Google AMP update: content has to match the Canonical page one

Google AMP update: content has to match the Canonical page one

Starting February 1, 2018, Google will enforce a policy that requires that content in AMP pages has to be equivalent to their original canonical pages. Although Google stated that AMP is still not a ranking signal, we think that this policy is going to negatively impact your SEO if you don’t comply.

The reason is simple: AMP exists to bring a better experience to Mobile users. On February 1, 2017 we discussed whether or not Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) were becoming a new trend in SEO and also reported how Google was already displaying AMP results higher in Mobile Search Results page in the News section.

In the context of a growing mobile market, one can easily figure out that, while AMP is not directly impacting your SEO, it indeed helps you reach your mobile audience better. So if more users find your content, and find it valuable, this will indeed help your overall online presence.

So, are your AMP pages set up correctly?

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Google Mobile First Index to roll out in 2018: how to get ready

Google Mobile First Index to roll out in 2018: how to get ready

In November, 2016, Google announced they were starting to experiment the so called “Mobile first indexing”. 2018 will be the year in which this will effectively roll out, little by little, for all websites.

What is Mobile First Index?

Up to now, Google has crawled websites using their Desktop Googlebot for most of the time. This means that their indexing mostly looked at desktop versions of web pages.

This will experience a huge shift in 2018 when the mobile first indexing will effectively roll out and Google will switch to their Mobile Googlebot more. When this happens, they will index websites looking at the mobile version of their pages first.

Is my website ready for Google Mobile-First Index?

If you have a website with a Responsive Web Design already in place, you may have not much to worry about, since content between Desktop and Mobile versions of your pages is very much likely to be equivalent.

Need a Responsive Web Design for your website?

Still, Google gives us the following suggestions to look at, if we want our website to be ready when the mobile first indexing rolls out in 2018. This will also prevent our website from not showing up as they should in the Mobile Search Engine Results Page.

1) Both Mobile and Desktop content has to have the same quality

If you design your website content thinking of Mobile audience first, then this is going to be very easy to achieve. Anyway, Google wants to make sure “the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content”, which includes text, images (with alt-text), and videos.

2) If Structured Data is in place, it has to be both on Desktop and Mobile versions

Structured Data (such as markup) is growing more and more important for SEO as it helps Search Engines to better index your content (often generating snippets such as Rich Results).

If you have them in place on your website, it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site.

3) Metadata has to be equivalent on both Desktop and Mobile versions

As for everything else, metadata such as page titles, meta descriptions and ALT text on videos and images has to be equivalent across different versions of your website.

4) For internationalisation, check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs

When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.

5) Make sure your hosting server can handle potentially increased crawl rate

This does not affect websites that use responsive web design, as they don’t have different website versions hosted on separate hosts (such as

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2 smart steps to improve your website performance

2 smart steps to improve your website performance

  • You want to get the most visitors to your website;
  • you don’t want to be excluded from Google searches on smartphones;
  • you don’t want visitors to see warning messages that might drive visitors away from your website.

If these three sentences resonate with you in any way, you may want to give a look at these two smart steps to improve your website’s performance.

1) Equip your website with a Responsive Design

Responsive Design

Responsive Design makes sure that browsing works fluidly across all screen sizes from desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. This is done by building your website in a manner that presents differently to different screen sizes, so the website visitor has a very positive experience no matter what size screen they are looking at.

2) Get HTTPS, setting up a SSL to secure data on your website

Adding the S for “Secure” to your web address will both improve your ranking and avoid warnings such as “this site may not be safe” when visitors arrive. Adding the “S” requires a Secure Socket Layer that encrypts data transferring to and from your site from visitors and adds authentication to your website that says it is safe for visitors.

Need help to set up a Responsive Design or SSL on your website?

The rise of the mobile-first design approach

You may now be wondering how did we get here.

From 1996 to 2014, it was all about growing businesses into deciding that they should have a web presence. Some did it just to be there (in case they might miss something). Then, as time went by, more and more businesses took to a web presence and grew their effort to maximise its effectiveness.

Finally, with the rise of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, more and more people shifted towards them, moving away from desktop computers.

Amazon, Ebay, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks and services have been strong drivers of bringing more and more users online as everyone now can connect to the web reaching out their device in their pocket.

