Do you know how to properly close down your site for a day without doing any damage to search rankings? Google does, and this week the search giant gave its official recommendations on exactly what you should do.
Google continued to roll out updates related to Google Assistant this week — the company’s AI-powered voice assistant. The latest industry benchmarks for mobile page speed have been revealed, and there’s now more incentive than ever to use AdWords Price Extensions.
More details about each of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO & SEM news roundup.
Google’s Official Advice on How to Close a Site for a Day
Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, wrote an article this week with the company’s official recommendations on how to close down a site for a day.
If an e-commerce site needs to shut down to prevent people from making purchases, it’s recommended to disable shopping cart functionality rather than shutting down the whole site. In addition, it’s recommended to block the shopping cart page from being crawled through the robots.txt file, or blocked from indexing with a robots meta tag.
Blocking an Entire Site from Visitors
If it’s truly necessary to block visitors from accessing any part of a site, it’s recommended that you use an interstitial or pop-up to communicate the site is temporarily unavailable. The server should return a 503 HTTP result code (“Service Unavailable”). Bear in mind it’s safe to use a 503 for up to a week, after which time Google may drop the content from search results altogether.
Shutting Down a Server
Another safe option for closing down a site is to turn the entire server off. This is only recommended if you can redirect the site to a second temporary server with a 503 HTTP result code for all URLs. In addition, it’s recommended to switch your DNS to point to that server during the time the server is shut down.
Google Assistant News
There have been several updates related to Google Assistant this week. The most notable of which is the fact that Google Assistant has been rolled out to all smartphones running Android 6.0 and above. Now owners of modern Android phones can access the Assistant by long-pressing the home button or saying “OK Google”.
Google Assistant is also available via the Google Allo chat app, which has received an update this week. In the latest version of Google Allo, users can call upon Google Assistant with a single tap. When composing a message, there will be an option to initiate Google Assistant, or bring it into the conversation.
Lastly, Google Assistant has been updated a few fun new features. It’s now equipped with a slang dictionary, a beer guide, and men’s fashion advice. Currently, these additions only apply to the Google Home device. Recommendations will be personalized based on what Google Assistant has learned about the user.
New Industry Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed
Google has released a new report illustrating the latest industry benchmarks for mobile page speed. The ideal time it should take a mobile page to load is between 1–3 seconds, otherwise the probability of the user leaving the page increases.
Speed also affects conversions. Currently, more conversions occur on desktop pages despite mobile pages receiving more traffic overall. Google believes this is due to mobile pages not meeting users’ expectations when it comes to page speed.
AdWords Price Extensions on All Devices
It has been confirmed that Google AdWords price extensions are now eligible to be shown on all devices. Price extensions are a way for advertisers to highlight specific products and/or services in AdWords ads along with their corresponding prices. Initially, they were designed to be displayed underneath mobile text ads. Now, with no changes to be made on the advertiser’s end, price extensions can be shown on all devices. There’s never been more incentive to use price extensions — if you need assistance, please inquire about our AdWords services.
Bing Ads Editor is Now Available on Mac
Bing released Bing Ads Editor for Mac this week, which is said to be its most requested new feature. One of the main benefits provided by the desktop application is the ability to bulk manage accounts offline, from the campaign level down to the ad group level, and publish the changes when back online. This is not something that can be done on the web application.
New Version of Yoast SEO Now Available
If you’re using WordPress as your content management system (CMS), there’s a good chance you’re also using the Yoast SEO plugin. It has over 3 million installs, making it the most popular SEO plugin on the platform. It has received an update this week, which includes some bug fixes and enhancements to mobile usability. If you’re using this plugin, it’s recommended you update to the newest version. Not only to take advantage of the new features but because outdated plugins leave your site vulnerable to being hacked. The plugin can be easily updated from your WordPress dashboard.
Wrapping it Up
Here are some key takeaways from another packed week in SEO & SEM news
- Try to keep the loading time of mobile pages between 1–3 seconds.
- If you have to close your site for one day to one week, refer to Google’s official advice.
- Google Assistant is now available to all Android phones running 6.0 and above.
- AdWords Price Extensions can now be viewed on all devices.
- Bing Ads Editor is available for Mac.
- Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress has been updated.
As always, we’ll continue to keep you in the loop with all the major happenings in search and search marketing.
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