With all the noise in the SEO industry, it can be hard to know what to prioritize. SEOpinions is a quarterly newsletter by Brainlabs to cut through the cruft, inform you of important SEO updates, and predict upcoming changes so you can prioritize your SEO roadmap accordingly.
1. The A[nalytics]pocalypse is coming, oh my!
For all Google Analytics users, Google Analytics 4 will take the place of Universal Analytics July 1, 2023 (October 1, 2023 for Analytics360 properties). This change is coming with some lackluster fanfare among the marketing community, but there are benefits to GA4 and I’m optimistic that data analysis will actually be easier and more reliable in the long-run—especially with anticipated UI/UX changes later this year (see change log here). After all, Universal Analytics is a Frankenstein analytics system built on top of 20-year old tech.
Action items to do now:
- Implement GA4 (through its own hard-coded tag)
- Using the same gtag as Universal Analytics is fine for quick activation to start pumping data, but it’s been cautioned by industry experts like Krista Seiden stating that using the same gtag as UA opens you up to the same data inaccuracy inherent in UA.
- Start exporting previous UA reporting data so you don’t have data loss through this transition
- Get familiar with GA4’s metrics, and set a date for your internal reporting metrics to transfer.
Takeaway: Implement GA4 immediately, if you haven’t already, and build a transition plan for your reporting (well before Google sunsets GA in July 2023).
2. Crawl efficiency gains pragmatic & political importance
Ever seen the “reuse your towels to save water” signs at hotels? Me too. And, sure, this saves water. It also saves hotels money. Which do you think the hotels care more about? We’re seeing Google now take that same environmental angle with its own crawling. We know two things to be fact:
- Google is stating the environmental impact of crawling
- Crawling costs Google A LOT of money in server usage
With this, I suspect that Google will limit crawling in the near future. What does this mean for you?
- If site speed or efficiency hasn’t come to the top of your project list yet, it should soon. Improving these will also improve the crawlability of the site.
- Think through what parts of the site are vital for Google to crawl, and what parts of the site are not worthwhile for crawl engines (like admin files or, in some cases, image files). Limit crawling through the robots.txt.
- Explore Google’s new Indexing API and how search engine’s use IndexNow.
- Ensure that live content is SEO-optimized before it hits the site. In this speculative crawl scheme, it’s possible that Google will reduce the amount of crawls it gives a page. Put your best foot forward immediately with optimized content.
- Ensure that content has fantastic internal linking and we’re making it easy for crawlbots to access similar, relevant content. This will also benefit Google’s ability to find and rank similar content with the launch of Google’s MUM in May 2022.
Takeaway: If you have a large site, take a closer look at crawl efficiency. And even if you don’t, keep your ears open for changes that could come to Google’s crawling.
3. Q4 SEO strategy starts now
If Q4 is typically your most successful quarter, it’s never too early to start building it into your SEO game plan. I know it’s a weird time to talk about Q4/Holiday strategy, but in SEO terms, the time to start planning is NOW. In fact, we encourage you to have landing pages live year round for holiday terms to:
- Capture first party data.
- Rank for terms competitively
- You can even miss out on branded terms to coupon sites if you don’t have a dedicated holiday page. It’s easy traffic to own!
- Start identifying key holiday terms using keyword research and trends (e.g., “Black Friday *Brand*” or “Black Friday *Brand Category*”)
- Build dedicated SEO-optimized content to rank for holiday terms (this may require multiple pages if you have multiple promotions—e.g., Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.)
- Ensure that the holiday is included in your title tags and meta descriptions—SearchPilot has found improved traffic with such.
- Have the CTA be an email capture
- Update the page with live deals once the deals start to roll out
Takeaway: It’s never too early to start preparing for your most impactful time of year. If Q4 matters to you, build out appropriate pages to claim this seasonal traffic.
4. Confirmed: Accessibility is not a ranking factor
Accessibility is important to ensure that all of your audience—regardless of ability—is able to get the most out of your site. It is also important to insulate yourself from litigious acts in this realm. However, accessibility is not a defined law yet (except for governmental-run sites) and accessibility is not a ranking factor.
I suspect both law and ranking factors for accessibility to change in the future. We’ve seen recent lawsuits pressuring courts to set precedent for accessibility. With this, it is important to build accessibility into your roadmap, but I want to caution that there are many agencies (development, SEO, and marketing agencies) claiming that accessibility is required by law. This is simply not true (as of now).
Takeaway: Accessibility matters to expand your audience, but the jury is [literally] out in terms of clear regulations or guidance of what is considered “accessible” for a website. Be wary of those who claim otherwise.
That’s all the SEOpinions for this quarter, but subscribe to Brainlabs’ blog to catch the next one!