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Episode 106 - October 30, 2019 - Light Version

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In this episode, we analyze recent algorithm changes from the past few weeks. We cover everything you need to know about BERT alongside some great coverage on Google's latest experiments. Don't forget to read the jobs section for a special posting!


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Is the October 21 update connected to BERT?
  • BERT - Here is what you need to know
  • Consumer Insights Study: Anticipating customer needs throughout the search journey
  • Have you been feeling the effects of losing rich result enhanced searches?
  • Google is showing on-page entities more often in the FS (even when the exact entity item is not on-page)
  • Kevin Indig demonstrates how Google is improving on universal search
  • The latest on Google's experiment of pushing more Image Thumbnails on desktop
  • How to avoid frustrating your users and losing conversions when you run a multi-language (or multi-currency) site
  • What persistent 5xx codes mean for Google
  • Proof that there is much more to SEO than links
  • Sometimes ‘that hreflang issue’ is not really your primary issue
  • How does Google classify your sitelinks search box traffic?
  • Barry Schwartz on SEJ podcast discussing his SEO business
  • Paywall could be seen as cloaked without structured data
  • Site: search showing People Also Ask
  • Say goodbye, like Microsoft, Google has announced that they will stop supporting flash
  • Spotted: GMB review auto-reply feature!
  • GMB bug in Google Maps app wreaking havoc on some websites
  • See what entities Google associates with an image
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates 

October 21, 2019 - Possible quality tweak? Maybe connected to BERT?

We had a number of clients that saw increases (and a couple with slight decreases) in Google organic traffic starting October 21, 2019. 

Our initial impression of this update is that it is what we would call a “minor quality tweak”. A minor quality tweak can mean one of two things:

1) A site has made improvements to quality and now Google’s algorithms are recognizing those changes.

2) Google made changes in how they determine quality.

We feel that most likely, the latter is the case here. We did predict that Google would find ways to be more selective when demoting sites that potentially contradict scientific consensus. We feel that one of Google’s goals with the June 3 update was to be initially distrustful of any site that discusses alternative medical theories unless the site was one that Google already considered an authoritative site. 

Some of the interesting discussion on the June 3 update surrounded the site Examine.com. They are seeing a nice recovery. Here is their one month estimated traffic trend from SEMRush.

examine.com gainsLooking at the bigger picture, it looks like this site saw a full recovery from their June 3 hit (although they haven’t recovered from a hit in March).

june 3 recoveryWhile it is possible that Examine has made changes so that Google no longer treats them as “lower quality”, we think that most likely Google’s engineers made changes to the algorithm that ended up changing the criteria that this site was judged against.

This site does talk about alternative medical topics, but tends to do so in an unbiased way. We feel that it is possible that Google became better able to recognize that the site was not necessarily recommending medical advice that goes against consensus, but rather, that they are giving a balanced view to help people make decisions. In other words, Google may have gotten better at recognizing that this site is not giving potentially harmful medical advice.

It should be noted though that October 21 was not a reversal of the June 3 core update. There are many sites that were negatively affected on June 3 that saw no recovery in October. In the next section of this newsletter, paid subscribers will have our thoughts on whether the changes seen in late October are likely connected to BERT or not.


MHC Announcements

We’re answering SEO business questions! 

The Wix SEO Lovers want to help you with your SEO. If you have a business related question you want answered, fill out this form and look for a response on our blog

You can find our response to the above question here.


Understanding server-side rendering 

Another great SEO guide courtesy of the Wix SEO Lovers. This one is all about helping you understand why your title tag and content may not be shown in the source code. Thanks Alec! 


Google SERP Changes

Check out Google’s French SERPs now that their recent change has rolled out

It looks like a lot of white space is being seen in the SERPs. People have seen listings with just a URL little text since the change has launched. 


YouTube's 'In this video' timestamps appears to be rolling out 

We heard of this change in September. As a reminder, the timestamps let you skip through parts of a YouTube video to more easily find what you’re looking for. It now appears that more people are seeing this live. Here is G’s post on the announcement for more detail. 


SEO Tips

The first episode of Google’s new video series, Search for Beginners, is out!

This new series is great for those who are less knowledgeable about Search. The first video looks at creating the right type of online presence. It really reinforces understanding your purpose online. 

Who are your customers and where do you find them? What do you want to achieve with your online presence? Users typically have a reason to search for something, so make sure your site can answer the questions they have. They linked a few great resources: Search Visibility Checklist and SEO Starter Guide.


Google Help Hangout Tips

Google chooses timestamps for your page

John says there is no way to show timestamps for last updated/modified date in the SERPs. Google controls timestamps, choosing the date they think most relevant. 


Other Interesting News

Ahrefs alerts showed misinformation

There seemed to be a widespread issue with Ahrefs alerts showing the wrong quantities in their emails. Either that or MHC has recently been dubbed with celeb status. 

It appears this was a bug and it is now resolved. Unfortunately, we’re not yet at a Kardashian level of mentions. 


New FTC ruling says fake engagement is now illegal

This is a big announcement. Following the Sunday Riley incident, the Federal Trade Commission has official ruled selling followers/likes and creating fake reviews as illegal. Hopefully this will help create more transparency online with product reviews and social media presence. 


The percentage of SEOs who say they’ve purchased link in the last 5 years

Lily Ray conducted a Twitter poll asking SEOs if they’ve purchased links. The result? With over 1100 responses, exactly 50% of SEOs said they have purchased a link despite this being against G’s guidelines. 


