SNYCU Episode 117 - Jan 29, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss Google's massive change to the featured snippets, what our clients have seen with the Jan 2020 update, the new Removals report in Search Console, updates to the mobile-first indexing report, and great tips to help your site thrive.


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Big news! Featured snippet changes courtesy of Google
  • Google launches a new version of the Removals report in SC
  • Updates made to Google’s mobile-first indexing documentation for developers
  • Updates to how Google displays ads and sponsored content for Google Flights coming soon
  • Is keeping WordPress up to date a ranking factor?
  • eComm tip: what on-site merchandising tactics help speed up the purchase and entice action?
  • Why you should crawl your key backlinks destinations in Ahrefs
  • Python script for useful SEO insight
  • Learn how to markup your content with schema.org to automatically generate a Google Assistant Action
  • Keep in mind how much the Google Maps API slows down your page speed
  • If you’re using JavaScript redirects, here is what you should know
  • A word from G on links in PDFs
  • Here are all the GSC Coverage Report classifications for URLs
  • Before you follow the favicon trend, read this
  • Was Forbes penalized by Google?
  • An interesting story for those SEO lovers (plus John’s response)
  • Competitors are being shown in branded searches
  • Google makes changes to the ‘change of ownership process’ for local listings
  • How to export Google reviews from a GMB listing that's not yours
  • If you’ve received an email regarding ‘unpublished GMB listings about to be deleted’, no need to worry
  • Automatically pull your Lighthouse Performance data into Google Data Studio
  • Chrome extension to compare time frames in GSC
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

The latest on the January 2020 core update

The January 2020 Core update was an impactful one. We were thrilled to have several clients see beautiful gains with this update.

The following are all sites that would be considered YMYL.

YMYL first site gains

YMYL second site gains

YMYL site three seeing gains

In the past few newsletter episodes, we have been sharing with our paid subscribers our early thoughts on why sites like this improved and why others saw drops. I, Marie, have spent many hours looking at the winners and losers and hope to have a full article out on this update within the next few days.

We do not feel that this update was about just one thing. Rather, we feel that Google found ways to measure even more things that are described as signs of high or low quality in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.

Our article will go into great detail on each of these, but here is a brief summary of what we have seen so far:

  • Many affiliate sites were negatively affected. We think this could be connected to verbiage in the QRG that mentions the importance of making it very clear to users which outbound links on a page are affiliate/sponsored.
  • Truly excellent content seems to have been rewarded. We suspect that BERT has allowed Google to get better at determining whether a particular article does a good job at answering a searchers question.
  • Trust dials were likely tweaked. Things described in the QRG may have been focused, such as keeping YMYL content up to date, having authoritative and trustworthy citations for YMYL content, and not being deceptive in terms of monetization methods.
  • More pet health articles may now be considered YMYL.
  • More spam has been removed from the search results.

Given that the featured snippet changes occurred shortly after this core update, this is a challenging time for those of us who do work to try and figure out exactly why a site is not ranking as well. 

Again, my article on all of my thoughts on this update should be out later this week, or possibly early next week depending on how many other things Google decides to change to keep me busy!

Update: The January 2020 Core Update article has been posted!


January 27, 2020 - poss update?

We did notice that several sites that saw changes with the core update also saw changes in traffic starting Monday, January 27, 2020. It is possible that Google made some tweaks to what changed with the core update. 

We have not had enough time to assess this yet, but will have more information in our next newsletter.


MHC Announcements

We’re moving offices and it led to this awesome thread 

We love SEO puns, and our office move started a great thread of them. Be sure to read all of the comments! 


Google Announcements

Google Dataset Search now out of beta

Some of the new features include filtering the results based on the dataset. It is also available on mobile. Barry says to ensure you markup your relevant content with dataset schema to be shown in Google Dataset Search. 


More changes to favicons -- Google will be doing some experimenting over the next few weeks with what you see

As of late last week, Google has begun experimenting with favicon placements in the SERPs. If you see something out of the ordinary, this may be why.


SEO Tips

How to refresh stale content

Lots of chatter regarding content updates and how to go about them. John-Henry Scherck provides a valuable and simplified tutorial using Google Search Console to determine what content should be refreshed, what keywords should be optimized for existing posts, when to produce new posts and how to optimize those.


Workaround to see the SERPs without the featured snippet

This is a pretty nifty little trick you can use to see your real rank. After all this recent discussion on the value of maintaining or earning a featured snippet, this’ll be useful for many of those trying to sway their decision.


How to leverage Twitter and other tools to score a mention or coverage

This is a good option for connecting with journalists who have interest in finding experts to help them shape their articles. Starting with the website If This Then That, you can set up targeted keywords that effortlessly flow into your inbox whenever an opportunity arises! 

And best of all, these tools/platforms are completely free to use! 


Can a missing favicon be a sign of a core update hit?

Nope, John says if your favicon isn’t showing that could be a technical issue. Missing favicons are not related to core updates. Don’t forget, we have a regularly updated page dedicated to algo updates that you can check for the date, suspected reason and any statements made by Google. 


GSC training discusses the URL Inspection tool

In this episode, Daniel Waisberg talks about one of the most important tools GSC has to offer: the URL Inspector Tool. This debugging tool allows you to understand why your pages may not be appearing how you’d expect in Google’s search results.

Check out this quick tutorial to have a better understanding of how your indexed and live page versions appear on the SERPs and to Google.

