Canonical Chronicle - Episode 45 - How to Optimise for Dark Mode?

In this video

In this week's episode of the Canonical Chronicle, we discuss:

  • Optimising for Dark Mode 😏

  • Clarification on how Googlebot downloads webpages and how they react to 400 and 500 errors 🕸️

  • Big News for Social Media Managers in the way facebook calculates impressions 📉

  • Google rolling out AR to more Google Ads Display Products for the cosmetics industry

  • New "search by image" features in Google my Business (GMB)


0:25 John Muller on Dark Mode affecting SEO

1:00 How to hack chrome to see what your website looks like in Dark Mode

1:48 How do Google download the contents of your page?

2:47 How to check a page response code use CURL

3:28 Facebook are changing the way they count impressions (pricks)

4:37 How should I use ads to get more video traffic?

5:09 New AR ads for Google Ad Mastheads for Makeup Brands

5:59 Dying inside

6:11 Search by Image is now rolling out to Google My Business (GMB)

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I’m Ross Tavendale, the managing director of Type A Media, a creative search agency based in London. I make videos about business leadership, web technology, SEO, PPC and how I turned being a Type A personality into a business.


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So what's the most common things SEO people do in the bedroom?

♪ My drumstick ♪ ♪ In your brain stop stick ♪

No, no, no, not that. We surf the web on our phones, obviously. And because of all the late night surfing, our circadian rhythm is being really negatively affected by blue light. And this has led to an upsurgence of more dark mode websites and applications. So this week on Webmaster Hangout, someone asked John Miller.

We want to implement a dark mode for our website, do we have to consider anything in relation to SEO?

And then the answer he said, "It's not really a problem, "you just need to implement it in your CSS." For non-devs, CSS means cascading style sheet. It's essentially the part of your code that's responsible for styling the HTML elements, and the background, and the font colors. He says that CSS doesn't affect indexing, so you're not gonna run into any issues. So maybe in the future, if a phone is set to dark mode, you could go make it a ranking factor but at the moment, they're not really bothered to it. So if you're thinking you want to make a dark mode website and you want to see how yours would look, simply go to Chrome, press function F12, and that's gonna open up the console. Then, when you're in there, if you put the following command that you now see on screen into there. You can now change everything on the page. So you can change the CSS background to black with the hex code 000, and change your font to white with FFF. So should you actually make a dark mode version? I'm not sure. What do you think Darth?

If you only knew the power of the dark side.

And we mean dark mode not black hat SEO. Talking about black hat, please click the like button so we can help hack the YouTube algorithm together, so that we go to the top of the list. And while you're at it, please subscribe to validate my existence and my online attention seeking behavior. So when Google visits your site, we just assume they automatically download the entire thing, and your job is to describe the pages as best you can to match the query intent.

So this is, in fact, the outside, this is the exterior of the property, you are no longer in the building.

And based on the prevalence of so many rich snippets and zero-click event SERPs, I assume they're actually just keeping it all for themselves, like some sort of tech-based Gollum.

My precious.

However, on a recent Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller confirmed that Google bot first checks the header response to the site, before it attempts to crawl or render anything else. So if the page returns a 200 status code, that means they proceed to crawl. If it returns a 400 or a 500, it will not crawl, and move on to the next URL. So this means if you've got one of those fancy 404 pages with lots of links designed for Google to actually crawl when you hit the 404, they're not gonna see it. Only human visitors can see that page. So how do you check the response code of a page? Well, the easiest way to do it is on Terminal in your computer. Ping the URL and see what it returns. So let's get you to open up Terminal or Command Prompt, and type in the following command that you see on screen. This will ping the server and return the HTML, and if you scroll all the way to the top, you're gonna see the response code. So if we do that again but make up some nonsense URL, and now let's scroll to the top of that as well, you can see it's a 404. Now if you're gonna do this in bulk, I recommend using something like Screaming Frog, crawling in list mode so you can see absolutely everything in bulk, as well as things like redirects, and redirect chains and loops. So at Type A, when it comes to Facebook ads to promote our content, we've been like…

Look what I found in my pocket, look! A year's salary right here. You know what I call them? Fun coupons.

And we've been amazed that we've been able to get hundreds of thousands of views for almost no money. However, our bubble has just burst. Earlier in the year, Facebook admitted to over-inflating its numbers which left a lot of advertisers, including us, very unhappy. This lead to a lot of media spending moved from video, and a lot of writers being fired, and more money being poured into the platform. And guess what they're gonna do now? They're gonna change the way they measure impressions for organic. So what's changing? So they're now gonna change how repeat impressions are calculated. So if you're a social media manager, you're definitely gonna see all your numbers go down by quite a bit. The reason they're changing is because of the original frauds. They're gonna make the impressions inside of ads the same as impressions inside of organic. So what do you do if you've got video and you want to get in front of a bunch of people? Well, at Type A, we've exclusively moved to YouTube TrueView ads. We've also moved all of our Facebook ad spend to click only, and we're using that to push traffic to the YouTube video. We no longer do native Facebook video. The main reason is we have informational content which really isn't suited to a newsfeed environment, so you might be thinking, "Does this spell the end for Facebook?" Well, no. It just means that advertisers such as us will definitely think twice before spending our money for video on the platform. Every time I hear about augmented reality, I think of one of those million selfies with the bunny ears, or maybe some nerds playing "Pokemon Go!".

He called Bulbasaur.

That's onion turtle.


Errybody know that's big dick bee.

Bees don't even have dicks, it's a stinger!

But now Google has been rolling out augmented reality products to help searchers. First, we've seen the AR animals with Google lens. And now, we've got augmented reality makeup. So if you're a cosmetics retailer, you're now gonna be able to advertise to people and get them to try your makeup on using their webcam with AR. The innovation's pretty cool and I think we're gonna see a lot more of these AR sell things roll out, but a bit of me just has to think, you've got a room full of PHDs, some of the brightest minds in the world, and what are they focused on? Selling lipstick. Great. So running a local business is hard work. You set up your business, wait for the adoring crowds to rush in, and all of a sudden--

Do you want some lemonade?

Do you have the appropriate paperwork for that lemonade stand?

That's right, the world punches you in the face. So utilizing as many channels as possible to drive traffic to your business is completely essential. So this new search by images feature for local queries Google's now showing looks like a really good tool for local businesses, especially if you're a food business. So the new feature was recently noticed by Search Engine Land, who are now seeing a search by photos option in the local pack. So if you don't have user photos or any photos of your business, now would be a very good time to start. If you want to add more photos to your business, just go to, and then you can log in and literally just start adding photographs. You can even add a virtual tour of your office using 360 video. So now that people search with images, instead of them seeing your competitors, they're gonna see you, your restaurant, and all the amazing dishes that you've been serving everyday.

That's everything for this week's Chronicle Chronicle, if you want to download the slide deck outlining everything that's happened in search this week for your team, then you can do so by joining our newsletter. Link in the description. You'll get an unbranded search update stick every single week, so you can send it to your team or to your clients, and keep them up to date, what's happening in the industry. The newsletter's also got a bunch of links to the best articles we've found that week, and some really cool Twitter conversations that we think you should be part of. Well that's everything for this week's Chronicle Chronicle. Until next time, we will see you later.