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What’s a Fraggle and What Does it Reveal About Google’s SEO Strategy? – Cindy Krum // MobileMoxie

Episode Overview: In the quest to simplify and evolve voice search optimization, new methods are being created to ease the user experience. One such method is the use of “Fraggles,” but what is a fraggle exactly? Join host Ben as he continues Mobile Marketing Week with MobileMoxie CEO Cindy Krum as she discusses what a “Fraggle,” is and its impact toward making the mobile SEO experience easier.

Summary

  • A “Fraggle,” is a combination of handle and fragment. They’re essentially directional links that take users to specific pieces of content.
  • Anchor links aren’t required in order for Google to turn it into a fraggle and neither are jump links.
  • Inserting H2’s and H3’s help Google determine whether something in your content’s body is fraggle worthy.
  • Ultimately fraggles improve mobile search experiences for users, providing better interactions with voice assistants.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                  Welcome to Mobile Marketing Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day discussing what you need to know to optimize your mobile SEO efforts for max impact.

Ben:                  Joining us for Mobile Marketing Week is Cindy Krum, who is the founder and CEO of MobileMoxie, which is a mobile centric set of tools and APIs that help SEOs gain better insights into their mobile experiences.

Ben:                  So far this week, Cindy and I have talked about the greater mobile landscape and whether mobile first is still really the right call to action for SEOs. And yesterday we talked about how some of the lifestyle changes caused by the Coronavirus are impacting the mobile landscape, and today we’re going to talk about what Cindy is coining a “Fraggle,” which is “Fragment handle,” and why that’s impacting mobility as well.

Ben:                  Okay. Here’s the third installment of Mobile Marketing Week with Cindy Krum from MobileMoxie. Cindy, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Cindy:              Yay. Thank you. Happy to be here.

Ben:                  Happy to be here. Happy to talk about something other than the Coronavirus, oh man. So far this week we’ve talked about the general landscape and naturally we had to talk about, since the landscape is changing around us with the Coronavirus, how that’s impacting mobility. Hey, there’s something else that’s going to be impacting us.

Ben:                  You mentioned and introduced me to the term the “Fraggle,” fragment and handle. Let’s just for everybody’s sake, say I wasn’t familiar with it. What’s a Fraggle and why is it impacting mobile search?

Cindy:              Sure. So Fraggles are something that I’ve been talking about for maybe about a year and a half, and what it is as you so eloquently said is it’s a fragment and a handle.

Cindy:              So when I say fragment, what I mean is it’s a bit of text and a handle. And handle is a phrase that has many synonyms. Handle can be jump link or bookmark or anchored link. What it basically means is that when you click on a handle, you not only get to a page but it scrolls to a specific part of a page.

Cindy:              And we’ve seen Google has been including jump links in search results here and there for a while, but sometime a little over a year ago I started to see that Google was testing a new kind of result, where there was one main page ranking and if you clicked on the main title tag in the search, then you would just get to the top of the page.

Cindy:              But then it had a carousel of options underneath, or sometimes a list of options underneath, and when you clicked on one of those, it wouldn’t just get you to the page, it would get you to a specific part of the page. And all of those would include the fragment, which is a bit of text that’s lifted from the page.

Cindy:              And so yeah, this seems like a small thing, but I, per usual, I think it’s bigger than people realize.

Ben:                  So let’s walk through a case study here and talk about why that’s impacting mobility. A Fraggle, I’m thinking of a fragment or a handle as I type in half of my user name or something like that. Or my Twitter handle. Instead of Ben J. Shap, I type in B-E-N-J-S-H and it brings me to a fragment of my handle.

Ben:                  That’s obviously not what you’re talking about, right?

Cindy:              No.

Ben:                  You’re talking about a search experience where when you’re conducting a query as normal, it not only brings you to, hey, here’s the landing page, but here’s some filtering options to drop you to the right portion of that landing page.

Cindy:              Right. So for example, one of my go to examples on this was a search in Denver for best gluten-free restaurants in Denver.

Ben:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cindy:              And the result page had a list of the top 10 best gluten-free restaurants in Denver. Each gluten-free restaurant had a picture and the name of the restaurant and then some information.

Cindy:              When I searched for that, what would happen is I would get the such and so’s article listing the top 10 restaurants, and then a carousel of the top 10 restaurants down below. And when I clicked on any of the restaurants, it wouldn’t just take me to the page. It would take me to that section of the article about it.

Ben:                   So I think of this being very similar to an anchor tag. If I was building a website where if I want somebody to link, and I’m not just going to drop them to the top of a page, but a specific section on a page, like “Click the buy it now” button, it brings them all the way to the bottom of the page where the checkout component of a larger page might live.

Cindy:               Yes.

Ben:                   We’re essentially talking about directional links that are bringing you to specific pieces of content.

