Google SEO Change: Rel=prev/next No Longer Works

Yesterday, the Google Webmasters Twitter account mentioned that the rel=prev/next tag is no longer used by the Google index spider:

The rel=prev/next attributes were used to indicate paginated content to Google – for example, long forum threads broken up into multiple pages, slideshow-style articles, and so forth.

Search Engine Journal has a longer article about this here: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-stopped-supporting-relprev-next-in-search-indexing-years-ago/299689/

Google used to have a help page explaining the use of the attribute – it was located at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663744?hl=en , but is now deleted. You can see an older copy here:

The former help page discussing rel=prev/next. Click to expand.

This change doesn’t surprise me – it’s been clear for years now that Google is increasingly using ML/AI to “read” web pages and infer relationships between pages, instead of going by what the page says about itself. The information that it extracts can then be used to power knowledge panels on Google search pages.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google finds pagination relationships to be less important than other signals. For example: if there’s a long forum thread discussing some controversial issue, every page of the forum thread is not equally important; perhaps Google wants to focus on only those pages with important information, or those that get linked to the most frequently.

Activating Basic HTML Mode For Gmail

Sometimes the full Gmail experience is too much for an older laptop or mobile device. Instead of trying to load the new Gmail, you can force the basic HTML version of Gmail to load by going to mail.google.com/?ui=html .

If you’re already signed in, you might see the below screen. If you’re signed out, you’ll need to sign in using the standard login screen.

Google confirming you want to use HTML mail.

After this, you’ll see a much stripped down version of Gmail:

I have way too much email in my inbox!

Google Doodle: Seiichi Miyake

Today’s Google doodle celebrates Seiichi Miyake, who invented paving slabs with tactile feedback, allowing the blind and visually impaired to navigate the world.

Here’s the Google home page with the doodle:

Here’s the doodle itself:

The Google doodle for March 18, 2019.

The Google doodle links to a search for Seiichi Miyake:

Google Doodle: St. Patrick’s Day

Google celebrates St. Patrick’s Day today, March 17. Here’s a screenshot of Google’s home page with the doodle:

Google’s home page with the St. Patrick’s Day doodle.

The doodle itself is animated: the oo in Google shifts around:

Clicking on the doodle links to a search for St. Patrick’s Day:

Google Doodle: 30th Anniversary Of The World Wide Web

Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 30th anniversary of the world wide web. Here’s a screenshot of today’s Google front page:

Google front page for March 12, 2019.

Here’s the doodle itself:

The Google doodle for March 12, 2019.

Clicking on the doodle performs a Google search for World Wide Web:

Clicking on the doodle Google search.

On the Google front page, clicking on the text Happy Birthday to the World Wide Web goes to a Google Arts & Culture page discussing the history of the Internet:

Newsworthy And Non-Newsworthy Searches

I stumbled upon this interesting article from The Verge, where YouTube modified its search results by tagging Brie Larson as part of the news: https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/8/18255265/brie-larson-youtube-captain-marvel-mcu-algorithm-review-bomb-trolls .

In short, YouTube searches for Brie Larson were initially returning videos about boycotting the movie Captain Marvel. By tagging Larson as a news item, the search results immediately changed to reflect videos from authoritative news services: ABC, CBS, Entertainment Tonight, and so forth. This is a useful function for most people searching, as most users will be looking for late night interviews, news media reports, and so forth.

A search for Brie Larson on YouTube returns videos from news services – note the Top news notice on the top of the image.

As this article demonstrates, search context can be very important. To fully learn about a topic, it’s vitally important to search Google, review the results, then make more searches that are informed by your previous searches. Let’s say you’re a journalist, and want to write about Brie Larson. You’d start out with a general Google and YouTube search about Larson. Then by reviewing the search results (at least the first 2-3 pages of results) you’d learn that there was controversy over Larson playing Captain Marvel. Then you could search for Brie Larson Captain Marvel. Then Brie Larson controversy.

Possibly you might dig a bit deeper and search for Brie Larson boycott. After you’ve exhausted that route, follow other discussion threads: for example, searching for Brie Larson fans, or Captain Marvel box office numbers.

A search for Brie Larson boycott reveals further information for an aspiring journalist. Why is there a boycott? Further Google searching would help.

There are numerous ways that a good journalist could dig up even more information about this issue – for example, why not use Google’s date searching feature to exclude recent news reports and only search earlier postings?

Googling current-news topics can be difficult, as you’ll see many current news items pop up on your results. With intelligent Googling, you can extract useful knowledge about almost anything.

Distance Search: The AROUND(#) Search Operator – The Most Underrated Google Search Function

The AROUND(#) search operator is one of my favorite, and frankly underrated, search functions. It is a distance operator between two words; in other words, it searches for web pages that have two words together, with no more than # of words separating them.

Here’s a simple example. Suppose I tried searching for bacon AROUND(3) cheeseburger.

bacon AROUND(3) cheeseburger

Google returns the expected bacon cheeseburger results, but there are also some interesting, unexpected results. The second result is for a bacon avocado cheeseburger (1 word – avocado – separating our search terms of bacon and cheeseburger). The third result is for a bacon ultimate cheeseburger (again, 1 word separating bacon and cheeseburger). The fourth result is for cheeseburgers with bourbon bacon (2 words – with bourbon – separating our search terms).

Use the operator whenever you need to find two words closely associated with each other, but possibly modified by other words. Try not to use a high # with AROUND(#) – I would suggest no more than 5 unless there’s a really good reason for a greater distance.

Google Doodle: International Women’s Day

Today, March 8 2019, Google celebrates International Women’s Day with a doodle. Here’s how the doodle looks like on the Google home page:

Clicking on the doodle makes it expand:

And then moves into a slideshow with quotes from famous women:

Clicking on the search option goes to a Google search for International Women’s Day. Clicking the share option goes to a screen to share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media: