How Does HTTP2 Affect Your SEO?

HTTP/2 has been a godsend for SEO. The protocol effectively improves browser-server communication which subsequently reduces load times and improves the performance of your website. All this points towards a better user-experience. If you are not already supporting HTTP/2, you should do soon. The protocol strips away redundant language that complicates file requests and slows down load times. Fast load speeds are critical to the amount of traffic your website receives. Furthermore, Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, John Mueller announced the latest algorithm updates support HTTP/2. This is another underlining of the search engine’s intention to improve UX. And if Google places so much importance on user-experience, so should you. It is highly likely that HTTP/2 will be used as a ranking factor given that it speeds up websites dramatically. HTTP/1 to HTTP/2 Making the switch to HHTP/2 is easy. There are no pitfalls. Even if a browser does not support the new protocol now, it will do soon. In the meantime, it automatically reverts to HTTP/1.1. So websites will still load, but at the standard pace. To support the latest protocol on your website, update your server software. You should already be supporting HTTP/1.1. If not you will need to implement this protocol before you can add HTTP/2. For more information about implementing HTTP/2 check out this comprehensive guide. The only caveat emptor of HTTP/2 is that it only works on secure connections. So check your website is secured. Most are so you shouldn’t have any problems. HTTP/2 is such as revelation, Search Engine Journal columnist, Patrick Stox described it as “the greatest advancements in web technology in the...

RankBrain – Getting Inside Google’s Head: What You Need To Know About RankBrain

According to Google, around 15 per cent of searches performed by end-users on a daily basis are unique. But also ambiguous! In the past, the search engine giant was not able to handle this category of searches effectively – despite their best efforts. The Big G has come up with a solution though – they call it RankBrain, a machine learning cybermind that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make connections between search terms. What is RankBrain? RankBrain is a cog in Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. The AI system detects new ways a user types in search terms and delivers results based on the context of the type of words and phrases used rather than something similar. It is expected that RankBrain will respond to longtail keywords better than the semantic text Hummingbird was promoted for. RankBrain is Google’s solution to making their search engine predict contextual meaning. The algorithm can now recognise patterns to unrelated searches by recognising the context of the search term even when words are the same or similar. For example, Apple the company is spelt the same way as apple the fruit, but if you wanted to know what the fruit symbolises in ancient myths, you get a list of results relating to myth and not handheld gadgets. What does RankBrain mean for online businesses? Because RankBrain can grasp ‘natural conversation’ – the way humans talk – voice search functionality on mobile phones will be more accurate. Providing you have been writing rich content with longtail keywords for Hummingbird, there is not much more you can do with your marketing content – but you should expect...

Will Google Rivals Improve Search?

Google is the number one undisputed search engine – for now. But how much longer will the Big G reign the game? A host of rival search engines have emerged in the last few years, and as users, marketers and webmasters become increasingly frustrated with Googles consistent algorithm changes – which do not always appear to work – we may well witness a search revolution. Bing it Most search engine users will be familiar with Bing. Since replacing Yahoo! In 2009, the search engine has gained some momentum, but has been nowhere near as good as Google. Not yet at least, although it is getting better. Waterfox and Storm From the crop of new search engines, the most appealing are Waterfox and Storm, both of which are developed by Alex Kontos. Both search engines have a lot going for them and are a highly promising rival to Google’s dominance. The open source platforms are the fastest 64-bit browsers on the web and offer users online privacy – something which really irks Google users. Storm does not use the advertising model other search engines use so you are not constantly bombarded with advertising material. Furthermore, consumers and retailers can help charities by signing up to offer a small donations every time they make a purchase online. Wolfram Alpha Wolfram Alpha is developed by British physicist, Stephen Wolfram who claims the search engine addresses the deficiencies in search other engines are failing to do. The focus of search engines like Google is to understand search commands, something Hummingbird is design to do, but with disappointing results. Wolfram claims his search model...

Google File Patent To Improve Search Results Using Rich Content

Google filed a patent last week which suggests the search engine giant is looking to improve the way in which their algorithms answer search queries. If Google technicians are successful in getting the algorithms to work, the search engine will look to answer specific questions – something we expected from Hummingbird which hasn’t quite worked out. There is also an underlying incentive for marketers as well – to provide search rich content that will directly ask and answer search terms. I imagine a few groans right about now, but on the positive side, the change gives marketers opportunities to create a wealth of content specifically targeted around questions end-users will ask related to your industry. Not only that, but you can target a specific audience that is actively searching for something you can offer. This is a classic case of problem-solution and with rich content you have more potential to attract traffic that is purchase-ready. It will be interesting to see how well the new search engine performs and hopefully Google will not be too long in perfecting the idea from a patent paper to the worldwide web. Time will...

