I usually write these news posts on Wednesdays, so at the time, there were murmurings of some “phantom update” at Google, as a lot of webmasters were noticing fluctuations in their rankings. Well, lo and behold, AFTER I wrote the news below, Google confirmed that Panda 4.2 has launched. WHEEE! Prepare to ride the roller coaster again my friends! That and more below!
- Did A “Phantom Update” Happen Last Weekend? – Many webmasters, according to Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, have been emailing him asking if Google had an update this past weekend, as there apparently was a lot of volatility in their rankings. One of his readers thinks it’s similar to the odd update that happened last month which Google first denied then confirmed. We’ll have to see if anything comes of it. Update: Since writing this, Google has now confirmed that they’ve launched Panda 4.2 this past weekend, but it’ll take months to roll out, so keep an eye on those SERPs people!
- Bad HTML Validation Can Impact A Variety Of SEO-Related Factors – In a recent Google Hangout, Google’s John Mueller explained that while having badly validated HTML won’t affect your rankings, it can affect aspects of your site in which visibility can be impacted, such as structured data, meta tags, or even links. Making sure your HTML is valid can really help your site achieve better SEO friendliness.
- HTTPS Can Be A Rankings Tie-Breaker – According to a Tweet from Google’s Gary Illyes, he stated that, if two sites are neck-and-neck for the top spot in a given search engine result, Google will give the nod to the site that has a proper HTTPS implementation. A “dealbreaker,” he called it, as it gives that site the edge to break a tie. Fascinating stuff.
- Search Console Sitemap Indexation Bug Affecting Many Sites – Many webmasters have been noticing an odd drop in their indexed page amounts via XML sitemaps in the Search Console. Gary Illyes confirmed to Search Engine Land that they know about it, and it is indeed a bug, so if you’ve lost indexed pages, don’t freak out. Hopefully a fix will happen soon.
- All Top-Level Domains Treated The Same By Google – With all the brouhaha surrounding many of the new top-level domains, such as .london, .how, .guru and others, Google took an official stance on whether these affect rankings or not. In a new FAQ, when asked how TLDs effect rankings they state, “Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.” Makes sense.
- Yahoo Testing Google-Like SERPs – According to screenshots taken from intrepid Tweeters, they noticed that Yahoo is playing with a Google-style Search Engine Results Page (SERP) which includes sitelinks and site-specific search boxes. It’ll be interesting to see if Yahoo adopts this permanently.
- Bing Analytics Suffering From Tracking Issue – Many webmasters have recently noticed that Bing’s analytics were showing massive drops in traffic for their sites. Apparently it’s due to a bug in which they’re showing the wrong report segments in their analytics platform. No word from Bing at the time of this writing on a fix.