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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged google

AMPs in use

John Gruber, back in October:

Can someone explain to me why a website would publish AMP versions of their articles? They do load fast, which is a terrific user experience, but as far as I can see, sites that publish AMP pages are effectively ceding control over their content to Google.

In theory, Accelerate Mobile Pages are just highly optimised versions of your pages, that perform very quickly on mobile, and which live on your sever. The problem is that in many cases Google is saving them to its own cache, and then presenting the cache URL to visitors:

Danny Sullivan:

One of the biggest disadvantages for publishers in using AMP — the accelerated mobile pages format — is that Google will not show a publisher’s actual URL when displaying AMP pages. Google says this is so AMP pages load quickly.

Traffic & Revenue: yours to keep

This doesn’t lead to a net loss of traffic or ad revenue, as long as you’ve set up your AMPs properly. Sullivan again:

If you have AMP pages properly configured with analytics, ads and other goodies you might want, the traffic remains essentially yours. The cached URL might be shown, but everything on the page remains in the publisher’s control and is served from the publisher’s own site. It is your page, except for the URL.

And, in many cases, acting on the cached URL will bring you back to the true one:

As for the URL, it will redirect to a publisher’s site if someone tries to go to it directly (though as a 302 “temporary” redirect, rather than a 301 “permanent,” which I feel would be better). AMP pages themselves also carry a form of source attribution in their canonical tags. Should someone share an article using options within the actual article, the publisher’s URL is used.

As Charles Arthur puts it:

When Sullivan says “this feels odd” he’s essentially saying “wrong”, but couching it more gently, as his readers like Google. However AMP is not popular with people who like to share links, because it all goes back to Google, not the publisher.

The AMP trade-off

I’ve had multiple reports from publishers – especially niche publishers – that implementing AMP has led to a very significant growth in traffic from search. I serve AMP pages here (here’s this post as an AMP) – and when I remembered to add analytics to the AMP pages I was surprised how much traffic they were delivering. So, right now, you’re making a trade-off if you implement AMP – you’re giving up some control over your URLs in exchange for traffic.

For some publishers, that’s not a good trade-off:

And, quite frankly, I can’t see a good reason why Google couldn’t make this less difficult. Sullivan’s research suggests that Google caching the AMPs isn’t helping land times significantly – who why is Google so focused on doing this?

Google is going to make its forthcoming mobile search index its primary dataset:

Google is going to create a separate mobile index within months, one that will be the main or “primary” index that the search engine uses to respond to queries. A separate desktop index will be maintained, one that will not be as up-to-date as the mobile index.

While it’s not yet clear exactly what this means, we can infer that mobile-friendliness – already critical – is now de rigeur if you want to be found in search at all.

Public disclosure of PageRank is done

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it is removing Toolbar PageRank. That means that if you are using a tool or a browser that shows you PageRank data from Google, within the next couple weeks it will begin not to show any data at all.

About bloody time. Too many idiot SEOs and link builders are still using phrases like “a Page Rank 8 site”, which is utterly meaningless now Google is so contextual and personalised.

Publishers feel the pain in new Google update

A new update to the Google search algorithm seems to have hit some publishers, including TheAtlantic.com, GQ.com, Newyorker.com, Economist.com and Time.com:

Commenting on the results, Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics CTO, said: “It is apparent that many loser domains are classic print publishers and their losses in rankings mainly stem from older content pieces. Additional publishers who lost rankings are newyorker.com, vanityfair.com, arstechnica.com, fastcompany.com and economist.com.”

Not as worrying as it once would have been – social is as important as search to most publishers – but the problem with old – evergreen? – content is worth watching.

Google is making changes to its “first click free” system:

In 2009, we updated the FCF policy to allow a limit of five articles per day, in order to protect publishers who felt some users were abusing the spirit of this policy. Recently we have heard from publishers about the need to revisit these policies to reflect the mobile, multiple device world. Today we are announcing a change to the FCF limit to allow a limit of three articles a day.

For those not away, FCF allows paywalled or reg-walled sites to allow visitors from Google to read an article they find via search without having a subscription or login.

When you Google your site do you see something like this?

Mobile-friendly in Google search

Let’s make that a little clearer:

Highlighted mobile friendly

If you don’t, you have a problem. As of 21st April 2015 (the day this post is being published), Google isn’t just highlighting mobile-friendly sites in search results – it’s ranking mobile-friendly sites better.

Essentially, if your site:

  • Gets significant search traffic
  • Has a significant number of mobile visitors
  • Doesn’t have a mobile responsive site

then you can prepare yourself for a rapid drop in traffic.

