A bug was spotted in the search console, Google updated the guidelines for quality raters, and you’ll get a warning if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.
Here’s what happened this week in SEO.
Google Search Console Now Sending Page Speed Update Notifications
If you’re running an older version of Google PageSpeed on your site, the Google Search Console will let you know and encourage you to update the software.
Remember, page speed is important to rank well. That’s why you should have state-of-the-art technology tracking your site speed.
If you’re using the older version of PageSpeed, you’ll see this notice in the search console: “Google has detected that your site is currently running PageSpeed < 18.104.22.168 or < 22.214.171.124, an older version of PageSpeed. Outdated or unpatched software can be vulnerable to hacking and malware exploits that harm potential visitors to your site. Therefore, we suggest you update the software on your site as soon as possible.”
If you haven’t already done so, check your console today to be sure that you’re using the latest PageSpeed.
Rumors of Panda 4.0
There was some chatter online this week that Google might be rolling out a Panda 4.0 update. A few webmasters have noticed significant keyword movement in the SERPs.
Some of the speculation can be found at the Search Engine Roundtable Webmaster Report, where one commenter offered this: “[S]omething is rolling on. One of my website got hit really badly.”
Another commenter agreed, saying: “I think there is an update happening too. Seen some serious movement on a few keywords, some good, some bad.”
Be ready for an announcement about an official launch in the near future.
Google Will Tell You If Your Site Isn’t Mobile-Friendly
One SEO journalist noticed this week that Google is informing site owners if their site isn’t mobile-friendly.
Jennifer Slegg performed a Google search on her mobile device. The results included one of her older websites that wasn’t responsive. Just underneath the website link, she saw this ominous message: “Your page is not mobile-friendly.”
It’s nice of Google to provide that warning. After all, mobile-friendliness is a ranking signal.
Google Recommends Localization of Alt Attributes
Alt attributes (often mistakenly called “alt tags”) provide descriptions of the contents of an HTML tag. They’re often seen in <img> tags to describe the contents of the image.
Recently on StackExchange, Google’s own John Mueller fielded a question about whether or not alt attributes should be written in the same language as the rest of the page.
“Do I have to have my static images have alt / title tags in the language of the content or is this not important (i.e. can my German site have English alt tags)?” the questioner asked.
Here’s how Mueller replied: “Alt attributes are essentially to tell users what an image is about, so if you have the rest of your content localized, it would make sense to localize those too.”
Google Tests Showing Mini-Reviews in Local 3-Pack Search Results
If you’ve ever performed a local search for a retail business or contractor (e.g., “Los Angeles plumbers”), you might have noticed a listing of 3 local businesses at the top, just below the ads. That “3-pack” features information about the business, such as its address and hours of operation.
But now it seems as though Google is experimenting with the idea of removing the hours of operation and replacing that line with a mini-review. It’s still in the experimental phase, and there’s no promised roll-out date, but it would be nice if users could see a brief review of a business without an additional click.
Unfortunately, though, there’s not a whole lot of screen real estate in the 3-pack for a thorough review and abbreviated reviews can often distort the reviewer’s intention. It’s not clear how Google will handle that problem.
Google Updates Guidelines for Search Quality Raters
It was revealed this week that Google had updated its search quality raters guidelines. The good news for time-strapped raters is that the guidelines are now shorter: they’re down to 146 pages from 160 pages.
For people who don’t even have time to read 146 pages, though, here are the key takeaways:
- There’s much less emphasis on supplementary content
- There’s more emphasis on local, now called “Visit-in-Person”
- There’s more emphasis on the EAT acronym (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) when it comes to analyzing results
- More mobile examples have been added
You can check out the whole document here.
Google Is Fixing a Bug in the Search Console
Last weekend, a bug was discovered in the Google Search Console. The Search Analytics report was missing an entire day of data for March 28.
People who care about what their traffic patterns looked like on March 28 expressed concern, but Google assured everybody that it’s a widespread bug and the missing data doesn’t have any impact on rankings or indexing.
Google’s John Mueller took to Twitter to tell the world that the data “will be back soon.”
If you have clients complaining, kindly inform that it’s a bug that Google is working to fix.