Candour

Page Experience update for desktop, tracking featured snippets & redirect chains and IndexNow

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What's in this episode?

In this episode, you will hear Mark Williams-Cook & Jack Chambers talking about:

Page Experience update for desktop: Google has confirmed that Page Experience update will be rolling out for desktop next month.

Tracking featured snippets & redirect chains: Valentin Pletzer's cool bit of JavaScript allows tracking of text fragments (and therefore featured snippets) and redirect chains in Google Analytics.

IndexNow: A new WordPress plugin for IndexNow on Bing.

Show Notes

Page Experience update for desktop: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/11/bringing-page-experience-to-desktop

Valentin Pletzer's text fragment & redirect chain tracking: https://twitter.com/VorticonCmdr/status/1480580645608996871

How many arms does Mark Williams-Cook have? https://i83.uk/googles-crazy-leg-counting-in-featured-snippets/#:~:text=Mark%20Williams%2DCook%20has%20512%20arms

IndexWatch 2021: https://www.sistrix.com/blog/indexwatch-2021-the-seo-winners-in-googles-uk-search-results/

TrendWatch January 2022: https://www.sistrix.com/trends/trendwatch-january-2022/

WordPress IndexNow plugin for Bing: https://wordpress.org/plugins/indexnow/

Why competing with Google is so hard in 2022: https://www.fastcompany.com/90709672/the-little-known-reason-why-competing-with-google-is-so-hard

Search engine market share: https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/search-engine-market-share

Recent increase in DuckDuckGo traffic: https://duckduckgo.com/traffic

Transcription

Mark: Welcome to Episode 1 of Season 2 of the Search with Candour podcast recorded on Wednesday, the 12th of January, 2022. My name is Mark Williams-Cook and today, I'm joined by my new regular co-host, Jack Chambers, and we will be discussing Google's page experience update coming to desktop, clever GTM hacks for snippets and redirects, the SISTRIX index watch and trend watch data and index now.

Jack: Search with Candour is sponsored by SISTRIX, the SEO's toolbox. If you want to find out more about their SEO tool set and take a look at their visibility index or dive into their huge se archive, there's a trial available. And you can also check out some of their excellent free tools such as checking out the visibility index, Google update impact, doing key research, and you can compare your page speed at sistrix.com/swc, that's SISTRIX, S-I-S-T-R-I-X, .com/swc. SWC stands for Search with Candour.

Mark: And that was Jack. Welcome, Jack.

Jack: Thanks, Mark. It's very weird being, I was a listener, now, I'm a co-host.

Mark: This shouldn't be a surprise for those of you that did listen to Season 1, that Jack is going to be joining us as co-host for Season 2. Jack is an SEO specialist here at Candour, but more importantly, maybe more importantly.

Jack: Is it more importantly?

Mark: More excitingly, he is a professional podcaster. Professional?

Jack: Semi-professional.

Mark: Semi-professional podcaster, but also a voiceover…is it a voiceover artist?

Jack: That's fair. That's a big debate whether, because I don't really act very much. I do more kind of like corporate-y kind of stuff. So I guess, voiceover person, voiceover artist. I was just called a voiceover man by a client once and I was like, "Oh, that would be, that's fine by me." So, podcaster and voiceover man, Jack Chambers.

Mark: So question, as a voiceover man, do you get the thing where you don't like hearing the sound of your recorded voice? Because most people who I've done recordings with, and including myself, I don't listen to a lot of my own recordings because I can't stand the sound of my voice. But if you're doing voiceovers, you must be okay with it, right?

Jack: Yeah. I'm totally fine. I'm completely numb to it at this point.

Mark: Okay.

Jack: Because I've done hundreds of hours of podcasting. I've been podcasting for about 10 years now and editing them for seven or eight, so I have heard myself talk about all kinds of things for nearly a decade. So, I am not happy, but comfortable and numb to my own speaking voice at this point. And I hope you'll become comfortable with my speaking voice as well, listeners.

Mark: Or at least numb to it.

Jack: Yeah, at least numb to it. At the very least, become numb to me and still appreciate that Mark knows what he's talking about.

Mark: Shall we begin?

Jack: We should. Please do. Why don't you kick us off?

Mark: Okay. I thought I would ease us into our first episode of Season 2 by talking about two fairly small contained things. The first being, again, talking about Google's page experience updates, which I'm sure we all know what this is now. So, Google page experience update is the core web vitals and the other things Google consider important for page experience like HTTPS, mobile-friendly, et cetera.

Mark: Now, up until this point, the Page Experience algorithm, which forms part of the overall algorithm algorithms that help our websites rank or not, has been only for mobile. And we did talk last year, all the way back, I had to go and check. It was episode 112, all the way back in May, we talked about the page experience update rolling out to desktop. And Google has finally confirmed that this is going to happen next month. So, from February, the scores that you will be getting in Google search console for desktop performance will be factored in for desktop results now.

