Links from the show:
- Google has released its list of top trending searches of the year
- Amazon will once again sell Chromecast and Apple TV
- Gutenberg 1.9
- Outdated TLS won’t hurt your rankings
- New Google Search Console will roll out early next year
- Google revamps its SEO starter guide
- Google defines doorway pages
- Animated gifs without gifs
- Squarespace just raised $200m at a $1.7b valuation
- Instagram now lets you follow hashtags in your main feed
A lot has happened so far in 2017 and Google has released their list of the top searches for the year. What do you think #1 is?
We’ll share that in a moment, but before we get into that, I’m Mickey Mellen and this is A Brighter Web, Episode #30, brought to you by all of us at GreenMellen.
Our goal with this podcast is to give you quick weekly insights for news, products, and ideas, so we can all make the web a brighter place to be. These might be actual web tips, talking about strategy, search engines, WordPress plugins and UX, or it might be productivity ideas to help you get more done and free up your time to do great things.
We also want to thank our sponsor, GoWP. GoWP provides white-label WordPress support for agencies and web professionals. Use code ABW for a 15% discount on any monthly plan.
Today we’ll talk more about the top Google searches of the year, Amazon bringing Chromecast back, Gutenberg Version 1.9, the new Google Search Console, Google’s revised SEO starter guide, and much more. Let’s dig in.
So as they’ve done for years, Google has released the top trending searches of the year. The top 10 in reverse order, #10 was fidget spinner, #9 was Aaron Hernandez, #8 was Hurricane Harvey, #7 was just solar eclipse, #6 was Mayfield vs McGregor fight, #5 was Las Vegas shooting, #4 was Super Bowl, #3 was Tom Petty, #2 was Matt Lauer, and the #1 most searched thing of the year was Hurricane Irma.
Their list is also broken down into categories, such as top people searches, top new searches, tech searches, how-to searches, and others. We have a link to the full set of lists in our show notes, so you can check it out for yourself.
Amazon will once again sell Chromecast and Apple TV. It’s been a couple years since Amazon has sold Google Chromecast or Apple TV devices, but they’re on the way back now. Amazon had dropped them in an effort to promote their own Fire TV devices, but now they’re bringing them back. This is a good thing, certainly, but still has some unknowns.
Google’s planning to pull YouTube support from Fire TV on January 1st, so perhaps this will turn that around. But we also don’t know if Amazon will begin selling other competing Google products, such as Google Home. I’d love to see them both take this all the way, with Amazon selling all Google products, Google giving YouTube support back to Amazon devices, Amazon allowing Prime streaming on Chromecast devices, and other things of that nature. There’s so much that could be done if these two companies worked together, and this could be a first step toward that.
We talked about the WordPress Gutenberg editor a bit last week, and Gutenberg Version 1.9 has been released since then. The big thing they added on this one is reusable blocks. So if you create a nice block for your site, perhaps for a biography of one of your staff members, you can reuse that block in any page, and any change you make to the block in any case will reflect on all the other pages you use it on.
They also added the ability to lock down the editor when using templates. So what’s neat here is you can build a template for a page with certain blocks and certain kinds of blocks, and then lock it down where people can’t add other blocks to it. So you can do it either way. You can say, “Here’s a template with some blocks around the page. Use it as a starting guide but add whatever you want,” or you can say, “here’s a template with some blocks on the page and you cannot add or remove any blocks from it.”
So, as developers that could be good, to give your clients either the flexibility or the control needed to make things look the way they need to look. Dozens of other bug fixes and tweaks in there, so if you’re playing with Gutenberg, go grab the latest version and try it out. Keep testing and keep submitting your feedback and we should see that come out sometime in 2018.
If you have a secure site where your address starts with https, which hopefully most of you do by now, you may have gotten a message from Google that you have outdated TLS on your site. Google’s been sending up warnings through Google Search Console to sites that are running outdated versions of TLS, but it’s not as bad as it might think. John Mueller said, “We sent out, I think, a bunch of different HTTP issues where people have the configuration wrong, we sent out these kinds of messages. Yeah, so it’s technically still a valid https page, we would probably still index it as https. You would still have the normal ranking, the normal URL on the search results, you’re just serving it in a way that’s not really secure, so it’s something you can improve on.”
So what Google’s saying is, it’s not going to hurt your rankings if you get a message about your outdated TLS or any other issue related to that, but it’s something you should address, ’cause if you really want to have a secure site, that’s important to really have a secure site.
The new Google Search Console will roll out early next year. We’ve talked about it a few times in the past with some new features they’ve added, but two big things have come out. The biggest one is that they’ve confirmed that the beta version of Google Search Console, which we’ll all see next year, will now include one year’s worth of data in there, as opposed to the 90 days that you get now. The user named Scott Hunt asked, “Any idea when it’ll be rolled out to everyone?” And Google’s John Mueller replied, “Early next year is the plan.”
So, don’t know what early means to Google, but I’m thinking Q1 sometime we’ll see that Google Search Console rollout for everyone with all the new features including that year’s worth of data. And as we talked about in that previous one about TLS, Google Search Console is how Google will communicate with you if they think there’s a problem, so it’s worth getting in there and making sure you’re aware of what’s going on.
