Mobile-first indexing, site downtime, static headlines and rich results; Friday’s daily brief


Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, let’s talk about mobile-first indexing.

I know, we’ve been talking about this topic for years and years now. In fact, we have been talking about this topic since 2016! But this is the month Google said all of its indexing will be switched over to mobile-first indexing 100%. 

Google Search Console shows you if your site is already on mobile-first indexing – I suspect it is, but you can check here to see if your site has been moved. If your site has not been moved to mobile-first indexing, I’d be worried. It means Google finds parity issues between your desktop and mobile version of your site’s web pages. 

What do you need to do to get your site there?  Well, if it is not too late, read our latest story, there is a section on how to prepare for this switch over. Follow those instructions immediately because the deadline for mobile-first indexing in Google Search is here now.

Barry Schwartz,
Mobile-friendly news editor at Search Engine Land

Static headlines now available for DSAs in Microsoft Advertising

Advertisers will now be able to set static headlines for Dynamic Search Ads in Microsoft Advertising. Previously pulled based on the search query and dynamically chosen landing page, the change means marketers will have more control over the content in their ads.

What are static headlines? “Static headlines are an additional column you can add to your Dynamic Search Ads page feed, which then specifies the specific ad title you want to show up for a particular URL you have in your page feed.” Because advertisers already have control over the description used, the addition of a static headline means they can specify every element of their DSA ad copy.

So what’s dynamic about DSAs? The change means that headlines and ad copy can both be set by the advertisers. The dynamic aspect comes in Microsoft Advertising using the unique searcher query and finding the right landing page on your site based on the search.

Why we care. Dynamic and automated ad copy has been an issue for marketers who have to stay within their individual industry’s regulations. When we announced RSAs becoming the default in Google Ads, many search marketers reacted by saying they’d have to pin ad headlines to ensure compliance. While not one-to-one, static headlines and ad copy in DSAs mean that you can ensure you’re only running approved ads

Read more here. 

Rich result reports updated in Google Search Console

Google has made two changes to the rich results report in Google Search Console. One of the changes was related to the job posting report and the other change was related to the FAQ and Q&A rich results report.

Job posting report. Google explained that starting on March 11, 2021 and going forward, Google has changed its requirements for the Education, Experience, and ExperienceInPlaceOfEducation properties of job posting structured markup. Because of these changes you may notice an “increase in warnings for Job Posting instances,” Google said.

FAQ and Q&A report. Google explained that starting on March 2, 2021, Google will now start to validate and check the validity of FAQ and Q&A structured data that is below the root entity level. Beforehand, Google only checked the validity of FAQ and Q&A structured data at the root level.

Why we care. Google is potentially showing you new errors or issues with your FAQ and Q&A structured data, as well as your job posting structured data. Now all sites use this structured data on their pages but if you or you have clients that use these structured data elements, you will want to spot check your Search Console rich results report to see if all is still working as intended.

Read more here. 

My site went down, what will Google see?

A common concern SEOs have is what happens when your website goes down. What happens if Google tries to access your site and can’t load the web pages?  Well, we’ve covered this topic before on Search Engine Land but here is a bit of a refresher based on some new tweets from Google’s John Mueller over the past couple of days.

Site offline for less than a day. If your site goes offline for a short period of time, like hours but not days, use a 503 server status code. The status code will tell Google that your site is temporarily unavailable, but you can check back soon to see if the site will come back up. John Mueller explained this in more detail on Twitter but it is pretty simple, make sure that your server shows a 503 server status code if it is unavailable – that is what the status code is for.

Offline for more than a day. Well, then you will have an issue, and Google will start to drop URLs from its index, even if you have a 503 server status code. What do you do in this case? Well, hack together a solution, John Mueller of Google explained.

See if you can grab a recent archived version of your site and see if your host can load the static pages of HTML temporarily on your domain name and the normal URL. This way if Google tries to access that specific URL at least they get a static copy of what was there previously.  It might not be something your host can do but you may want to prepare for this and use maybe a caching solution to automatically handle this if your database or server has issues.

Google web and local search updates

Google web search update. Google has not cooled down in 2021 and we are seeing yet another unconfirmed Google web search ranking algorithm update.  I don’t think I’ve seen this much volatility in Google search ever.

Google local search update. It is not just the web search results but also the Google local search results that are fluctuating.  There are numerous reports of a big, unconfirmed, Google local and maps search update as well.

Microsoft Bing WordPress emails. Microsoft Bing is sending emails via Bing Webmaster Tools about integrating your WordPress blog with the Bing URL submission plugin that was launched in 2020. Fabrice Canel from Microsoft said it is going to those who have the WordPress signature in their robots.txt file.

Tax season coming. Google AdSense published its 2021 get ready for tax season details. US publishers can use this one-sheeter to get ready for tax season. Learn about important topics, such as receiving your 1099s from Google and verifying your tax information. 

We’ve curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader.

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