Mark: The only other sort of interesting tidbit that Google gave us was that the thresholds will be the same. That's the thresholds performance, so Google has given us this traffic light green-amber-red system for the core web vitals, which you can look up in their documentation. I won't go through them, but these will remain the same for desktop and mobile.

Jack: That's interesting because desktops and mobiles kind of handle browsers very differently and particularly speed, I think is a key here because as much as we're getting into 4G and 5G and you can get like gigabit connections with 5G, these days, in general, you're going to be faster on a wired broadband connection or even a WiFi connection with your laptop or whatever, right? So, it's interesting they're using the same kind of benchmarks and regulations across both mobile and desktop. Because Google have been pushing the whole, not just mobile first, but mobile only for so long now I find it interesting. They're like, "Oh, and also desktop." They're kind of finally introducing that as well.

Mark: Yeah. I think the actual tweet when I read it from Google, they're a little bit sarcastic. They said something like, "For the remaining 500 or something actual desktop computers that exist." Which as a gamer as well, I feel attacked by that because I'm going to have my desktop for many years because I need to fit that graphics card in there. But yeah, you're right.

Mark: One thing that clients tend to notice when they look these core web vitals or these performance scores and search console is that they have different scores or different traffic light ratings for the desktop and mobile version. And even if the site is being delivered in the same way, they will be getting different scores and that's because as you've said, the numbers that we have in search console are based on the actual user data. So, it's likely that mobile connections will be slower, which is why you get that differential in the score.

Jack: Yeah, and I think it's interesting. So, from my experience going through that with clients and looking at call web vitals and like you said, using the little traffic light system and stuff, you go through that and everybody sees their mobile score and freaks out. It's usually the way, but it's very often that the mobile score is lower than the desktop score.

Mark: Yeah.

Jack: So, I'm interested to see how this will shift, like you said, for the few dozen people still using desktops these days, including you, Mark. And yeah. I'm intrigued to see how it will affect kind of reporting from. From us as an agency, like trying to convey these things to our clients and stuff and I'm sure plenty of listeners as well, whether you're freelancing or working an agency or even if you're in-house and reporting to directors and managers and things like that. It's going to be interesting to see how it shifts and how people will be able to try and convey desktop a little bit differently.

Jack: And I think we've talked about it a few you times before, and I know Rob, who has been on the show before, our PPC specialist here at Candour, has talked a lot about how more people use Bing and things like that because it's so business-led. And so many people have that kind of, "I'm on my desktop, so I'm going to do searching and all that kind of stuff at work." So, is it more of kind of focus for people worrying about B2B stuff that makes sense, right?

Mark: Yeah. I think this down to a lot of companies. They have their Microsoft equipment dealt out and it's got Edge and it's got Bing. And nobody cares enough to try and change it or they haven't got the admin rights.

Jack: Just use your default stuff you're given from the IT company, like IT Department or whatever, yeah.

Mark: Yeah. They got the admin rights to Google "Install Chrome" from Bing.

Jack: And yeah. And like I said, I know Rob has talked about that before. There's a significant kind of benefit to using like Microsoft Ads, Bing Ads rather than Google Ads, because so many businesses are just using Bing as their default search engine and stuff like that. So, I'm interested to see if people particularly are worried about their, if they have a particularly higher desktop user base that could be very beneficial for them. And it could be an interesting way of kind of more accurately measuring that for them and their users.

Mark: I'd guess I'd round that off with core web vitals. I always approach this as a SEO is secondary thing, which is that if in my opinion, if you're thinking about core web vitals, we should do this because it's good for SEO. It's still, you are looking at it on its head because these performance metrics do make users happier. There is a million case studies showing how improved performance especially on things like E-com sites or even lead gen sites improve conversion rates, so it just directly affects the bottom line. So, it's like a bonus that it affects SEO. But I'm absolutely sure now that Google has said, "Oh, hey, yeah, we're looking at this now," that it will trigger more people into action.

Mark: The second thing I wanted to touch on at the beginning of this episode was a really, really clever GTM hack by Valentin Pletzer and I've talked about Valentin before. I recognized the name, so I had to go back deep into the archives of these show notes. And it was a lot further back than I thought it was Episode 18, but this is actually a really cool way, I think of by doing this podcast, I've seen who keeps doing cool stuff because I keep referencing them.

Mark: And Valentin is definitely one of these people, so if you don't follow him on Twitter, if you're on Twitter, I would recommend you do that. I'll put a link in the show notes at search.withcandour.co.uk. But what Valentin has shared is a really neat bit of code for your Google Tag Manager that does two things. It's a little bit of JavaScript that firstly passes, well, it does it in both cases, passes some data to analytics. Firstly, on redirect count, so that URL you are accessing how many redirects we have to go through to get there.

Mark: But secondly, and in my opinion, a bit more interesting, it will pass the text fragment from a featured snippet if there was one into analytics. So, we've all seen that. We've talked about it on the show before where you'll do a search, a normally quite a specific long tail search, Google will highlight some text on the page. You'll click it and they have that fragment highlighting that will show you where the relevant answer is on the page. So now, that can be directly beamed into your analytics.

Mark: I think this is really useful for two reasons. Firstly, the redirect count, I think will be great for people maybe who aren't using Cloud monitoring for their sites or aren't regularly, don't have the tools to do their own kind of simulated or the actual crawls of the site. You want to avoid redirect chains wherever possible. Off the top of my head, I think it's five redirects Google bot will follow as like a hard limit before it just kind of gives up.

Mark: So, just having that built to your or analytics and you could set up an alert on that is a really good way to catch those redirect chains. Especially in larger teams because one of the things, especially with the larger sites I've encountered working with clients is lots of people work on the site. People don't necessarily talk to each other. They're changing things, they're deleting products, they're redirecting pages and before you know it, you do get these redirect chains occur.

Mark: And the text fragments as well, I think is really interesting because that gives you very granular insight into what parts of your content people are interested in. So, ahead of the, "Okay, well, we wrote this article and we're getting visits from Google on it and here's some of the key phrases," really specific case by case. "Okay, they were jumping to this part," which is again, powerful information when it comes to looking at content auditing, what's working, what it should expand on.

Jack: And anecdotally, we experienced this in the office about an hour ago when we were talking about around the motion of all things. And we Googled it because of course, we did, we're SEOs. And the wrong answer came up in the featured snippet and we were all very confused. And then I was like, "I'm pretty sure it's this. I'm pretty sure it's the random movement of molecules, not molecules moving from a higher concentration to a lower concentration." And we were right and Google was wrong.

Jack: And that's the perfect example of being able to be like, "Hey, my text reference might be wrong. Your feature snippet might actually be highlighting the wrong thing." Since we had the title apocalypse last year, that issue with Google pulling through the wrong information, even for medical advice, which was a big issue. Make sure you stick your fingers down your throat of the person who's choking. No, it's don't put your fingers down the throat with the person that's choking. Google don't misquote me there.

Jack: I think it's a good way of being able to analyze that very quickly without having to search for individual keywords and go through all your own data and all that kind of stuff. Like you said, setting up alerts on analytics is so useful for that kind of stuff and with the redirect chains as well, because they're so easy to miss. Those little bits are so easy to miss and can make a huge difference for the user, not clicking through because the text fragment is wrong or clicking on the wrong thing, getting stuck and leaving your website, never to come back again kind of thing.

Mark: That's a really interesting point actually about being able to take some responsibility for the fragment that Google is highlighting. In that case, when you pointed out about it we had incorrect medical information that could potentially be dangerous to someone, I did see some conversations, people saying, "Well, who's actually liable then for this..."

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: "... if someone goes and does this because they Googled this and this is what they told them to do." But that's not-

Jack: I mean, is the thing you should be doing when somebody's choking? Is, "Go quick, I'll get my phone and Google it." All this just seems-

Mark: Well, I guess, it'll just come back pretty quick.

Jack: Yeah, true, true. Will it be faster than 999 or 911?

Mark: Probably, at the moment. So yeah, I think, yeah that's because it would, it could potentially reflect on your brand if people don't go to the page, because this is the thing as well. It's about these zero click results and people not bothering clicking on an actual page when they don't have to.

Jack: Talking about medical advice, specifically 'Your Money, Your Life' is a hot topic in when we talk about EAT and stuff like that. Talking about authority and all that kind of stuff in terms of your website. And if you are a medical advice journal or you're selling products and also writing content around your medical products and stuff like that, does that fact that you've got the wrong and information on the Google search results effect your authority? It certainly doesn't either the user, because most people don't understand how featured snippets work and assume, "Oh, they've written the wrong thing on their article."

Jack: Ninety-nine percent of people aren't professional SEOs. They don't understand how the algorithm works and how featured snippets are pulling through. I'm sure plenty of our listeners do and we do working in the industry, but that brings in questions of authority, right? And you could have the most immaculately written beautiful article that is relevant and got the correct...written by someone who's very authoritative in that subject and all that kind of thing. But yeah, it pulls through wrong information from the wrong bit, for the wrong search result and people start questioning your legitimacy and again, liability stuff like that.

Jack: Your Money Your Life is an important thing because those things matter to people. Whether it's investing in things or medical advice or whatever it is, people turn to search engines for that kind of information all the time. And there's a reason why search engines kind of emphasise that as some of the most important information.

Mark: So, if you want to check that out, again, show notes are at search.withcandour.co.uk and do give Valentin a follow on Twitter if you don't already.

Jack: So, we are at the midpoint in the show and as I mentioned at the start of the show, we are sponsored SISTRIX. You can go into sistrix.com/trends and find a lovely thing called Trend Watch. And because SISTRIX are now working with us, they have also established a data journalism team, who are going to be getting you, lovely folks out there, fantastic, fantastic data. If you subscribe to their newsletter, you can go to their blog. And of course, we will be delving in each and every week into whether it's Trend Watch or as we'll get to in a moment, Index Watch as well. They're going to be finding us some unique data.

