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What Is Edge SEO & Why You Should Adopt It

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A lot of exciting things are going on in SEO at the moment.

We’re starting to see another paradigm shift in SEO, the last major one being the changeover from desktop user-agent to mobile user-agent.

Heading into 2019, we’ve got voice search becoming more prevalent, almost weekly there are reports of a more noticeable Google update, and the dawn of “edge SEO.”

What Is Edge SEO?

Edge SEO means using edge computing technologies to create new SEO implementation, testing, and research processes outside of the current parameters in which we operate.

Specifically, I’m going to focus on using serverless technologies known as service workers to execute JavaScript on the edge without impacting the underlying infrastructure.

What Is Edge SEO & Why You Should Adopt ItHow service workers work

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing focuses on closing the gap between the user and the source of data in order to reduce latency and bandwidth use as much as possible.

By using service workers, like Cloudflare Workers, we can reduce the obstacles of legacy website platforms and tech stacks, congested development queues, and unhelpful developers.

In the instance of using Cloudflare Workers, this would mean implementing Cloudflare onto the website in question, which in itself brings a number of speed and security benefits.

There are a number of misconceptions about Cloudflare (and other providers) being bad for SEO, but from experience – they aren’t true.

Why We Should Adopt Edge SEO

These solutions provide website owners, marketing teams, and non-developers the ability to modify content and implement vital technical SEO components with almost one click code deployment and minimal associated DevOps involvement, and costs.

That being said, it’s important to keep the website development team involved in all conversations and planned deployments through service workers to ensure these deployments remain complementary to the existing, and planned, code base, and don’t cause conflicts and other bugs.

This principle isn’t anything new.

An alternative to this that yields similar results would be to maintain your own reverse proxy, such as Nginx and Lua (with content transformation occurring in Lua).

Technical SEO Implementations

In addition to reducing bandwidth and making web application delivery more efficient, you can also leverage the edge layer to deploy some technical SEO requests.

It’s like having a pre-render for your website, where you can change anything you want about what’s being delivered as it gives you full control of the DOM (Document Object Model) before the website is served.

While the uses of these are potentially limitless, the two core technical elements we’ve seen benefit the most (due to restrictions on legacy servers and platforms) are the ability to:

  • Implement and manage hreflang tags on scale.
  • Implement and manage redirects.

Hreflang Service Workers

Traditionally, we’ve been able to implement hreflang through three methods:

  • Code injection into the <head>.
  • Through the XML sitemaps.
  • In the HTTP header.

However, this isn’t always possible as a lot of large enterprises have scaled the business but not their infrastructures.

Service workers offer a fourth implementation method, of being able to alter the direct server response to search engine user-agents and users without modifying the underlying code base.

What Is Edge SEO &#038; Why You Should Adopt ItLeft: HTML code as a direct server response, Right: HTML code after the edge CDN has modified the content delivery – to include Hreflang.

By using the mobile friendly testing tool, and checking the rendered HTML, we can also validate that Google can see the hreflang tags – and use them.

Redirect Management

Implementing redirects is something else that we take for granted and assume can be done easily and without issue.

However, from experience, this hasn’t always been the case.

In the past two years alone, I’ve encountered real, global businesses unable to implement redirects because of:

  • Their platform (e.g., GitPages don’t support redirects).
  • Limitations on servers (e.g., running physical servers such as ZXTMs which have line limits).
  • Development roadblocks for daring to ask to touch the .htaccess file.

Because service workers can modify the server response before it reaches the user, they also allow us to modify the server response code and return a 3XX, and perform a redirect.

What Is Edge SEO &#038; Why You Should Adopt ItTools like Sloth.Cloud allow us to manage redirects through service workers on scale through CSV.

Improving Site Security

I’ve previously written about how cyber security will play a more important role in Google’s algorithms in the coming years.

Why?

Because it makes sense.

Google already warns us if it suspects a website has been hacked or contains malware, and Google’s primary objective is to serve us content that matches our intent, and meets our needs, in a secure way.

Through service workers, we can implement security headers such as HSTS, X-Frame-Options, X-XSS Protection, and Referrer Policies (to name a few).

By implementing these security headers we can protect users (and our websites) from some of the OWASP Top 10 most critical security risks, all of which can be detected through passive scanning, which is something Google could potentially integrate into its crawling process with relative ease.

Testing & Research

Good SEO research is key to moving the industry forward in terms of knowledge and best practice.

Service workers offer another method of implementing things like A/B testing, log file collection, and even making short-term changes to a website’s content.

A/B Testing

Service workers open up the possibility to perform A/B testing, using Google Analytics to track success metrics and variation performance.

Through service worker generator tools, this process again can be simple and scalable:

What Is Edge SEO &#038; Why You Should Adopt ItA/B testing through service workers can be made simple and scalable.

