Google Algorithm Weather Report : November 2015
Google Drops the Location Filter
After many months of seeing the location filter disappearing and appearing, Google has finally gotten rid of it. Google’s justification to this change is that nobody used it, but that’s certainly not true for us SEOs!
Don’t worry, though. There is still a way around this.
If you’re using chrome the browser handily comes with it’s own suite of tools for developers. Within these tools are options for Emulation which allow you to trick websites into thinking you are accessing it through a mobile phone or tablet, a computer with a different screen resolution, or even a device with a slow connection. These are all very useful for developers and SEO’s alike.
Deeper within these settings is sensor emulation, this includes emulation for accelerometers, touch screens and also geolocation coordinates. Using the latter, you can make Google believe you are anywhere in the world. It may sound a little involved, but once you’ve done it once it’s very easy to change your coordinates when required.
Here are the simple steps to spoof your location that still works:
1. Hit F12 or Ctrl-Shift-I in Chrome (Alt-Cmd-I on Mac) or click Menu> More Tools > Developer Tools.
2. At the bottom of this new window (it’ll more than likely be on the “console” tab), switch to the “Emulation” Tab and click “Enable Emulation”.
3. This may have mobile device emulation enabled by default (you will notice the screen shrink to a mobile device size if you have it enabled). Uncheck “Emulate Screen Resolution”, “Emulate mobile” and “Shrink to Fit” in the “Device” tab if you don’t require this.
4. Head to the Sensors menu within the Emulation tab and check “Emulate Geolocation Coordinates”.
5. Unless you’re a top cartographer, you probably don’t know the latitude and longitude you need off the top of your head, so head over to www.latlong.net and input your required location, this will give you the necessary coordinates.
6. Input these coordinates in the ‘Lat=’ and ‘Lon=’ boxes below “Emulate Geolocation Coordinates”.
7. Click “Use Precise Location” at the bottom of Google Search and refresh the page.
8. That’s it! You’re done. Just conduct your search as needed, if all is correct it should be serving you results from the location you have specified.
There is a far simpler way of doing this, however it’s unclear how long this will work for as the bookmarklet uses the same URL parameter that the original location filter used. All Google has done so far is remove the button that enables the URL parameter, but we fully expect it to disappear very soon, too.
Download the bookmarklet from this page by dragging it onto your bookmark bar. Click it whenever you need to do a location specific search. That’s it!
Accelerated Mobile Pages For Google Search
Last month, we mentioned Accelerated Mobile Pages, a new form of HTML that allows the construction of light-weight webpages that load virtually instantly on mobile devices. Earlier this month, David Besbris announced on the amphtml wordpress blog that “Google will begin sending traffic to your AMP pages in Google Search early next year”. This could significantly change mobile search for the better, especially in third-world countries where internet speeds are very limited.
You can try out amphtml pages for yourself by going to http://g.co/ampdemo with your mobile device or mobile user agent. Searching for something news related (i.e: Mars) will return the new AMP-enabled news pages, that when clicked, will load almost instantly.
Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines
Surprisingly, Google has actually released their Search Quality Rating Guidelines to the public for the first time ever. This is the first time since 2011 that we have managed to get our hands on this document, back then it was leaked in its entirety and was fairly easy to get. The previous document was only 125 pages, this has now been upped to 160 to include mobile documentation.
Jennifer Slegg has documented the slight changes between the last guidelines and this one over at The SEM Post if you are interested to see what’s new.
Bear in mind, this document isn’t a cheat-sheet to rank your website in Google results, rather it is just simply a set of guidelines used by consultants to rate search result quality on Google.com, however it is a great insight into Google’s “mindset”, so to speak.
If you are interested in viewing or downloading the document, it is available here.
Google Now Ranks Apps & Can Stream Apps Without Installing Them
Google has announced that they are now ranking content within apps and displaying them in search results when there is no web content for a specific search. So, for example, if you were searching for a hotel room that’s available right now, you may be offered a link to stream an app that has the content you are looking for, even if you haven’t installed it yourself. The example below shows this exact query, Google returns the “Hotel Tonight” App with a link to stream it.
The thinking is that the user will then go on to download the app for use later, but there is absolutely nothing stopping you from using the app in its entirety solely through Google search results.
This is huge for app owners, as previously the only way for them to get their app noticed was through advertising or simply through Google Play. Currently there are only 9 apps available to use through this service (See below), but eventually it will be rolled out to all apps who have used the Google App Indexing API, so if you haven’t done that yet, take a look at the instructions on the Google Developer site and implement it as soon as possible.
HTTP2 Support For GoogleBot
HTTP2 is the in-development updated web protocol being designed to use network resources more efficiently and lower percieved latency through compression and allowing multiple exchanges on the same connection. For more information about the HTTP2 protocol, head over to the project page: http://daniel.haxx.se/http2/
Google cannot currently crawl HTTP2 only pages, but recently John Mueller announced that Googlebot will soon be able to crawl and understand HTTP2, hopefully by the end of the year, maybe early next year.
The video is embedded below, with the correct start-time for the comment.
Google: Don’t Build Apps Just For Ranking Boost
Last month we talked about the new App Indexing API ranking boost, and shortly after this was announced, Google’s Michael Fink said that you shouldn’t create an app purely for the ranking boost, and that you should only create one if it truly provides a better user experience and is valuable for the user.
As stated above, if you are interested in using the App Indexing API for your app, head over to the Google Developers page for more information.
Bear in mind that this is only for Android apps currently, there is no ranking boost for iOS apps at this time.
The App Install Interstitial Penalty Is Now Live
Google warned us two months ago that having an app-install interstitial on your website (The full screen ads that often load after around 5 seconds of being on a page, asking you to install their app or engage in some form) will lead to a penalty. This came true on the 2nd November as Google set their app interstitial penalty live. Their official statement about this was posted to Google+ and can be seen here: https://plus.google.com/+GoogleWebmasters/posts/7qKTxCp2PZx
Instead of using full-page interstitials, Google recommends the use of more user-friendly formats such as app install banners. The Mobile-Friendly Test and Search Console’s “Mobile Usability Report” were updated to include this as a factor back when it was first announced.