You’ll have a better handle over the following:

  • The current index status of your page(s)
  • How to test a live URL
  • How to ask Google to crawl a page
  • View info about the page’s loaded resources

Search for Beginners: Ep 7

Google Webmaster’s Episode 7 is out and it’s all about search optimization! The video mentions five key things to consider when taking your business online. Here are two important ones we felt like highlighting:

  1. Can Google see your website? Make sure that your website is visible to Google. If you are a business with a physical location, make sure that you have good structured data and that your GMB information matches with information on other platforms. 
  2. Want to be confident with your content? Create unique and valuable content. This will set you apart from the competition and also should provide you with some user engagement. 

Google Help Hangout Tips

Google is having issues indexing IKEA's international pages

In a webmaster hangout, the SEO for IKEA asked John about issues they’re having with their international and localized pages being indexed and ranked. John confirmed that this appears to be something on their side, where they are holding onto two urls and it isn’t anything IKEA did. 

John says this sometimes happens when different country versions show the same content, something to keep in mind if you have a similar situation. 


Other Interesting News

Some reconsideration requests are taking a long time 

We filed a reconsideration request with a client back in November, and we just received notice saying it was approved 11 weeks later. This is a really long time to wait for a response from Google. In the past, we have always said that it takes “up to six weeks” to get a response to a reconsideration request. We think Google may be dealing with a backlog now as they appear to have handed out a large number of manual actions over the last few months.


Schema.org 6.0 released on January 20th

This update includes a ton of new vocabulary changes including domain extensions. One markup we found really cool is the new CreativeWork type Guide, as it recommends products for users to consider. This is great if you have an ecomm site. For the full list of changes, you can see the document here, or Aaron’s highlight page below: 


Are dofollow profile signups worth it? 

No. This is something that we see often in our Link Auditing here at MHC. When we see a backlink link this that is created only to receive a link, we typically treat it as made for SEO as they add no additional value or pass Pagerank. John answers this question quite bluntly and we agree with him. 


Local SEO - Google SERP Changes

Local knowledge panels now have a profile icon 

Google finally rolls out profile icons on local knowledge panels. This was a test, but now appears to be live for many local businesses. 


Local SEO - Other Interesting News

CallRail adds call analytics integration with Google My Business

This is something that should make a few people’s lives easier: the call tracking company CallRail recently launched a GMB integration, meaning that CallRail will automatically swap the primary phone number listed in your GMB with a CallRail tracking number. This will allow you to track calls and text messages that come from your listing (don’t worry, your actual business number will become the secondary number to maintain consistency). You can also combine your GMB traffic data with your CallRail reports, so you can see how all of your channels compare. We always love seeing solutions that provide cleaner data!


Recommended Reading

Edit My Ex (case study on creating viral content) – Mark Rofe
https://riseatseven.com/blog/edit-my-ex-case-study/
Jan 24, 2020

If you haven’t already heard of this site, EditMyEx.com is a masterpiece idea created by Mark Rofe which has been quite the hit! A simple idea really; submit a photo of you and your now past-significant other and the team behind the site will photoshop your partner out of it. Pretty clever isn’t it! For those of you looking to earn yourself some links, this is a must read!

 

The Dirty Little Featured Snippet Secret: Where Humans Rely on Algorithmic Intervention [Case Study] - Brodie Clark
https://moz.com/blog/featured-snippet-secret-humans-rely-on-algorithmic-intervention
Jan 27, 2020 

This was a really interesting case study done by Brodie Clark about a website which held zero featured snippets. The client who came to Brodie was going on the assumption that this was a technical issue -- something having to do with conflicting structured data, or possibly messy HTML structure. However, Brodie has written in the past that structured data does not influence featured snippets. As for messy HTML, the site in question ranking for almost a million keywords, yet holding zero featured snippets, seemed unlikely to him. 

All in all, we definitely recommend giving this article a read, as it provided a really interesting perspective on featured snippets and how much of the content’s quality (in terms of lacking scientific consensus) can impact it.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

3 Reasons Why You Should Ignore the Views Metric in Google My Business Insights - Joy Hawkins
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/google-my-business-views/
Jan 28, 2020 

Joy Hawkins reveals the inaccuracies behind the Views metric in GMB often referenced in forums and conferences as a valuable metric. She has some great findings that we definitely recommend reading.


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Big news! Featured snippet changes courtesy of Google
  • Google launches a new version of the Removals report in SC
  • Updates made to Google’s mobile-first indexing documentation for developers
  • Updates to how Google displays ads and sponsored content for Google Flights coming soon
  • Is keeping WordPress up to date a ranking factor?
  • eComm tip: what on-site merchandising tactics help speed up the purchase and entice action?
  • Why you should crawl your key backlinks destinations in Ahrefs
  • Python script for useful SEO insight
  • Learn how to markup your content with schema.org to automatically generate a Google Assistant Action
  • Keep in mind how much the Google Maps API shows down your page speed
  • If you’re using JavaScript redirects, here is what you should know
  • A word from G on links in PDFs
  • Here are all the GSC Coverage Report classifications for URLs
  • Before you follow the favicon trend, read this
  • Was Forbes penalized by Google?
  • An interesting story for those SEO lovers (plus John’s response)
  • Competitors are being shown in branded searches
  • Google makes changes to the ‘change of ownership process’ for local listings
  • How to export Google reviews from a GMB listing that's not yours
  • If you’ve received an email regarding ‘unpublished GMB listings about to be deleted’, no need to worry
  • Automatically pull your Lighthouse Performance data into Google Data Studio
  • Chrome extension to compare time frames in GSC
  • 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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