SEO Insights - December 2020 Report image

SEO Insights – December 2020 Report

SEO Insights - December 2020 Report image

As we bid a fond farewell to 2020, there is much to reflect upon and even more to look forward to in 2021.

2020 was truly like nothing most of us have ever experienced and for most businesses, their positive plans at the beginning of the year will have taken a significant deviation.

However, here at Artemis we never spend much time looking back. Our focus is, and always has been, on looking ahead, planning and implementing what we have to do with our clients’ online presences to best position them going forward to stay ahead of the competition as algorithms evolve, shopping behaviours change and people adapt to a “new normal”.

Before we look at ahead to what’s in store for 2021 there are two key items of news to discuss from December 2020 first:

1 – Google Core Algorithm Update

It was a big one…and really quite bad of Google to launch it at such an important time for businesses when many might have already suffered a very tough year because of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, they rolled it out over two weeks and it generally changed a very high number of search results.

A core update is defined by Google as:

Several times a year, we make significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems. We refer to these as “core updates.” They’re designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.

We have compiled our initial observations of this update and it appears to have impacted websites in different ways.  However, there are two main areas where we have witnessed significant impacts:

  1. Internationalisation
  2. Page keyword relevancy

We will send more details to all of our clients shortly on these findings and what it means in terms of the resultant focus over the coming weeks and months.

2 – “Request Indexing” Tool is Back

Google removed this useful tool a few months ago but reinstated it in Search Console in December.

This tool is very useful for getting new and updated pages indexed quickly and also for testing the effects of on-page changes.

It appears that Google engineers had not envisaged SEOs using the tool to try and reverse-engineer elements of Google’s algorithm and that’s ultimately why they removed it.

Although it has been reinstated it’s not quite the tool it was before. All submissions are no longer guaranteed to be reindexed immediately (if at all) and we are assuming at this early stage that they will also have updated it to only reindex pages that have had significant quality changes made to them and not just any minor changes.

We will be testing this during January and adapt our use of the tool accordingly.

Now, looking ahead and what’s in store for 2021, there are two milestones from Google’s perspective:

1 – Mobile-First Indexing – March 2021

Although Google has been transitioning indexing to the mobile version of most websites for some time now, for many websites that are still not mobile-friendly, Google has still been crawling their desktop version.

The original plan was for mobile-first indexing to be enabled for all websites from September 2020, but this was pushed back to March 2021 to give more businesses time to prepare their websites accordingly due to the pandemic.

Therefore, as of April, Google will index the entire internet from a mobile perspective. It’s quite a key milestone and a reflection of just how mobile search focused the internet has become.

2 – Page Experience Update – May 2021

This new update that is being rolled out by Google in May is part of their ongoing mission to make the web a fast, secure and pleasant experience for all users.

Whereas traditionally ranking factors have been based on on-page elements (titles, meta tags, content, etc.) and off-page signals (backlinks, citations, etc.), this new update also takes into account how friendly and easy to use pages are for users.

There are seven key areas that all play a part in the Page Experience Update of which three are recent metrics provided in Search Console called Core Web Vitals:

  1. Loading (time) – Core Web Vitals
  2. Interactivity – Core Web Vitals
  3. Visual Stability – Core Web Vitals
  4. Mobile Friendly
  5. Safe Browsing
  6. HTTPS
  7. No Intrusive Interstitials

As with what normally happens with the introduction of new ranking signals, such as the mobile page load speed ranking factor and the HTTPS boost, it’s likely that this update will not be a significant overall ranking factor initially. Over time it is likely to increase but ultimately, Google still needs to return the most relevant results for a search query, and that may still not be the fastest or smoothest loading page.

However, over the coming weeks we will be working with all of our clients to ensure that their websites are brilliantly prepared for when this update rolls out in May.

Looking Further Ahead

It is difficult to predict what other surprises Google will throw at us in 2021 but if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed is that there will be plenty of them.

It’s what we love about what we do. The uncertainty, the constant need to be testing new ideas, predicting the evolution of search and online user behaviour and working with our clients to anticipate the changes we need to make to keep them ahead of the competition.

As we have been delving into the effects of Google’s December Core Update, it has only reinforced the strategy we’ve been implementing for our clients for years, and that’s to focus on the user (speed and structure), quality targeted content (on-page optimisation) and backed up by authoritative and relevant third-part references (off-page optimisation).

There are no shortcuts. SEO is becoming increasingly technical, complex and time-consuming, especially with so many more businesses focussing more of their efforts in 2020 on their websites, organic search rankings and their overall online presence as shopping behaviour has increased online as a result of the pandemic.

2021 brings with it huge opportunities for our clients who have a strong head start over a lot of their competition and they are in strategic positions to benefit from the increase in online search activity. There have been a lot of lessons learned in 2020 and these will be benefiting our clients in 2021.

We look forward to working with all of our clients this year to make it a very successful and positive experience despite the global uncertainties still ahead.


November 2020 SEO Report

SEO Insights – November 2020 Report

November 2020 SEO Report

 

November is generally a critical month for a lot of businesses that generate sales online, and last month was possibly even more vital than ever after what has been a very turbulent year for many businesses.

Initial feedback shows that online sales hit record levels in November, particularly around Black Friday when products are heavily discounted.  At the same time, it appears that in-person store visits are at an all-time low due to various restrictions and lockdowns in place.

As we write this the Arcadia group has announced that it is going into administration, as is Debenhams. This is sadly leading to huge job losses but these are examples of physical businesses which have not adapted well or quickly enough to the major shift to online shopping.

In contrast, Next has been heavily focused on their web presence as have M&S and even during these difficult times, they appear to still be performing well.

There has probably never been a more important time than now for businesses to ensure that they have an established and prominent online presence. It is extremely sad to see empty highstreets but the world has changed, online shopping is increasing by the day and the trend is likely to continue.

Now, in other (more Search related) news….

Crawl Stats Report

Google has released a new Crawl Stats Report in Search Console. This report gives an insight into how often, how quickly and how deep Google is crawling a website.

Understanding crawl behaviour (Google’s discovery of pages) can help to diagnose website issues that may be leading to ranking losses, such as server downtime or the inability for Google to fully download resources.

November 2020 image 1

 

There is a new element to this report now which is quite interesting.  It shows the stats for pages which are re-crawled (refreshed) and those which are newly discovered:

 

November 2020 2

 

This is particularly useful to understand how often pages are re-crawled and how long it takes pages to be discovered.

For example, an important page may only be re-crawled once per month because the content is quite static. If the content is updated on a regular basis this would lead Google to re-crawl it more often, which is important for freshness in the search results and to have new content indexed quickly. We can monitor these crawl rates in this new report.

New and Improved Link Disavow Tool

Google has now migrated the link disavow tool to the new Search Console interface.  This tool is used to tell Google to ignore certain links pointing to a website, such as spam links and paid links.

It now features a friendlier user interface, the ability to download the disavow file as a text file and there are error reports now showing more than 10 errors.

November 2020 3

 

As the warning says…this is an advanced tool and should be used with caution.

Google is really very good now at ignoring spam links pointing to a website. It’s mostly not necessary for any website to use this tool. In fact, you can inadvertently tell Google to ignore perfectly legitimate links to your website if you don’t realise that those links are actually helping your website to rank and not harming it. Disavowing good links can lead to ranking losses.

However, sometimes there can be an overwhelming number of spam links that could be causing an issue for the website, in which case it is fine to use the tool as it is when a website has a manual penalty when Google detects that a website has been buying links; a practice that goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

This is not a tool that we are ever likely to use for your website.

Both of these tools, as well as all of the others in Search Console are what we use and monitor for all clients on a regular basis to ensure their websites are performing at their best at all times.


SEO Insights – October 2020 Report

England is set to go into another month-long lockdown. It’s not the news anyone wanted to hear but things should be very different this time around.

We’re all much better set up for remote working, we know what a lockdown means to our businesses and we are better equipped to get through it. The extension of the furlough scheme until the end of the November is appreciated, particularly for those businesses which will struggle during this time.

We are now approaching the Christmas trading period which is a very critical time for a lot of our clients. We expect that online shopping levels will be the highest ever and general requests for services delivered online will increase again.

Now is the time that we need to keep pushing and work together to extract the most from every website and thrive during this busy trading period. If you would like to discuss strategies for your website over this crucial time then do talk to us. We are, as always, here to help in any way we can.

To make the most of this potentially busy period for businesses online, it is important to understand what has been happening in the world of SEO this past month.

Google Analytics 4

In October Google launched its latest version of Google Analytics which it’s called “Google Analytics 4” or GA4 for short.

GA4 is a very major change in how Google presents and interprets user data. It’s designed to give businesses a much better overall understanding of what users (customers) are doing on their websites. These new insights are designed to help businesses make better and more data-driven marketing decisions.

GA4 uses advanced machine learning to analyse trends in the data and provides a greater level of customer-centric measurement as opposed to metrics derived from devices and platforms.

GA4 is now the default option for new analytics properties. We are excited to start digging into this data for our clients so that everyone can start benefiting from the new datasets available.

Microsoft Clarity

Not to be outshone by Google, Microsoft has launched its very own free analytics tool called Microsoft Clarity.

This is a very exciting development in the area of website analytics as Clarity introduces new features not available within Google Analytics.

