Increases In SSL Encryption, Googlebot-Mobile Changes, Cutts On Social And Pinterest/Facebook Updates

Written by Will Barnes - 24 Jan 2014

There have been a few interesting updates in the digital marketing world over the past two weeks so grab a cup of tea and have a read about the rise of SSL encryption, Googlebot-Mobile and how we may now have a recipe search engine on our hands.

SSL encryption from organic search is on the rise, this time from Bing and Yahoo!

As (not provided) data from SSL encryption for Google organic search continues to rise, Bing and Yahoo! have started to follow suit with their own versions. Last week it was noted that Bing could be used through the HTTPS protocol but had not yet been set as the default. However, the third player, Yahoo!, has since switched on the HTTPS protocol as a default for searches from its American version, The interesting part is how the referral data from both secure Bing and secure Yahoo is being completely stripped out. So, on top of not passing any keyword data, analytic programs won’t even know the traffic came from a search engine – the traffic, as Cyrus Shepard discovered, will be tracked as direct and result in an artificial decline in organic traffic from Bing and Yahoo.


This reinforces the inevitable: organic keyword data will eventually disappear altogether, and webmasters will need to – if they haven’t already – start refocusing their attention to user intent and journeys. This is further reinforced by Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update in September 2013 which saw Google switch to more conversational search. Keywords will still be important, but creating unique and well optimised content will prevail in this modern search landscape.

Googlebot-Mobile takes a backseat with smartphones, leaves it up to the new Googlebot

Yesterday, Zhijian He from Google announced that a new iteration of Googlebot will be rolling out in three-to-four weeks that will crawl smartphone content, leaving Googlebot-Mobile to only crawl feature phone content instead. This change comes around with the growth of smartphone technology, which is now starkly more advanced than feature phone technology and as such requires segmentation for a better user experience. He writes that:

The new Googlebot for smartphones crawler will follow robots.txt, robots meta tag, and HTTP header directives for Googlebot instead of Googlebot-Mobile

and as such will require webmasters with mobile dedicated sites to re-evaluate their control of Google’s user-agents to ensure correct indexation.

“To the best of” Matt Cutts’ knowledge, Facebook and Twitter are not currently ranking factors

In Google’s latest webmaster video, Matt Cutts declares that “to the best of his knowledge” Facebook and Twitter are not currently ranking factors beyond that of a normal website in the search engine algorithm. Cutts gives two reasons for this:

  • Google’s engineers don’t want to invest time into work that may simply get blocked, as was seen in 2011 with Twitter
  • Its crawlers likely wouldn’t be able to keep up with the speed in which social trends and stories change

Cutts says that social is a key avenue for driving quality targeted traffic to a website or page and is a great way to build brands, but, social metrics should not yet be considered a ranking factor. He clarifies that content with strong social metrics and high ranking positions is the result of correlation and not causation.

Facebook tweak its News Feed algorithm

Facebook’s Chris Turitzin announced a tweak to its News Feed algorithm that will negatively affect Page admins who post text status updates, following research showing this type of content to be unengaging. Turitzin writes:

Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.

The kind of content admins should post on their page depend on their audience. However, it is good, as a rule of thumb, to post a combination of text, link and image updates. One thing Turitzin suggests is not to embed a link as part of a status update as this has been shown, by their research, to be the least engaging:


Pinterest launches recipe search feature

Following Pinterest’s acquisition of Punchfork this time last year, Pinterest has, this week, launched a recipe search feature for desktop that will soon also go live on mobile. The incorporation of recipes is great news for users as currently 18% of all pins are about food, a figure that will likely now increase. This feature will help build Pinterest as a search engine, rather than just a picture-sharing platform and will make it easier for users to find relevant content. For those in the food industry, and particularly for those catering for specific dietary requirements, this new feature could dramatically increase the amount of quality referral traffic from Pinterest’s targeted users.


Hints, tips and rumours

Looking for more information about any of the above stories? Feel free to get in touch with the Fresh Egg team.