Cindy:                Yes. And so there’s a couple of things to know, a little bit of background on anchor links.

Cindy:                So back in the early days of the web, we would put anchor links on a page to help users navigate, and it was always go to this section, go to this section or scroll back to the top. And they would always have the scroll back to the top button. And those were all anchor links.

Cindy:                And what happened in the early days of SEO, is Google took every URL it found as a different URL. And so anchor links started causing a lot of duplication problems because they would rank on their own, and Google couldn’t figure out that all of these anchor links, it was all just one page. So what they did years ago was they stopped officially indexing anything after the hashtag. The hashtag was a symbol for an anchor link-

Ben:                    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cindy:                So they stopped doing that to avoid all the duplication.

Cindy:                So now fast forward to where we are today. Not as many websites use anchor links. Google’s figured out how to canonicalize and how to eliminate automatically duplicate content, how to find different variations of a URL and understand them together. They’ve gotten much more sophisticated on those things.

Cindy:                But the other thing they’ve gotten sophisticated on, as we talked about in the earlier episode, is language understanding. So what’s important about fraggles that’s often missed, is that you don’t have to have an anchor link for Google to turn it into a Fraggle. In some cases, Google is adding these handles on its own-

Ben:                    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cindy:                Right? Dun, dun, dun. They’re finding the sections of the page for you and breaking it up, and throwing that in the search result.

Cindy:                Now, I will tell you that it does help. One of the things that we do to help encourage Fraggle indexing, is we break up articles as we’re supposed to with H2’s and H3’s, and especially on H2’s we will put jump links, and that does seem to help Google highlight and understand that something is Fraggle worthy. But the important thing to know here is that you don’t have to have the jump links to get the Fraggle.

Cindy:                And one of the classic examples that’s even in Google documentation is with news articles. And I don’t know if you ever saw the AMP highlighting, but what Google would do, is if you search for a question and Google found an amp result that answered your question, they would show you the featured snippet with the amp results and then they would highlight in yellow the piece that answered your result. And if they saw fluff in there, they would skip and not highlight that, but then they found more of the answer lower down, they would highlight that for you.

Cindy:                So that is some pretty sophisticated linguistic understanding to highlight only the answer and eliminate the fluff, but in the AMP highlighting examples, when you clicked on it, Google would take you to the page and take you to exactly where that highlighting was and they’ll highlight it again on that page.

Cindy:               So it’s almost like Google is superimposing the jump link and the highlighting in that instance. Does that make sense?

Ben:                   Yeah. I mean, to me the takeaway here is that Google is doing a better job, mostly related to the BERT update of understanding what is actually on the page and they’re navigating searches to not only the right page, but the right spot on the page to give you the answers to your question.

Ben:                  So let’s double back here. Why is this impacting mobility and mobile SEO?

Cindy:              So I think that a lot of this is yes, to provide a better user experience for searchers, but in the long run, this is to help providing a better experience to voice searches and assistant kinds of interactions. Because if you can think about it, one of the worst experiences of a voice search might be the voice assistant reading you the entirety of a webpage, when all you wanted was the answer to one question.

Cindy:             And so Google being able to break up the page and find the answer and just review that, is useful for you as a user. But then it’s also useful for them in terms of finding featured snippets.

Cindy:             So this kind of functionality has probably been around, at least to some degree, as long as Google’s been lifting the featured snippets. They were doing language processing to do that, but now they’re doing it in a much more expansive way. Finding multiple items per page and indexing those on their own.

Cindy:             And what I can tell you too, for the people who are dubious or haven’t seen this enough or don’t believe me that it’s a big deal, I have seen in my analytics as well as client analytics that the Fraggles, when we put them in, when we actually added the jump links, that they were getting indexed again and had their own rankings and their own traffic in search console.

Ben:                 So it’s interesting, my guess was that the introduction of a Fraggle was more about a mobile user experience to be able to present more specific information on a mobile screen, right? Not only are we going to give you the webpage that has the top answer, but we’re going to give you, if you’re looking for the top restaurants, a link to be able to get to all 10 restaurants in a carousel.

Ben:                 I thought that this was a mobile user experience adjustment and you’re saying that, hey, this really has more to do with Google being able to pull out the right information so they can present you voice search answers.

Cindy:            Well, I think it’s a little bit of both. I think it’s the greater good on a lot of fronts, because think about the alternative to a traditional website. Think about a single page app that horrifies most SEOs, right? This is breaking all the rules. If you have all of your content on one URL and you’re just switching in and out things with JavaScript makes SEOs want to cry, right?

Cindy:             But Google says they’re getting better at JavaScript and they want to index everything, including native apps and single page web apps. So if they can break a single page web app into Fraggles, they can rank it. Why wouldn’t they? And if they can do that for a single page web app, why couldn’t they do it for a native app? Especially an Android app, but potentially even an iOS app. This is the way where things that don’t have URLs get to link or get to rank. So it’s things not strings.

