Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Google's Mobile Interstitials Penalty - What Should You Know About It?

Google has already rolled its new policy to devalue pages that use intrusive interstitials and popups. I have tried to list down some important factors that we need to know about this new policy:

Google Mobile Interstitials Penalty

  • This policy is related to mobile searches only.
  • If you have a desktop only website, you can use interstitials. But please note, your desktop site would be your mobile site in this case and hence you can expect suboptimal rankings.
  • This policy only impacts search result to page. This means, Google will only check if a mobile interstitial is served after the searcher goes from Google search result to your page. What you do after that page is something Google will not look into. This also means, if a visitor arrives to your page from a traffic source that is not Google, you can serve popups or interstitial. 
  • Google has no issue with popups that are mandatory to be served, example - cookie consent notice or a popup that needs to be served to check the visitors age, probably on an alcohol site.
  • If you are using a popup that is served after some time (once the user spends some time on the page), that can impact your rankings.
  • This policy applies to page level. If your site serves interstitials on some pages that are visited from Google search results, that won't impact the overall website. That could downrank those particular pages where you serve intrusive popups. This was confirmed by Google's Gary Illyes on Twitter.
  • Sites can use exit interstitials. These are interstitials that are served when a site visitor tries to leave the website. 
  • This policy has nothing to do with the current Mobile Friendly Test. Google has no plans of creating a mobile interstitials testing tool. Even if your site passes Google's mobile friendly test, you still need to take care of intrusive interstitials on your pages.
  • This policy doesn't apply to small popups that don't cover the whole page and prevent users from viewing the content. But we aren't sure what size is small enough. So better avoid using such popups unless and until they are very important.
  • Mobile interstitial isn't the only ranking factor in Google's search algorithm. So if you see a site using mobile interstitial and still ranking well in search results, that could be because they are faring well in other ranking signals.
  • Last but not the least, this is not a penalty. Google will just devalue pages from ranking well in search results that make use of intrusive interstitials.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Never Seen Before Google Sponsored Ad - OK Jaanu Vote

We live in an era of innovations. If you aren't innovative enough, its hard to survive. Even the movie industry has left no stone unturned to come up with ideas that grab a lot of eye balls. 

Recently Dharma Productions partnered with Google to promote it's upcoming movie OK Jaanu. We can see a never seen before sponsored listing right below the search box. It says 'What do you call your Janu?' followed by six options to select from.

Once you are logged in to your Google account and you type 'OK Jaanu vote' in the search box, you would see the following Sponsored Ad:-

If you click on the Sponsored link available at the top right corner, it says:
Google has partnered with Dharma Productions Pvt. Ltd. to be an official voting method for Ok Jaanu. Votes must be received by the end of the voting period. You have 3 votes per day per Google account.

Google constantly makes several changes to its search result page layout. Knowledge graph, Top stories, local listings, featured snippets and what not. And now we have a vote snippet in form of a Sponsored listing that captures the complete first fold of our screen. 

We can definitely expect many such layout changes in Google search result page. But this one was really interesting.

You can see a similar listing on Google Mobile search also. 

I have tweeted about this here:

Thanks to my friend Vibhas Sen who first shared this update on one of our Whatsapp groups. He tweets at https://twitter.com/vibhassen

Tejas Thakkar

Friday, 6 January 2017

Do Google Spreadsheets Rank in Search Results?

Do Google Spreadsheets Rank in Search Results? Answer is yes, they can!

This was also confirmed on Twitter by John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst - Switzerland. Here is the link to the conversation: Twitter.

Google Spreadsheets rank on Search Results

This implies, Google Sheets might rank in search results. Following this confirmation from John Mueller, I asked him a way to avoid crawlers from reading the sheets. Probably by keeping the sheets private? To this he replied that Google Docs are set to private by default. Hence they remain unindexed unless and until we make them public. 

Google Spreadsheets Private

One of my friends informed me that he read an article on how links on Google Sheets are counted as backlinks. This made me ask John the same question to which he gave a witty reply:-

Well this conversation ended on a rather funny note. But things we learnt here:-
  • Google Spreadsheets can rank in Google Search Results
  • Links on the Spreadsheets don't count as backlinks
Tejas Thakkar

How to add AddThis to Blogger

Once you write a post, you would love to get it shared on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest or even through email. Your posts can earn more visibility once your content is shared as much as possible. Well, I don't think I have to tell you that your website's social visibility can help to gain better organic rankings (to an extent, yes!).

To serve this purpose, we have umpteen number of options available. The one I prefer the most is AddThis.com

AddThis is a social bookmarking service that can be integrated into a website with the use of a web widget. I will try to provide some help here on How to add Addthis to Blogger. Hope this would be a good assistance to those who have started posting on Blogger.com

Please make a note of the following steps on how to add Addthis widget/tool to Blogger

1) Create an account on AddThis (https://www.addthis.com/register). Options availble to register: Google account, Facebook, Twitter or any of your email accounts

2) Once you complete the sign up process, log into your AddThis account

3) Click on Explore the Tools. Once you scroll down you would see a wide range of options - Sidebar, Image Sharing, Expanding and Inline

4) Let's learn how to add Sidebar option to Blogger. Click on Activate under Sidebar option

5) Select the Position drop-down based on your preferences for Desktop and Mobile. Example, let's select Left for Desktop and Bottom for Mobile.

6) Later you can see options for Share Counters that includes - None, Individual, Total, Individual & Total. Let's select the last one.