Clarity is designed to be easy to use and easy on the website, meaning that it has a minimal impact on page load times.

It comes with in-built heatmap and click-tracking functionality to enable you to see what users are doing on each page of your website. It also records user sessions so that you can view what specific users are doing and how they navigate the website. These sorts of insights are normally only available through third-party tools such as Hotjar and Crazyegg.

 

With the recordings you can filter them to view some interesting new metrics such as “rage clicks”, “dead clicks” and “confused scrolling”:

 

“Rage clicks” are a behavioural pattern where a user clicks several times on a portion of your page that they think should link somewhere, but which doesn’t. This can be a good indicator of non-intuitive portions of your page or help you identify page elements which aren’t working how they should.

We’re excited to start testing and experimenting with Clarity and will be looking to introduce it across all client websites along with the new GA4.

Request Indexing Feature Disabled

The handy little “Request indexing” feature in Google Search Console has been temporarily disabled. This is quite unfortunate is it was a great way to get updated pages indexed very quickly and to immediately test the effects of on-page changes.

Google notified this on Twitter:

It doesn’t make sense to disable it like this. We can assume that they realised that it was a great way for SEOs to use to it to reverse-engineer elements of the Google ranking algorithm and have suspended it accordingly.

We’ll need to wait and see how it returns but we hope it returns soon!

Passage Indexing

Google released details of how it’s using AI to make search better and in the announcement, it mentioned that it can now index passages from pages as well as entire pages themselves.

It’s not quite that passages are indexed as separate items, it’s just that it can isolate a passage on its own regardless of the content on the rest of the page.

This helps Google to surface information for complex queries that previously would not be ranked because of the influence of the page as a whole.

According to Google, this will impact 7% of queries. This is just for English queries at the moment but will be rolled out to all languages globally. Here is an example of this new technology in action:

Passage Indexing

 

At Artemis, we stay ahead of changes in SEO, Google and digital marketing tools to ensure our clients are not only up-to-date but ahead of the game. If you are interested in having us work on the digital marketing for your business, get in contact with us today.


Easing of Lockdown

Lockdown Easing – Positive Signs for Many Businesses

Justin our Technical Director has recorded his most positive video since lockdown. After the recent lockdown easing, he talks about why many more businesses are starting gains in traffic compared to previous months but still nowhere near the level of pre-lockdown yet. He also mentions that more traditional businesses that have not invested in their websites previously are now seeing more opportunities to gain business in these areas, and are now investing in digital marketing.

Lockdown Easing – Positive Signs for Many Businesses


Google Algorithm Updates

Google ‘Core Algorithm’ & the new ‘Page User Experience’ updates

Justin our Technical Director has recorded his latest monthly video where he touches base on the latest Core Algothym update for May, as well as looking ahead to Google’s new ‘Page User Experience’ update, which will be launched in 2021. He also discusses how Artemis is responding and helping our clients adapt to the current climate.


5 Weeks Into Lockdown

5 weeks into lockdown: What’s been happening online and what we have planned for May

It’s been 5 weeks since the UK went into lockdown and a lot has changed online in terms of search traffic and user behaviour.

In the video below our Technical Director, Justin Aldridge, talks about how we have been working with clients since lockdown and what we have planned for the coming weeks ahead to help our clients during this unique and challenging time.

 


Artemis During Coronavirus

How Artemis are Working with Clients During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Business can be testing at the best of times and in all likelihood this will be the most challenging time any of us will ever see, not just in business but in everyday life as well. I am sure, like us, you are having conversations about situations that you never thought you would see.

Here at Artemis we have been adapting very quickly how we work and how we work with clients to help them get through this very challenging time.

I have recorded a video talking about what’s happened in March, the effect it’s had on business and how Artemis are responding and helping our clients adapt.

Watch the video here:

 

We are working extremely hard to ensure all of our clients can, in one form or another, navigate through this very difficult time.

If you’re not an existing client but would like to talk to us about how we can help you to adapt your business to this very different trading environment that we have very quickly found ourselves in, then please do get in touch with us today.


Free GMB check

Get a FREE Google My Business Health Check

Free GMB check

The sudden and unexpected economic impact of the coronavirus has caught all businesses by surprise and many small and local businesses are now being severely impacted financially.

We want to do something to help!

Today and for the coming challenging weeks we are offering small and local businesses a free health check of their Google My Business listings. Having a correctly set up and optimised local business listing can help you to rank better for local searches and may help you generate a few more enquiries online.

As the nation is increasingly being confined to their homes, online local searches for products and services are going to keep increasing.

We want to help you make sure that your business listing is as effectively optimised as possible to appear for those local searches.  It’s a small but very useful thing that we can do to help you get through this very tough time.