This doesn’t change search traffic from desktop and laptop computers – just mobile devices (phones, basically – tablets are not included). But given that we’re rapidly pushing towards over 50% of web traffic coming from mobile – that’s pretty significant.

I have limited sympathy for publishers who aren’t ready, because we’ve known that mobile was going to be important for at least four years now. That’s a lot of time to prepare. And yet, I’ve seen sites in the last few days which manifestly aren’t ready.

Google’s decision makes perfect sense: why should they send traffic to sites which are poor experiences for their users? But given how backward some publishers’ understanding of SEO can be, I fully expect some panic in the next few weeks are they start to see traffic drops…

Of course, publishers aren’t the only guilty ones. As Neville flags up, many big corporates aren’t ready for mobilegeddon, either. Although the formal announcement that this was coming only hit in February, the signal have been clear for years. But it sometimes takes more than clear signals to trigger a website redesign – and those companies that have held back will pay the price in the coming months.

Want to know if your site is ready? Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool.

Joel & Michelle Levey

Joel and Michelle Levey build resilient lives and organisations through mindfulness

The Leveys work with the military in the US – for six months at a time. They work to allow soldiers to stop fighting a war inside, through their Jedi Warrior programme.

We live in the VUCA era:

  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous.

You need to train your brain to cope with this – and that’s what the Leveys help people do.

For example, they posit that people were created to be loved, and things to be used. We’ve got that the wrong way around, and that’s the cause of so much trouble in the world. Solutions are often inherent in problems. Plants that irritate grow next to those that will heal. The word “Vuca” means “wake up” in the Zulu language – and that’s what we need to do; wake up to the interconnectedness of everything.

The elements of mind fitness

Michelle Levey

There are three key elements of mind fitness:

  1. Intention
  2. Attention
  3. Attitude.

As you train your mind, you are changing your brain, and your ability to change the world. This is neuroplasticity – the idea that our brain changes in response to what happens around us, and in us. The more certain neural circuits are activated, the more they grow. What we pay Attention to changes us. We bring Intention to bear on that to push our Attention where we want it to be.

Attention

How often are you in a room with 300 people giving full Attention, as Meaning attendees are? (There are remarkably few open laptops, bar your humble liveblogger). How many times are we surrounded by Zombies, running around within attention? Google asked them to design a mindfulness and meditation laboratory – and then roll it out to 24 locations worldwide. That led to hubs elsewhere, linked via Hangouts to share and meditate. That led to gatherings and mindfulness sessions at various sites. They do “GPauses”. That pause is the space between stimulus and response – and the change to over-ride old, conditioned responses.

Intention

What is the Intention of people attending this conference? Is it about our own needs? Our colleagues? Our clients? Or all beings? Do we bring all the people touched by the decisions we make into the discussion?

Attitude

What Attitudes allow you to optimise you Attention and Intention? The Attitude of curiosity – openness and learning – for one, the beginner’s mind. Being caring, open and non-judgemental all help.

Working for the military was a heart-opener for them. The amount of compassion and openness they found was not quite what they expected. They encountered one leader who was most proud of the number of humanitarian operations they’d done.

The world’s first mindful organisation outside of Asia, was one division of HP, which had seen its GM poached. It was in disarray – but mindfulness brought it focus and business success.

Surfing the disruption wave

Joel Levey

How do we surf the waves of change?

  1. An eyes wide open acceptance of reality – embrace the reality of your situation, and embrace what you need to survive and thrive
  2. Accept that life is meaningful
  3. A creative spirit makes do with what is available to innovate, improvise and explore new possibilities

Your only real advantage is the brain power in your organisation. The more you practice Mindfulness, the more you change you brain – do it enough and you essentially rewire your operating system.

“Twitter is our competition, we have faced up to that reality,” said Matt McAllester, Europe editor at Time.

That’s a controversial start to a nice piece from Abigail at journalism.co.uk, from a Web Summit panel on journalism and social media:

Time reporters such as Moscow correspondent Simon Shuster use Twitter to discover stories that are breaking nearby and head straight there while also “triangulating other tweets” to check if the area is at risk.

“[Shuster] uses Twitter a lot to make sure that it’s safe to go down a certain road and go down a certain place and talk to certain people,” explained McAllester.

He added that Twitter has replaced the role of the mobile phone, once so essential in foreign reporting, allowing more immediate communication with a wider number of people.

Some interesting stuff on long form video from Vice, and the uses of Google+ (shock, horror) from Storyful.