Jack: And they have an amazing team of data journalists out there, including people who have been on the show before, like Lily Ray and fantastic other people who are really kind doing some unique and interesting research and getting data to you in a consumable way. So, Trend Watch is you may have seen it before, the kind of Google trends kind of graphs that you see as things progress over the years, more people start searching for it and all that kind of stuff.

Jack: What SISTRIX is doing in TrendWatch is giving you 10 long-term growth trends, every month in a newsletter. And this can help you plan out your content or have a think about what you want to be targeting next when you're recording your own podcast or creating YouTube videos or whatever it is you're thinking about creating things that go along with those trends and kind of match those topics. With this month's trend watch, we've got some interesting things. Would you like to dive into what you think of the Trend Watch, Mark.

Mark: I would actually like to start with the IndexWatch.

Jack: Okay. Let's kick off with IndexWatch then shall we?

Mark: Yeah. So, the IndexWatch is something we've talked about before, again, on the show. This is a yearly piece of information researched by SISTRIX. And I'm just going to read out the methodology for you and our listeners to make sure I get this 100% correct and give everyone some context as to what they're hearing. So, SISTRIX Index Watch, the data I'm going to be talking about is their top 250 winning domains of 2021 and that's defined by using SISTRIX's visibility index.

Mark: So, the index assigns a visibility value to every domain analyzed within the Google search results and the data reflects the visibility of domains within Google UK's index. And this is slightly different to when we're talking about things like trends because the visibility index data is solely focused on visibility fluctuations resulting from algorithmic changes and does not reflect external factors such as the seasonality, whether national holidays. I'll put a link again in the show notes if you want to find out more in depth about how visibility index is calculated.

Mark: On the top 250 winning domains, there was some interesting, well unexpected, I would say, unexpected things on there this year for me, which was, and the first one SISTRIX mentioned was they've called it the rise of reference sites. So, this is sites like Merriam, Webster, Collins dictionary, that these sites have seen stable organic growth throughout 2021. And I was a little surprised by that because there's so much discussion about zero click search results, Google's knowledge graph, and essentially them becoming this knowledge engine and stopping showing webpages basically and just scraping the information and putting it into their own knowledge graph and answering of people's questions.

Mark: So, I was a little bit surprised when we see sites like these reference sites coming up. But then when I think about it in more depth, we do have some other search features that are powered by the data from those sites. They do tend to be more reliable, especially when Google is taking this featured snippet type approach rather than actually using its own knowledge graph as well. That's kind of tying into what we were just talking about in my medical advice, right?

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: Exactly. And there's been all kinds of examples. I think, it was the year before that or was it 2019, maybe, I mean, I did a whole article around Google trying to tell you through their feature snippets and knowledge grass, how many legs different animals had?

Jack: Oh, yeah. I've seen this. So, this was like, "How many legs do you have, Mark?"

Mark: Yeah. So, this was like saying ducks had four legs and rabbits had 200 legs and snakes had six legs and it was just completely wrong. And they've fixed it since I liked to think specifically because of my time in the blog post I write.

Jack: Because of you, yeah, yeah.

Mark: They've definitely had problems and it makes them look silly to be, because as humans, they're really basic questions. And we always talk about how smart Google is and this AI and this knowledge graph and entities and oh, it understands context. And then it can't tell you how many legs a duck has.

Jack: Which is something like a four-year-old can tell you, yeah, yeah.

Mark: Exactly. So, in some ways when I thought about it more, okay, the reference site thing if it can really trust them does make sense. What particularly interested me after I got over the unexpectedness was that SISTRIX specifically looked at the Collins dictionary site, which had seen stable growth. But they noticed it did have a particular boost and they think the main contributor to this was them redirecting the amp versions, so the accelerated mobile pages of their dictionary pages to their kind of overarching dictionary directory.

Mark: And SISTRIX sites, and I agree with them, it's probably down to when Google announced as part of their page experience update, which we talked about at the top of the show. There's no longer the requirement to have amped format pages to appear in top stories and they don't give basically preferential treatment to amp pages anymore. As long as you are hitting the thresholds that are required within core vitals, you'll be treated the same.

Mark: Though again, this generated a lot of discussion around, "Well, maybe we should just remove the amp pages because basically, you're pretty much trying to run two sets of web pages. It's more things to maintain. It's more things to break. There's tricky situations that sometimes when you're trying to translate pages to get them to work nicely in the amped format. And Collins dictionary has just taken this, they've just cut them off, redirected them. And this is just another, I guess, another notch in the belt of, "Okay, we've got another example where this has gone really well." So everything has, has panned out perfectly.

Mark: So, this gives me more confidence with clients maybe who are managing an amped version of the site as well, but they have a decent, fast performing well page experience main site to say, "Actually, maybe we could just combine the two."