Elon Musk says SEO and Ads are blocking Tesla Solar Panel results 

Elon Musk tweeted saying that it’s hard to Google Tesla Solar Panels behind all of the ads and SEO. This led to lots of SEOs jumping in the discussion and giving their two cents. It’s the first result that appears for us, so was this all just to bring publicity to his product?

Here’s the original tweet: 


Local SEO - Google Announcements

Location Groups and Bulk Accounts can only be managed via desktop

Google My Business was asked on Twitter if you can manage businesses that are sorted into location groups. @GoogleMyBiz, responds stating currently location groups and bulk accounts can only managed on Desktop, linking out to a more in-depth article here.


Local SEO - Other Interesting News

Company being renamed on GMB after employee posts a meme

After an employee posted a meme on his personal facebook on his day off. His boss found out and unfortunately fired him. After he was let go he posted the text conversation on his Facebook and it went viral. The Internet took hold and renamed the business on GMB and posted negative reviews and irrelevant images. It looks like Google has taken control of the situation now but it shows how quickly a situation can escalate. 


Interesting workaround for OpenTable on GMB

This is an interesting example of someone avoiding the OpenTable default on GMB. 


Recommended Reading

How to nail your Black Friday campaign and convert even better this year – Luke Carthy
https://lukecarthy.com/blog/how-to-nail-your-black-friday-campaign-and-convert-even-better-this-year/
Oct 28, 2019

Is your site ready for Black Friday? Here are some great tips from Luke Carthy on how to get the most of your Black Friday marketing campaign. Optimizing your site’s search for Black Friday terms is a method to increase CX. It’s a great way to direct your customers to the right place. We definitely recommend this read!

 

Connecting People with Health Resources – Freddy Abnousi
https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/10/connecting-people-with-health-resources/
Oct 28, 2019 

With all that Google has done surrounding health sites and trust, it seems that Facebook is also heading that direction. They’re working on a tool that will help users in the US connect to health resources. This is all in an effort to help the communication efforts of medical initiatives. 

 

How to Improve the Organic CTR for Your Pages & Blog Posts – Jessica Greene
https://databox.com/improve-organic-ctr
Oct 23, 2019

If you’re not quite hitting the benchmark for CTR on your site, this extremely thorough guide from Databox can surely help! Leveraging the minds of over 130 industry talent, you’ll find info on understanding a good average CTR, finding your own organic CTR, the top factors that impact organic CTR and how you can optimize for them, general best practices, testing your work, and more. There are plenty of good tips and resources in here so do not miss this one!


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

GMB Spam Fighting 101 - Get The Basics Down, Then Take Out The Trash – Jessie Low
https://whitespark.ca/blog/gmb-spam-fighting-101-get-the-basics-down-then-take-out-the-trash/
Oct 23, 2019

This a great article to help you fight your local GMB spam. Jessie Low discusses how important it is to work spam fighting into your monthly routine that can help you with your rankings as well. She gives examples of spamming your listings in case you want to make sure that you’re not doing this. She goes into detail about how to fight specific types of spam as well as common questions and answers for GMB spam. For all types of GMB spam help, I recommend reading the article in full. 

 

Can I Turn Off Google My Business (GMB) Reviews? – Yan Gilbert
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/turn-off-google-my-business-reviews/
Oct 29, 2019

In short, no. Google can occasionally turn off your GMB reviews if you’re listed within a certain GMB category or if they sense things out of the ordinary like review attacks (yes, we’re talking about the article earlier on where a business fired an employee for posting a meme outside of work), but for those that want it due to professional organization policies, for example, unfortunately it would not be possible.


Jobs

This one though: 

Hiring a Full-Time Local SEO & PPC Specialist

The team at Workshop is hiring for a split role of Local Search and PPC management. The role is based at the two-time Olympic Village of Lake Placid, NY in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. Check out this post for more info, or click the image below!

workshop logo


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Is the October 21 update connected to BERT?
  • BERT - Here is what you need to know
  • Consumer Insights Study: Anticipating customer needs throughout the search journey
  • Have you been feeling the effects of losing rich result enhanced searches?
  • Google is showing on-page entities more often in the FS (even when the exact entity item is not on-page)
  • Kevin Indig demonstrates how Google is improving on universal search
  • The latest on Google's experiment of pushing more Image Thumbnails on desktop
  • How to avoid frustrating your users and losing conversions when you run a multi-language (or multi-currency) site
  • What persistent 5xx codes mean for Google
  • Proof that there is much more to SEO than links
  • Sometimes ‘that hreflang issue’ is not really your primary issue
  • How does Google classify your sitelinks search box traffic?
  • Barry Schwartz on SEJ podcast discussing his SEO business
  • Paywall could be seen as cloaked without structured data
  • Site: search showing People Also Ask
  • Say goodbye, Microsoft has announced that they will stop supporting flash in their browsers
  • Spotted: GMB review auto-reply feature!
  • GMB bug in Google Maps app wreaking havoc on some websites
  • See what entities Google associates with an image
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

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Part of the challenge of SEO is staying on top of industry news, trends, and techniques There is so much information out there that it is easy to get bogged down in information overload and trying to disseminate what's truly important from all that noise can be really time-consuming and challenging.

 Marie's newsletter is a game changer because it manages to cut through the fluff and deliver high-quality information that is not only really important for those that do SEO, but it is presented in a format that is really easy to absorb.
If you are looking for a trusted information related to search that is highly actionable I would strongly recommend Marie's newsletter.
Paul Macnamara - Offers SEO Consulting at PaulMacnamara.com


That's it for this episode! Stay tuned for our Youtube video (my channel is here). If you want to follow me on Facebook, here is my page.


 

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