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SEO News: Canonical Tag Update, Google’s Mobile-Friendly API

February has been a busy (and cold) month, and there’s lots happening in the digital marketing industry. Here’s what the February edition of 30|30 covers:

  • Google opens up an API for their mobile-friendly test
  • Google can ignore canonical tags if the content is different
  • AMP isn’t a ranking factor, unless it’s the canonical/primary version
  • 2017 best practices for site auditing



Want more details? Learn even more by watching the full webinar recording for February’s edition.


Google Opens Up an API for Their Mobile-Friendly Test

On Jan. 31, Google announced it released a new API for their mobile-friendly testing tool. Now you can build your own tool to see if your pages are mobile-friendly. On the Google Webmaster Central blog, trends analyst John Mueller wrote:

The API method runs all tests, and returns the same information including a list of the blocked URLs as the manual test. The documentation includes simple samples to help get you started quickly.

What does this mean? Now developers can build these tools right into their auditing process. Google is enabling webmasters and developers to integrate the tool with automated software. You can compare things side by side, without having to go into the Google interface.

You can access the API here.

Google Can Ignore Canonical Tags if the Content is Different

Also from Mueller in late January: Google can ignore your canonical tag if it’s pointing to different content.

canonical tagging update

If you canonical one page to another, but the content is different on both pages, then Google might think you made a mistake and ignore your directive. And, they may just index the URL that’s being canonicalized, anyway.

This is a warning from Google that they’re not always going to listen to your directive. Think about this when you’re making a canonical SEO strategy, especially if you work in retail, where we see this all the time. You must point your canonicalized page to a page with relevant content, or Google will ignore you.

G-Squared Interactive has a great post about this.

AMP isn’t a Ranking Factor, Unless it’s the Canonical/Primary Version

We already knew that Google doesn’t give you a ranking bonus for having AMP-enabled pages. This could change in the future, but right now, AMP is not a ranking factor. Mueller confirmed this fact via Twitter on Jan. 25:

However… In a Google hangout on the same day, Mueller said Google can judge the quality of your pages based on your AMP pages, if they are the canonical version. 

This means you can tell Google to use your AMP pages as your primary versions for ranking and quality purposes. Google has opened this door for us and, in this regard, AMP affects rankings. And because AMP isn’t that difficult to implement, this could be an easy solution for companies that need a quick fix while they build that whole other mobile experience.

You can read the full transcript of Mueller’s hangout on Search Engine Land.

2017 Best Practices for Site Auditing

You should be auditing your site on an annual basis at least, not only for SEO purposes, but also to look for technical issues and make sure you aren’t missing anything.

Which aspects of your site should you pay attention to? I suggest:

  • Content. What did you publish? Are there any duplicates? Are all the tags in order? How much content did you create?
  • Site architecture. How is your site built? Is it time for a site redesign? Are your directories getting messy? Is your site hard to navigate?
  • Accessibility. Can search engines crawl your site?
  • Link profile. Which sites are linking to you? Which links have you lost?
  • Mobile experience. Get on a phone and look — is your site easy to use? Can you get people where they need to go quickly?
  • Local presence. If you are a brick-and-mortar establishment, is your map information normalized? Are things like name, address and phone number correct? There are a number of great tools (Moz Local and BrightLocal, for example) that can help with this.
  • International elements. If your site exists in many languages or serves various regions of the world, make sure those pages are performing properly.

Some amazing opportunities to improve your site — from both a technical and content standpoint — can come from a full site audit. For example, check out the results we saw when we audited our client’s site:

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 10.12.29 AM

All in all changes implemented from the site audit resulted in an 84% increase in organic traffic and a 50% increase in organic revenue.

This wasn’t a major site overhaul — these were such fixes as updating title tags and H1s, fixing duplicate pages and sprucing up some contentThat’s precisely why a regular site audit is important — you can get some very real results, and quickly too.

Don’t miss important updates on industry news. Make sure you sign up for next month’s Conductor 30|30 on March 9th.

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