Jack: I think it's interesting SISTRIX also touched on more people working from home and stuff like that as we've kind of understood from working home ourselves over the last couple of years. You're having to Google more stuff with like, "Oh, how do I spell this thing before I send this email," all that kind of stuff. So, I think having kind of, Google giving more kind of authority and shifting the fact that these quality references are actually being given more search prominence in that way, like you said, rather than Google kind of cheekily scraping their information, just stealing it from them, actually giving them prominence.

Jack: And I've heard of Merriam-Webster, I've heard of Collins dictionary. I'm sure that I'll get round to it, though. But I think having that kind of thing is interesting because it's something I would never really think about in terms of how trends are moving and all that kind of stuff. But now, we really are seeing how much working from home is affecting search results and how it's affecting the authority of some pages and the prominence and visibility of pages as well.

Mark: We saw this in the Trend Watch data as well. I was looking through the examples in Trend Watch and one that stuck out to me was searches around bowling, which were essentially inversely proportional, it looks like, to lockdowns.

Jack: Yes.

Mark: So, there was-

Jack: Tell me about it. Yeah, what a coincidence.

Mark: Yeah, there was just very little general interest in bowling and then everyone went into lockdown and then we got let out and everyone's like, "I want to go bowling."

Jack: Weirdly-

Mark: I've never wanted to go bowling more in my life.

Jack: Weirdly enough, I was guilty of that and I'm not entirely sure why. I've been bowling like two or three times in between lockdowns and I'm not entirely sure. Having been bowling like a handful of times in my entire 30 years before that for some reason.

Mark: Well, we mentioned, we actually mentioned this to get the team bowling literally yesterday or the day before.

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: So, I don't know if big bowling is in on this or, but it just made me think that a lot of people search wise, trend wise are focused on what has changed while we are in a pandemic. It's also worth looking at the trends and thinking about what's going to bounce back, I was going to say post pandemic. Maybe that's a bit too optimistic for right now between things.

Jack: Between variants.

Mark: Yeah, but I thought that was a really great example. Was there anything that you found particularly interesting in trends?

Jack: There's a couple of them. I think one of them ties into it is the background remover, which I find hilarious because I'm totally guilty of this as a man with no graphic experience at all. I think that John here at Candour has described me and you as like the "anti-graphic designers, the anti-artist". Mark and I are very much similar in that sense of no, like functionality over gradual. We wear it with pride.

Jack: But yeah, people Googling background remover that's like that makes so much sense. And especially people working from home, not having somebody in their team to be like, "Oh, you are the Photoshop guy. Could you go and do this, please?" And having like, "But I need this image for this thing quick, just get an AI to do it for me." And because AI become so powerful, and I know you've talked about this on the show plenty of times, Mark, where AI, you're talking about content and all that kind of stuff and how much that's going to affect the SEO industry.

Jack: Even simple things like my phone can now remove a person in the background of a photo and stuff. It's absolutely crazy. And even if it's something as simple as your listing stuff on your E-commerce site and you need a white transparent background to make everything stand out and make everything uniform, it makes sense more people are searching that kind of stuff. As things are moving more and more online and less people have access to people who know about Photoshop and stuff.

Mark: I didn't actually know you could do that just straight on your phone now, remove people. Because I know someone that started a business removing background people from photos.

Jack: There you go. You see?

Mark: So, they're out of business now. And actually to get back at John, because I know he won't listen to this, John for the cover of this episode, we did the little Season 2, the white and pink background with you, me and Snoop on it.

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: I know he used an automatic AI background thing for that.

Jack: Shame. Shame him.

Mark: Well, shame, yeah. So, even he is not above it.

Jack: There you go. Creative Directors are not above using AI background remover. Something else I wanted to touch on, it's an interesting one. It's just four letters that they highlighted here in Trend Watch was TTRS. It's very funny written by Steve here from SISTRIX. He talks about how it might be the Audi TTRS because he's a car fan. And I was like, "Cool." Don't know about cars. Was it a headphone jack? No. That's a TRRS, okay.

Jack: In actual fact, it was Times Tables Rock Stars, which is an educational YouTube channel, getting basically kids to learn maths in a really fun, energetic kind of way. And I think that's really interesting and really cool because I think again, with more people learning at home, tying into pandemics and people working from home and all that kind of stuff, having your kids be able to educate themselves while they're at home. Instead of like, "Oh, you've got a lunch break from homeschooling type stuff, go and watch this educational YouTube video."

Jack: And I've watched a couple myself. I've watched loads of YouTube in my day-to-day anyway. So, I thought I'd go and check them out and see what kind of production values and stuff. It's surprisingly good and what surprised me the most was that at the moment, at the time of recording, this may change, you never know with YouTube, they have fewer than 10,000 subscribers on the channel, which blew my mind.

