SNYCU Ep. 123 - March 11, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode, we analyze how the Coronavirus could be affecting your site's traffic, possible Google updates between March 3-7, mobile-first indexing being rolled out globally as of September 2020, tips for e-comm sites, interesting advice from Google, and more.


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Coronavirus is likely affecting your site’s traffic
  • “Hey Google, read it”: Google Assistant can now read articles out loud on your browser
  • New layout for PDFs appearing in the SERPs
  • New Episode of Search Console Training
  • Should a site you redirect keep its SSL certificate?
  • Tip for e-Commerce sites on improving their product pages
  • Tip for e-Commerce sites on reducing duplicate content
  • Discontinuing products on your e-Commerce site?
  • What headings to use according to John Mueller
  • Advice if you have adult content on your site
  • What if Google thinks your content is thin but users find it valuable?
  • Google Analytics bug is preventing some people from switching between client accounts
  • Google says that if you’re indexing search pages, your strategy is likely watered down
  • Heads up, several WordPress plugins are having issues
  • Updated study on how SERP features impact organic CTR
  • Update your GMB profile if you’ve been affected by the Coronavirus in any way
  • People Also Ask (PAA) box losses relating to these areas
  • Fake reviews have cost American consumers billions in wasted spending
  • Glen Allsopp’s handy SEO extension is now available on other browsers
  • Dev directory for those of you in the UK
  • New options being tested for TikTok’s ‘Add External URLs to Clips’
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

Possible update Mar 3-7, 2020 

We have not delved into this possible update in great detail as many sites are seeing wild fluctuations in traffic related to COVID-19. For our premium subscribers, we’ve given our thoughts on this in the next section. Marie will also be discussing this in this week’s podcast episode


MHC Announcements

Need help with a medical/scientific based site? 

Marie has written a whitepaper all about medical consensus that you can purchase. Any site that sells medical products, gives medical advice, sells or discusses nutrition, sells or discusses medical equipment, or generally helps people to make decisions on their health can benefit from the information in this report. You’ll also get a copy of her book on Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines included in the bundle. Check it out here


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Google Announcements

Announcing mobile-first indexing for the whole web

This may not be news to you, as we reported in last week’s edition of our newsletter that people had started receiving emails in GSC about this impending switch. Well, it’s official: this week, Google released an article on their Webmaster Central Blog announcing that they’ll be switching all websites to mobile-first indexing starting in September 2020.

Google announced that they were transitioning to a mobile-first index back in November 2016 and first began transitioning a handful of sites over in December 2017, after they had been evaluated for their readiness. As of now, a little over 2 years later, Google says that 70% of sites “shown in [their] search results have already shifted over”, after their systems had recognised the sites were ready. So, most people should have had their sites already transitioned to mobile-first indexing. 

If you aren’t sure about your site, you can check this by looking at the Settings page in GSC. You can find Settings at the bottom of the left sidebar:

index crawler in gsc

Or by using the URL Inspection Tool to see which user-agent last crawled it (you should see that the URL was crawled as Googlebot smartphone):

URL inspection tool

You can check out Google’s article for some guidance on how to make your website work well with mobile-first indexing, or MHC’s complete guide on mobile-first indexing.


Google SERP Changes

‘In This Video’ test on steroids

This was previously reserved for the top ranking video in the SERPs but this test shows multiple videos have been given the opportunity to show off this feature. If this sticks, it may help improve click-throughs and views for content providers. 


SEO Tips

Hreflang annotations aren’t processed until all pages in the set are crawled and indexed

Gary Illyes answered this question on Reddit, which asked what the requirements are for hreflang tags to be respected by Google. Gary said that for all the hreflang annotations to be picked up, all the linked pages need to be crawled and indexed.


How to send a PDF to your Kindle

Hat tip to Glenn Gabe for finding this helpful tip!


Other Interesting News

Google just recommended that we do free site audits. Whaaaaa?

Google has been releasing a wide variety of useful training videos to webmasters for some time now. While the recent Search for Beginners video (Episode 9) does a good job at covering things like asking the right questions and checking references before engaging with an SEO specialist, it also says, “Step three is to request a technical and search audit...Before they actually modify anything on your website, have them conduct a technical and search audit to give you a prioritized list of what they think should be improved for SEO. In the audit, the SEO should prioritize suggested improvements.” It goes on to say, “After interviews, reference checks, and technical audits, you should be ready to evaluate your potential SEO experts.”

The video is actually recommending that an SEO should do a full technical audit before getting hired. 

This has caused quite a stir in the SEO community. At the end of the day, good SEOs do not work for free and their time, like yours, is extremely valuable. If you’re able to find someone who offers to do a free technical audit before signing an agreement with you, we’d caution you to think twice. Many SEOs are wondering who exactly was behind the scenes at Google creating this content.