You can alter page elements through service workers, creating variations (with page level noindex tags), and then instruct a second service worker to perform the AB testing split.

Because Cloudflare Workers can be used on their free plan, with a $5 a month upgrade, it makes it more scalable for small businesses and websites to A/B test in this way in terms of cost, as you also get the other benefits of Cloudflare.

Likewise for larger enterprises, if you’re wanting to perform SEO tests and you’re already on Cloudflare, this can be an alternative to Distilled ODN.

Log File Collection

Log file analysis is an essential skill for any SEO, however, it’s not always possible.

Platforms such as Shopify and Salesforce CommerceCloud (formerly Demandware) don’t allow you to extract logs. However, by implementing Cloudflare you can collect logs on the edge.

There are two ways you can do this through Cloudflare, the first being Cloudflare Logpush, which is currently in BETA, and the second is through service workers.

Short Term Changes & Stop Gaps

Sometimes you need to be able to remove something from the website unexpectedly that you might not have access to in the CMS.

For example, when I worked in-house at a care home provider, the website linked to a “cost calculator” provided by a third-party with the intention of giving users guidance.

This calculator hadn’t been updated for a few years and led to users using it and then complaining at the price quoted by the calculator versus the cost quoted by the provider (the calculator was providing very low quotes based on old data).

The decision was made that the calculator page needed to be removed ASAP, but this wasn’t possible through the locked-down CMS and the development agency had a strict retainer and work scheduling process.

If service worker technology was available at the time, we would have been able to force the page to return a 503 to users and search engines as a stop-gap until it could be removed and redirected properly.

More Resources:


Image Credits

In-Post Image #1: Sessionstack
In-post Images #2-3: Created/taken by author, December 2018

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Price extensions now supported in Microsoft Advertising Editor

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Price extensions in Microsoft Advertising Editor.

Price extensions launched in Microosoft Advertising a little over a year ago, allowing advertisers to show products and pricing in text ads in mobile and desktop search results.

Why we should care

Now you can manage those extensions in Microsoft Advertising Editor. That means you can manage them in bulk and much more quickly.

From the Shared LIbrary in Editor, you will be able to add headers, descriptions and prices, including currency.

To associate price extensions with ad groups in your campaigns in Editor, select an ad group and use the “Choose price extension” dialogue box.

More on the news

Some helpful reminders for price extensions:

  • The prices must be included on the landing page.
  • They are charged the same CPC as a click on an ad headline.
  • They can link to third-party retailers.
  • Do not duplicate the same copy in the header and description of a price extension.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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Google Lets Advertisers Promote YouTube Live Streams as Display Ads

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Google is introducing a new ad format that lets marketers run YouTube live streams in display ads.

Live stream ads can appear anywhere Google’s display ads are shown. So a person could be scrolling through a website, such as this one, and see a live stream playing right where an ad would be.

People can expand the video to full screen and interact with the live stream just as they could on YouTube.

Here’s an example of what a live stream ad looks like:

Google Lets Advertisers Promote YouTube Live Streams as Display Ads

Live streaming on YouTube is free, so advertisers will only have to pay for the ad unit itself.

The new live stream ad format is currently in a limited beta. There’s no further information available about how Google plans to charge advertisers for these ads.

One of my initial thoughts was whether viewing time would be a factor in the cost.

For example – would an advertiser be charged the same if a person only watched a few minutes of a live stream as opposed to watching the whole thing?

I presume we’ll learn more when the ad format rolls out more widely.

Other Google Advertising News

In related news, Google introduced another display ad format today that allows users to interact with 3D objects.

The new ad format, called Swirl, lets advertisers showcase products from all angles.

A car manufacturer could take an existing 3D model of a car and use it in a Google display ad. Then, those who view the ad could rotate the car as well as zoom in and out of it.

For more information about the Swirl ad format see our coverage here.



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Google Search Console image search reporting bug June 5-7

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Google posted a notice that between the dates of June 5 through June 7, it was unable to capture data around image search traffic. This is just a reporting bug and did not impact actual search traffic, but the Search Console performance report may show drops in image search traffic in that date range.

The notice. The notice read, “June 5-7: Some image search statistics were not captured during this period due to an internal issue. Because of this, you may see a drop in your image search statistics during this period. The change did not affect user Search results, only the data reporting.”

How do I see this? If you login to Google Search Console, click into your performance report and then filter by clicking on the “search type” filter. You can then select image from the filters.

Here is a screen shot of this filter:

How To Filter By Image Traffic in Google Search Console

Why we should care. If your site gets a lot of Google Image search traffic, you may notice a dip in your traffic reporting within Google Search Console. You may have not noticed a similar dip in your other analytics tools. That being said, Google said this is only a reporting glitch within Google Search Console and did not impact your actual traffic to your web site.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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