Google Lightning Talks: The State of SEO

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports on Google’s latest video in the Lightning Talks series, which presents data on the state of SEO in 2020 compared to 2019.

This is all about a video in Google’s Lightning Talks series about the state of web search engine optimization. It presents data on how websites are following standard SEO practices.

Aleyda Solis is an SEO consultant and founded Orainti. She joins Lightning Talks as a guest presenter and discussed the main learnings from the SEO chapter of the 2020 Web Almanac. The Web Almanac is a comprehensive report on the state of the web, which is backed by data and trusted experts. Solis authored the SEO chapter of the 2020 Web Almanac, along with Michael King and Jamie Indigo.

This article shows some of the key findings from the SEO chapter. It’s important to note data is primarily gathered by analyzing the home pages of websites, and all stats refer to mobile pages:

Crawlability and Indexability During 2020

  • 75% of websites had a valid robots.txt versus 72% in 2019.
  • A rel=”canonical” tag was found on 53% in 2020, versus 48% in 2019.
  • Of the canonical tags discovered, 45% were self-referential and 8.5% pointed to a different URL.

Content Trends in 2020:

  • The median page had 348 words, compared 306 words in 2019.
  • 99% of pages had a title tag, versus 97% in 2019.
  • The median title tag length is 6 words/38 characters, which is up from 20 characters in 2019.
  • 68% of pages had a meta description, up from 64% of pages in 2019.
  • The median length of a meta description was 19 words and 138 characters, which is under 160 characters as recommended by SEO best practices.
  • The median page had 67 total links, of which 54 were internal links. Down 10% from 2019.
  • The median page had 6 external links, compared to 8 in 2019.
  • 30% of pages had a rel=”nofollow attribute.
  • Less than 0.3% of pages used the new rel=”ugc” or rel=”sponsored” tags.

Structured Data in 2020

  • JSON-LD was the preferred structured data format, appearing on 30% of pages.
  • 39% of pages put structured data in raw HTML.
  • 40% of pages put structured data in the renderDOM, which relies on search engines’ JavaScript rendering capabilities.
  • AggregateRating structured data (review stars) was used on 24% of pages, despite guidelines stating it should not be used on home pages.
  • Usage of VideoObject structured data grew 28%.
  • Usage of FAQ page markup grew 3,000%.
  • Usage of HowTo markup grew 623%.
  • Usage of QApage markup grew 192%.
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