This was the week of updates. A number of new features were added to Google’s top free SEO tools. Google released a significant update to Search Console, giving users access to a substantial amount of data. An update to Google My Business will allow business owners to showcase video in search results. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool has been updated with more accurate data.
Even Google’s AMP testing tool was updated this past week. Speaking of AMP, Google announced plans to fix the one thing that publishers complain about most. On top of all these updates, Google also gave some helpful advice related to getting indexed in image search.
Details about all top stories are included in this week’s SEO news roundup.
16 Months of Data in Google Search Console
Google released a beta version of the new Search Console experience which, among other things, provides users with 16 months of data. That’s quite a step up from the 90 days of data that was available previously.
Since it’s still in beta, the new Search Console will coexist with the classic version. Users can toggle between them, which is good because the new Search Console doesn’t yet have all the features of the previous version.
With 16 months of data now at users’ disposal, Google has introduced new ways to make sense of it with advanced filtering options. There are three new filters in total:
- Filter data by specific date range
- Compare data in one custom date range against data in another custom date range.
- Filter and compare data by device type.
Search Console’s Index Coverage report has been updated with new issues tracking functionality. This will notify site owners as soon as indexing issues are discovered. All-new reports have been added for tracking issues with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and pages with job postings markup. The new search console will identify issues related to these two types of search enhancements, with more to be added in the future.
Upload Videos to Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) users can now upload videos to their page in much the same way as they upload photos. Like photos, videos will be displayed in Google Search and Google Maps whenever the GMB page is returned.
Videos can be up to 30 seconds in length and will appear in the ‘videos’ tab along with content uploaded by customers. Several months ago, Google Local Guides were given the ability to add videos to a business’s GMB page. These videos can be reviewed in the ‘customer’ section, and any inappropriate videos can be flagged. Keep in mind that videos can take up to 24 hours to appear in the Google My Business dashboard. So if you upload a video and don’t see it right away, just give it some time.
Google PageSpeed Insights Measuring Actual Speeds
Google PageSpeed Insights is now capable of measuring real-world speeds, That’s right, up until now the tool was not measuring how fast your page actually loaded. So if you ever thought your pages were faster than what the tool was saying, you may be right.
Previously, the tool was analyzing how many PageSpeed best practices a page met and how many were not. PageSpeed Insights would then assign a score based on how many best practices were applied to the page. Now it is measuring the real world speed and delivering more accurate results. I would recommend checking your site with the PageSpeed Insights tool as soon as you can to see if your score has changed as a result of this update.
Along with more accurate data, all-new data sets have been added to PageSpeed Insights. The new report will now be broken down by the following categories:
- Speed score
- Optimization score
- Page Load Distributions
- Page Stats
- Optimization Suggestions
A New Way to Test Accelerated Mobile Pages
There is a new way to test AMPs, and it can be found by searching for “amp testing tool.” You won’t have to click on any links because it’s embedded right into the search results page. A submission form will appear at the top inviting you to “test and preview your AMP page.”
After running a URL through the tool, it will tell you in plain English whether the AMP code is valid or invalid. If the code is invalid the report will tell you why. If the tool detects any errors in an AMP’s source code then it will not be eligible to appear in search results, and it will be important to get all errors fixed.
There are also options to submit the page to Google’s index, view how the page would appear as a search result, and view the raw source code. Any URL can be used with the AMP testing tool, not just URLs from your site. So you can test a competitor’s URLs, for example, and see how your AMPs compare to theirs.
AMPs Will Soon Show Publisher URLs
Since AMP technology was first rolled out, Google has managed to solve every significant issue except one. When you click on an AMP in Google search results, the URL you land on will invariably start with ‘google.com/amp/.’ That’s a big problem for publishers because it could lead people to believe the content was created by Google. Ideally, it’s the publisher’s address that should be shown first, not Google’s.
The reason why AMPs start with ‘google.com/amp/’ is because the pages are loaded from Google’s AMP Cache. They’re not actually loaded from the publisher’s server. Google wants all AMPs hosted on the same server so it can ensure a consistently fast experience. It has been a challenge figuring out a way to display the publisher’s URL while the AMP is hosted on Google’s server.
Google says it has successfully built a working prototype of the Chrome browser with a search engine that can display publisher URLs in AMPs. This is accomplished by a new web packaging standard that Google is working on getting integrated into web browsers. Google expects changes to be in place by the second half of this year.
Image Search Tips from Google
Google’s John Mueller recently explained which kinds of images are and are’t properly indexed by Google Image search. In a Google Webmaster Hangout, a site owner asked if it makes a difference whether an image is published using a regular image tag or via CSS as a background image. Mueller revealed that Google does not refer to CSS at all when indexing images.
“… from our point of view, for image search, we would use the image tag with the source attribute pointing at the image… and as far as I know we don’t use CSS images at all for image search.”
The key takeaway here is if you want an image indexed by Google use a regular HTML tag, such as:
Wrapping it Up
In summary, this week’s major SEO updates included:
- A new Search Console with 16 months of data
- Video uploads in Google My Business
- More accurate data from PageSpeed Insights
- A new way to test AMP pages
- An announcement that Google is working on a way to display publisher URLs in AMPs
- Advice from Google, saying images are only indexed when a regular HTML tag is used