The SEO Show – 1st March 2016
robots.txt files can now be updated faster on Google
Webmasters can now ask Google to index and process updated robots.txt files.
Previously, if webmasters changed their robots.txt file, they had to wait until the search engine next crawled the website before the updates took effect.
Now, webmasters can get their robots.txt files updated faster by submitting them to the search engine for indexation and processing.
To do this, webmasters need to go to Search Console, click on the Crawl section, and choose the robots.txt Tester option.
They can then download the updated code, check the uploaded version and ask Google to update the robots.txt file.
Google is now indexing HTTPS pages by default
Google has changed its indexing system and is now indexing HTTPS pages by default.
This means that if a website supports both HTTP and HTTPS protocols, the HTTPS version will be indexed preferentially and be shown in the search results.
However, there are exceptions. If certain criteria are met, then the HTTPS page will not be indexed:
- Any HTTPS page that contains insecure dependencies.
- Any HTTPS page that is blocked by your robots.txt file or via a noindex meta tag or even via X robots tag http header.
- Any HTTPS page that redirects to an HTTP page.
- Any HTTPS page that rel=”canonical tag” to its equivalent HTTP URL.
- Any HTTPS page containing on-host outlinks to HTTP urls
On top of that:
- Your TLS certificate must be valid
- Your sitemaps must list HTTPS URLs or alternatively should not be listing the HTTP version of the URLs
Google has brought in this change to help boost web security and improve users’ browsing experience.
Webmasters who want to make it clear to Google that they want the HTTPS version of their website indexing, can do so by redirecting their HTTP site to their HTTPS site using wildcard redirects, and implementing a HSTS header on their server.
Yandex rolls out Vladivostok mobile ranking algorithm
The search engine Yandex has updated its ranking algorithm to give mobile-friendly websites a higher SERP position when users are searching from a mobile device.
The algorithm update, named Vladivostok, is currently just affecting search results in Yandex’s Russian index, but will be rolled out to Ukrainian, Belarussian, Kazakh and Turkish users in coming months.
Yandex classes webpages as mobile-friendly if they feature vertical rather than horizontal scrolling, and if they exclude Flash, Silverlight and Java applets.
Webmasters can check whether Yandex considers their webpages to be mobile friendly by entering their webpage URLs into a special tool, which is accessible via the Yandex Webmaster toolkit.
Yandex has said that non-mobile optimised sites will still appear in the search results if they are the best answer to a very specific search query, however.
The search engine has also said that the algorithm take page load speed into account, with slow pages being penalised. Websites that redirect users to apps will also face penalties.
Google updates mobile travel query results format
And finally, Google has updated its search results format for travel queries made on a mobile device.
If users search Google for travel-related terms on their smartphones, they will now be faced with a rich tapestry of results, with individual cities and tourist destinations being listed.
There is also a filtering option that allows users to search for interests such as art, beach, nature and scuba diving.
Organic listings are pushed to the bottom of the page, so it’s a very real possibility that many users will not click on organic results at all.
This sounds like bad news for travel sites, but it could benefit specific destinations’ websites, with the bigger travel players such as TripAdvisor or OTAs probably taking the hit.
Long-tail SEO queries are still likely to be available to capture, meaning that websites which are well optimised will still be visible and attract traffic and having good online visibility will increase the likelihood of your attraction being listed in these “destination” results.
Cyril Vu Xuan
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