The role of Search Engines

Search Engines such as Google, as their algorithms grow more and more sophisticated, want to provide their users the best possible experience when searching for something through their service.

Aware of the rise of mobile browsing, this means that a website has to:

  • be easy to browse from any device;
  • keep their users privacy safe.

Mobile-first design approach

On April 21, 2015, The rise of mobile devices in the online browsing market, led Google to roll out the so called “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update. This update gives priority – in mobile Search Engine Results Page – to websites that display correctly on mobile devices.

Last January, Google started issuing a penalty to those websites that display intrusive popups on their users’ devices.

The list goes on.

Safety through HTTPS encryption\SSL certificate

HTTPS encryption has been declared to be a ranking factor since August 2014, although people are getting more aware of it only just lately, when major web browsers started to clearly show in their URL bar whether a website has such encryption in place or not.

On Chrome browser, for example, you will now see to the left of the web address:

  • Secure

  • Info Info or Not secure

  • Dangerous Not secure or Dangerous

For website owners this can be a big negative. Someone is just about to visit your website and they are now being warned away, because “you are HTTP and not HTTPS!”.

Again, the focus here is on the visitor first and the website owner second.

For websites that are just information – this appears at first to be a bit strong but adding the “S” to HTTP adds a Secure Socket Layer to ensure data is encrypted and therefore protects the website visitor. This matters whether they are simply browsing your website or entering personal details and other sensitive information such as credit card details, etc.

Now, the bottom line is that if you do not have a HTTPS on your website – visitors are likely to reduce due to warnings and lower rankings.

If you do add HTTPS (using a Secure Socket Layer) then you are seen to respect your potential website visitors and you are rewarded by Google and the browsers by not having warnings showing to visitors.

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Apple drops Bing for Google on iOS. Opportunity for Local SEO?

Apple drops Bing for Google on iOS. Opportunity for Local SEO?

“Siri, what is the best <insert-your-business-here> in town?”. If you are the best around and are ranking well on Google Mobile Search Results, it may turn out well for you.

Apple is switching to Google, instead of Bing, for web searches coming from Siri and Search on iOS, and from Spotlight on Mac.

Considering that, as of September 2017, iOS holds 30.4% of the Operating System Market Share in Ireland, this could mean great opportunity for Local SEO in Ireland.

Want to talk SEO strategies for your Local Business?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO links a business to its local customers whenever they need it, and is not just for restaurants or shops.

It’s basically a set of SEO strategies that focus on a specific region, without necessarily compromising a wider and more distant audience.

For instance, our local customers in Mullingar can find us on Google when searching “web design mullingar” or “seo services mullingar“.

They won’t probably even include the name of our hometown in their search, actually. According to Google itself, local searches without the “near me” qualifier have grown by 150% in the last two years.

Do I need Local SEO?

As Google Internal Data states: nearly 1/3 of all mobile searches are related to location.

If you own a business that benefits from customers in a specific location then you most certainly need a good Local SEO in place, as much as you need a good SEO in general.

There is no simpler way to say it!

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Want more traffic? Consider (valuable) non-English content

Want more traffic? Consider (valuable) non-English content

While English is the main language used for content available on the Internet (51.2% of all the content), there are still millions of non-English speakers who browse the web looking for content in their own language, before trying to find it in English.

If you are fluent in a non-English language, you may want to spend some time writing content for non-English users and analyse your website traffic to check whether it’s worth it or not.

As noted by Barry Schwartz on SEO Roundtable, this is far from being a new suggestion. Matt Cutts mentioned this years ago and Gary Illyes of Google also tweeted about it on March 31, 2017.

Illyes mentioned again this opportunity last week on SMX Advanced, the annual event for experienced search marketers.

Which languages are creating more opportunity?

As of March 31, 2017, English speaking users make up about 25% of the Internet users of the world. Second in line are Chinese speaking users, who make up about 20%. (Internet World Stats)

As of June 19, 2017, 51.2% of the content available on the internet is written in English. Second in line is content available in Russian (6.6%), follwed by Japanese and German (5.6%). Chinese language is ranking 9th with 2.0% of content. (W3Techs)

Checking these numbers the easiest answer would be to write content in Chinese, as it apparently can give plenty of opportunity. Still, we suggest to consider the kind of content you have on your website.

