New Google Search Console

About a month ago, Google announced via their Webmaster Central Blog that the new version of Search Console (originally made available to a limited set of users in August 2017) was going to be released to all site owners who use the tool. The big roll-out has taken a few weeks, but the majority of users are now able to access the redesigned Search Console interface.

Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) in an indispensable tool for website owners, and so we'd like to take a moment to walk you through the new version and explain hpw it can be used. The new Search Console is still being built, and certain reports have not yet been migrated into the new version, but what is there is well worth exploring if you're serious about looking after your website's health.

How do I view the new Search Console?

To access the new version of Google Search Console, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to www.google.com/webmasters and click the big green 'SEARCH CONSOLE' button.

  2. Sign into your Google account to continue.

  3. Once you're on the Search Console home screen, select the property (website) you'd like to manage.

  4. Go to your Messages (under 'Dashboard' in menu).

  5. Look for a message with the title 'Introducing the new Search Console for [website URL]' and open it up. (If you haven't received this message then you probably don't have access to the new Search Console yet - it is still being rolled out, so be patient and you should be granted access soon.)

  6. Click the 'Open the new Search Console' button in the body of the message.

I'm in! So what's new?

The first thing you'll notice upon accessing your new and improved Search Console is the sleek new design.

New Google Search Console

As we've already mentioned, the new Search Console doesn't yet offer as many different reports as its predecessor. The main features of the new version are as follows:

  • Performance
  • Index coverage
  • AMP
  • Sitemaps

Let's familiarise ourselves with these reports one at a time...

Search Console Performance Report

Performance

The 'Performance' report is more or less identical to the 'Search Traffic' report in Search Console Classic. The interface is a little different, and interestingly, there appears to be some disparity between the data in the 'Performance' and 'Search Traffic' reports, but it's still essentially the same tool. Use it to see which queries drive clicks/impressions for your website.

 

Search Console Index Coverage Report

Index coverage

Of all the features that the new Search Console brings to the table, its 'Index coverage' report is unquestionably the most exciting. One of the most frustrating things about using the old Search Console was spotting that Google hadn't indexed some of your pages...but having no way to find out which pages the algorithm had passed over.

The 'Index coverage' report aims to give site owners a clearer idea of which pages have and haven't been indexed (and, more importantly, why). Blind Five Year Old wrote an in-depth blog post about this report back in October, but here's a quick summary of what 'Index coverage' shows you:

  • Error - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed because of some kind of error (e.g. server error).

  • Valid with warnings - Pages that HAVE been indexed, but with some issues that you may want to inspect.

  • Valid - Pages that HAVE been indexed successfully.

  • Excluded - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed, usually (though not always) intentionally. For instance, a page with the 'noindex' tag or a canonical tag that points to an alternate URL will show up in this section of the report.

This report makes it easier than ever before to see which of your pages aren't getting indexed, and to establish what you need to do about it.

 

Search Console AMP Report

AMP

If your website includes any AMP content, this report is worth keeping an eye on as it will inform you of any errors on your accelerated mobile pages. This isn't anything new, though - the old version of Search Console includes a very similar report under Search Appearance > Accelerated Mobile Pages.

 

Search Console Sitemaps Report

Sitemaps

Again, this is just a nicer-looking version of a tool that we've been using for years (find it in the old Search Console under Crawl > Sitemaps). You can submit sitemaps and check the status of all submitted sitemaps here; handily, you can also click through to an 'Index coverage' report for each sitemap you've submitted.

And that's just about it - for now, anyway. Google are still building the new Search Console, so keep your eyes peeled for additional reports as 2018 progresses.

Do you need an expert to look after your website and make sure it's running at peak performance? Contact Designer Websites today - our website optimisation specialists will help you to achieve online success!

Have you ever been scrolling through a website and suddenly your view is blocked by a huge advert? Even worse, have you ever been forced to watch at least 10 seconds of said advert before it’ll show you the website you wanted to visit?

If you have found yourself irritated by these intrusive adverts, you’ll be pleased to know that Google Chrome recently launched a built-in ad blocker feature. However, by Google’s own admission, this is more of a ‘filter’ rather than a complete blocker, as adverts that comply with the Better Ads Standards will be able to continue advertising.

If you do advertise your business on the web, this may strike a little fear into your heart. However, this ad blocker is designed to only stop the most annoying adverts which aim to distract users from the website with hard to click exit buttons and other un-user-friendly experiences.

Website operators were given a few months prior to the Chrome ad blocker launch to comply with the new rules and have been given 30 days after the release to conform. If they do not, Google will block both publishers and websites which display annoying adverts from all advertising.

So, what type adverts does the Chrome Ad Blocker stop?

Google is working by the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads which has identified through testing the ‘ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability’.

On desktop, these include:

  • Pop-up Ads – these adverts pop up as you scroll down a webpage and block user’s view of the content. 
  • Auto-playing Video Adverts with Sound – this type of advert starts playing with sound without any sort of interaction. 
  • Prestitial Ads with a Countdown - appearing before the page has fully loaded, these adverts force a user to wait a set amount of time before they can close the advert. 
  • Large Sticky Ads – these adverts stick to the bottom of a webpage, taking up 30% or more of the screen.

