Table of Contents
Shopify chat bug leads to titles with (1) in Google’s search results
Over the past couple of weeks there have been complaints from some Shopify site owners that Google was showing a (1) in the title name for their pages in the Google search results page. The issue turned out to be related to a chat feature activated on those Shopify sites, the chat feature fixed the issue and the Google search results should soon no longer show (1) in the title name.
What it looked like. I found a screenshot of this happening for a site in the Shopify forums dating back a couple of weeks ago, here is that screenshot showing the (1) at the beginning of the title name in Google Search.
What it looks like now. The issue was resolved and Google recrawled and processed this specific URL, so the (1) is no longer there:
It will take time. If you still see a (1) before your title name in the Google Search results, give it more time. Google has to recrawl and reprocess all of the URLs that were impacted and that can take time. If you want to expedite it, you can use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console and submit that URL to the index manually. But again, the issue will resolve itself over time.
Google’s statement. Google published a statement on this issue in the Google forums, basically saying it was an issue with the chat feature dynamically embedding (1) in the title attributes of these pages and thus Googlebot picked up on it and indexed it.
Source: Shopify chat bug leads to titles with (1) in Google’s search results
Google Ads bug again for Gmail on desktop Safari browsers
Google has confirmed a bug impacting how ads are served on Gmail desktop with Safari browsers. This is impacting only Google Ads that should be served in Gmail for users accessing their email using the Safari desktop browser.
What is the issue. The issue seems to be an issue with displaying or serving the ads to this “significant subset of users” on Safari desktop while accessing Gmail.
When it started. Google said this issue first started on Saturday morning, January 15, 2022 at 9:36 AM UTC.
When will we know more. Google said that it plans on giving us an update on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 8:00 PM UTC. Google said “we will provide an update by Jan 18, 2022, 8:00 PM UTC detailing when we expect to resolve the problem.”
Again. Yes, this happened a couple of weeks ago to the same subset of users back in late December.
Source: Google Ads bug again for Gmail on desktop Safari browsers
What happened when we turned off AMP
Since then, a lot has happened, but the bottom line is we have seen very little disruption to our traffic and have reaped the benefit of having a clearer picture of our audience analytics.
What happened to traffic? For us, it is difficult to draw any major conclusions about traffic changes since we turned off AMP. Search Engine Land is a media website that primarily produces journalism, so we are very much tied to the news that emerges. As you would expect, when big news like core updates or major Google Ads changes happens our traffic jumps. But as the news dies down during the holiday season we usually see month-to-month declines. That why year-over-year benchmarking is generally favored by news organizations.
We did not see any year-over-year declines in traffic that we could tie to AMP aside from the loss of pageviews to a handful of pieces that routinely spike for organic traffic. For example, an older article about Google SERP Easter Eggs ranks highly for us and usually spikes a few times during the year (including Easter time!). Mobile traffic to that post was previously going to the AMP version. However, we turned off AMP at a time that piece was spiking on mobile and did not see that traffic shift back to our native page. The page itself has never really driven quality traffic so the lost traffic isn’t really a problem.
Safeguarding. Around the time we shut off AMP we also took a few steps that could safeguard us in case the experiment caused a big traffic decline. We increased our publishing volume for starters. We also adjusted the strategy in our newsletters to better optimize for click-through rate. That move was also in response to Apple’s privacy change in iOS 15 that now makes open rates a less reliable metric.
The big win. One of the main reasons for turning off AMP was to better understand our metrics. Despite several failed attempts at AMP stitching in Google Analytics, we never could tell how our audience moves from our AMP pages to our native ones. Users were undoubtedly being double-counted as unique in both the AMP and our native website dashboards. The clearest indicator that this was true is in the change we’ve seen in return visitors since we turned off AMP. The number of sessions by return visitors has jumped by 30% since we made the change, and now we have a far better picture of our most valuable audience set.
Source: What happened when we turned off AMP
Can Google’s Help Documents Be Trusted?
Google admits its help documents aren’t always up to date and says it’s worthwhile doing your own research on recommended best practices.
Martin Splitt of Google’s Developer Relations team, and Michael King, founder and managing director of iPullRank, get together to talk about how Google’s documentation can lead developers to not trust SEO professionals.
SEOs provide recommendations to developers based on the information in Google’s official documents.
Google aims to keep those documents accurate and trustworthy, but the information sometimes lags behind what’s actually working in SEO, and what’s no longer relevant.
A specific example they addressed is a situation that came up in 2019, when Google revealed it stopped supporting rel=”next” and rel=”prev” years before telling the search community.
That meant SEOs were telling developers to use pieces of code that were no longer relevant to Google Search.
Rather than making an official announcement about it, Google simply removed the documentation related to rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.
It wasn’t until Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller received a question about it on Twitter that anyone from the company told the search community about this change.
Some SEO professionals and developers may have come to that conclusion on their own after noticing Google understood pagination just fine without the use of rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.
Splitt shares background information about this situation, and the difficult choices Google had to make when it came to communicating the changes to the search community.
Why Aren’t Google’s Help Documents Always Up To Date?
Google Search changes quickly, so Splitt cautions against looking at the company’s documentation as the single source of truth.
Regarding the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” situation, Splitt says:
“The docs are not always in phase. We’re doing our best to work with the teams and help them to keep their documentation updated, but it does every now and then happen in this case like a bunch of engineers in search quality figured out — ‘hey, hold on, we actually don’t really need the rel-next and rel-prev links anymore to figure out that there’s like a pagination going on. We can figure that out from other things on the page by themselves.’”
When it was discovered the code was no longer needed, Google’s engineers removed support for it.
Source: Can Google’s Help Documents Be Trusted?
WordPress plugin vulnerabilities more than doubled in 2021
What just happened? Third-party WordPress plugin vulnerabilities increased significantly in 2021, and many of them still have known public exploits. Cybersecurity firm Risk Based Security said 10,359 vulnerabilities were reported to affect third-party WordPress plugins at the end of last year, of which 2,240 were disclosed in 2021. That’s a 142 percent increase compared to 2020, but the bigger concern is the fact that 77 percent of all known WordPress plugin vulnerabilities – or 7,993 of them – have known public exploits.
A closer look revealed that 7,592 WordPress plugin vulnerabilities are remotely exploitable while 4,797 have a public exploit but no CVE ID. For organizations that only rely on CVEs for mitigation prioritization, the latter means that more than 60 percent of vulnerabilities with a public exploit won’t even be on their radar.
Another issue Risk Based Security touched on for organizations is their focus on criticality rather than exploitability.
Source: WordPress plugin vulnerabilities more than doubled in 2021