Links from the show:
- Spectre and Meltdown patches shouldn’t impact your rankings
- Google tests light blue links to match mobile link color
- Google says page speed will become a factor on mobile searches
- Google Search Console beta sends invites to more webmasters
- Google says that site splits or mergers take longer than site moves
- GoogleBot can see even longer pages
- YouTube changes their monetization rules
- Smart speakers are stealing time from smartphones, TV and radio
- Facebook will be showing less content from publishers and brands
- Google’s Project Fi just unveiled a new $80 unlimited plan with some nice perks
You may have heard about the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities that affect virtually every computer in the world, including your web host. Fixes are coming, but those fixes may slow down computers by around 30%. If your site loads 30% slower, are you gonna lose some rankings? Google says not to worry.
Before we get into that though, I’m Mickey Mellen, and this is A Brighter Web, episode number 35, brought to you by all of us at GreenMellen. Our goal with this podcast is to give you quick weekly insights and tips to help you get more done and free up your time to do great things. We also want to thank our sponsor, GoWP.com. 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 Spectre and Meltdown affecting your rankings, Google link colors, mobile page speed, Search Console beta, GoogleBot’s improved vision, YouTube monetization, and much more. Let’s dig in.
So as I mentioned at the top, Specter and Meltdown are some pretty serious vulnerabilities that affect the vast majority of computers in the world, but patches are coming soon. The problem is your web server is one of those likely affected, and the patches are gonna slow that server down by roughly 30%. If the server is 30% slower, won’t your site be 30% slower, and won’t that hurt your rankings? Google says not to worry. Google’s John Mueller says, “We currently differentiate between those that are really, really, really slow, and the rest. I doubt this would push any site over. That said, users don’t care why a site is slow.”
So while speed is certainly important, remember that for a fast site, 30% really doesn’t add up to too much. If your site loads in 2 seconds right now, 30% slower would be 2.6 seconds. You hate to see any slowdown, but 2.6 really isn’t that big a deal compared to sites that load in like 10 seconds. Plus, hosts should slowly adjust by moving sites around and adding more resources to counter this issue over time. So long-term, speed shouldn’t matter too much for you.
Google’s testing light blue links to match mobile link color. For many years now, Google has used the same color blue on their links in the search results. This is hex color #2200CC, for those interested. Now they’re testing a much lighter shade of blue to match the color of their mobile search results. This won’t affect you day-to-day too much, but it’ll be interesting to see if they go through with it, and is yet another sign of Google trying to get their mobile and desktop searches to match.
Google says page speed will become a factor in mobile searches. We all know that Google uses speed as a ranking factor, and they have for years on desktop, but it’s only been on desktop. Google’s not looked at that on mobile. Starting this July, Google will start using speed as a factor on mobile sites as well. Google says it will only affect, “A small percentage of the queries. It’s only especially slow sites we affect.”
So likely you don’t need to worry, as long as your site’s not excessively slow. But certainly keep an eye on that and a faster site, even if Google doesn’t mind the speed, faster is always better for your users.
Google Search Console beta sends invited to more webmasters. Google sent out more invites to use a new version of Google Search Console, so keep an eye on that. They’ve also added a few new features, such as some export options. We have a link in our show notes that dig into some of those new features a bit more. So keep an eye out for those invites. They’ll arrive via email to the address you have connected to your Google Search Console account, inviting you to try the new one. And as we mentioned before, even when you’re using the new Search Console, you still have access to the old version, as there are some features in there that haven’t yet made it to the new one.
Google says that site splits or mergers take longer than site moves. This somewhat make sense, but Google says that a clean site move from address to another, or adding SSL, is much faster than partial moves, where you’re splitting or merging content between sites. Specifically, Google’s John Mueller says, “Site merges or splits generally take longer than one-to-one site moves, but there’s no fixed amount of time. Reprocessing is on a per-URL basis.”
So it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t split or merge content if that’s make the most sense for your situation, just realize it may take longer for Google to catch up to those changes.
GoogleBot can see even longer pages. So GoogleBot is the little bot that Googles sends around to look at all the pages on the internet to grab them and save them on their servers. So GoogleBot is all of our friend if we want to rank better. GoogleBot now can see taller pages. So GoogleBot’s typically limited by how long of a page it can see. But there’s a limit to what Google can see. It’s now reported that GoogleBot can see 12,140 pixels on mobile, and 9,307 on desktop. That should be more than plenty for most of you, but it’s something to keep in mind if you have any extraordinarily long pages.
YouTube changes their monetization rules. YouTube has just changed the rules on who’s allowed to monetize their videos, effectively kicking out thousands of channels. The new rule is that you must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months to be eligible for ads. For me personally, this means I’m no longer able to monetize my videos. While I have around 2,500 subscribers, they’ve only watched 20,277 minutes in the past year, so 337 hours, which is way short of the 4,000 hours needed.
Now granted, it only earned me a few dollars a month, and for most people that are getting kicked out, it’s not a lot of money we’re talking about, but it’s still a shame. A lot of people said, “Hey, I used that to pay for my Netflix, I was making $10, $20 a month,” and now they won’t anymore. But hopefully as channels grow, they’ll get in there.