On a mobile, the blocked adverts include:

  • Pop-up Ads – these adverts are the same as the desktop version and block part or the entire screen.
  • Prestitial Ads – showing before the content has fully loaded, these adverts stop users reaching the content they’re looking for right away.
  • Adverts with a Density Higher than 30% - if an advert is larger than 30%, it will be blocked by the ad blocker.
  • Flashing Animated Ads – this type of advert animates or flashes in an attempt to distract users from the content on the page.
  • Auto-playing Video Ads with Sound – same as the desktop version, any advert that auto-plays sound without a user’s interaction will be blocked.
  • Postitial Ads with Countdown – this intrusive format forces a user to wait a number of seconds before they can see the content on the page.
  • Full Screen Scroll over Ads – this advert type hovers on top of the pages main content and hides it from view. They often take up more than 30% of the page and force a user to scroll past it.
  • Large Sticky Ads – this advert also blocks the user's view of the page's content and takes up more than 30% of the pages real estate.

You can read more about each of these advert types in the Coalition for Better Ads Standards.

Why was the Chrome Ad Blocker introduced?

So, you may be wondering how blocking adverts could benefit a company who received an eye-watering £95.4 billion US dollars in advertising revenue last year.

Vice President of Google Chrome, Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, said in his recent blog that Google has ‘seen more and more people express their discontent with annoying ads by installing ad blockers, but blocking all ads can hurt sites or advertisers who aren’t doing anything disruptive.’

In simple terms, Google does not want users downloading third-party software to block the adverts. They believe providing a better user experience is more important than losing money from these intrusive ad formats.

However, as one of the tech superpowers of the world, it’s highly unlikely Google introduced the Chrome ad blocker without their best interest at heart.
As hundreds of thousands of people have installed ad blockers over the years which block all adverts, not just the irritating ones, Google’s introduction of their own ad blocker could actually benefit advertisers.

If users feel less inclined to install an ad blocker because Chrome is already sifting away the most irritating ones, more people will see the advertisers who actually fulfil the advertising standards. The companies who rely on ads to make money may also benefit from this update, as their revenue will not be annihilated by the growth of third-party ad blockers which block all of their adverts.

If Google has control over which adverts are blocked online, both advertisers and Google may stand to benefit from this change.

Adblock, the most popular third-party advert blocking tool, actively blocks all adverts on the web. However, Adblock still allows ‘whitelisted’ adverts, which publishers have to pay to use. Unsurprisingly, Google is one of those publishers who choose to pay a fee which allows their adverts to surpass the block. This fee could be part of the reason Google introduced this update, alongside their ambition to make the web more user-friendly.

Furthermore, the whitelisted format Adblock uses could potentially be part of Google’s long-term plan with this update. If a website or publisher is blocked from advertising entirely due to one bad advert, would there be a type of ‘whitelist’ feature introduced to allow them to advertise again? Only time will tell if Google plans to introduce a feature like this.

Will the Chrome Ad Blocker affect me? 

If your website does not advertise or display adverts in the aforementioned formats, you will be unaffected by this update. Websites which only use the acceptable standards of advertising may even find they benefit from this update as their adverts are more likely to be seen.

However, if you use the Display Network for prospecting or remarketing purposes, you may find some of your adverts could be blocked due to where they are placed. For example, if your adverts usually display on a website which Google decides shows too many annoying adverts via Adsense, your ads may be blocked on this website.

Alternatively, if you let publishers advertise on your website, you may want to check they comply with the Better Ads Standards. Google has introduced a way you can check on the new and updated search console, called the ‘Ad Experience Report’.

You can access your Ad Experience Report here to find out if your website displays any adverts users deem annoying. If your website does not pass this test, you have 30 days to sort out any non-compliant advertising and you can request a re-review.

Here’s a video from Google to help you use the Ad Experience Report.

With the introduction of the Chrome ad blocker, it’s more important than ever to ensure your advertising is done right. Our experienced PPC team specialises in this subject and will ensure your adverts comply with the standards. Find out more about how our PPC team can help you here. 

Voice Search: Has It Changed SEO?

Do you have a voice assistant in your home? If you do, you’re not alone. It is estimated that around 8.2 million people own an Amazon Echo device and Google Home is not too far behind, selling more than one Google Home device every second since October 2017.

Furthermore, a study found that 40% of adults now use voice search at least once per day. Voice search has managed to find its way into every aspect of our lives, from finding out the age of a film star to sourcing the cheapest flights. With a reach this large, it is inevitable that the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) would edit and improve its techniques in order to stay on top of the changes voice search has brought.

Voice search and the skills of voice assistants are constantly changing as the teams behind them aim to improve their usability. Recently, debate surrounding advertising on voice assistants has started to heat up, so we thought we would take a look back at how voice search has affected SEO, and where we think it might go in the future.

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Bespoke Online Solutions

Truly successful online businesses don't just need a website that's user-friendly and optimised for search engines. More often than not, they need specialised functionality, a significant level of automation, comprehensive administration portals, integration with other business solutions...the list is long, and of course, every business has its own specific requirements.

In this post, we'd like to show you 10 quick and simple examples of the bespoke online solutions that we've created and implemented for our clients.

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