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This week’s #searchdrop looks at recent issues Google has had around mobile-indexing and canonicalisation, the new call history module for Google My Business, and 3 key considerations when performing outreach.

Google Confirmed Indexing Issues With Mobile-Indexing and Canonicalisation.

Over the last few months, we have been reporting some issues related to page indexing. These usually were quickly fixed or became almost unnoticed by most of us, but Google confirmed that they have a problem with indexing pages once again. This time, we believe that indexing issues started on 22nd or 23rd of September, however, this hasn’t been confirmed by Google up until now. On 2nd of October Google Search Liaison Twitter account posted the following information:

“We are currently working to resolve two separate indexing issues that have impacted some URLs. One is with mobile-indexing. The other is with canonicalization, how we detect and handle duplicate content. In either case, pages might not be indexed….”

A few days later on the 6th of October, they shared an update:

“Update: we’ve now restored about 25% of the URLs impacted by the canonical issue and about 50% of those impacted by the mobile-indexing issue. We continue to keep reprocessing more.”

Whilst the Google team is working hard to resolve this issue, we would like to cover what exactly it means for you and your website. Firstly, we have to understand that there are two ongoing issues: mobile indexing and canonicalisation issues.

  • Mobile Indexing Issue: Search Liaison team confirmed in one of their tweets the possibility of previously indexed pages being dropped out of the Google Index. If this happens it is most likely the case of the mobile-indexing issue where Google has trouble correctly selecting the page for indexing.
  • Canonicalisation Issue: The Search Liaison team posted the following “if the canonical issue is involved, URL Inspector may show the URL as a duplicate & the Google-selected canonical will be different from it.” This means that if Google mistakes your page as a duplicate it will not allow indexation of this page.

Now we know what are two issues, but you might wonder if there is anything we can do to ensure pages are indexed correctly and our websites are not affected by it. The quick answer is: no, there’s nothing we can do. Google now confirmed they are working on the issue and website owners don’t need to take any action.

Unfortunately, the issues mentioned above lie on the Google side and it might take days to fully restore the correct results. Some Twitter users also reported that even though their pages have been re-indexed by Google, straight after that they became de-indexed again.

If you feel that your website was affected by this bug, we would recommend checking your Google Search Console to confirm whether your pages are currently indexed. Additionally, if you have seen minor or major fluctuations in the ranking positions for targeted keywords due to the de-indexation, bear in mind it might be the case until all pages are restored correctly.

Google My Business Introduce Call History Module

Recently the Google My Business platform has announced that it is developing a brand new feature in which businesses can access a log of customer calls that have come from the search engine results page. The up and coming update is slowly rolling out to users who are receiving a notification suggesting that they ‘try it out’ once the feature is available.

Google suggests that this feature can be used to keep track of your business’ phone calls, stay engaged with your customers and also discover any calls you may have missed and need to return. The feature will also deliver a small message to you to inform you that the following call is coming from Google My Business.

How Will It Work?

In order for numbers to be logged within the new feature, Google will create a new number for your business in which your customers can call to then be forwarded onto your actual number.

The calls that are logged will then be displayed under a new ‘calls’ tab within the Google My Business app. Here you’ll be able to find a history of both your answered and missed calls. It must be noted that this feature will not be in the browser version of GMB and only worked through the app. Tracked phone calls will be stored in the calls log for 45 days.

Can I Opt-Out?

Of course! If this feature is something that you feel simply won’t benefit your business or if Google making alterations to your phone number isn’t ideal, you can simply turn this feature on and off from your Google My Business dashboard.

Google has reassured businesses, however, that you can keep your real business number displayed on your GMB listing and the forwarding number will only be activated once a user clicks to call. They also stated that a number using the same area code will be used in the forwarding number if possible.

To find out more about the new Google My Business feature, check out this article on Search Engine Journal.

3 things to consider when performing outreach

Outreach is one of the most difficult aspects of any SEO campaign, whether it’s a lack of potential targets or the pitching of your content not landing. With this in mind Moz and its guest author, Amanda Milligan of Fractl, have put together an article on the 3 key tenets of outreach.

Research and relevancy are non-negotiable

Given the sheer volume of pitches journalists receive every day it’s important to ensure that your pitch is relevant to what the journalist covers and the publication they write for. It’s also important to consider any specifics of the work your target does, for example, if the journalist writes about cooking, they may only write more specifically about baking.

The feasibility of your work appearing on-site should also be at the forefront of your mind. Does the site cover external studies or take guest pieces and can the site host your content if it’s something more complex?

Lastly, it’s important to research how often your target journalist writes, as the more they write the more chance you have of your piece being selected.

Personalization matters

Personalised pitches are much more likely to be responded to positively. Engaging the journalist as a human being with interests outside of what you’re trying to gain from them. Make sure you’re following them on social media and you’ve kept up to date with the recent articles this journalist has written and include references to this in your pitch.

It’s important to note that you don’t want to pull up articles or references work from way in the past, as this can be counter-productive. Instead keep it friendly, relevant and short.

Emails should be short and straightforward

Long pitches lose interest very quickly. The most successful pitches are around 100-300 words. This includes aspects of personalisation and:

  • A link to your content – don’t ask if they want to see it, just provide it to them
  • An explanation of why your content is relevant and useful to the readership of the publication you’re targeting.
  • Break the key elements of your content that are relevant to the audience of the publication into bullet point so it’s easy for the journalist to appreciate the value.