Our SEO team will review your listing and send you specific actions that you need to take to better optimise your Google My Business listing.

It’s completely free at the moment during this new world of lockdown and we are planning to have a very fast turnaround for all requests.  There is no time to lose at the moment.

Let us help your business today, just complete the form below, we’ll take a look at your listing and send you the actions you need to take today to help you rank better in local searches.

We sincerely also wish you and your business the very best in getting through the next few weeks as well and as healthy as possible.

Request your free review:

  • This is the email you'll like us to send the list of actions to
  • We don't need this but if you want us to call you in case we have any questions about your listing we'll call this number
  • Please leave any comments if there's anything you think we should know before looking at your business listing on Google
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SEO Insights – February 2020

February has been a busy month, and we have seen a number of changes affecting Google rankings and how search results are displayed.

One of the biggest changes to local search results is the highlighting of alternative directory sources for the query being searched. It is not yet clear how Google actually chooses which directories to display, although some of the most well-known brands, such as Yell and Yelp, are prominent.

 

This is part of Google attempting to provide a broader array of options to searchers – likely influenced by a $2.7 billion anti-trust fine the company is facing from the EU for favouring its own content.

At Artemis, we have always considered it worthwhile to ensure that our clients are listed in relevant directories. If these are to be displayed more prominently in the search results it could mean we see a rise in traffic directly from directories.

Another change to be aware of is that Google is now providing a report on review snippets in Google Search Console with the intention of making it easier for website owners to make more of their reviews.

The report allows website owners to see errors, warnings, and valid pages for markup implemented on their site.

This ties in to some of the work that we are emphasising at Artemis. We have understood the importance of getting customers reviews for a long time – and have encouraged our clients to find ways to gather more feedback from customers.

Positive customer reviews can be hugely beneficial, not just from the perspective of SEO but also in reassuring potential customers over the quality of your business.

Just as positive reviews can be an enormous benefit to your business, negative reviews can be extremely challenging to deal with. This is why, here at Artemis, we are now offering a reputation management solution to our clients.

Our reputation management product allows you to see all of the reviews being posted about your business across more than 200 different review sites. You can then manage and reply to them as soon as possible – a vital aspect of good local SEO.

 

Our team of SEO experts has years of experience, so if you are interested in learning more about how Google’s changes might affect your rankings, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Learnings from Google’s January 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google has had a busy January making significant changes to its algorithm and search results. As large updates are usually not implemented in the run up to Christmas, January is often the month where we see quite a few changes in the search results. Here are the three main changes that have happened in January:

Core Algorithm Update

Google makes regular updates to its core algorithm but the one in January was quite a large one, resulting in significant changes in search results across the board.

There are no details of what the core algorithm change was focused on, these are never released by Google, but the update has very positively benefited Artemis clients’ websites. Our initial assessment of this update is that it is focused on content quality and better rewarding content that deserves to rank higher, due to higher relevancy, accuracy and presentation, but which may have lower PageRank authority than other websites targeting those same key phrases.

New Desktop Search Results Appearance

In 2019 Google changed the look and feel of the mobile search results to include a favicon for each listing and placing the web address (brand) above the page title.

In January Google copied this same set-up across to the desktop search results. This layout may work well on mobile screens but for desktop it does not work well at all.

 

The new desktop results were so poorly received that the backlash caused by this change prompted Google to make the unprecedented move of admitting that maybe it wasn’t the best update to the interface and that they would begin to experiment with further alternatives.

We have now already seen the favicons removed from the desktop search results and we can expect further changes over the coming weeks.

Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is presented in the search results when Google’s algorithm believes that an enhanced result may be very useful to the user based on the search query entered.

Ever since the feature was introduced, a website could enjoy two listings on the first page of the search results: The featured snippet and the organic search result itself, for example:

 

This double listing was often deemed unfair by many and in January Google changed this set up so that if a website had the featured snippet, the same page would not appear again in the organic search results.

This change has advantages and disadvantages. If a listing had a featured snippet and a first place organic listing, this update will result in a loss in traffic as now there is only one opportunity to click through to that page. However, for those websites that rank low on the first page of the results, to get the featured snippet is a way of getting to the top of the search results without needing to be first organically. There can only be a traffic increase in this scenario.

 

As with all changes there are always winners and losers. The latest changes have been very positive for Artemis’ clients and it is a reflection of our constant attention to detail, optimisation refinement and very high-quality link building activities. We expect the Artemis approach to SEO will continue to have an increasingly positive effect on business for all of our clients throughout 2020.

If you would like to learn more about Google’s updates and how Artemis can help your business stay ahead of them, please get in touch with our experienced team today.