Jack: This had come up in conversation with a few friends of mine the other day and I'm getting to that age now where everyone is having kids and all that kind of stuff. So, all my friends are talking about what they're going to do. Obviously, teaching them at a very young age before they're going to preschool and all that kind of stuff. And they were talking about Times Table Rock Star. So, I'd actually heard of them. So I thought, "Oh, it must be huge." It must be tens of millions of subscribers famously like some of the most watched things in the history of YouTube is little educational things on like Russian cartoons or Russian speaking children and stuff. It's a huge market on YouTube is basically what I'm saying.

Jack: But they actually have huge view accounts, but with relative really few subscribers. And I think that's a trend we are seeing now in YouTube where we're moving away from the click the Like button, smash that Subscribe button, typical YouTube spiel that you get the end of every kind of typical content creative video. And more people are just being picked up by the algorithm. You're trying to optimise that thumbnail. You're trying to optimise your page titles, essentially your video titles in this case to make sure you are being picked up by YouTube's algorithm. Rather than driving people to the subscriptions, you're just hoping you're going to get picked up by the algorithm in the future.

Mark: Yeah, I think that's hopefully like a healthy thing for YouTube moving away from this top 100 people with subscribers. Because one thing I did notice over the years with YouTube is you log on, you get the videos and it does just seem to be the same major content creators over and over again. So, that can make more room, if you like, for new content creators. Google, especially I know with Google Ads has been pushing really heavily trying to fill up their inventory with more ads. And I occasionally see ads for trying to get me to subscribe to YouTube every once in a while every minute.

Jack: Oh, a YouTube premium kind of thing?

Mark: Yeah, constantly. Absolutely. They just won't leave it alone. But I think that's probably healthy for the YouTube environment. And actually maybe makes it more of a strategic opportunity for smaller companies who maybe can't collaborate with people with 10 million subscribers, but have something decent to make.

Jack: Yeah. If you can create something that can go viral that can get picked up. This is particularly true for family friendly stuff as well because YouTube has been really shifting more towards a family friendly approach. There's certain limits for like using swear words and things in your opening few minutes of video. And you'll get demonetized and all this kind of stuff that happens in the YouTube space.

Jack: And I think having something like this that has really kind of exploded over the last few months really kind of demonstrates the power of kid friendly-, family-friendly content. They can take over people's mind share in that way. And I'd heard of Times Table Rock Stars even before SISTRIX are brought up in this and I don't have children. I'd heard of it myself already, so I thought that was pretty interesting. And yeah, I'm very interested to see even outside of we kind of focus on SEO in terms of search engines and stuff. YouTube is a big side of that as well And as a man who searches a lot of stuff on YouTube all the time, it's interesting to where their algorithm changes are also shifting and changing the landscape of the content there as well.

Jack: So, if you do want to subscribe to their newsletter, you can go to sistrix.com/trends, that's for trend watch and index watch is available on their blog, which will also be linked to in the show notes as well. Thank you, SISTRIX. And yeah, we'll get more stuff from them next week. We'll be delving into plenty more stuff, including the index watch losers of the year in a couple of weeks as well. So, that will be interesting to see kind of the other side of the coin, if you will.

Mark: Losers is always more fun.

Jack: In general, losers is more fun.

Jack: So, moving on from IndexWatch, we're going to talk about IndexNow, which I think has been a hot topic over the last few months in SEO. And what kind of triggered me thinking about talking about it on the show is there is now a WordPress plugin for IndexNow for Microsoft Bing and Bing is kind of a thing that has been pushing IndexNow in a lot of way. IndexNow essentially, for those of you who don't know, is a way of sending a ping to the search engines to come and crawl new content or a deleted page or an updated page on your site without having to recall the entire site from scratch, which is how most search engines do it.

Jack: There has been some pushback from Google. Pretty much only Bing has adopted it so far and a couple of other search engines in the kind of wider space. But yeah, we're not yet pushing through with Google is kind of thinking about testing it and dipping their toes in the water. And because they are kind of the big search engine, it's interesting to see how Bing is kind of pushing this forward and really kind of being the kind, I don't know, maybe the forefront, the leader in IndexNow, which is interesting. And I think IndexNow is something that just at description that gets SEO, salivating, right? Content people are like, "Oh, my God, I can tell them when to crawl at my site when I want them to crawl my site? That sounds perfect."

Mark: Yeah. I think it's an interesting topic for several reasons. I understand, I think, from a business strategy point of view why Google's been a bit quiet about the whole thing, which is from running a search engine, maintaining an index is the most technologically challenging and expensive thing to do. And it would seem algorithms aside, that Google definitely has an advantage infrastructurally over many search engines.

Mark: So if, and I don't even necessarily think this is the case, but if there was a widely adopted protocol that damaged that competitive advantage Google had, they obviously wouldn't want that to happen. Certainly obvious from the various things over the last few months, the papers that came out about various Google practices, that they are very keen to protect their profits and competitive advantage.

Jack: They're one of the biggest companies in the world for a reason. Alphabet is big business and they want to keep it that way. But yeah, we are seeing not just Bing, but Yandex and Wix and Oncrawl and quite a few of the kind of smaller search devices and search engines going through it and pulling through this kind of new protocol. I can imagine it being abused. I kind of joke there of like, "Oh, it's every SEO's dream," right? But I'm very interested to see how it can be used effectively.

