This week: WordPress makes it easy to move to HTTPS, Instagram makes it easy to add captions to Stories, and Google makes it easy for you to forget about LSI keywords.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
WordPress 5.7 Offers One-Click Conversion to HTTPS
WordPress 5.7 (or “Esperanza”) enables you to convert to HTTPS with just a single click.
And it’s available right now.
You might have struggled in the past with migrating to HTTPS. That’s because it requires a bit of technical wizardry.
But no more. Now WordPress will do all the heavy lifting on your behalf.
The latest version also offers a more user-friendly editor, new default colors, a robots API, and lazy loading iFrames.
WordPress Gutenberg 10.1 Boosts Core Web Vitals
Speaking of WordPress, its Gutenberg page builder is out with a new release (10.1) that boosts performance.
Specifically, it gives your site a better reading when it comes to Core Web Vitals.
If you aren’t familiar with Core Web Vitals, they’re user experience standards that Google will soon use as a ranking signal.
Pages that load too slowly or shift around a lot generate a poor user experience and won’t meet the standards.
Webmasters who use WordPress have noticed that their pages often don’t meet the Core Web Vitals requirements. However, they couldn’t do anything about it.
Why? Because the violations are built into the WordPress codebase, leaving website owners who aren’t software developers helpless.
But not any more. Now, Gutenberg aims to deliver an improved user experience with updated code.
But will it be good enough for Core Web Vitals? Time will tell.
Online Poll: SEOs Will Prioritize Core Web Vitals
Speaking of Core Web Vitals, a new online poll released this past week shows that SEOs will prioritize optimizing their sites to meet those standards.
Aleyda Solis conducted the survey in response to a recent statement by Google’s Danny Sullivan, who said that page experience won’t start off as a significant ranking factor immediately.
The poll asked SEOs if that statement changes their current Core Web Vitals optimization priorities. Here are the results:
So it looks like most SEOs are playing the long game by improving user experience right away even though it won’t matter much for a while. That’s a good thing.
Microsoft Bing Rolls out Updates to Search
Microsoft Bing is releasing five new updates to search that move the search engine beyond a catalog of lists and offer an improved user experience.
Here’s a rundown of what you can expect to see:
- Intuitive Highlighting – Click on a card result in search and Bing will display more info about that result inline. You won’t even have to click the link on the web page unless you want to take a deep dive into the info.
- Integrated Visual Search – Click on a card result and you’ll see a visual search button on it. Click that button and Bing will display results from an image search based on the content on the card.
- Expandable Carousels – Hover over a carousel result and see additional info about it.
- Infographic-Like SERPS – See results for broad subjects (like “giraffe” or “Kenya”) displayed on the right-hand sidebar in infographic-like format.
- Local Search Upgrades – Look for aggregated results in local search similar to the formats I described above.
The new features will launch over the coming weeks.
Google: Use NoIndex to Remove Pages From the Index
If you’ve got one or more pages that you’d like to remove from search results, use the NoIndex meta tag rather than blocking Googlebot with robots.txt.
Google’s John Mueller fielded a question about this topic on Twitter recently. The questioner asked: “Is there a way to un-index +10K URLs that are basically a signup page with GET parameters that serve a redirection purpose after the authentication? Example: `/signup/?redirect=/some/page/I/came/from` It’s already blocked by robots, still indexed though.”
Mueller replied: “Why would you need to unindex them? If they’re ranking for queries you care about, you should improve your other pages. If they’re not ranking, then ignore them. (Also, to unindex, don’t block with robots.txt, use noindex instead.)”
That NoIndex tag goes in your HTML header and looks like this:
Instagram Tests Auto-Captions for Stories
This is welcome news.
Instagram is testing a new “Closed Captions” sticker for Stories. It will generate captions for your video clips in a variety of text formats.
What types of format? You can choose from a Courier-flavored non-proportional font, large letters for emphasis, or basic block letters.
Keep in mind: the new feature is still in test mode. So you might be able to access it, but when you try to do anything, you’ll get an “Internal only” error message.
Be patient. It should go live soon enough.
Twitter Plans to Launch Spaces Next Month
Twitter plans to put its Clubhouse clone, called Spaces, into production next month.
This is no April Fool’s joke.
Spaces, by the way, is an audio-only social media platform. Unlike Clubhouse, though, it’s not an invite-only hangout for the rich and famous.
Anybody can join Spaces.
That could enable Twitter to capture much of the audio-only social media market share. And the company is clearly in a rush to be first-to-market.
Unsurprisingly, though, other social media companies plan to launch their own Clubhouse clones as well. Stay tuned to see who wins this race.
Google: LSI Isn’t a Thing
This one might shock you.
Google doesn’t recognize latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. That’s according to John Mueller.
If you’re unfamiliar with LSI keyword optimization, it’s an SEO strategy of using similar terms and phrases to the primary keyword for an article. For example, if you’re optimizing for “saltwater fishing reels,” you might want to throw in words like “ocean,” “boating,” or “sportfishing.”
But Google says that stuff doesn’t matter.
This past week, Mueller fielded this question during an online forum: “What’s the best practice for anchor text wording on internal links as well as external links? For example, using the website name, the blog post title, exact match or LSI keywords?”
He began his response this way: “Um… First of all, we have no concept of LSI keywords. So that’s something you can completely ignore. I think it’s interesting to look at LSI when you’re thinking about understanding information retrieval as a theoretical or computer science topic. But as an SEO you probably don’t need to worry about that.”
So there you have it. No need to optimize for LSI keywords.
That doesn’t mean Google doesn’t evaluate the whole page for context, though. It just means you should write naturally and let the similar concepts come up on their own.
As winter draws to a close, here are a few action items you can add to your list:
- If you’re going out of your way to identify LSI keywords, stand down. Instead, just produce quality content that resonates with your audience. You’ll likely get a good rank.
- Think about how you can use audio-only social platforms like Spaces to boost your brand.
- Keep an eye on Instagram’s auto-captioning feature for Stories. Use it to reach people in environments where they can’t listen to audio. It’s also a great way to engage with folks who are hard of hearing.
- If you need to remove pages from the search index, make sure you use the NoIndex meta tag rather than robots.txt.
- If you’re still using HTTP instead of HTTPS, use that new WordPress feature to move your site to the secure protocol.