Anyone who’s managed a website before is familiar with the dreaded terror of search algorithm updates. One slight change can cause a gasp as your website rankings inexplicably plummet or skyrocket based off little to no change on your end.
In the ever-evolving realm of the internet, keeping track of search trends and algorithm updates can be confusing and quite scary at times. But that’s why managing your SEO is more important than ever.
Foregoing healthy and reliable SEO practices is something that will come back to haunt you more than eating all of your kids’ candy after they go to bed.
So here are four spooky SEO trends you need to know about for 2021. Spoiler alert: some aren’t as bad as you might think!
Titleocalypse! The End Is Here!
Google recently and officially announced it has a new system for generating web page titles in search results. This new update has been so disruptive that many are calling it “Titleocalypse.” To understand how to avoid losing traffic to your site, it’s important to know exactly what’s happening.
Out With The Old; In With The New
In the past, Google would look at your H1 and other header tags to know what your intended title is supposed to be. The title Google would give your page would change depending on what kind of phrase users put into their search queries.
The new system of creating titles for search results pages goes beyond simply looking at HTML text. The title is now generated based on text contained on the page, within backlinks pointing at the page, and more.
The goal is to consider the page as a whole to create the most accurate title for the page overall. Title tags are often too long or are overloaded with keywords. Google wants titles that accurately describe what’s on the pages they represent.
Why Is This Change a Problem?
After this new title system went into place, some websites reported a significant loss of traffic. There were so many inquiries that Google created a Help Forum for webmasters to share, explore, and find solutions to their problems.
The number one issue webmasters found was that Google was changing some of the titles on the page. This kind of change is especially frustrating when they impact location titles. Website owners are especially disappointed that they can’t opt-out of this update. Unless Google changes its approach, this change is the new normal.
How To Avoid Issues With This Change
It’s worth noting that Google isn’t just changing title tags for the fun of it. The goal is to make a more accurate search result for users. Whether a title tag in the search engine results page is changed depends on how well it describes what’s on the page.
If Google is changing your title tags, that’s probably an indication that your tags aren’t foolproof. Use this opportunity to reevaluate how you’re writing your title tags. Focus on creating tags that represent what a reader will find on the page and in that particular section. Keep an eye on search pages to see if Google is changing your tags. If so, you might consider updating the page with a more accurate tag.
MUM Causing Some Moans
One of the more exciting things happening with Google’s R&D department is the development of the Multitask Unified Model (MUM). With MUM, Google uses artificial intelligence to deliver answers to search queries -regardless of where in the world the content was created.
Anything AI-related can be quite spooky, so let’s unwrap this MUM(my) together and find out how scary this thing actually is.
The Power of MUM
Not all questions have straightforward answers. That’s where MUM is going to be a game-changer. Google is hoping to tear down any and all barriers to provide users with the best and most accurate answers -regardless of what country the content originates from or what language it might be written in.
Language is a pretty significant barrier to sharing information across the globe.
MUM acts like an advanced Rosetta Stone. It can take information from sources from different languages to give you amazingly comprehensive results.
Let’s say the SUV that caught your attention is made by Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, or any other Asian company. There may be extremely helpful information writing in Japanese, Korean, etc. In the current world, you would never see these results.
With MUM, you will be delivered the most robust and useful answer -translated into your native language.
MUM also looks at more than just web pages. It understands facts from pictures, blogs, web communities, and more.
The Challenge of MUMWhenever AI takes a step forward, there has to be an evaluation process that makes sure results are accurate and unbiased. This can ultimately mean there are some hiccups as Google adjusts how MUM works. Even more terrifying, Google might decide that content regarding a particular model of vehicle in another language provides a better answer than your website. The pressure is going to be on website owners to focus on high-quality content instead of high-quantity content. If Google’s goal is to provide the greatest information to users, your website will have to offer the finest content. The competition is no longer other company pages in your area, in your language, or even on a website. You’re now competing with content across multiple platforms and languages.
How To Consider MUM On My Site
A fresh technology like MUM is so new that not everyone knows what to do about it. In fact, most bloggers who try to tackle explaining MUM just use quotes from Google’s own accouchement.
The good news is that the answer to making sure your dealership’s website stays competitive on a worldwide stage doesn’t have to be a complete mystery. Your goal is to create complete content.
Complete content doesn’t mean writing novels on every topic that could lead to your website. Readers aren’t going to read super long web pages and blogs. Instead, the goal is to create something like a pillar page that tackles the main topic. Next, you write a series of topic/context pages that handle all of the information related to the main topic.
