Writing for Search Engines limits you to a certain character count, so we wondered if was better to use the Ampersand versus the word ” and “? Part of the reason is the ampersand gets converted to HTML entities and is listed as ” amp& “ which equals 6 characters. Using “and” would be ” and “ which only equals 5 characters. Will using Ampersand versus the word “and” use less characters in our search results?
Our research lead us many different articles with different ways to look at. There were a lot of old information that lead us nowhere. We realized we could use our website’s data to figure this out. What we found out is it is better to use “&” versus “and“. The HTML entities doesn’t play a part in the character count.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) make your website more digestible for Google and has been adopted over the past 5 years by the other search engines. Google currently being the most utilized search engine, and the focus of this article. The goal for AMP is to make the content delivered more quickly for mobile users by condensing and indexing the pages. WordPress adopted this as a part of their core installation, and in testing we discovered Joomla is Rich Results Ready as well. Here is some of the things we have done to improve a Joomla site to be AMPping itself up to be searched.
A great place to start is to use Google as an AMP Tester. Use the link below to access Google’s AMP tester.
The hard part about these tests are they do not work on your “home” page. There is also Google Structured Data which is the actually the important part of the indexing; however, the page will benefit by being AMP ready. The combination will get your page mobile ready for search engines, with very specified content details you want indexed. We start with the Google Structured Data (GSD) on the services pages. The first thing we did was install a free plugin by Tassos Marinos which you can download in the Joomla Extension Directory (JED) or directly from his site.
Install the component like a normal Joomla component. Then enable the plug-ins. There will 3 of them.
Then go to Components >> Google Structured Data >> Dashboard.
Click on the “Items” tab on the left, and “Article” will be the main item to deal with.
Once in “Article” item we set it to pull the “Browser Page Title” vs the “Title” because of the way we have the SEO set up. Make sure to complete as much of these sections as you can. Save your changes.
Then go back to the “Configuration” tab. Fill out as much as you can. Once you are done and satisfied you can go to the “Advanced” tab and turn on the minify of the output.
Before you minify the output look at the source code and make sure the content you want in the GSD is correct. We had an issue with “description” not showing up. We had to reinstall the plugin.
We had also installed a free AMP plugin, but it didn’t help. Just using the GSD plugin from Tassos was enough to make the site Rich Result Ready. Make sure to follow the instructions and view the source of the page to make sure the Structured Data looks the way you want it to before you request Google to index your pages. If you don’t it could be weeks before Google crawls the site and indexes it properly.
While doing a review of our site for SEO we were thrown by seeing out page URL’s shortened and three vertical dots at the end of the title. An example is our shows one of our services as just our site name, the category “services”, and then the three dots. We were expecting the specific service after that. When you click on the three dots you get a modal with “About this result Beta” and some stuff. It looks like this.
Now this windows shows what the full URL is; however, at first this is alarming. We work hard on our SEO.
At first we really didn’t find any information on this, and we expected an email in our webmastertools account. It turns out to not have an affect on the search results. Eventually we found the following article to explain the new “about this result” feature.
We never found out why it pulls from Wikipedia. Colleges do not consider Wikipedia a reliable source. Sources say Google claims this feature was developed during the pandemic to ensure users on how reliable the source is. Making web searches from everyone in the USA are getting reliable information.
After finishing a new WordPress site we watched Google to see where the site was going to rank, but didn’t get the results we were looking for. We had the Yoast SEO plug-in installed and followed their recommendations in setting it up. The site was showing up on page 4 yet Google highlighted several matching words. More than the listing ranked higher.
We were confused as to why the other sites were ranking higher considering our site had more relevant links. If we add “va” for Virginia to our search the site was number 1 in Google.
The site was a Property in our Google Webmastertools / Search Console, and the Sitemap was in there. We saw a suggestion from someone else who said to add the sitemap in a line in your Robots.txt file. We did this through the Yoast plug-in in the back end of the site. We added the following line.
While in the Search Console we realized the Property was set up for HTTP. When we tried to do a URL Inspection we got an error that the property domain didn’t match. We went back and added the property again and we we saw the following image we realized we had trouble setting up the site with Google’s new domain verification and selected the old method of “URL Prefix“.
We added our domain to the “Domain” section and Google automatically updated our original property to be set up under the new “Domain” method. When we inspected the URL everything worked perfectly. Now to finish inspecting and requesting a URL crawl for the other pages.
The link below was a reminder to me that there were issues when were setting up this site in Google Search Console.
We have been getting phone calls from (240) 514-0971 and (352) 453-5733 which turn out to be a robo calls for fixing our Google listing. You are suppose to push a button to speak to a representative. When I push the button I got a person who tries to scam you to pay them to update your Google listing. When we asked them exactly what they would do they hung up on us. Anyone legitimately asking for your business would stay on the line.
When launching our new website we tried to keep the URLs of the web pages the same as they were in the past. This didn’t quite work out like planned. The old site was using an underscore for dividing words in the URL, and the new one was using dashes. This caused indexed pages to produce a 404 page not found error. We decided to use redirects until the new pages got indexed.
The process is pretty straight forward.
Go to Components >> Redirects
Click on “New”
Enter the “Expired URL”. Our example “managed_it_services.html”
Enter the “New URL”. Our example “services/it-support-services.html”
We went back to Google Analytics. In the Search Console >> Landing Pages section. We clicked on the icon to launch the page.
This however took us to our 404 page we have set up in the site. It seemed like the redirect didn’t work. When we got back to the Redirects section in Joomla was saw the “Redirects” plugin wasn’t enabled.
Once we enabled this the redirects happened right-a-way. The best part of enabling the URL Redirects plugin is it allowed us to record the URLs that someone went to. We could then create a redirect for that URL that we may not have listed otherwise.
In January we set up Google Analytics to send reports to some customers automatically. This year when we were setting this up the Analytics Dashboard has changed and it took us a minute to locate what we were looking for. Here are the steps.
Log into your account and go to the account you need to send the reports from.
Go to one of the “Reports” on the left side such as “Audience” or “Acquisition“.
In the upper-right you will see the icon to “Export“. From here it is like it was before.
We got a call from a user who says the keyboard it typing wrong letters. We used the “Device Manager” to see if the driver was up-to-date, and it was. We discovered there was a Extension in her Chrome browser that was labeled as Malware and was suppose to help type-to-search. We removed this Extension, reset the browser, and restarted the machine.
When the machine came back up we found the keyboard to work fine. The customer said the Function Keys still didn’t work right. In a search we discovered this article and the “Function Lock” key.
After June 11, 2018 Google now charges for accessing the Maps API. This API is used often with website plug-ins. Here are the steps I have taken to get this resolved. This is what the broken API looks like.
Click on “Billing”
I was asked to “Link Billing Account” or “Manage Billing Account”. I chose “Link Billing Account”, and I was taken to the Billing section. I was pleased to see the “$300.00” Free Trial was already in my account.