic increase post-Valentine’s Day, with some variations.
Take note of how the impressions and position remain relatively unchanged, while the click-through rate (CTR) and clicks spike:
Some properties were generous enough to go on the record with the increases they have witnessed.
Dylan Howell from Stocksy.com reports on their Google traffic on over 1 million images after the change:
From recent data, we can see that this change greatly improved the rate of viewers visiting our site from these (image) results pages. The number of clicks from these pages to our site increased by over 50 percent from previous levels.
Serban Enache, CEO of Dreamstime, reports that his company’s traffic from Google images increased by approximately 30 percent to their catalog of 75 million images. He added:
We also saw a 10 percent increase in conversions, so this traffic previously downloaded images from Google Images. Since they purchased a commercial license afterwards, we can safely assume their past downloads were copyright infringements.
Both Stocksy and Dreamstime commented that the changes were “positive” for both site owners and photographers. As a content creator and a firsthand witness to the traffic devastation for some clients, I wholeheartedly agree with them.
Some users of image search were surprisingly upset at the change and within a week, Chrome extensions were popping up in the Chrome web store which promised to return the “view image” functionality for those who want it. I don’t quite understand the need for the button, since right-click functionality still exists to open images in a new tab, but I guess I am just old-school.
Can what was lost be fully regained?
If many sites lost 70 percent of their image search traffic in 2013, why aren’t we seeing similar increases? It is anyone’s guess, but could be, in part, from other engines (Bing, DuckDuckGo) still using the “view image” functionality. From Duck Duck Go:
In addition, I have seen a reluctance from many clients to spend resources on image optimization post-2013. They just didn’t feel that the benefit or traffic would be worth the resource cost. This lack of attention or resources placed into image optimization could have stunted the rebound as well.
One thing is for certain. It is time to reprioritize image SEO in-house or for clients taking a lackadaisical approach to optimizing images in the wake of the 2013 Google change. The upside will be far greater for those who are already poised to benefit from the changes.
by Emily Schechter, Chrome Security Product Manager
For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.
In Chrome 68, the omnibox will display “Not secure” for all HTTP pages.
Developers have been transitioning their sites to HTTPS and making the web safer for everyone. Progress last year was incredible, and it’s continued since then:
Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default
Contact us today to make your visitors comfortable by securing your website.
Chrome is dedicated to making it as easy as possible to set up HTTPS. Mixed content audits are now available to help developers migrate their sites to HTTPS in the latest Node CLI version of Lighthouse, an automated tool for improving web pages. The new audit in Lighthouse helps developers find which resources a site loads using HTTP, and which of those are ready to be upgraded to HTTPS simply by changing the subresource reference to the HTTPS version.
Lighthouse is an automated developer tool for improving web pages.
Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default. HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. Developers, check out our set-up guides to get started.