The State of SEO in Google Lightning Talks

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The most recent video in Google’s Lightning Talks series is a  comparison status of SEO in 2020 to 2019. Web search engine optimization status shows details on how the website complies with traditional SEO standards, according to the video and title of Google’s Lightning Talk sequence.

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Aleyda Solis, SEO expert and founder of Orainti, was the guest presenter at the lightning chat, discussing the key takeaways from the SEO chapter of the 2020 Web Almanac.

Web Almanac is a systematic update on the state of the Internet, based on statistics and the advice of industry experts.

Solis co-wrote the SEO chapter for the 2020 Web Almanac with Michael King and Jamie Indigo.

The SEO chapter’s goal is to define the main elements and settings that play a role in a website’s organic search engine optimization. It’s important to remember that data is mainly collected by examining website home pages, and all statistics apply to smartphone pages.

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Highlights from the Web 2020 Almanac’s SEO Chapter


Crawlability and Indexability:


In the year 2020:

  • 75% of websites had a legitimate robots.txt, compared to 72% in 2019.
  •  53 percent of websites had a rel=“canonical” suffix in 2020, compared to 48 percent in 2019.
  • 45 percent of the canonical tags found were self-referential, while 8.5 percent referred to a particular URL.

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Trends in Content

In the year 2020:

  • The median page had 348 words, up from 306 in 2019.
  • Compared to 99 percent in 2020, only 97 percent of sites had a title tag in 2019
  • The average length of a title tag is 6 words/38 characters, up from 20 characters in 2019.
  • A meta summary was found on 68 percent of websites, up from 64 percent in 2019.
  • The average meta definition was 19 words and 138 characters long, falling short of the 160 character limit suggested by SEO best practices.
  • There were 67 total links on the median list, 54 of which were internal links. In comparison to the previous year, the price is down 10%.
  • In 2020 an average page had 6 external links, down from 8 in 2019.
  • A rel=“nofollow” attribute was found on 30% of sites.
  • The updated rel=“ugc” or rel=“sponsored” tags were used on less than 0.3 percent of pages.

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Website Speed: Why It Matters & How to Improve It

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Median word count: The fact that the median word count has increased does not actually mean that more content is better. What matters most, according to Solis, is that users’ search needs are met with detailed and useful content.

Decrease in internal link: A decrease in the number of internal links on pages could indicate that sites aren’t optimizing their ability to increase crawling performance and connection equity flow as effectively as they were last year.

Decrease in external link: The reduction in the number of external links on pages means that websites are being more cautious when connecting to other sites, perhaps to prevent transferring link equity or sending users to other sites.

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Organization of Data

In the year 2020:

  • JSON-LD was the most used structured data format, with 30 percent of pages using it.
  • Structured data is used as raw HTML on 39% of pages.
  • 40% of websites use the renderDOM to store structured data, relying on the JavaScript rendering capability of search engines.
  • Despite guidance specifying that structured data (review stars) could not be included on home pages, aggregate rating structured data (review stars) was used on 24% of pages.
  • The use of VideoObject organized data increased by 28%.
  • The use of FAQ page markup increased by 3,000%.
  • The use of HowTo markup increased by 623 percent.
  • The use of QA page markup increased by 192 percent.

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Information on Google’s Page Experience Update

In the year 2020:

  • Google’s Core Web Vitals thresholds were exceeded by 20% of sites.
  • HTTPS is now used on 73 percent of websites, up 10% from 2019.
  • A viewport meta tag with the proper configuration is present on 43% of websites.
  • Just 11% of sites use the viewport meta identifier, indicating that they are not even mobile-friendly.
  • Sensitive features are seen on 83 percent of websites.

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How to Improve Your Website Page Load Speed for Better SEO

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The data in the 2020 edition of the Online Almanac is based on a review of 7.5 million websites. It also includes information from Lighthouse and Chrome UX reviews.

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