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Blocking CSS and JavaScript Is Bad, Google Authorship Gets a Further Rollback and More – Digital Marketing News

It's been a busy fortnight in the world of digital marketing, with a number of important updates coming from Google including Authorship and Knowledge Graph changes along with updates to Pinterest search and an interesting discovery by the guys behind Yoast on JavaScript and CSS.

Blocking JavaScript and CSS from crawlers may affect your organic visibility

Joost de Valk, the brains behind the popular WordPress SEO tool Yoast, uncovered a correlation between JavaScript and CSS and a drop in organic visibility in relation to the recent rollout of Panda 4.0. The idea is that hiding your JavaScript and CSS may stop Google understanding advertisement placement as part of the Top Heavy algorithm released in early 2012. After unblocking JavaScript and CSS, de Valk saw a sudden return in organic visibility and put it down to Panda 4.0. He spoke of the recent release of ‘Fetch and Render’ being a clear validation of his findings.

This was later vaguely confirmed by Google’s John Mueller who wrote:

“Allowing crawling of JavaScript and CSS makes it a lot easier for us to recognize your site's content and to give your site the credit that it deserves for that content. For example, if you're pulling in content via AJAX/JSON feeds, that would be invisible to us if you disallowed crawling of your JavaScript. Similarly, if you're using CSS to handle a responsive design that works fantastically on smartphones, we wouldn't be able to recognize that if the CSS were disallowed from crawling. This is why we make the recommendation to allow crawling of URLs that significantly affect the layout or content of a page. I'm not sure which JavaScript snippet you're referring to, but it sounds like it's not the kind that would be visible at all. If you're seeing issues, they would be unrelated to that piece of JavaScript being blocked from crawling."

This is a clear sign that JavaScript and CSS shouldn’t be blocked from search engine crawlers and that by doing so may, post-Panda 4.0, result in a drop in organic visibility.

Google’s Knowledge Graph showing step-by-step guides and lists                               

On Monday 23 June a number of our SEO team members noticed step-by-step guides and lists appearing in Google’s SERPs. This looks to be another step by the search engine to give its users quicker answers. Here are some examples of a few we found:

How to cook riceA Google.co.uk search for ‘how to cook rice’

  Symptoms of diabetesA Google.co.uk search for ‘symptoms of diabetes’

The concern here of webmasters is that this is going to cause a drop in click-through rate (CTR) as Google’s users will have the answer straight from the SERP. However, certain longer lists have been reduced in size and actively encourage a click-through, such as the SERP we discovered for the term ‘how to change a tyre’ (shown below). As such, this development offers good retail space for those with great content and, in some, causes a strong reason to click the relative link.

 How to change a tyreA Google.co.uk search for ‘how to change a tyre’

This will likely become a more regular feature in the SERPs, if webmasters don’t start suing Google.  Much as number of German publishers have started suing the search engine for scraping their content and are demanding 11% of the search engine’s revenue.

Google rolls back further on Google Authorship

Back in October 2013, we reported on the decline in Google Authorship. This decline has since continued and on the Wednesday 25 June John Mueller announced that  Google is “simplifying the way Authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count.” This will help bring back the clean-looking SERPs that Google is known for while also making a more even playing field for those who weren’t aware of how to use Google Authorship.

This decline is also seen in Moz’s Authorship graph, which shows a steep decline from the day of Mueller’s announcement:

 Moz Authorship chart
Image source: Mozcast.com

However, this by no means removes Google Authorship, or the need for it – it just gives it a cleaner appearance in Google’s SERPs. The author’s name will still be displayed and it will still signal to Google the sites and articles that an author is associated with.

Decline of Authorship 
Image source: support.google.com 

Find out more about the updated rendering of Google Authorship over at the Google Webmaster Tools help guide.

Google Analytics’ goal and transaction data can now be pulled into AdWords

AdWords’ newest conversion settings, flexible conversion counting, customised conversion window and editable conversion values can now be applied to goal and transaction data pulled from Google Analytics.

 Google Analytics AdWords
Image source: Seroundtable.com 

In the words of Google, these new features allow PPC managers to:

  • Set up specific conversion windows for all of your marketing objectives. You can now customize your conversion windows, from 7 to 90 days, for all imported goals and transactions from Google Analytics.  For example, you might choose a 90-day window for conversions that require a long consideration cycle, like buying a car, and the 30-day default option for quicker purchases like books or clothes.
  • Customize how different conversion actions are counted.  Flexible conversion counting lets you count conversions according to your business needs.  For any conversion action, you can choose to count all conversions that happen after a click, or only unique conversions that happen after a click.  You can now apply this flexibility to conversions imported from Google Analytics.  For example, you can count several leads (e.g., downloads of a catalog) as 1 conversion and all of your sales as separate conversions.
  • Specify conversion values based on marketing objectives.  Sometimes conversion data is used differently within an organization.  A webmaster may be using Google Analytics conversion data to optimize the website experience, while an SEM manager may use it to optimize ad campaigns.  With today’s update, you can set different values for the goals and transactions that you import into AdWords without making a change to those same values that you’ve set up in Google Analytics.

This is great news because it decreases the data gap between AdWords and Google Analytics, which often makes the job of a PPC manager frustrating. This frustration is often seen with automated bidding, where dealing with multiple conversion types and values sees the data rolled up together in AdWords. These new features alleviates some of these issues, allowing PPC managers more time to focus on the bigger picture and plot the overall course of a campaign rather than simply steering the ship.

Find out more about these new AdWords features here.

Google releases an updated Google AdWords introduction

Google has gone through many changes in the past four years that have affected almost every corner of its business and how webmasters and visitors use its tools. Thus, it was surprising that its Introduction to the Google Ad Auction video hadn’t been updated for five years.

Well, now the blurry nine minute video has been replaced with HD insight into the world of Google AdWords and Ad Rank with words from Google’s charismatic Chief Economist Hal Varian. For those wishing to understand the basics of Google AdWords, we couldn’t recommend this video more.

Pinterest introduce Guided Search on desktop

Following Pinterest’s introduction of Guided Search for mobile in late April 2014, the social network has now launched this popular feature on desktop with an aim to create a richer search experience for its users.

 Pinterest searchImage source: blog.pinterest.com

Pinterest’s Yuliang Yin writes:

"Now when you search for something, descriptive guides will help you sift through all the good ideas from other Pinners. Scroll through the guides and click any that look interesting to steer your search in the right direction. You might be surprised where you end up!"

This is a great move by Pinterest in that it really shows the power of internal search and what can be offered by a somewhat prosaic function of a website.

Hints, tips and rumours

Want to know more about how the topics discussed in this week’s digital marketing news might affect your business? Contact us today.



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