Google has been more open to sharing information about how it operates with the public — lately, analysts from the company have talked about the various algorithms it uses to rank websites. In the social media realm, Facebook suffered a discouraging second quarter and is experiencing a drop in ad spends.
Google Confirms Crawling Popular Web Pages More Often
Last week, Google Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller answered some well sought-after questions about Google, via Twitter. Confirming what many already believed to be true, Mueller said Google crawls important and popular pages more often than less-important and less-popular pages in order to keep the URLs from becoming stale in their index.
If a page isn’t crawled often, it could be a sign that the page isn’t very important to Google. When a blogger asked why he’s still seeing former blog post URLs (that he deleted several months ago) indexed on his site, Mueller responded with: “If we don’t crawl then [sic] that often, usually that’s a sign that we didn’t think they were that important, which might help confirm that they were ok to remove.”
Mueller also clarified that Google indexes fresh content pages more often and that it ranks older content higher than newer content. This is especially the case with QDF, or Query Deserves Freshness, a ranking algorithm by Google that determines when certain pages, such as breaking news articles, will be ranked higher than older, more-visited pages.
Takeaway: Know that Google crawling a page often doesn’t necessarily mean the page will be ranked highly. A page does need to be crawled in order for it to be ranked, but Google uses lots of other signals to determine ranking results other than simply crawling a page.
Useful Features Available in the New Google Search Console
Google also introduced the new Search Console, which has features to help site owners manage their site more easily. One of these features is the Links Report, which lets site owners see who links to their site, as well as the sites they link to within their site (internal links). The new Search Console also has a Mobile Usability report that lets site owners see how well their website operates on a mobile device. Site owners can now submit a reindexing request after they fix an issue so Google will reevaluate their site.
Another feature of the new Search Console is the Property Settings page, which helps site owners manage the various users of their websites, along with their permissions (e.g., “Owner”). Site owners can also remove a property from their list and add it back later (in most cases).
Takeaway: Familiarize yourself with the new Search Console and take advantage of the new tools and features.
Google Recommends Site Owners Use 301 Redirects When Converting to HTTPS2>
Since Google announced that using a secure HTTPS instead of HTTP would improve a site’s search results, more site owners have been switching. During a webmaster video hangout last week, John Mueller advised site owners to use 301 redirects on a per-URL basis, rather than using other redirects, such as 303s. He said, “If you start using other kinds of HTTPS result codes for redirects, then… we kind of have to reconsider and think, ‘Well, are they doing something unique here that’s not just a generic site move?’” Then, Google has to reprocess each URL, which takes a lot longer and is more laborious than if a 301 redirect was used.
Takeaway: If you haven’t already switched your website to HTTPS, then now’s the time to make the swap and utilize the 301 redirect.
Facebook’s Ad Spends Drop While Instagram’s Rises
Facebook’s Quarter 2 wasn’t as successful as the company had hoped — they even had a drop in stocks of 19 percent in one day (the biggest single-day plummet in American history). Some are claiming this is a result of the rise in Instagram ad spends, which grew at four times the rate of Facebook ad spends in July. Instagram’s aesthetic appeal is highly pleasing to its younger audience and is more focused on new, fresh content, as opposed to Facebook’s setup, which showcases content people have saved over the years.
Takeaway: This is more relevant for industries outside the home services industry where visual media is more prominent – restaurants, travel, resorts, etc. Instagram continues to yield a higher cost per result as well, so as advertisers invest more money into that platform, it’s possible we could see costs rise there.
Facebook Stories Highlights Have Started Appearing on Certain Users’ Profiles
Perhaps in an attempt to generate more ad spends for the company, Facebook is adding the Facebook Stories Highlights feature to the app.
The first social media platform to use stories was Snapchat in October 2013. In December 2017, Instagram followed, giving users and businesses the option to save stories permanently in Stories Highlights, which are stored on a user’s profile, below the bio section. Businesses can create different categories for their Stories Highlights, such as “Company Events” or “New Offerings.” Now, this option is becoming available on Facebook.
Social and digital media consultant Matt Navarra first noticed this on his own Facebook profile on August 17, and when TechCrunch inquired about the update, a spokesperson from Facebook responded with:
“People have told us they want a way to highlight and save the Stories that matter most to them. We’ll soon start testing highlights on Facebook — a way to choose Stories to stay on your profile, making it easier to express who you are through memories.”
Takeaway: Enhance your business’s Facebook presence with this new feature. It’s a great way to showcase the moments you want to last longer than the regular 24-hour life of a Facebook story.
Liz MacLean is an Inbound Marketing Specialist with experience managing social media and creating content for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. She is an award-winning writer who has produced photographs and articles about cooking, clothing, nature, and fitness for local magazines and newspapers.
Image via iStock