The consensus really is that this is not a bad move by YouTube, but perhaps they should have grandfathered existing monetized channels in. But they’re not, and as of February 20th, that’ll change. So if you make money from YouTube, keep an eye on that, and hopefully it won’t affect you too much.
Smart speakers are stealing time from smart phones, TV and radio. So with roughly 40 million smart speakers, the primary ones being Alexa and Google Home, in homes today, there’s increasing amounts of research on how they’re used. A new survey shows that smart speaker usage is replacing various other media in the house, primarily affecting radio and smart phone usage, but also television, tablet and computers.
This makes sense. We have a total of five Google Home devices in our house, and they certainly replace radios for playing music, and a good bit of smartphone usage too for asking questions I normally would’ve used my phone for. A link to the full research can be found in our show notes, so you can learn more about that.
Facebook will be showing less content from publishers and brands. Facebook business pages have become less and less prevalent in the news feed over the past few years, but it’s about to get much worse. Specifically, Facebook has told publishers and brands that they, “May see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.”
We’ve seen this coming, and it’s why we encourage companies to use multiple channels. From Facebook’s angle, it’s probably a good way to get companies to spend more money with them, which can have a pretty good return on investment, but it’s something you need to be aware of, and make sure you keep your marketing strategy wide, and don’t go too deep in any one channel for things like this.
Google’s Project Fi just unveiled a new $80 unlimited plan with some nice perks. So Project Fi is a great service, but I’ve been waiting on them to do something, because they really haven’t been competitive on data prices, and now they have.
If you’re not familiar with Project Fi, it’s a mobile phone service from Google that uses T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular. Whichever one’s getting the best signal in any given location is what your phone will use. It’s pretty brilliant. And for the most part, T-Mobile has phenomenal speeds inside of cities, and Sprint gets a little more coverage outside, and together they become a pretty good network.
The main downside, it’s only available on a number of select Android phones, primarily their Pixel devices. Now these are amazing phones, I have the Pixel 2 XL and I love it. But it’s a small percentage of the total phones out there. The pricing for Project Fi has always been fair, but wasn’t great for heavy data users. For $20, you got unlimited talk and text, and then it was $10 a gig for data on top of that. What’s neat is that you got a credit for unused data, so you never pay for more than you use. However, with most companies offering unlimited data, $10 a gig was just too expensive for most users.
So now they have a new plan. They’re calling it “bill protection”, which caps the bill at $80 a month. You still start at $20, and you still pay $10 a gig, but once you’ve used 6 gigs, a total of $80, the rest of the data is free, up to I think 15 or so. What this means is that your bill can fluctuate with usage. You can use wifi to keep the bill low one month, but if you need to use a ton of actual data the next month, the unlimited plan will kick in and keep the bill at $80.
With other carriers, you buy their unlimited plan, and if you have a really low month, you still pay for the unlimited plan. So this, in theory, if you watch your data, could keep you in better shape. And then if you want to go just data-crazy one month, you’re still covered there. So it’s worth checking that out if you’re an Android fan, a Pixel fan, and have the need for that kind of service.
And for our tip of the week, I would say to get a mobile hotspot, or learn to use your phone as one if you want. We have a few hotspots from Verizon, and they’re pretty cheap when they’re part of a family plan. Here’s a couple examples why I love them so much.
So I was in a meeting a few days ago at a large new building, and I brought my hotspot like I always did. I fired it up and got to work in the meeting. Meanwhile, I saw others struggling to make the wifi connect. They were trying to track down the password, it went down at one point, just kind of the normal wifi headaches. It wasn’t a big deal, but it made the hotspot decision seem wise.
A bigger problem I remember is from some years ago when I was still essentially a freelancer, I accompanied an agency to a website pitch. Before we went in, I fired up my hotspot so I was ready to go. Once we sat down, the agency guys needed wifi, and we couldn’t really start til they got connected. So they asked the firm we were at for their wifi info, but they didn’t really know what it was. So the business owner got up, went up to reception, got the info for them, came back, then they still couldn’t connect. They were like, “Is that a one or an I,” trying to get it sorted out.
It eventually got settled, but it really kills your professionalism when you’re messing around like that. Again, you can usually add a hotspot to your line for like $20 a month, and it just works awesome, you can let other people use it. I use it in the car when I convince my wife to drive on longer trips.
The other reason I like hotspots over using your phone is they don’t drain your phone battery. Hotspots on your phone can really kill the battery. You can move them around to a more signal-friendly area, for example I could put it by the window or something and get a better signal. I do that when I’m in south Georgia sometimes with my in-laws. But if not though, particularly with unlimited data plans, using your phone as a hotspot can work just fine. Either way, just be prepared, so you’re not fumbling in front of colleagues or clients at your next meeting.
That’s all we have for this week. You can find me on Twitter @mickmel, M-I-C-K-M-E-L, 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. Thanks for listening.