Which languages should I write my content in?

Creating content in different languages can be a time consuming and expensive operation. If you intend to spend resources on it, we advise you to perform an Audience Research beforehand.

Have you performed any research to confirm that the Chinese one could be a good audience to target? Chinese language may have a wider audience, but German speaking users could be more interested in your content.

As always, research is the first step to write meaningful content that converts.

Don’t know where to start? Ask us, we can help you with your research!

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AMP becoming a new trend in SEO in 2017?

AMP becoming a new trend in SEO in 2017?

Apparently, no more than a week ago, when browsing Google News from a mobile device, just about 30% of the results were AMP. But, on January 29, AMP results increased up to 70%.

Is this event marking the beginning of a new trend for SEO? It’s probably too early to tell, but it’s better to be ready.

What is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?

First announced by Google in October 2015, AMP basically translates to web pages stripped down of most of the “eye-candy” that makes them heavy, slow to load.

In an increasingly mobile-oriented world, page loading speed is more important every day.

So, the AMP Project‘s main purpose is to make mobile content available as fast as possible. It has been shown that about 40% of Mobile users leave a web page if its loading time is more than 3 seconds.

You can see that this is bad both for the user, who won’t see your content, and for you, because you will have lost a potential meaningful visit.

Test AMP search results with the demo provided by Google itself. Visit from your mobile device.

If you talk to publishers about this, you will probably get them interested!

What is the difference between AMP and mobile-friendly pages?

If you are one of our customers, you already know how much we are focusing on building mobile-friendly websites. Then, you may be wondering: is AMP different?

A quick example, took from this article on the BBC News website (AMP version here).

Responsive vs AMP example

The one on the left, is an example of non-AMP responsive design. You can see the header, the menu, the search box and other elements appearing.

On the right, instead, there is the AMP version of the same page, stripped down to mostly the actual images and content.

Even if AMP are indeed mobile-friendly pages, their difference lies in the amount of code used in the page itself.

A non-AMP mobile friendly page will most likely have code that makes animations, scrolling effects and popups appear on the screen. AMP pages get rid of that, without compromising the actual content: images, videos and text are left untouched.

Quoting Google itself: “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously”. So, it is worth noting that AMP does not necessarily mean no Ads.

AMP and non-AMP version of the same page can currently co-exist without causing Duplicate Content issues. Make sure that the AMP versions your pages have a rel=canonical tag that links to the non-AMP ones.

Is AMP going to be used as a Ranking Signal?

Again, it’s probably early to tell. It’s worth mentioning that back in February 2016, in a Google Webmaster Central Hangout, John Mueller said that AMP was not yet a Ranking Signal.

Still, considering the sudden growth of AMP results in Google News, and the fact that Google has been placing mobile experience first for a long time now, then it’s easy to imagine that it could happen. We’ll stay on the watch for any change.

Also, Search Engine Journal collected insights from SEO professionals around the world, some of which are keeping their eyes on what kind of importance Google may give to AMP in 2017.

What it is sure is that AMP is great for SEO in general. If you build AMP pages, you will basically build:

Mobile-friendliness, Page Speed and User Experience are indeed Ranking Signals!

Also, with AMP in mind, you may end up writing better content, since you would have to pay far less attention about the layout.

How to setup AMP pages (on WordPress)

If your website is built using WordPress as a CMS, then to setup a basic AMP on your website we suggest you to install two plugins: AMP by Automattic and AMP for WP by Ahmed and Mohammed Kaludi.

Once you installed them, you can access to them under the same panel, located in Dashboard > AMP

AMP WordPress Plugin Dashboard

From this page, you can help yourself through the provided links to learn how to setup AMP properly.

Be sure to always have the latest WordPress version installed and also always perform a backup of your website before installing plugins.

How to setup AMP pages (on non-WordPress websites)

If you are not using WordPress, the best place to get started is the Guide provided by the AMP Project itself.

Need help to setup AMP for your website?

If you don’t have time to setup AMP on your own, or just need some help, contact us: Handyweb can help!

Let us help you find what you need! Fill our secure form!

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