The SEO landscape is ever-changing, and for those vying for the top spots in search engine rankings it represents a constantly moving target. Therefore, it’s hugely important to stay abreast of any relevant Search Engine Optimization (SEO) news. What’s more, with organic search being for many websites, and , it’s particularly important to keep tabs on any developments.
In this article, we’ll reveal four things happening with Google and SEO you need to know about. We will explain the changes taking place and how you can respond effectively. Let’s get started!
1. HTTPS Could Become a Stronger Ranking Factor
is the secure version of HTTP, an application protocol that sends data from your browser to the website it’s connected to. “Secure” in this aspect means the data that’s sent is encrypted. HTTPS pages appear with a lock symbol in the address bar.
Security is a top concern among users and search engines alike, and HTTPS connections are encouraged. Back in 2014, it became a that would eventually strengthen over time.
Although it’s now much more prominent, a found that most top websites hadn’t adopted HTTPS. Moreover, for many that had, it wasn’t working correctly. In spite of this, Google has – for example, . As such, the adoption of HTTPS will only continue to grow in the not-too-distant future.
Aside from improving your search rankings, there’s another benefit of making the switch to HTTPS. It also provides additional site security, which is particularly important for you and your visitors if you accept payments or personal information.
For those looking to get onboard, adopting HTTPS can be resource-intensive, particularly for larger websites. However, with the success of projects such as , securing your site is becoming easier. Additionally, Google is not the only company encouraging the change. WordPress are making their own attempts to .
Finally, depending on the type and size of your site (and the resources required), to act now, or opt for a wait-and-see approach. However, given the HTTPS has received already, you should look to sooner rather than later.
2. Interstitial Ads on Mobile Devices are Being Punished
Simply put, interstitial ads are otherwise known as ‘pop-ups’ – advertisement pages or overlays that display before or after the expected content page. We use them on our desktop site to give you a chance to get regular updates on what we’re up to:
However, while they have their benefits, interstitials often completely cover entire mobile screens, which affects the user’s experience. To combat this, Google that come the following January, pages showing intrusive interstitial ads on mobile devices might not rank as highly.
Google essentially wants to make sure the main content of a page is easy for users to find. This simply isn’t the case when it’s obstructed by a full screen ad. However, certain pop-ups are exempt from this regulation. For example, and represent a response to legal obligations or recommendations, and therefore are exempt from the guidelines. Also, banner ads that don’t obstruct the main content are deemed acceptable and not subject to penalties.
The best practice to ensure you avoid any repercussions would be to from mobile devices. If you’re using a tool such as our own Bloom email optin plugin, you’ll have the option to disable pop-ups for mobile devices with a few simple clicks.
Other optin plugin alternatives include and , although they may not enable you to remove pop-ups from mobiles as easily.
3. Having a Mobile-Friendly Website is More Important Than Ever
are now more prevalent than ever, and adopters are using them to carry out increasingly more tasks – . Back in 2015, Google as a ranking signal. Although didn’t appear to have nearly the same immediate effect as the , the ranking ‘weight’ of mobile-friendliness is likely to increase in the future.
Before this year, Google used to use for qualifying sites:
However, since over in mobile search results now meet the criteria, it recently removed the label.
What’s more, continues to grow, of searches coming from mobile devices. It’s clear to see why having a mobile-friendly site is more important than ever. The high adoption rate also provides an even more compelling argument for making sure your pages are mobile-friendly too.
If you’re unsure whether your site is mobile-friendly, Google offers a . If you’re still at the design stage and looking to create a mobile-friendly site, be sure to choose a responsive theme such as Divi or one of our other great themes. In fact, many themes – both and – are now responsive, so finding a suitable one should be no trouble.
Finally, if you’re still having problems making your responsive site mobile-friendly, Google’s own should be the last word on how you should implement the standard.
4. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are Getting a Push
The is an open-source initiative encouraging publishers to design mobile-optimized content that loads quickly everywhere. Google currently uses a ‘lightning bolt’ symbol to denote :
The AMP symbol used to be limited to carousels within mobile search results, but has more recently begun to too:
While being mobile-friendly is a ranking factor, AMP currently is not – but . In fact, the AMP initiative has grown such traction that Google has recently announced the inaugural taking place in March 2017.
Although it doesn’t help your ranking just yet, the AMP symbol should increase your click-through rate in mobile search results. It also provides a better experience for your mobile users, and . It’s definitely something many website owners will want to consider, but may not be suitable for every site.
With AMP, you’re essentially stripping down your existing pages, which is okay if want your content to be read, but not appropriate for more interactive sites. You’ll , and are of what you can display – including some ads.
To , there are available to help you. While Automattic got the ball rolling with their plugin, there are better options available such as and . Both enable you to add AMP-compatible pages as well as posts), and control how your content looks.
Even if organic search isn’t your main traffic source, ranking higher in search engine results pages is worthwhile. Google, of course, accounts for the vast majority of organic search traffic. Keeping up to date with (and reacting to) any pertinent SEO news will not only improve your rankings, but also help you create a better overall user experience.
In this article, we’ve covered four important things that are happening with Google and SEO, to help you plan and execute your 2017 SEO strategy effectively. Let’s recap them quickly:
- HTTPS could become a stronger ranking factor.
- Interstitial ads on mobile devices will be punished.
- Having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are getting a push.
Do you have any other important Google or SEO news to share? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe so you can follow the conversation!
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