23 Key Takeaways from Google Webmaster Conference 2019 in SG
Google hosted a similar event back in 2018 called Google Dance Singapore, and this conference is no different – organised specially for website owners, digital marketers, web developers, and SEO professionals to find out more about the latest Google Webmaster updates.
- Explain how Google Search works
- Give recommendations on how to rank better on Google Images
- Provide updates on what’s new in Google Search Console
- Cover topics on how to improve your website’s online presence
As an SEO consultant that works with a variety of clients from different industries, this was an event that we definitely could not afford to miss! Once again, we can’t express enough how grateful we are to have been a part of this event – if you are ready to start learning, here are 23 key takeaways that you can utilise to start improving your rankings!
1. You have to know how Google Search works.
In order to maximise your results, it is important that you learn how Google Search works. Here is a summarised video made by Google (updated 24 Oct 2019) explaining just how Google search works in a nutshell:
2. The number of people who go online for the 1st time each month is staggering.
3. A secure website leads to better rankings.
The 3 best practices are:
- Safer Login
- Safer Website
- Safer Connection
More will be covered below, but you can also visit g.co/SearchConsole for additional information.
3a. Safer login = a strong password + 2-step verification (2SV)
This goes without saying: use a strong password to protect your website.
Google’s recommendation for strong passwords:
You can easily set up a 2SV by getting an additional code via Call or SMS, which makes it far more difficult for hackers to gain access and steal your private information.
Google also recommends installing the Google Authenticator App for checking unwanted access into your website. This app doesn’t require any internet connection or mobile plan, which means that you will do so wherever, whenever.
3b. Safer website = back up regularly and automatically.
3c. Safer connection = HTTPS is a MUST.
Well, this does not come to us as a surprise at all. Google has stated time and time again that HTTPS is a MUST for all websites.
- HTTPS is NOT expensive and is in fact, FREE!
- HTTPS involves a simple, automated process
- HTTPS is an Open Certificate
- HTTP/2, which requires Transport Layer Security (TLS), is significantly FASTER than unencrypted HTTP/1.x
Visit https://letsencrypt.org/to get your FREE SSL certification and start running on HTTPS today!
3d. Be vigilant for compromised sites.
Website owners should always be quick to identify compromised sites – Google has actually made it easy for us to spot the warning signs that need our immediate attention.
Visit bit.ly/nohacked for more tips!
Always make sure to tag your images with the relevant titles before uploading them onto Google:
- Ice cream
- 3 scoops of ice cream
- Chocolate ice cream
If you answered, “Chocolate ice cream” – great job at picking out the most accurate title that best describes the picture!
Lastly, ensure that all your images are accessible by Google by inputting your image URL into the Google Mobile-Friendly test here: search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
If Google is able to access your images – you know you are on the right track!
5. Use only copyright-free images.
Yes, you read it right. Google is trying to get you out of trouble.
It is best to refrain from using any images with copyright on your website – in fact, there are plenty of sites that offer copyright-free and royalty-free images for you to use. Below are just some of them:
Similar to takeaway 4 on image optimisation – make sure that you have the relevant titles and descriptions for all your videos, and make it easy for users to discover your content by including markup data (VideoObject or Livestream)!
Ta-da! The only master list you need!
Thankfully, if you ever find out that someone has stolen your content without permission – Google allows you to submit a Copyright Request to protect and gain back control of your content.
If you are currently facing copyright issues, seek help at Google’s Legal Help Center here: – support.google.com/legal
Halfway through the event, we were fortunate enough to hear from Gary Illyes – a prominent and well-respected Google Web Trend Analyst all the way from Google Switzerland!
Before we begin to debunk a bunch of SEO myths, have we already mentioned that this was our favourite part of the entire event?
9. HTTPS is recommended for all types of websites.
Majority of users tend to have the impression that HTTPS is only for websites that need to process payment online (e.g. e-commerce website). However, that is simply not the case.
10. What is the optimal keyword density to rank better on Google?
Otherwise in layman terms: how many times must you repeat the same keyword on a particular page in order to rank well in Google for that specific keyword?
This video from Google should help to drive the message home:
11. Is there a minimum and maximum limit of words for articles to rank better?
A simple yet effective example Gary gave was on “How do you boil an egg?”.
Rather than give a 10-page explanation on whether “the chicken or egg comes first”, it is best to give the answer in 1 paragraph.
Yes, while both answers are technically correct; however, you really don’t need a 10-pager to answer such a simple question.
12. Does a good DA/PA mean top rankings on Google?
DA represents Domain Authority, while PA represents Page Authority.
Gary mentioned that Google does not use DA or PA; but rather, PageRank (also known as PR) as one of their ranking factors.
Although all 3 are pretty similar, remember that SEO is much more than just DA, PA or PR – SEO is about the overall optimisation of your entire website which includes both on-page and off-page SEO!
13. Can gTLD be geo-targeted with respect to search results?
14. Does buying expired domains with high PR mean better rankings?
Gary made a joke that unless we are able to clone a similar structure to the original site before its expiry – we might just have a slight chance of getting the old PR of the website.
15. The more money I pay for links, the less likely it will be considered spammy.
16. Mobile-First Indexing: separate index for mobile and desktop pages?
Keep in mind that mobile-first indexing is simply how Google crawls and indexes the web. So, instead of looking at the desktop version of the page, Google looks at the mobile version of the page first – there is no separate indexing for both channels.
17. Does domain age affect SEO rankings?
18. Responsive Web Design is preferred by Google.
Well, here is the reason why:
More than 80% of users are surfing the internet using mobile AND desktop.
Therefore, it is necessary for your website to have both a mobile and desktop version – although it isn’t necessary for them to be responsive.
Responsive simply means that the website is able to cater to all screen sizes. So, while it is definitely useful for users – it is not a must for SEO rankings.
19. Keyword-rich domains always rank better.
Keyword-rich domain means that the domain name contains specific keywords that you want to rank.
Example: FlowersDelivery.com and CheapRoses.sg.
Ultimately, it depends on how well you optimise your website, taking into account a whole list of other factors and not just one!
20. Is it important to fix all 404 errors?
Gary mentions that it is not necessary to fix ALL the 404 errors present on your website – some of them may be from the coding of your website; and unless you are a web developer, spending too much trying to resolve the issue may prove challenging and a waste of precious resources.
21. Google is unable to see links from Dynamic (JS) sites.
22. Subdomains vs Subdirectories – which is Google’s favourite?
- Subdomain: Pricing.example.com
- Subdirectory: example.com/pricing
In summary – Google has no preference. As long as it fits your website and business needs, either one will work.
23. Use Google Webmaster Forum to your success!
Last but not least, Google offers a forum for anyone to post their questions in regards to SEO – generally, a Googler (Google’s staff) or Webmaster will be getting back to you, so you know that you are getting solid feedback and advice.
You can go ahead and post your questions right here: g.co/webmasterforum
Results don’t lie.
One last thing before we wrap up:
We are proud to share our results with you on our website (www.impossible.sg):
- #1 ranking for “Digital Marketing Singapore”
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Test it out yourself and Google any of the above keywords – you will find us ranked #1 in Google’s ORGANIC search results!
If you want us to do a complete review of your website, we are always just a call away
@ +65 9374 0111. Or you can simply drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as we can!
We are also preparing ourselves for the launch of our Digital Marketing Course schedule that will be updated soon on our website, including an SEO course for you to learn more advanced SEO techniques – so do keep a lookout for that!
If you have reached till the end: we hope you have learned a trick or two from us, and never give up on climbing the ranks of Google – the results are definitely worth it.