Google’s revamped its SEO Starter Guide. Hasn’t changed in the past few years, but Google just made some significant updates to their SEO Starter Guide. The biggest change is simply the format. Rather than a PDF guide, it’s now web-based. In addition, though, they’ve merged the Webmaster Academy and the old SEO Starter Guide PDF into this new resource and they’ve added additional sections for structured data mark-up and building mobile-friendly websites, things of that nature, so it’s worth checking out to make sure you’re staying on top of things.
Google has finally defined what a doorway page is. Now doorway pages are against Google’s guidelines, but the exact definition of a doorway page has always been a bit fuzzy. Google’s working to clear that up and they list three examples. One, having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page. So this is if you have a whole bunch of pages for different cities for your business, but then at the end all those different pages just go to your one product page, clearly setting those doorway pages specifically to rank. They don’t like that.
Number two, pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual, usable, or relevant portion of your site. So again, it’s a page that’s kind of getting in the way of the actual content of your site. Google’s not a big fan of that. And number three, substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined browsable hierarchy.
So they’re saying pages that really don’t match with your site, they’re just kind of out there and they have a lot of keywords on it, and Google thinks that looks suspicious.
Google’s John Mueller explained further, “I think if you focus on, like a clear purpose for the page that’s outside of just what I want to rank for this specific variation of the keyword, when that’s usually something that leads to a reasonable result. Whereas if you’re just taking a list of keywords and saying, ‘I need to make pages for each of these keywords, and each of the permutations that might be for like two or three of those keywords,’ that’s just creating pages for the sake of keywords, which is essentially what we look at as a doorway.”
So, again, this is the kind of stuff Google talks about a lot, and it’s nice that they’re kind of clarifying a bit. But, again, don’t just make pages for the sake of making pages for the sake of making keywords. Certainly keyword optimize your pages, add more detail, add more product pages, certainly optimize everything and keep it going good, but don’t just make doorway pages that are trying to trick Google into driving more traffic to the main pages of your site.
Animated GIFs without GIFs: so animated GIFs are very popular these days, but they weren’t really intended to be used like we’re using them now. From the original GIF89a specification back in 1989, they said “The graphics interchange format (GIF) is not intended as a platform for animation, even though it can be done in a limited way.”
And of course, we see animated GIFs all the time, and really they’re pretty useful in a lot of cases. It’s easier than trying to spin up a whole movie just to see a quick animation of whatever football play or funny little animation, some neat things in there. But in the latest version of the Safari tech preview, you can now put MP4 files inside of an image tag, just like you can with, well, images.
On average, an animated GIF is 12 times larger and takes 2 times more energy to display than an MP4, so this move makes sense. Now, it won’t really mean much until all the other browsers follow suit, such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc, but if this takes off, it’s something we could see spread more widely in the future and could help webpages load faster, work better for all of us.
Squarespace just raised $200,000,000. Now, I’m not a big user of Squarespace, but I can certainly appreciate the advances they’re pushing forward in the web design space. Case in point, most discussions around the upcoming Gutenberg editor in WordPress end up referencing Squarespace at some point, comparing and contrasting how the editors look like each other.
Squarespace just raised $200,000,000 at a 1.7 billion dollar valuation, so they’ll be continuing to push innovation forward, which is good for all of us.
Instagram now lets you follow hashtags in your main feed. It’s a simple change, but could be useful. On Instagram, you can now follow posts for a specific hashtag similar to how you follow another person. The posts from that hashtag will be mixed into your main feed. Presumably you won’t see every post from a hashtag, particularly the more popular ones, and this does kind of seem to open up the possibility of abuse, people hijacking hashtags for their own sales tactics or whatever, knowing that people follow specific hashtags more often. But I suspect Instagram’s algorithms will help clean that out as well, so we’ll se how it goes.
And lastly, for our tip of the week, it’s to create a quick scratch sheet inside of your Google Docs. Now we use Google Docs and Google Drive for most everything at GreenMellen, and one thing I did a couple years ago has proven to be useful a few times here.
I’ve created what’s called a “scratch sheet document,” that’s at least what I called it. It’s a Google spreadsheet that is just made for me to play with and not really has any specific purpose. If I ever need to just run some quick numbers, I can just hop in there and do it rather than creating a new document, having to delete it later, share it, whatever.
And actually I have one that Ali and I share. It’s called “The Ali and Mickey Scratch Sheet,” that we’re both shared in. And again, if either of us want to run some quick numbers on what revenue looks like for the month or whatever without running a full report and having to say something, we can just pop open the document that we both have at our fingertips and make changes in it real quick and see what’s going on.
Because I have Google Docs open all the time, having that document there quickly just to reference and use and not have to worry about cleaning out the excess garbage I leave behind is great, ’cause it’s just made to be garbage inside of the document. It’s for quick calculations, run some quick numbers, and works well.
So if you use Google Docs a lot, or Office365, or one of those that has an online component, I encourage you to do the same. The next time you need to just do some quick calculations or make some quick notes down, you’ll have a place made just for that.
That’s all we have for this week. You can find me on Twitter @mickmel or learn lots more at greenmellenmedia.com, and you can find out more about the podcast, including show notes and links, as well as video tutorials and many other resources over at abrighterweb.com.
If you’re in the Atlanta area, come check out our Meetup, held twice each month. If you’re not in the Atlanta area, we post recaps on the site soon after each Meetup. Either way, you can learn more about that at abrighterweb.com/meetup.
Thanks for listening.