Hello and welcome back to the Reflect Round-up.
Auto-Playing Video in Google SERPs
I need to start on a serious note. There’s few things in life that cause me such anger, fear and confusion as… auto-playing videos on websites. You’ll be doing some research quietly at your desk, when all of a sudden, blaring out of your speakers comes an advert for dishwasher tablets. You’ll hurriedly look around for an obvious pause button whilst simultaneously trying to find the mute for your laptop, knocking over your coffee in the process. Cross faces will turn to face you, earplugs come out of ears and general noises of irritation will filter over the sound of a nice lady extoling the virtues of this new no-rinse technology. This is why rumours of Google testing auto-play videos in their SERPs has been met with outcry across the SEO community. Early tests suggest that it is limited only to the US at the moment, indeed my own unofficial testing (copious searches for “cats sitting like humans”) have not yielded auto-play video results. It’s often the way that Google will test changes to the search results in the US and gradually roll them out across the rest of the world if successful. We can only hope this test is one that will be labelled “at risk of inciting rage” and not make it past the first round of tests.
New Look and Features for Google Search Console
Next up, Google is testing a new interface and features for Google Search Console. The free service from Google that allows website owners to understand more of how Google and users interact with its site is getting some cool new features as part of its beta testing. Rolling out to a select few soon are the AMP fixing flow report and the Index Coverage report.
The AMP report will help website owners debug problems with AMP pages. The most exciting aspect of this feature is the almost real-time status updates. Fix your bug, press a button in the report to tell Google you reckon you’ve fixed it and they’ll update the report once they’ve crawled the pages again to let you know if you’re successful.
Although there is already an Index Status report available in Search Console, the Index Coverage reports appears to go into more detail about the number of pages indexed and why some can’t be indexed. Useful if you can’t work out why some of your pages aren’t appearing in the SERPs. Images of the new interface have been released by Google but there’s no date for the full rollout. Come on Google, don’t make us wait.
Where Did the Home Page Go?
Finally, it’s embarrassing, highly detrimental and all too common… accidentally no-indexing a home page. There can be a number of reasons why crucial pages can end up accidentally removed from the SERPs. Commonly it happens with site migrations. A new website is launched to great fanfare but when it is searched for in the search engines, the home page is suspiciously missing. Staging websites are often hidden from the search bots before launch so testing pages aren’t indexed and served to users before the site is ready, usually through the use of a no-index tag. However, part of any good website launch process should be checking that all no-indexing has been removed from pages that need to be available through organic search. Legitimate attempts to no-index other pages can accidentally have knock-on effects to other crucial pages, but testing should reveal this quite quickly. I was therefore quite surprised to hear in the Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout this week that Google itself made this embarrassing mistake with the Google Search Console home page. Ooh, awkward. Good on them for admitting it, makes us all feel a little bit better to know even Google makes these mistakes!
That’s it for the Reflect Round-up this week. See you next week.