SNYCU Episode 115 - Jan. 15, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss the January 2020 Core Update release and the sites seeing changes thus far, an interesting disavow case study, Google's new desktop SERP layout, what headlines say about your content, and lots of great industry tips.


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Our early insight into the January 2020 algorithm update (for paid members only)
  • Building a more private web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete
  • What do your headlines say about your content?
  • Interesting Disavow Case Study
  • Chrome will warn about TLS 1.0/1.1
  • The organic product carousel
  • Low hanging fruit – how to find internal link opportunities for orphaned pages
  • Link building tip sparked by Gwenyth Paltrow
  • Continuously monitor performance with the PageSpeed Insights API
  • Tip for pinpointing improper redirects
  • How to test if your site is being filtered by SafeSearch
  • Why is your content appearing in the ‘Crawled - currently not indexed’ section of the Index Coverage report?
  • FAQ schema should be applied to what’s on the page, not in an attached PDF
  • Noindexing tag and search pages probably won't affect your rankings
  • Don’t try and exploit a way to build links
  • Googlebot has begun using Chrome version numbers in it's User-Agent string
  • Bing launch of “Bing Pages”
  • Pinterest Trends is now available in the US
  • Did you know that site commands can appear in GSC?
  • Google continues to push Voice Search and the addition of new features
  • How to best manage a site migration
  • Possible bug in Google Analytics Demographics data
  • The changes to keyword research according to Google and Bing
  • New features in display of Google Screened ads
  • Yelp cracking down on ‘review rings’
  • Google’s ‘hidden gem’ for fact-checking
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

January 13, 2020 Announced Core Update

We love that Google is now pre-announcing Core update launches. Danny Sullivan told us this week that another core update is underway. 

Google told us at noon on January 13 that the update was live and that it will take a few days to roll out.

At MHC, we have quite a few clients who are seeing beautiful improvements with this update. Starting on January 14, several of our clients saw what looks to be the beginning of a recovery in their Google organic traffic.

Please know that it is incredibly early for us to draw conclusions or to even say that these are definitely recoveries. In each of these cases though, the increase seen does not appear to be seasonal.

These sites are all medical sites that have been working on improving many elements of trust across their site. Google organic traffic is pictured.

We have several non-medical sites that look like they are starting to see improvements as well. Here are a few:

We are still in the process of analyzing the update and coming up with our theories as to what Google has changed in their assessments of quality. Most likely, we will have a thorough article out soon. 

If you are a paid member of the newsletter, in the next section you will see MHC’s early observations on some patterns that we are seeing with sites that saw improvements. (Note: If you sign up for a paid membership, at this point you can still go back and read all previous episodes of Search News You Can Use.)


MHC Announcements

We’re growing! 

For those of you that like to keep up to date with MHC, our team welcomes two new members this week! We are very excited to expand and contribute more to the SEO community. Additionally, we will be moving offices to accommodate for our ever growing family! So far it is an exciting start to 2020. 


Google Announcements

Chrome to block website push notifications 

This February, Google will begin blocking push notifications by default in Chrome (Chrome 80 to be precise). Google is now following suit with what Mozilla FireFox has already initiated on their own browser, and have decided to create a new ‘quieter notification UI’ that is far less intrusive to Chrome users.  


Improvements made to the Rich Results Test

Some new improvements have been added to the Rich Results Test including unloadable embedded resources. 


New features for Google Travel 

There is a new tab on Google Travel that will help make your trip research that much easier. The tab generates options for “where to stay”, “when to visit”, and “what you’ll pay”. If you’re looking on general information before booking a trip, or if your business could be featured, this is worth checking out! 


Is Google handing out more manual actions lately?

We have seen more requests than usual over the last few months for help removing Google manual actions. Ivan Garcia wrote an article telling us that many Spanish websites have received an unnatural links manual action by Google recently. 

An interesting thing that Ivan noted is that many of the Spanish sites that received penalties had what he called shared media links whereby several people buy links from a particular article from a large news publisher.

We believe that Google may be working on finding and demoting links that came about because of extensive reciprocal linking. We talked about this in our article on the unnamed November 8, 2019 update in which we feel that Google devalued a lot of reciprocal linking for recipe and travel bloggers who are part of “you link to me and I’ll link to you” link wheels.

It’s hard to say, however, whether Google is targeting specific link schemes or just getting better at detecting paid links. In our current manual action removal projects, we do see a lot of reciprocal link schemes, but each of these sites has used many methods for link building in the past including extensive guest posting, buying links, and trading content for links. As such, it is hard to say that reciprocal linking alone is Google’s current focus.