7) You have an option to select the Social Networks of your choice. Either you can opt for Automatic or you can select the networks of your choice. If you select say Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Whatsapp; you can drag them in an order of your priority. 

8) Under Design, you can select Style of your choice and Mobile Button Size of your choice. You can also customise Icon Color and Background Color.

9) Under Advanced Options, you can hide the widget/tool on certain pages of your choice. Under Extra Appearance Settings you can set a minimum threshold value required to show the Share numbers. I would prefer that to be zero. Under Responsive Width, I prefer keeping it Zero so that it's shown on all devices. Other important aspect here is you can customise the Follow Up message for someone who shares your post.

10) Once you have completed all the above posts, you need to Save and Continue.

11) Click on Get the Code at the top of your screen. Under HTML Website, just copy the code available. 

12) Now log into your Blogger account. Click on Layout and then on Add a Gadget. Add the gadget for HTML/Javascript. Name it as AddThis and paste the Add.this code there. Save the gadget.

13) Now visit Template, click on Edit HTML, search for Addthis. You would find the following code:

<b:widget id='HTML2' locked='false' title='Addthis' type='HTML' visible='true'>

Modify it as mentioned below (Just add mobile= 'yes'):-

<b:widget id='HTML2' locked='false' mobile='yes' title='Addthis' type='HTML' visible='true'>

This is an important step for the widget to be visible on a mobile device.
Save template and click on Back. Now click on the settings for Mobile template, select Custom and Save.

That's it!

You would be able to see the AddThis tool/widget on your mobile and desktop.

How to add AddThis on Blogger

Tejas Thakkar

Optimise your PDFs

We all are pretty excited to know how would the search engines react to various changes that we make on our websites or how would they treat various existing factors on the site. Many of us must have experimented a lot on our websites and derived conclusions through the results achieved. And some of us have our own myths about the search engines' reactions.

One such factor that makes us think about is the use of PDFs on the websites. There are many websites that make use of PDFs. We know tons of magazines that have their online presence also and to make the user experience more eye catchy and lively, they prefer to upload their magazines on the website in the PDF version. But this results in couple of questions - how would the search engines react to these PDFs and what can we do to rank the content in search results?

While I was researching on these questions, I came across the following Google Webmasters forum link which provides a good information about what would be Google's reaction to PDF files on a particular website:-

You would like to read comments from John Mueller who is one of the Google employees. He has provided some good information that resolves our queries. We can derive from this forum post that Google can read those PDFs if the content on it is in a textual format and it is in the proper character-sets (to check this you need to simply select some of the content and copy it into a text-editor).

There is a better optimisation technique available in which we should ideally create HTML versions of the PDFs. This would provide a better user functionality as most of the users don't appreciate PDFs (because the users have to download them first to view the content).

If you are wary that this would result in duplicate content on the website, you need not worry. Just mirror the content of PDFs on HTML pages and search engines would rank one of them, preferably the HTML versions.

Tejas Thakkar

SEO Referential Integrity

World Wide Web is incessantly providing global information to the users worldwide. In the World Wide Web, ‘words’ play a very imperative role. Webmasters are intended to earn profits and they have to catch the fancy of Searchers to visit their sites. Webmasters through their thorough analysis have to decide what the Searchers are actually looking for. In this day and age the Searchers have become more specific in terms of reaching their desired site. They are now using more and more precise search terms (words). This implies that both webmasters and searchers are motivated entirely by their self-interest and these words (search terms) bring them to a collective agreement.

It is a search engine like Google that provides a medium to bond the webmasters and searchers together. For this bonding purpose Google employs a set of rules called Algorithms. While indexing a particular page, every single word existing on the page is collected and Google builds a big matrix to relate these words to the pages on which they exist. This data structure called an inverted index and is a common element in all search engine algorithm.

An Anchor Text is used to connect a particular word on a page to some other relevant page of the site. It is nothing but a visible and clickable text in a hyperlink which takes the user to another relevant page of the site. So Google derives the connections between two pages through these words used as Anchor text. Very similar to the word matrix, Google builds a second matrix which indexes the words appearing in the links, connecting different pages. Hence a major matrix is now required which not only recognises the words on a particular page but also the words used to link different pages.

Thus deriving a simple insight we can say that the gauge of ‘Referential Truthfulness’ is in the harmony of the text on the pages and the orientation to it.

Google will rank your pages as per your desire and the way you orient them. But it will always follow its algorithms to rank your page. Hence it is indispensable to understand its algorithm and obey the set of rules, if you wish to improve the keyword standings.                      
As the users have become very precise nowadays they are constantly in search of very specific results to be displayed. In other words they are looking for the ‘truth’. As Google is committed to show the truth to the users, Google continuously tries to improve its set of rules (algorithms). The three main factors which form the basis of this improvement are the relevance of the result, exactitude of the result and efficiency of the user. So to improve your keyword standings simply obey the algorithms of Google. Pursue the following three important factors to learn how the system works basically:-

·        Theme: It is the theme of the page that symbolises the on-page aspects of the search terminology. It is a way the machine understands the pages.

·        Status: It is the status or the reputation that symbolises the off-page aspects. It is the application of anchor text in the links that directs the user to another relevant page of the site thus providing significance to the page.

·        Authentication: It is a collection of theme and status effects from external sources that authenticates what a site says about itself. Primary purpose of this part of Google’s process is to shield the above two aspects from abuse. 

Tejas Thakkar