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SEO Updates

Google is changing smartphone user-agent of Googlebot

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Google, the head honcho of search engines is updating their smartphone user-agent on April 18, 2016. Make sure to test your web site to ensure it will allow Googlebot in.

In one of their recent announcement, on the Google Webmaster blog, the team at Google has announced that that on April 18, 2016, they will be updating their user-agent for the smartphone Googlebot crawler.

The user-agent will change from an iPhone user-agent to an Android user-agent, but it should have no impact on 99% of all web sites, according to Google. You can find the full announcement here.

Googlebot smartphone user-agent starting from April 18, 2016

[blockquote style=”1″]Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build/MMB29P) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/41.0.2272.96 Mobile Safari/537.36 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html) [/blockquote]

Current Googlebot smartphone user-agent

[blockquote style=”1″]Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 8_3 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/600.1.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/8.0 Mobile/12F70 Safari/600.1.4 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)[/blockquote]

Basically, as reported on other professional sites as well, the main difference you can see here is that Google is replacing the Apple iPhone and Safari string from the user-agent and replacing it with Android and Chrome.

Google said they are making this change so that their “renderer can better understand pages that use newer web technologies.”

We’re updating the user-agent string so that our renderer can better understand pages that use newer web technologies. Our renderer evolves over time and the user-agent string indicates that that it is becoming more similar to Chrome than Safari. To make sure your site can be viewed properly by a wide range of users and browsers, we recommend using feature detection and progressive enhancement.

Google added that as the web evolved they decided to change the “user-agent string indicates that that it is becoming more similar to Chrome than Safari.” Google said their “evaluation suggests that this user-agent change should have no effect on 99% of sites.”

Our evaluation suggests that this user-agent change should have no effect on 99% of sites. The most common reason a site might be affected is if it specifically looks for a particular Googlebot user-agent string. User-agent sniffing for Googlebot is not recommended and is considered to be a form of cloaking. Googlebot should be treated like any other browser.

To ensure your site won’t be impacted by this change, use the Fetch and Render Tool in the Google Search Console.

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Google Search will start ranking faster mobile pages higher in July

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Google Search will start ranking faster mobile pages higher in July

Google on  Wednesday announced a new project to improve its mobile search results: factoring page speed into its search ranking. As the company notes, page speed “has been used in ranking for some time” but that was largely for desktop searches. Starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches on Google as well.

In November 2014, Google started labeling sites as “mobile-friendly” to denote pages optimized for phones. The company then spent the next few years experimenting with using the label as a ranking factor, ultimately pushing those changes in April 2015 and increasing the effect in May 2016. The label was removed in August 2016 as the company noted that most pages had become “mobile-friendly.”

Google now plans to wield that power again to make mobile pages load faster. Here is how the company explains it:

The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

The move is part of a bigger push at Google to speed up the mobile web. Earlier this month, the company started rolling out its new Search Console to website owners globally. The tool lets web developers analyze their site’s indexing on Google Search, view analytics, peruse inbound links, submit and remove content for crawling, monitor malware, and so on.

Google will not be offering a tool that directly indicates whether a page will be affected by this new mobile ranking factor starting in July. Instead, the company points to three of its own resources that developers can use to evaluate their mobile page’s performance: Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse, and PageSpeed Insights.

Interestingly, the announcement doesn’t mention Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. At its I/O developers conference last year, the company shared that AMP pages now load twice as fast from Google Search, and just last week the team announced that AMP URLs will be getting a makeover. It doesn’t look like implementing AMP is enough to get a boost from this upcoming Speed Update — Google wants developers to improve their mobile site performance across the board.

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Google’s new algorithm update may be rolling out since June 25

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Google update June 2017

Did you notice changes in your Google organic search traffic or rankings? There may have been a serious Google algorithm update.

 

After a relatively considerable period of quiet, Google has just rolled out its latest algorithm update a few days ago. Rumors started to spread on Monday about the possible algorithm update.

Not since October 2016 have we seen a Google update as long running, lasting five or more days. In this context, the current rendition of Google’s ever-changing algorithm has a degree of esteem that is not common to all updates. Like its counterparts though, discerning the actual impact of the update on rank is intrinsically elusive. That is, determining the character of the update, as well as what sites in what positions were impacted is challenging.

 rank fluctuations june 2017

The above chart shows a substantial increase in rank fluctuations over an extended five day period!

 

Fluctuations in the Gambling Niche

When trying to determine if Google has rolled out a quality update, this niche was not exceptional when compared to other industries. However, like the other niches, here too Google has honed in on sites ranking between positions 6-10 on the SERP’s.

 

Google Update for Gambling Niche

 

As indicated above there was a proportional increase in ranking fluctuations during the update as compared to the baseline fluctuation rates. The percentage of the top 3 results that matched exactly at both the start and end points of the baseline period was 51.19%, whereas that number decreased to 43.35% during the update, establishing a 15.3% increase in ranking fluctuations.

Fluctuations for the top 5 results increased by 30.8%, double the increase in fluctuations seen within the top 3 results. Doubling the increase seen within those results, sites within the first top 10 positions underwent a massive 60.3% increase in fluctuations during the update.

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Matt Cutts left Google for the US Digital Service

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Matt Cutts

The former head of search quality-webspam at Google: Matt Cutts, has announced he officially resigned from Google as of December 31, 2016. According to his announcement, he resigned from Google on December 31, 2016 and currently works as the director of engineering for the US Digital Service (USDS).

In 2014 he took a leave of absence from Google only to spend some of that time working with the US Didgital Service. His plan was to stay just for three months at the USDS but those three months turned into half a year and so on. As of Today, January 20th, Matt Cutts will take on the role of acting administrator for the USDS.

Cutts knows that government work isn’t as glamorous or lucrative as working for the search giant, but it sounds like it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make for the rewarding work being done by the USDS. “The work that the USDS does is critical to the American people, and I’m honored to continue that tradition,” said Cutts in a statement released on his blog.

Probably this is the end of an era, so to speak! For years Cutts was one of Google’s most public figures, regularly attending conferences and communicating directly with SEOs and webmasters either on Twitter or his Q&A YouTube videos.

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