Google Owl Update


Google has announced the Owl update that focuses on removing fake news from search results. It include algorithm updates, an update to the quality guidelines, and the ability to submit feedback to Google when there are bad auto suggests or featured snippets.

This update is also not intended to favor big brands or older sites, just remove fake, misleading, or offensive news results.


Google’s Position on Crawl Budget


  • Crawl budget is something smaller sites (less then a few thousand pages) do not have to worry about
  • Crawl rate
    • How many active connections Googlebot has to a site
    • 2 factors affect crawl rate
      • Crawl health: fast site, faster crawl; slow site or lost of errors (5xx), slower crawl
      • Search Console limit: mostly useful for slowing down crawl
  • Crawl demand
    • Low demand, less crawling
    • 2 primary factors
      • Popularity: popular sites are crawled more often
      • Staleness: keeping URLs from becoming stale in the index
  • Crawl budget: number of URLs Google can and wants to crawl
  • Other factors
    • low value URLs can decrease crawling and indexing
      • Faceted navigation and session IDs
      • On site duplicate content
      • Soft error pages
      • hacked pages
      • infinite spaces and proxies
      • low quality and spam content
    • Googlebots would rather focus on valuable pages on the site
    • Redirect chains is bad for crawling
    • AMP, herflang, embeded content, CSS, all count towards crawl budget
  • Crawling helps get your content indexed but is not a ranking signal

Title Tags After Google’s SERP Update


Google recently made some changes to the layout of their results pages.  Titles now appear at a bigger font and without underlines.  Beyond just changing the look of the SERPs this has also affected out Google handles titles tags slightly.  According to research posted on Moz, the safest number of characters to keep your titles from being cut off is now 55.  This number is somewhat arbitrary as the actual length is determined by pixels, not characters.  The bolding which shows the search query in the titles also eats into the allowed pixel width. 55 characters seems to provide the best balance between safe title length and enough space to write a good title.  The linked to article also includes a tool to see what any given title might look like in search results.



Hummingbird is a new algorithm update that is intended to help Google better work with sentence based questions as opposed to keyword queries.  At this point there is little information on how this algorithm works or what exactly it will do.

More information is coming abut how what this new algorithm does.  In this FAQ they explain that the change focuses mainly on how Google processes queries rather then how it judges and ranks sites.  While this may shift rankings, it’s focus is on answering the question in context rather than matching keyword terms.  The important thing for an SEO if to keep creating high quality content that answers questions and adds value.

Dealing with Not Provided


With keywords in Analytics moving entirely to “not provided” tracking certain mertics has been cut back.  In this video Rand gives his suggestions of ways to work around the lack of keyword data.  This includes things like tracking rankings in brackets (branded, non branded, long tail) and comparing the traffic to the pages that rank for those types of terms or using other tools such as AdWords and keywords research tools.

Google Increasing Not Provided


There are a number of articles all discussing this topic.  Google is shifting all of their searches over to secure which means most if not all searches will be moving to (not provided) and no longer provide keyword data in Analytics.  There is, however, some mention that those with active AdWords accounts will still have keyword data.

User Behavior and Search Queries


This Whiteboard Friday discusses how search queries are evolving as Google gains the ability to gather information beyond the query itself such as user location, previous search history, device they are searching on, etc.  As time goes on and these capabilities increase users are learning to rely on it rather than the keywords of the query.  With things like Google Now the query is being removed entirely.

The video also brings up an interesting theory about (not provided).  The theory here is that this is Google’s way of saying that their focus is moving away from keywords and towards the solution to the searchers problem.