The world celebrated International Womens’ Day this week, and Google marked the occasion by introducing a permanent new feature to search results. In addition– Google’s John Mueller inadvertently made several headlines with information revealed during this week’s Webmaster Central hangout, and a notable update was released for Google’s iOS app.
Further details about each of these top stories are covered in this week’s SEO news roundup.
Google Highlights Women-Led Businesses
Businesses owned and operated by women will now have a unique identifier in Google Search and Google Maps. Within the business listing, an icon reading “women-led” will appear alongside other highlights about the business. The new “women-led” attribute can be added to a business listing through the Google My Business dashboard under the “info” section. From there, scroll down and you will find an area that will allow you to add attributes. With a simple click you can add the “women led” icon to your listing, as well as any other attributes that apply to your business.
Google Webmaster Central Hangout Recap
Google’s John Mueller hosts a live Google Hangout every week, where anyone is invited to attend and ask questions about SEO. Depending on the questions, these hangouts can sometimes be a good source for new information about how Google works. This week’s hangout featured some great insight from Mueller, which I’ll recap for you here.
Don’t Use Google Search Console’s URL Submit Tool
John Mueller discouraged people from using the URL Submit tool in Search Console to get new content indexed. In fact, Mueller says that there shouldn’t be any need for a “normal” webmaster to submit individual URLs for “normal” sites. Put another way— Google is perfectly capable of finding and indexing content on its own. However, if you find your content is not getting indexed as fast as you’d like, Mueller recommends linking to it from a visible location on your site as well as putting it in a sitemap file.
Google Can Detect Duplicate Content Before Crawling It
Google’s web crawler tries to do its best to weed out duplicate content from search results. That’s because serving multiple copies of the same content would result in a poor search experience. In this week’s Google Webmaster Central hangout, John Mueller revealed there are methods in place to detect duplicate content without even crawling the page. However, this could result in unique content being dismissed as a duplicate if it’s similar in other ways to true duplicate content.
When content is published to a website, sometimes parameters will be generated in the URL to denote different things like languages, categories, locations, and so on. For the record, Pam Ann Marketing discourages the use of parameters, but many websites do end up having to use them. Take a large website with many categories, for example. Parameters may be added to the URL such as “category=1,” “category=2,” “category=3,” etc. If, for some reason, categories 1 through 100 contain the exact same content, Google may begin to automatically dismiss all pages on that site with the “category” parameter. That means if category 101 happens to contain unique content it will not end up getting indexed. The best way to avoid running into such a problem is to be more vigilant with respect to duplicate content. There are ways to tell Google which content is duplicate and which is not, such as the rel=canonical tag and the URL parameter handling tool in Search Console. Use these methods (carefully) to make sure Google’s clear on which URLs contain duplicate content and which do not.
Google Crawls Certain Pages More Often Than Others
I hope you’re not tired of hearing about John Mueller yet, because he was in the public eye a lot this week. In a short Q&A video published to YouTube, a site owner was concerned about page updates not being reflected in search results as fast as usual. Mueller explained that certain pages are crawled more often, so changes to the most “important” pages will be seen in search results faster than changes to less important pages.
According to Mueller, a site’s most important pages are the homepage and high-level category pages. Changes to the title tag of a site’s homepage, for example, will be reflected in search faster than changes to the title of a year-old blog post.
Google iOS App Update
Any iPhone user with the Google app knows that it gets updated a lot. Most updates are not notable, as they’re just the typical “bug fixes and improvements,” but this week was different. With the latest iOS app update, Google is becoming more deeply integrated into other apps. A new iMessage extension will allow you to search for and share items from Google Search without having to open a new app.
In addition, a new Google Search feature in Safari will allow you to search for content related to the web page you’re currently viewing. Lastly, iPad users will be happy to know the Google app now supports drag and drop. So you can easily drag content to and from the Google app while you have another app open in split-screen.
Here are the key takeaways from this week’s SEO news:
- Women-led businesses can now highlight that attribute in their Google My Business listing.
- Using Google Search Console’s URL submit tool when publishing new content is not recommended. Google assures that it will find and index new content on its own.
- Google may determine that web pages are duplicates before crawling them if a pattern is detected in the URL parameters.
- Changes to a website’s homepage, and high-level category pages, will be reflected in search results faster than changes to other pages.
- Google’s latest iOS app update comes with an iMessage extension and a shortcut for finding related content in Safari.