Google SERP Changes

Your desktop results are going to start looking more like mobile; here's a mockup from Google of what to expect

For those of us that have seen this either being tested on desktop or rolled out on mobile, it appears the new look is here to stay on both platforms. The changes include more prominent “Ad” icons, domains above the brand, and a focus on the brand name’s visibility. 

Additionally, site owners will be able to choose their icon that appears in the SERPs: 


SEO Tips

Data Studio tip when resizing a column

Here’s something that not many people seem to know about! In response to this tweet, some have also suggested that double-clicking on a vertical bar will allow for even distribution of your columns.


New Search Console training from Daniel Waisberg

This episode discusses how to use GSC to monitor your site’s performance in Google Search, a brief explanation of key metrics to know, how to access data such as the queries, countries, devices, and search features work best for your site, and more! Don’t miss the section on filtering down data as there’s plenty of good insight there!


Google Help Hangout Tips

A reminder on what type of links to disavow/not disavow

John was asked: “If we have a backlink from a site that has declining traffic is the value of that backlink devalued in the eyes of Google as a result of the decline in traffic from the site we have the backlink from? Should we disavow? 

John reminds the user that you do not need to disavow any links because you think the site isn’t getting as much traffic. If the site is a normal one with natural links to your site, there is nothing wrong with that. A decline in traffic does not warrant a disavow.

Additionally he reiterates that links from sites with a low PageRank will not cause harm. He says if it’s a case of large scale link building, or you have a manual action for unnatural links, then you should consider disavowing. 

If you need help with an unnatural links penalty, please contact us to see how we can help. 


Other Interesting News

Sistrix announces the UK SEO “winners” of 2019 

Sistrix published their Top 100 list of “winning” domains for 2019, based on increased mobile visibility. Using their Visibility Index, they looked at the percentage change to see which domains made the biggest gains. Keep in mind, this is a UK-centric list.

The website, Kerrang.com, saw the largest increase, but the list itself has a number of highly authoritative domains that you probably wouldn’t be surprised to see, such as Huffington Post, New Scientist, Good Housekeeping, and Hopkins Medicine. Steve Paine, the author of the Sistrix list, also dug a bit deeper into the top 4 winners to try and provide context for their success, so we definitely recommend checking this article out.


Reddit uses rel=”noopener noreferrer”

Good recommendation in the replies: Appending a UTM code for the URL used in the reddit submission. We tested this to ensure Reddit accepts a UTM URL without rejecting it or automatically truncating the URL after the ?, and it worked just fine.


The URL Inspection Tool in GSC is not working

John Mueller mentioned that the Google team is on it, so let’s hope this issue is short-lived.


Local SEO - Google Announcements

Google rolls out Business Provider program to replace Trusted Verifier Program

The new Business Provider program lets businesses partner with smaller businesses facilitate a GMB verification to help them build a successful campaign on Search and Maps. There is some skepticism by Mike Blumenthal about the possibility of this being open to spammers, so this will be interesting to see. This is especially possible seeing as the participants cannot show a badge or icon to prove they are partners. 


Local SEO - Google SERP Changes

Google Maps changing linguistics for where a business is located

This is an interesting change spotted for local businesses. Underneath the business name it now says where it is located “in between” other businesses with links to the other places. This means your competitors are now being shown in your branded search. 

Additionally, Colan Nielsen has also spotted where the business is “right by”. 


Reviews displaying ‘Positive’ details within a review

Google appears to be testing the display of ‘positive aspects’ directly on the listings reviews. This seems to be a slight modification of a previous feature that was first spotted in late November/early December. When it first appeared back then, a user could select various likeable traits for a business and this would then be conveyed to the public as ‘highly rated for’. 

Again, this seems to be a test and we wouldn’t be overly surprised if this continues to evolve into another variation over the coming weeks. 


Local SEO - Tips

Here’s how long you may need to wait for Bing to update your local listing

If you thought this was long, Krystal Taing noted that this is just for holiday hours. If you’re looking to update other things, it could take up to 14 days!


Local SEO - Other Interesting News

Marketplace investigation shows 80+ fake listings for locksmiths in Toronto, Canada

This a big case of fake local maps listings in Toronto. A Marketplace investigation found that these locksmith businesses were actually reporting locations that were vacant lots. According to a CBC article, the locksmiths were online with high reviews and star ratings and quoting great prices. However, when they came the amount charged was almost triple. 

Fake listings, reviews and ratings are something that can unfortunately be seen quite often online and take away from real local businesses. Be sure to do some digging before trusting just anyone online, and if it does seem suspicious, report it to G. 


