Google’s Latest Changes for 2017


Each year Google makes search algorithm changes to keep up with all the SPAMMY websites we all are forced to deal with. As frustrating as this can be for some, it actually is working to make our search results more genuine and internet experience more mobile-friendly. Check out the latest changes that we all should pay attention to:

Mobile First Indexing

I just have this to say — your mobile search engine listings are becoming more and more important! With the introduction of Mobilegeddon in 2015 we saw how our websites could be banned from mobile/tablet listings if not made mobile-friendly or fully responsive. Now Google has taken it one step further whereby your mobile listings are now going to dictate where you are found in the desktop listings.

SOLUTION: Update your website to be responsive – read our post on Responsive, mobile-friendly Web Design to learn more! Then contact us for your free 2-hour consultation to get started or check out our package pricing on homepage!

Interstitial Popups Penalty

You know those annoying popups that you are forced to close before you can view the website’s content? Well say bye bye to those because Google has decided to downgrade those sites whenever the popups block content (called interstitial popups) because they are considered intrusive, problematic on mobile, and a poor user-experience. They are only allowed for an acceptable legal purpose like an determination of age verification or cookie usage, login dialog boxes where content is not publicly indexable, or banners that use a “reasonable” amount of screen space like app installs and are easily dismissible. See examples below:

Bad Interstitial popup examplesGood Interstitial popup examples

SOLUTION: If you are needing an alternative to your interstitial popup problem, we recommend using a hello/notification bar instead — that just pops up above or below your content (vs. overtop the content) as one scrolls down the page. We have already implemented for several of our client websites (Ex. – just start scrolling and you will see it popup) and would love to help implement for you as well. It only takes about 1-2 hrs of time. Contact us to get started!

Site Speed is Important

Because we all don’t have time to wait for websites to load on our mobile devices, google has decided to rank your site speed. To test your site speed try out the following various websites (some may score better than others):

SOLUTION: Some good options to help with site loading would be to optimize your images, use a bloat-free theme and eliminate unnecessary plugins, use a WordPress-specific host like WP Engine that uses wicked-fast hardware to serve up your site, and upgrade your host servers to PHP7. For long-form content like blog posts and/or for slow-loading pages, but not for visual-heavy pages that rely upon visuals, try using the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) plugin which builds web pages for static content that render fast. And if you want to customize your AMP pages so they aren’t so plain you can utilize Yoast’s Glue for Amp. Contact us to get you started in evaluating your site.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords (phrases made up of 3-5 words) are the next generation to shorter more general keywords called “head” terms. Although they are less popular they are more targeted to specific searches and come with less competition. Therefore they help bring in more targeted prospects which is what we all want. An example of a normal keyword would be “website optimization” while a long tail keyword would be “how to optimize my website for search engines”. Long tail keywords come in handy when writing blog posts on a monthly basis to help pull in more web traffic. To learn more check out our post on How to Find Long Tail Keywords.

External Links, Internal Links, & Backlinks

First and foremost, whenever possible get backlinks from other websites to your website. Those are by far the most helpful links. That means if you get mentioned in a newspaper, or write a magazine article, or speak at a conference, or you have a partner website, etc. make sure that the source’s website links back to your website. However, you should also link internally to relevant articles on your own website while also linking externally to other sites as well. You may not benefit as much as a backlink but it gives your article value nonetheless. So just realize that both are helpful for creating relevant content overall and that’s what the web is for. Read more about Internal Linking here from the Yoast SEO plugin people.

Google Reviews Help with Local Map Rankings

Google Reviews are valued by search engines because they offer credibility due to their anonymity, especially if you want to be listed locally on the Map pack of search engines. If you are interested in getting Google Reviews done by your clients just read this post on Why Google Reviews Just Might Be More Important Than Other Reviews. It gives over an in-depth explanation of why it’s important and how to set them up correctly through your Google Business page. If you want to learn more read How to get Local Reviews and Ratings by Yoast. If you want to learn how to improve your local rankings read Local Ranking Factors that help your local business’ SEO by Yoast or Improve your local ranking on Google. It’s all about relevance, distance, and prominence!

HTTPS Websites give minor SEO Ranking Boost

If you need to compete with other websites in the rankings for similar keyword phrases and don’t want to lose your referral statistics (due to referral loss) — this option might give you the edge you need. Please see our post SSL and SEO for more details on this very important option and if you want to migrate your website to SSL just contact us to help get that done for you (estimated 1-2 hours) depending on the setup of your website.

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