Google gave everyone a heads up this past week that a major algorithm update is coming to mobile search later this year. We have all the information as well as answers to the most pressing questions surrounding the forthcoming update. Also this week, Google changed the rules regarding who is eligible to make money on YouTube– and many users are upset.
In other advertising news, Google rolled out a useful update to its official AdWords app. Lastly, we’ll cap it off with some advice from Google’s John Mueller regarding duplicate content. Details about all of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO and SEM news roundup.
Page Speed as a Ranking Signal in Mobile Search
As of July 2018, page speed will become a ranking signal in Google’s mobile search results. Page speed has been a ranking factor in desktop search results since 2010, but has never been a factor in mobile search. Of course, it’s always better to serve a fast site to mobile users, but now it might make the difference between showing up on the first page or being buried in page 20.
Google is calling this the “speed update” and says it will affect only the slowest loading pages. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tell for sure which sites will be affected. While the PageSpeed Insights tool can determine if a page is fast or not, there’s no guarantee it will be considered fast enough for this algorithm update.
Google offers the following advice to site owners:
”We encourage developers to think broadly how about performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics.”
In other words, don’t obsess too much about speed because it’s only one of the many signals used to rank search results. Google notes that user intent is still a very strong signal. So if you have a slow page that is highly relevant to a user’s query, it may still show up in search results.
It’s reasonable to assume that if you’re using Google’s AMP (accelerated mobile pages) technology then you’ll be in the clear when this update rolls out. However, this new algorithm change will apply to all types of pages regardless of the technology being used. That means Google will not favor AMPs automatically.
Going forward, be mindful of your page speed on mobile devices but also consider the experience you’re giving to users as a whole. Speed is just one part of the formula for keeping visitors satisfied.
Google Changes YouTube Monetization Guidelines
YouTube is not just the web’s second largest repository for finding and sharing content, it’s a place where successful video creators can earn an income. In order to make money from YouTube views users have to be enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program. This allows creators to place ads alongside their videos and earn money from ad impressions.
Google has changed the guidelines for enrolment in the YouTube Partner Program, which means there is stricter criteria for users to meet before they can run ads. Previously, users had to meet a threshold of 10,000 total views before they could enter the program. Now, total views are not even considered. Users will need to generate 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months to stay in the program, as well as have at least 1,000 subscribers.
The new criteria will apply to both new and existing users, which is leaving a lot of content creators upset with the changes. Many YouTube channels that met the previous criteria are now being ousted from the YouTube Partner Program because they don’t meet the new criteria. It’s possible to earn a lot of views from a few popular videos but not generate many subscribers, for example.
Google explains these changes by saying:
”It’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads. Instead of basing acceptance purely on views, we want to take channel size, audience engagement, and creator behavior into consideration to determine eligibility for ads.”
The company believes this will help prevent bad actors from trying to make money off of unfavorable content. Unfortunately, it also means some legitimate content creators will be removed from the program.
Google AdWords App Update
Google’s AdWords mobile app has been updated with the ability to add, edit, or remove keywords from a campaign. Next time you’re on the go and have a great idea for a keyword, add it to your campaign immediately before you forget about it.
Add keywords from the AdWords app by following these steps:
- From the Overview screen, scroll down and tap Keywords
- Tap the plus button
- Select a campaign, then an ad group for your new keyword
- Tap + Add a keyword
- Enter a word or phrase as your keyword, then choose the right keyword match type.
- Tap the checkmark
- Tap Save
Keyword ideas can also be explored in the “keywords” section. Instead of tapping + Add a Keyword tap Get keyword ideas. Then type in a seed word to return ideas related to that keyword. Select any keywords you want to add to your list and tap Save. If you want to perform other actions, then select a keyword that is already in your list and you’ll have the option to edit or delete it.
Duplicate Content on Product and Category Pages
In this past week’s Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller was asked about a problem that site owners frequently run into. Sites that list products and services, whether an e-commerce site or a regular site, often end up repeating snippets of text on category and product pages.
So does the search giant penalize product and category pages for sharing the same content? No, Mueller says, but difficulties could arise when ranking those pages in search results.
It’s “perfectly fine” to have the same text snippet on product and category pages. However, if someone is searching for a phrase which appears in a duplicate snippet, Google will try to rank just one page and not several. As a result, category pages may end up generating more traffic than the product pages.
At that point, it’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons of driving traffic to category pages versus product pages. If a category page is getting significantly more traffic than your product pages, it may be worthwhile to adjust the text so your product pages show up first.
For more about duplicate content, see our related FAQ article.
Wrapping it Up
In summary, the major developments of this past week included:
- Google to use page speed as a ranking signal in July 2018
- It’s now more difficult to be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program
- A Google AdWords app update lets users add keywords on the go
- Google does not penalize duplicate content on product and category pages, though it may end up ranking one over the other