For example, you might have a page about Ford SUVs. This hub page has sub-pages regarding individual SUVs under the Ford name. The good news is that Dealer Authority has been building pages like this for years without even knowing MUM was coming. That just shows you the value of working with a team that knows how to keep your dealership’s page on the map.
Creepy Crawly Errors Aren’t That Scary
SEO crawlers are one of those tools that no web developer can go without. Applications like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Sitebulb, etc., crawl through your website looking for anything that hurts your SEO. When a site audit tool finds a fatal error, it usually means that you should stop what you’re doing and get to fixing the problem.
Google is actually working on providing more details to error reports that come through its Search Console. That doesn’t mean there are new types of errors to worry about.
Instead, you should expect more information about errors that do appear. This update should help site builders make the necessary corrections to keep a site fully optimized.
There are, however, some errors that come back that aren’t even worth a second look, let alone significant focus.
Here are seven creepy crawling errors that shouldn’t scare you:
1. Noindex Pages On the Site
A URL that has a “noindex” tag doesn’t always mean there’s an error. It means that the page cannot be indexed by search engines. Websites typically have multiple pages that shouldn’t be indexed: tag pages, login pages, password reset pages, etc. This error really means that your SEO professional should evaluate if the page should be indexed or not and act accordingly.
2. Empty/Short Meta DescriptionsIf a site doesn’t have meta descriptions or the existing descriptions are under 110 characters, there may be an error logged. The reality is that large websites with thousands of URLs don’t really need meta descriptions.
3. Missing Meta KeywordsMeta Keywords haven’t been fully relevant in about two decades. If you’re getting meta keyword errors on your site, there’s no need to waste time adding them.
4. Images Over 100 KB
Google likes websites to be fast, which often means images should be compressed for quick loading times. Having images errors could be a problem, but they could also be false alarms. Take the time to check the site’s overall performance. If things look good, there’s no need to recompress images.
5. Low Word Count Pages
Most site audit tools are going to flag web pages that have no more than 100-200 words. This might cause you to try to beef up those pages, but you may be doing unnecessary work. Many pages don’t need that many words to be effective, like login pages, tag pages, or contact pages.
6. Low HTML-Text Ratio
Less experienced SEO professionals often get caught up worrying about HTML-text ratio errors. The reality is that there isn’t an optimal HTML-text ratio. Instead of getting caught up in this error should be replaced by focusing on building a higher-performing website.
7. XML Sitemap Not Indicated In Robots.txt
Your Robots.txt is where you specify the URL of the XML sitemaps so Google can index your content easily. Getting an error like this could be concerning, as it could indicate that your site isn’t being properly indexed. Google is smarter than you think. It typically doesn’t have trouble indexing sites with good internal links. The XML sitemap can also be submitted to Google Search Console without needing the Robots.txt file.
Websites Are Getting Ghosted by AMPs
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are vanishing like ghosts with iOS 15. When iOS 15 hit the scene on September 20th, AMPs just stopped working. There was no notice or warning, and web designers were scared out of their boots.
Let’s say someone is using iOS 15 and performs a Google search. Even if they click on a website that comes from Google’s search results, they won’t be taken to the AMP. The link will, instead, take you to the main site’s URL or a link to the site’s mobile app, assuming it’s already installed on the device.
Several iOS developers experimented and confirmed that the newly updated operating system is the problem. Version 14.0 caused no AMP issues.
How This Impacts Your Site
You might have noticed a drop in traffic from mobile devices over the last month. Your overall traffic shouldn’t change since the links are taking users to the main URL. The problem might come from users being frustrated with their experience on your site.
Of course, a well-designed site will have all of the elements to be mobile-friendly. More importantly, Google knows this is an issue and is working on correcting it right away. It was Google, in fact, that really pushed the use of AMPs, so it’s not going to let this issue last any longer than it needs to.
Don’t Walk Through the SEO Woods Alone
Getting into the thick of your dealership’s SEO doesn’t have to be a scary task. It might seem like keeping track of all of Google’s updates, and changes is a full-time job. More importantly, some of the trends for 2021 seem downright frightening.
In the same way that wise trick-or-treaters plan their routes to maximize their candy load, prudent dealerships have an SEO plan ready to go. Luckily, you don’t have to walk through the dark SEO world alone.
Never Fear, Dealer Authority is Here
Here at Dealer Authority, we bring the flashlight that will scare away the bad guys. Our fingers are on the pulse of SEO, so you don’t have to worry about falling behind.
Whether your website isn’t standing out or you just need some help coming up with a plan, contact us today.
We can not only help improve your sites’ ranking but help safeguard you against the upcoming changes. Let us help turn Google’s tricks into your dealership’s treats.