Welcome to Oban’s global digital marketing weekly, a roundup of news affecting businesses and other web users from around the world. In this week’s edition; Google begins notifying webmasters of ‘right to be forgotten’ requests made against their sites; Baidu launches a new speed and security testing tool; and Google reveals the function of new hreflang features in Webmaster Tools.
After the European Court of Justice’s landmark right to be forgotten ruling back in May, Google has reacted relatively quickly to the problem, which is likely to cause substantial bureaucracy. Google provided a form at the end of May and it has begun dealing with the requests – which are said to number in the tens of thousands – in the past week.
The removal of pages from Google’s search engine result pages has already been witnessed in the wild, with affected search terms accompanied by a short (but difficult to miss) warning.
Since then, a number of figures in the search industry have revealed that Google are notifying webmasters of link removal action on their sites. The following email was sent to Barry Schwartz of Searchengineland.com.
The current process certainly raises a few issues. Will webmasters be able to resubmit content cleansed of sensitive information back to the index? Will the knowledge that specific pages contain sensitive emails lead to webmasters publicising that information via other means?
Chinese search engine giant Baidu has launched a new website security and speed evaluation tool, ce.baidu.com, allowing webmasters to gain insight into how the engine is likely to rate some critical aspects of site quality. Though international users are warned that the site is entirely in Chinese, a number of key features are decipherable despite the language barrier.
From top to bottom, the results page displays:
– An overall evaluation of site health (with star and numerical ratings)
– A count of high, medium and low risk site security issues
– A comparison of your site speed against the industry average
– A map of China showing how your site speed and ping values vary from province to province
Registration unlocks further features beyond these general overviews. Considering Baidu’s search share of approximately 70% of the Chinese market, the insight tool is useful for anyone currently working in China, or planning to. Both low site speed and security issues can have a significant adverse effect on search engine rankings, so an in-market tool is invaluable for international businesses.
Last week, there were rumblings of a new feature in testing among a group of Webmaster Tools beta testers, related to the rel-alternate-hreflang attribute. Seroundtable.com reports that the non-disclosure agreement these testers signed didn’t hold – Google’s own staff outed the feature in a weekly Google hangout.
The new feature is apparently a reporting tool, under a new “international targeting” section. It identifies common issues with hreflang implementation including:
– Missing return links
– Unknown language codes
– Non-specific language codes
The complexity of hreflang implementation has long been a source of frustration for webmasters, especially those operating multilingual, multinational websites. The new feature will hopefully improve understanding of the correct markup, improving the quality of international search results.
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EU flag photo courtesy of Flickr user MPD01605