Important Notice: Google Scrapping PageSpeed Service

Google announced it is dropping its PageSpeed service last week. Don’t panic, though, the search engine giant will be replacing the feature with a “broader adoption of PageSpeed technology.” This is good news for online businesses across the board, perhaps other than those already subscribed to the Page Speed service. Now everybody will have equal benefits. Furthermore, if you are currently using PageSpeed you will need to update your DNS by 3rd August 2015, otherwise your visitors will not be able to access your website. You can find more details about migrating PageService on Google...

Apple Planning To Turn Spotlight Into A Search Engine

It seems that Apple are never far away from a rumour, many of which fall way off the mark. So what should we make of the grapevines’ latest tid-bit? The California-based tech giant is thought to be developing its own search engine. It’s clear to see why these rumours are circling. Last week, Apple chiefs announced the rumoured AppleBot does exist. They didn’t say what it will do, but it doesn’t need a tech genius to work it out. The iPhone maker is already in direct competition with Google in the iOS v Android wars, a battle the former is arguably winning on quality despite Google offering the best value for money. If Apple were to launch their own search engine then, it will be interesting to see whether the company can produce better results than the current crop – and let’s face it, Google are not exactly doing the best job right now, but are the best we have! £200 million spotlight In 2013, Apple acquired the social search and analytics firm, Topsy for US$200. It was not certain the tech firm wanted with a search firm initially, but the release of OS X Yosemite turned the page on Apple’s plans. OS X Yosemite is a powerful desktop server with built-in apps and the ability to sync with the firm’s iOS devices. But more than that, it pulls data from browsers into its Spotlight Suggestions feature and drives search results with Safari. AppleBot may not be as developed as the GoogleBots just yet, but iOS and Mac devices have a default mechanism that searches the Google web if...

Google Algorithm Updates – When Will It Ever End?

To the digital marketing industry, Google algorithm updates have become a tense event akin to a political election or the choosing of the next pope. There is often black smoke, but with little to celebrate. Because of bad practices within the SEO industry, Google has had to get tough with its algorithm changes in order to prevent black hat firms manipulating search results. The release of Penguin and Panda had devastating results for many online businesses and ultimately tightened the rules of engagement for link building and publishing quality content. Search engines have cleaned the quality of content up considerably over the last few years, but there are still cracks in the matrix. Which means, Google algorithms will continue to evolve and legislate how SEO should be practiced fairly. Mobile-friendly algorithm Google’s next algorithm will focus on mobile-friendly websites. If your site does is not responsive on mobile handset sized screens, expect to fall down search engine standings. Nate Dame writing for Search Engine Land expects the mobile-friendly update to be the most problematic this year, but goes on to add that Google is not finished targeting black hat practitioners. The focus of search engines is to provide end users with the best user experience as possible, which means delivering the best content available that matches their search engine terms. Google et al are therefore looking for high quality content that is well-researched, well-written and offers something of value to readers. User engagement will play a big role. To keep up with algorithm changes therefore, it is imperative for content curators to build an online profile and establish yourself...

What Are Google Knowledge Cards?

In 2011, Google issued a patent describing Knowledge Cards. In 2015, we are already starting to see them appear in search results. In short, a knowledge cards is the feature image you find appearing at the top of your search results. They give users the general overview of the subject matter they are searching. For example, the “Knowledge Card” for Queen Elizabeth II turns up this: The url that typically earns the knowledge card is the top ranking site that answers the users search term in conjunction with the most popular answers on the web. The Knowledge Card seems to be designed for mobile users and is determined by a series of Google metrics, the primary ones being: The domain authority, number of inbound links received by the host site, quality of structured content and rich snippets. How Knowledge Cards can improve search? For browsers looking for an overview of a subject for discovery purposes, Knowledge Cards provide instant results. But they only give the basic information so if you want specific data, they are useless. If it is a person, their date and place of birth, occupation and date of death (if deceased) is given together with relevant links. This allows users to navigate to related content, thus is could have its uses for researchers. For small businesses, address, contact details and specialist products can be listed in connection with the search terms. This gives users immediate information quicker and will increase click-through rate. But there are disadvantages to Knowledge Card’s as well and it could make the user-experience worse for both small businesses and end-users. Is content...

How Voice Recognition Will Shake Up The Future Of Search

Voice recognition has moved on from the early Siri days and gained a lot of credit in recent years. The early versions of Apple’s voice technology came across as a bit of a gimmick, but the iOS feature has come a long way over the years. Google has made strides with the technology too and Microsoft has released its own Cortana, with an eye on the future of search. So voice recognition isn’t going away and you can expect to see the technology feature more heavily in new devices – as well as marketing strategies and your daily life. And if you’re struggling to see how voice recognition will make an impact, you only have to look at the big names in search for a clue. Google making voice recognition the future of search Google is heavily invested in Voice Search and the search provider’s Head of Voice Recognition – Scott Huffman – says the technology could even replace screens on smartphones in the near future. This might sound extreme (and annoying when you want to watch a video) but when the authority in search says voice recognition is the future of its industry, you have to take notes. The signs already point in this direction too – with the early days of wearable technology upon us and moves by Google to improve the accuracy of search results for natural speech. Google’s Hummingbird update was engineered to make natural language more effective for queries – the obvious stumbling block between voice recognition and search. It’s a big move in the right direction, but there is a long way to...

Bing Admits It Won’t Take The Search Crown From Google (Yet)

Bing has admitted it doesn’t expect to challenge Google for the top spot in search any time soon. Microsoft’s Director of Search, Stefan Weitz, appeared at the Web Summit conference in Ireland this week, where he spoke openly about the company’s position in the industry. Despite steady growth in the search sphere Bing users are still a small fraction compared to the world’s number one search engine, Google. The gap only increases outside the US and according to Weitz Microsoft is under no illusions about its place in the industry. Google, the undisputed champ Bing currently takes 30 percent of the market share – a figure which accounts for both Bing.com and Yahoo, which gets its organic results from Bing. This leaves Google with 67.3 percent of the remaining market and the US giant is the number one search engine in every country across the world, except five. Meanwhile, Bing’s market share has been gradually increasing in recent years. The problem for Microsoft is this growth has taken share away from its current partner Yahoo, rather than Google. Which leaves Bing in an impossible position when it comes to making a genuine challenge for the top spot in search – a point Weitz isn’t afraid to admit. Bing is not about to surrender The comments made by Stefan Weitz may seem like a verbal waving of the white flag, but don’t mistake his words as a forfeit to Google. The Director of Search is well aware that Bing poses no serious threat to Google’s hold on the search industry as it stands. But the people at Bing know change...

What Should You Do About Google’s New Stance On SSL/HTTPS?

Google and HTTPS Secure Sites SSL Last week Google announced a new ranking signal that would give HTTPS websites a small ranking boost to encourage migration over to the more secure protocol. Emphasis at this stage is on the small impact this will make on your search ranking, although Google has admitted SSL/HTTPS could play a much larger role in the future. Less than six months ago Matt Cutts admitted he would “love” to make SSL a ranking factor and, even though Google’s Webspam team is on extended leave, he promptly got his wish. However, many SEOs have raised concerns about moving sites over to HTTPS, which leaves many website owners wondering what to do next. It’s only a small signal, for now The most important thing to remember is that the page rank benefits of HTTPS are very small. It sounds like SSL will have more influence in the future, but if you have your doubts about making the move, my best advice is to sit and wait. If you can’t do that, spend you time learning more about the intricacies of SSL and the process of moving to HTTPS. Google only announced the algorithm tweak last Thursday and we are not talking about an update in the vein of Penguin or Panda here. The SEO community itself needs more time to monitor the effects of moving websites over to HTTPS, so don’t do anything rash and keep a keen eye on what we come up with in the following weeks and months. HTTPS is not your biggest SEO concern In terms of page ranking, I can guarantee...

Chinese Search Engine Baidu Eyes Global Growth As It Moves Into Brazil

Baidu Heads To Brazil Not long ago China’s number one search engine launched a Portuguese version of its site and set up shop in Brazil. Perhaps not the most obvious move for a Chinese language search engine, Baidu’s expansion into Brazil may seem like an odd choice – but it could turn out to be a cunning move by the search provider. Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, but this doesn’t put it anywhere near the likes of Google and Bing. However fresh competition from another Chinese search engine has forced Baidu to think bigger in order to maintain its place as the top provider in its own country and make an impact overseas. Should you care about Baidu? We should all be cheering on the smaller guys in the search industry, because there is an unhealthy lack of competition for Google. Baidu is actually a perfect example of this, having been the number one search engine in China for so long. Only now that it faces competition from so.com has it taken action to improve its services and expand overseas. Baidu’s search algorithm is similar to what you expect from any search engine – ranking web pages on relevance to search queries, using on-page and off-page factors. However, the quality of its results are years behind Google and the Chinese engine is still highly vulnerable to keyword stuffing and low-quality links. Until now Baidu hasn’t had much reason to improve its services, having been the established name in search in China – without competition. It has taken the fear of losing pole position to inspire change...
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