SEO News Roundup: Google’s Mobile-First Webmaster Tips

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The latest in SEO news, including Google’s mobile-first webmaster tips and the “Maccabees” update.

Google’s Mobile-First Webmaster Tips

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Google’s tips for mobile-first preparation are now published on the webmaster blog.

Barry Schwartz outlines some key pointers that aren’t included in Google’s publication:

  1. It is still only live for a handful of sites

  2. Those are closely being monitored by the search team

  3. It will still be rolled out very slowly

  4. There is still no timeline for when it’s going to be completed

  5. You can check your log files for smartphone Googlebot activity to see when you migrated over to the mobile-first index

  6. You can also check that the snippets in the results, as well as the content on the Google cache pages, will be from the mobile version of the pages

Barry also noted Gary Illyes’ recent Twitter post about this after not having posted for 53 days… “so maybe he is fully back from his vacation?”

Google Search Ranking Algorithm Gets The “Maccabees” Update

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There have been some “major changes in the Google search results”, according to Barry Schwartz.

As the WebmasterWorld thread became increasingly busy on 13th and 14thDecember, it looks as though the latest algorithm update was released on Tuesday 12th December – confirmed through the changes noted in SEO forums and monitoring tools.

Here is some of the feedback from webmasters:

My non seasonal site that never fluctuates unless it’s an actual holiday dropped 30% of its traffic yesterday Dec 12.


My site also dropped approx 25% on 12 December. No seasonal content.


We’ve also experienced a noticeable drop across our sites on or around December 12th. Like some of your sites which have held the top spot for keywords for several years have dropped 5 or 6 places in the rankings and have been replaced with low quality sites.

But why “Maccabees”? This update was released during the Chanukah holiday, so it only seems fitting.

Have you noticed any changes?

Google Set For Larger Algorithm Changes

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Webmasters are asking Google to be more openly communicative about major updates in the future.

Google’s own Danny Sullivan tweeted in response to a query about this:

@dannysullivan – I hope that we’ll be doing so in the future. There are times when it can be useful for publishers & site owners to understand when these happen. We have typically done so for some in the past.

Recently, Google did communicate about the Maccabees update, which is a big step as far as communication is concerned.

But how about major updates as opposed to minor updates? Surely this means Google considers the past updates that weren’t communicated to be minor?

Let’s see what happens in 2018.

Google’s New Rich Results Testing Tool

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According to Barry Schwartz: “Google has announced it has launched a new version of a structured data testing tool for rich results.”

Now, the collective term for rich snippets, rich cards or enriched results is “Rich Results”, which groups them all together.

Google’s new testing tool only focuses on the structured data that is permitted to be displayed as rich results, allowing webmasters to test data sources such as Microdata, RDFa and JSON-LD.

The tool works proficiently across both mobile and desktop devices, but currently only supports testing for Courses, Movies, Recipes and Jobs. Google will be adding other support in the future.

Meta Description Creation Doesn’t Change With Longer Snippets

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Earlier in December, Google announced the extension of search results snippets from 160 characters to 320 characters.

The search engine giant commented: “Even though the snippets can be longer, the ‘fundamentals of writing a description tag’ have not changed.”

Most of the information Google uses to decide which search result snippets to display comes from the queries that are input by users, and the on-page content. If your current meta descriptions are adequate, there’s no need to make any changes.

Google’s John Mueller commented in a recent Google Hangout:

The one thing to kind of keep in mind there is that we adjust the (meta) description based on the user’s query. So, if you’re doing a site query and seeing this in your search results for your site, that’s not necessarily what a normal user would see when they see a search as well…

Be sure to look at your analytics and work out whether you can supercharge CTRs in search. Can you make a difference to your visibility?

“SEO Snippets” – Google’s Video Series

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To address and discuss solutions for problems that are frequently raised in the webmaster forums, Google has announced a video series that will provide help for webmasters and SEOs.

The series, named “SEO Snippets”, was introduced by Google’s own John Mueller.

Here’s what he said the series will cover:

  • 404 errors
  • How and when crawling works
  • Site URL structure
  • Duplicate content

The series is available on YouTube.

More SEO News and Advice

Read last week’s SEO News Roundup: Longer Meta Descriptions Recommended

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