Ben:                  It’s interesting. So the potential future of mobile SEO and SEO potentially could be “Hey, we’re just going to put everything on one page and let Google figure out what’s relevant because we don’t actually have to do linking internally.” Google knows what content is on the page. We just have to make it visually pleasing.

Cindy:              Right. Well, and so as SEOs, we forget how much we do to accommodate Google. We just do it as second nature, but I’ve talked a lot about how I think of mobile-first indexing as entity-first indexing, and this works well with that concept too.

Cindy:              So let’s say I’ve written a page about my garden, and in my garden I have many vegetables. And so my page about my garden talks about this kind of cucumber and this kind of tomato and this kind of something else.

Ben:                 Carrot.

Cindy:             Carrot. The likelihood of my page ever ranking for anything other than Cindy’s garden is low. Even though I have specific information about specific types of carrots, because that information is drowned out by the lettuce and the tomatoes, Google’s not going to know that this page is about that kind of carrot or this specific type of heirloom tomato.

Cindy:             So as SEOs we’ve always said, “Oh, it’s a different topic, put it on a new page,” right? And we do this without even thinking about it because we want to have a really topic-focused page. If we want that content ranked, then it really shouldn’t be drowned out by the other stuff on the page.

Ben:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cindy:             But that’s bad. That’s a handicap that we forgot that Google had that we’ve been enabling.

Ben:                 Yeah. I guess the future is deciding do we need a click, is that a better user experience, or do you want pages that are so long, people might not necessarily get through all of the content if there isn’t an SEO impact because of the Fraggle. Even if people are on a short screen on their mobile device, you need to decide for yourself what’s the right user experience to consume your content. Do people want to read the tomato, the cucumber and the carrot article-

Cindy:             Right.

Ben:                 All on one page, subsequently? Or are they looking for the carrot content in the spring, and the tomato content in the fall?

Cindy:             Yeah. Or do they even know or care at all, right? Maybe we think about searchers in terms of wanting some kind of long interaction, when really they just want answers.

Cindy:             And from Google’s perspective, and in the entity-first indexing idea, my garden article would be hard to put into a knowledge graph because it would just be a knowledge graph about Cindy’s garden if it had to rank together. But if we could piece it out, then you could add to the knowledge graph about tomatoes and pull in my specific kind of heirloom tomato to the tomato knowledge graph, and you could piece it out and build out your knowledge in a more comprehensive way without being artificially locked in by the number of topics on one URL.

Ben:                 The fraggle introducing the tomato knowledge graph.

Ben:                 All right, so Cindy, as we think about Google’s ability to do natural language processing and their ability to link to the right passage of content within a post or a page, how do you think this specifically impacts the mobile universe?

Cindy:             I think that mobile forces Google to do a better job. It forces us all to kind of do a better job. What I’ve said for years is that mobile SEO is a lot like traditional SEO, it’s just harder. And I think that from Google’s perspective, mobile search is like desktop search, it’s just harder. We have to do a better job because there’s less real estate, because there’s less attention span, and because there’s a lot more competing for the juicy result, whatever that may be, attention, clicks or money.

Ben:                 To me the takeaway here is that Google has the ability to not only understand what are the interesting passages and what are the answers to your questions. Hopefully they are linking through a Fraggle to that content, but they’re just getting smarter about what the answers to your questions are and I guess the impact for mobile is, how is this actually going to impact how much people are driving traffic as opposed to just going to Google for answers?

Cindy:             Yes, and I want to add on to that that I think for years the de facto response when you searched Google is like, “You want to read something. You searched for this and you want to read something,” and that’s not the de facto response any more, especially on mobile.

Cindy:             On mobile, they are thinking about non reading use cases. You want to watch something, you want to listen to something, you want to download an app, you want to buy something, you want a map to get directions. So it’s not always that you want to read, it’s that you might want to do something else, and so Google wants to be there for that as well.

Ben:                 Yeah. So we’re going to dive a little bit more into this topic and about zero click and mobile analytics in our next episode.

Ben:                 So that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Cindy Krum, CEO of MobileMoxie. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Cindy, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter where her handle is MobileMoxie, M-O-B-I-L-E-M-O-X-I-E, or you can visit her company’s website, which is MobileMoxie.com.

Ben:                 Just one more link on our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to VoicesofSearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:                Of course you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is VoicesofSearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J- S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, in addition to part two of our conversation with Cindy Krum, CEO of MobileMoxie. We’re going to publish an episode every day during the workweek.

Ben:               So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how zero click search is impacting mobile analytics.

Ben:               Okay. That’s it for today, but until next, remember, the answers are always in the data.