Pubcon is “the premier social media and search engine optimization conference.” This year it took place in Las Vegas between October 16 – 18. One of the more notable speakers was Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes.
He covered a myriad of topics and provided some critical insights into what Google’s looking for when determining search rankings. Here are some of the key takeaways from Pubcon 2018.
1) Sitemaps are Still Important
The concept of sitemaps may seem a little dated to some. After all, creating a sitemap is one of the most fundamental techniques and goes back to the infancy of SEO.
So many legal marketers may have forgotten about it and focused the bulk of their efforts on building links.
Don’t get me wrong, link building is super important. But according to Illyes, sitemaps are the second most important website discovery method.
Not only do they help search engines understand your content, they break it down for human users so they can seamlessly find what they’re looking for.
If you’re not sure how to create a sitemap, just visit this resource to get one set up for free.
2) You Should Use Correct the URL Structure
A URL is the address of your World Wide Web page. At first glance, creating the URL structure may seem simple and straightforward. But in reality, there are multiple ways to go about it, and some are more SEO-friendly than others.
Another thing that Illyes pointed out was the importance of using the correct URL structure.
Here’s an example of what that looks like: yourlegalsite.com/page-url
And here’s an example of a bad URL: yourlegalsite.com/page#subsection
Or even worse: yourlegalsite.com/article/830430439320
The goal here is to stick with a simple, user-friendly URL and avoid fragment identifiers. If it makes sense to your human readers, it should also make sense to search engines.
3) Google Doesn’t Like Interstitials
A couple of years ago there was a lot of drama about interstitials, which is “a page that is inserted in the normal flow of editorial content structure on a website for the purpose of advertising or promotion.” There was talk about sites who used interstitials suffering major penalties.
But nothing really came of it, and Google basically backed down. That’s why you still see so many popups to this day.
During Pubcon 2018, Illyes stated that he personally finds interstitials annoying and hates it when he immediately gets hit with a huge popup after arriving on site asking him to sign up for a newsletter. And this is a sentiment that a lot of people share.
While the extent of the penalty may not be significant, Illyes indicated that your site will likely rank lower, especially on mobile search if Google finds disruptive interstitials. So this is definitely a practice that you’ll want to avoid.
Pubcon is one of the top events for everything SEO, and the speakers are some of the most respected in the industry. The presentation from Google’s Gary Illyes was particularly enlightening and provided insights into SEO best practices for 2019 and beyond.