Jack: Let me say to manage kind of like maintaining that index and the smaller, kind of anyone that's not Google essentially does not have the power to just be constantly crawling and updating every website. And it's something we encounter here in the agency. I'm sure it's something plenty of our listeners and everybody who has a website that isn't one of the big international news sites. It can take weeks or even months for things to come through. Even when you're posting a new blog, post or updating a page or deleting a page, it can take a long, long time for that to actually be crawled and indexed and pulled through to the search results.

Mark: Yeah. This is the second half of what I was going to mention, which was especially last year. I mean, Google had a lot of technical issues last year with indexing. And I think as I've said before that they have made some tweaks in terms of the minimum level of what they deem to be quality before they will index a page. Because again, that's something, especially when you start out in SEO that isn't clearly understood, which is that crawling and indexing are two separate things. In that your pages may be crawled, but Google may actually determine that for whatever reason, they're not good enough to be included in the index.

Jack: And you see that all the time in search console reports and things like that, right?

Mark: Yeah. And it's certainly, I've seen one of the more things SEOs are vocal about, which is, "Oh, this new page, like you say, isn't getting indexed or this blog post took four days to get indexed." Or especially with bigger and newer sites, these pages that are further down in the hierarchy, it can sometimes take weeks for them to appear. So especially whether it's, whether technically it's kind of CrawlNow and not IndexNow, but the name is attractive, at least.

Jack: It's a sexy name, yeah.

Mark: Yeah. And people are hammering at Google, request indexing tool. So, there's definitely an audience out there for webmasters and SEOs to say, "Yeah, please index this page now." However, while there may be this audience that desperately, ferociously wants everything indexed immediately.

Jack: They're salivating for it! They're salivating for it!

Mark: I find it interesting that, so Yoast actually are not supporting IndexNow. And I just wanted to read out a few tweets from them. And this is actually back from October and as far as I know, their starts hasn't changed, which is yesterday Microsoft being announced IndexNow, a new standard to "Instantly index content." They do so in conjunction with Yandex. We've not added support to Yost SEO for it yet for the simple reason that we don't see the value yet. Ever since XML site maps were conceived, URL discovery, as far as we are concerned is a solved problem. For most sites getting search engines to crawl content is not a problem, which is what I do alluded to.

Jack: CrawlNow, not IndexNow, yeah, exactly.

Mark: Yeah, exactly. Yost SEO generates X amount site maps and it can even ping search engines when those change. I do understand Bing wants to become more efficient. It used to be one of the worst offenders in terms of aggressive crawling. That's still probably true. But then goes on to make an interesting point saying there's a few other tweets between that, but this is what I found quite interesting.

Mark: Additionally, a post is never updated on its own. So, if we've got a blog post, we update it. When you update a post, these URLs are also updated. This is obviously referring to WordPress here. The author archive, the tags and categories you added to the post and the blog index page, and that's just the default case.

Mark: So, what Yost is saying is a simple update, for instance, say you made a typo in one of your blog posts, you go and do that, and that's going to trigger a whole cascade of update effects, because all these pages are going to be updated and WebPress doesn't have a minor edit type checkbox like Wikipedia does. So, you wouldn't be sending a few simple pings, you'd be sending dozens of them quite quickly.

Mark: So I found it again, interesting that we've got this discussion around, well, there is a little bit of a difference between CrawlNow and IndexNow and we've got site maps. So, is it going to fix anything or is this maybe, again, just a way for Bing specifically to try and increase its index size without having to do all this crawling, which they've been quite aggressive at.

Jack: And to kind of spin off of that. There's an interesting article here I wanted to touch on talking about this competition between search engines. And I mentioned, we all know, if you're listening to this progress, you probably already know, Google is number one by a considerable margin. But it's actually interesting to think about how the other search engines handle their indexing and handle their database and stuff like that.

Jack: And there's a really interesting quote here from an article on fastcompany.com, again, linked in the show notes where they talk about the high cost of maintaining that index, as you just touched on, Mark. The decision of many large web pages to block most crawlers significantly limits new search engine entrance, so that company is coming up with their own search engine. So, there's a lot of talk about Apple coming up with their own one that's going to be happening in the next few years because Apple and Google will just forever compete for who owns the world, I guess. Between them and Tesla and SpaceX and Amazon, basically.

Jack: And they go on to say, "Today, the only English language search engines that maintain their own comprehensive web-based index are Google and Bing." And what that means is every other search engine pretty much that you are thinking of, whether that's kind of we touched on Yandex earlier, whether it's DuckDuckGo or something like that. They're kind of piggybacking off of the Bing index side of things, which I think is really interesting. So, we are almost seeing this kind of conglomeration of search engines pulling from this index and kind of trying to fight the Goliath that is Google.

Mark: How did this happen? It feels like with Bing, that Bing has become the rebel alliance now. That Microsoft is now the rebel alliance.

Jack: How is Microsoft the good guy? Yeah, Google is definitely the empire in this case. And yeah, to kind of touch on some stats here, it's pretty, pretty significant. I mentioned Google is the biggest buyer, significant margin, just under 90% of all indexes and all search results are through Google to put it bluntly.

Jack: And to touch on DuckDuckGo specifically, because there's something that's becoming a bit more popular. These kind of privacy-focused search engines and browsers like Brave. I don't know if you guys have heard of that before. And DuckDuckGo is very much a kind of "Google tracks you, we don't" is their kind of tagline that they go through.

Jack: And I think as people are becoming more and more switched on and as hackers and people trying to breach your security in various ways are becoming more and more sophisticated and interested in your personal data and as we share unwillingly, often is the case, your personal data as you search and as you browse and things like that. More people are worried about protecting their own data and their search information and they're logging information through their browsers and stuff.

Jack: So, I think we will see, and I know you and I Mark have often moved away from the more kind of friendly things like Edge and Chrome and things like that. Moving to things toward more like Brave and DuckDuckGo. But DuckDuckGo actually only accounts for around about 0.6% of the search traffic of the world. But they're seen a significant growth, like a really, again, we'll link this in the show notes. It is quite a spectacular graph, the kind of graph I would love to see for a website of mine or a client of mine. And it's an impressive one to see how much they're actually growing, compared to the other search engines in that similar kind of space that are underneath the Google kind of umbrella.

Mark: You said what, the 0.6% searches?

Jack: 0.6%, yeah.

Mark: I mean, to be fair, that's still a lot of search with this.

Jack: That's an 0.6% of trillions and trillions, yeah, exactly.

Mark: Yeah. So, the other thing, again, I think it's important. Yes, google has this and most markets has this stranglehold. But search engines that have 3, 4, 5%, 0.6%, that's still a lot of searches. And kind of working with Bing and making sure you're doing what you need to for Bing and ranking the site, well, there is a way of hedging your bets. As Jack said, DuckDuckGo actually relies on Bing for quite a lot of search result data, right?

Mark: So, if you can get your site ranking well in Bing and a search engine like DuckDuckGo continues this fairly meteoric rise, you are going to be visible in that. So, this is a way to hedge your bets. And maybe compete in markets where the competition isn't quite so hot.

Jack: To go outside of the English language, English speaking kind of countries and things like that, right? So, looking at the statistics here. Google is 91.4% for 2021 in terms of search engine market share. Bing is, of course, second, but at 3.14. That is such a dramatic drop-off.

Jack: But you are totally right, Mark that if you combine that with DuckDuckGo is 0.66%, you've got Yandex at 0.92%, then Yahoo at 1.53% and Baidu at 1.76%. Add that all together, you're getting towards sort of like 6, 7% total, which is almost twice as much as being by itself. So, you would hopefully get that cascade effect. And as we've said, if you see the growth of these smaller, again, trying to target slightly different audiences going for the more kind of privacy kind of things, but they still build off of the Bing search results, maybe Bing is the future.

Mark: Have you used DuckDuckGo?

Jack: Never in a million years, no. Never once.

Mark: Have you not? I had it on my phone for a year. I tried using it for a year.

Jack: Did you do a little experiment?

Mark: Yeah, I tried.

Jack: Oh, cool.

Mark: And I found that when you do a search on DuckDuckGo, you can use an !G to do that search on Google.

Jack: Oh, interesting.

Mark: It would do just do the search on Google. And I found myself when I was searching for things in a rush, I was using !G cause I was just like, "Look, DuckDuckGo, I haven't got time for you to mess me around." And then after a year...

Jack: Let's be real, DuckDuckGo. You're great, but...

Mark: ... after a year, I did end up going back to Google. But I think it's important to try these things and not just stick with what you know.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely, yeah.

Mark: But I tried it, it wasn't for me at this point.

Jack: But like we said, we're seeing huge growth here, so maybe in a couple of years we could be adopting DuckDuckGo across the board.

Mark: Who knows.

Jack: A whole industry is built around DuckDuckGo optimisation. Probably not. Probably not. We are a slave to the Google overlords, unfortunately.

Jack: Thank you, SISTRIX for their support. If you want to find out more, like I said, at the top of the show and in the middle of the show about their SEO toolkit, you can have a look at your visibility index. Like I said, definition is in the show notes. You can dive into their huge services archive. There's a trial available and you can check out some free excellent tools, such as checking that visibility index, go and finding out the impact of Google updates on your site doing keyword research and comparing your page speed.

You can go to sistrix.com/swc. That's SWC as in Search with Candour and that's SISTRIX, at S-I-S-T-R-I-X.com. Thanks again, SISTRIX, for their support of Season 2 of Search with Candour.

Mark: And we will be back in one's week time on Monday, the 24th of January with Episode 2. Until then from myself and Jack, I hope you have a wonderful week.

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