Recommended Reading

Here’s some data to help you understand how to rank better with your brand name – Brian Patterson
https://searchengineland.com/heres-some-data-to-help-you-understand-how-to-rank-better-with-your-brand-name-327238
Jan 8, 2020

Ranking on page one is very important for brands as it can make or break the consumers clicking on your site. This ties into reviews and negative content. Patterson says his company completed a study indicating that 22% of consumers won’t purchase a product if there is a negative article about the brand. This article dives into their research and came out with recommendations for helping your brand name rank. 

 

The dangers of misplaced third-party scripts – Hamlet Batista
https://searchengineland.com/the-dangers-of-misplaced-third-party-scripts-327329
Jan 9, 2020

This is an interesting case study of a site whose canonical tag was moved to the body of the HTML within the browser’s rendering of the page. However, the initial source code showed the canonical in the <head>. It turns out there was an invalid script running in the head of the page that was dynamically spitting a <span> tag inside the head of the document. The browser was then closing the head of the page and assuming the remainder of the content contained within the head was supposed to be included in the body!

 

Best GTM Uses for SEO – Ian Pfister
https://www.pathinteractive.com/blog/seo/best-gtm-uses-for-seo/
Jan 9, 2020

This is a good walk-through on how to implement some different SEO elements via Google Tag Manager, including event & form tracking, metadata, and dynamic schema. If you’re interested in learning more about these, or seeing how it is implemented by another professional, give this article a read. 

 

Treemaps Tutorial for Google Analytics – Roger Mueller
https://www.amazeemetrics.com/en/blog/treemaps-for-google-analytics/
Jan 9, 2020

We love all the different functions of Google Analytics, but as with a lot of tools, we know that getting started and figuring out what all the different dimensions you can measure for your sites traffic can be overwhelming! This is a great read from Roger Mueller. Roger covers the basics of one of the most useful parts of GA - treemaps. He covers what treemaps actually show you and how you can use this data to understand your sites traffic better. 

 

An Introduction to Python for SEO Pros Using Spreadsheets – Hamlet Batista
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/introduction-to-python-seo-spreadsheets/342779/
Jan 10, 2020

Since SEOs have been debating the benefit of learning Python as of late, some of our readers might find this beneficial as a resource to have in order to begin learning it. Most of the SEO industry use spreadsheets on the regular, so this article is aimed at helping you implement Python for the purpose of improving your workflow. After all, who doesn’t love automating tasks you seem to do on repeat! Please note that this is a really thorough article so if you are going to dive in, you may want to set aside a little bit of extra reading time. 

 

Intro to Python - Whiteboard Friday – Britney Muller
https://moz.com/blog/intro-to-python
Jan 10, 2020

If you saw the above Recommended Reading article and thought to yourself, “hmm, this Python thing sounds like it would be helpful, I sure wish I knew where to start”... don’t worry, we got you. The latest Whiteboard Friday from Moz features Britney Muller giving an intro to Python and the kinds of fun SEO tasks you can do with it once you’ve learned. Check out the end of the  transcript for a list of people that Britney recommends following who are doing incredible things with Python and SEO, as well as some links to resources that she recommends using to continue your learning!


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Google My Business Cracks Down on Spam With an Increase in Suspensions and Listings Pending Review – Jason Brown
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/google-my-business-pending-review/
Jan 14, 2020

Jason Brown takes to the Sterling Sky blog (his first Sterling Sky post of many more to come!) to discuss two issues that have been impacting webmasters in recent months.


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Our early insight into the January 2020 algorithm update (for paid members only)
  • Building a more private web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete
  • What do your headlines say about your content?
  • Interesting Disavow Case Study
  • Chrome will warn about TLS 1.0/1.1
  • The organic product carousel
  • Low hanging fruit – how to find internal link opportunities for orphaned pages
  • Link building tip sparked by Gwenyth Paltrow
  • Continuously monitor performance with the PageSpeed Insights API
  • Tip for pinpointing improper redirects
  • How to test if your site is being filtered by SafeSearch
  • Why is your content appearing in the ‘Crawled - currently not indexed’ section of the Index Coverage report?
  • FAQ schema should be applied to what’s on the page, not in an attached PDF
  • Noindexing tag and search pages probably won't affect your rankings
  • Don’t try and exploit a way to build links
  • Googlebot has begun using Chrome version numbers in it's User-Agent string
  • Bing launch of “Bing Pages”
  • Pinterest Trends is now available in the US
  • Did you know that site commands can appear in GSC?
  • Google continues to push Voice Search and the addition of new features
  • How to best manage a site migration
  • Possible bug in Google Analytics Demographics data
  • The changes to keyword research according to Google and Bing
  • New features in display of Google Screened ads
  • Yelp cracking down on ‘review rings’
  • Google’s ‘hidden gem’ for fact-checking
  • 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.

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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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