As Danny Sullivan was tagged in Bill’s tweet, here is his response which signals that a basic technical overview or a rough idea could be worthwhile.

Marie will be discussing this topic more in this week’s podcast episode.


Local SEO - Search News from SterlingSky

The ranking front has been quiet in local search with a little bit of an uptick on Tuesday.  We'll see if that continues into the week.

We've seen a few updates that are worth talking about.

rank flux 3.10

New Auto Dealer? You're in Luck

Google has updated its guidelines on how new car dealers can list their different brands on GMB.  Previously only one Google My Business listing was allowed for the sales side, now dealers can have a listing for every new car brand they have a contract with - so a Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram dealer can have a GMB for "BrandX Dodge", another for "BrandX Jeep", another for "BrandX Chrysler", and yet another listing for "BrandX Ram." They can also have separate listings for Service and Parts departments located within the dealership.  

We can't help but wonder why Car Dealers were given this special dispensation, as other categories sign product contracts - HVAC Contractors come to mind as they represent specific brands like Trane, Mitsubishi, Carrier, etc.  The downside to multiple listings is a "diversification" of reviews, and an increase in manpower to monitor and maintain the listings. In these cases, more may not always be better.

Changes to Event Visibility in Maps

The events section on Google Maps business listings appears to have been removed.  Events still show up in the search results on the Knowledge Panel, but when you click through to the maps result for that knowledge panel, the events are removed from the listing.

Local Service Ads for Personal Injury Lawyers - Coming Soon

News of Local Service Ads for Personal Injury Lawyers is coming through - Ben Fisher a GMB Platinum Product Expert announced it on Twitter.  These will likely manifest as "Google Screened" ads at the top of Personal Injury queries.  This particular invitation was for a Los Angeles PI lawyer - so that's likely a test market.  Personal injury is a highly competitive (and, if we're honest - not always squeaky clean) vertical.  It will be interesting to see which firms take advantage and what this looks like on the cost-per-lead side.  

Image Guidelines for Users and Businesses - Google Shares Policy, Drama Ensues

Google created a stir around image uploads last week when they shared information on guidelines for uploading photos as a user - which also pertains to businesses that upload photos.

The crux is, it's not a new policy, they were just sharing their existing policy (I fell for it, too!)  It discourages the use of stock photography and images with too much text, among other violations.  We do know though, that just because they say it, doesn't mean they always enforce it, and we see plenty of exceptions slip through the cracks.  The share was misinterpreted by some to mean that they now manually review every uploaded image, and that's simply not the case - but every image that's uploaded does go through some sort of algorithmic review.  We know algorithms are not always fool-proof.


Recommended Reading

13 Google Analytics Tracking Mistakes (and How to Fix Them) – Michal Pecánek
https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-analytics-tracking-mistakes/
March 3, 2020

This is a highly bookmark-worthy resource on common Google Analytics tracking mistakes with easy to understand solutions provided by Michal Pecanek. Michal has a good guide here on how to filter out the duplicates to tidy up the historical data affected by the duplication. He also runs through how to filter out spam referrals and merge sources/mediums (including the multiple Facebook referral sources problem), among other excellent tips.

 

Disambiguating Image Queries at Google – Bill Slawski
http://www.seobythesea.com/2020/03/disambiguating-image-queries/
March 4, 2020 

Another fantastic article from Bill Slawski in which he helps us understand another Google patent. This time, the patent in question concerns how Google would potentially approach disambiguating image queries that come from either a photograph or a video. 

 

A 10-Step Process for Understanding Site performance & Automating Speed Testing – Ruth Everett
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/process-for-understanding-site-performance-automating-speed-testing/352948/
March 5, 2020 

This is a good site performance and page speed checklist to run your website through courtesy of Ruth Everett. We particularly like the idea about comparing and tracking the performance of your important landing pages versus that of the direct competitors in the SERPs over time. The tips on how to run a lightspeed test from command line using headless Chrome and then output the results into an HTML file are really neat as well.

 

Google Sitelinks Case Study (Or How Affiliates Took Over our Results) – Roey Skif
https://www.tldrseo.com/google-sitelinks/
March 9, 2020

This article by Roey Skif begins by breaking down the common questions related to sitelinks and then jumps into the case study which involves an affiliate link being present in the SERPs as a sitelink. Having unintentionally received over 65k impressions over a three month period, Roey decided to handle this by removing this URL (and others showing the same pattern) and taking the necessary action to remove these pages from the index. This is a good lesson in checking the SERPs routinely for your site (or your clients), not being overly reliant on Google making the right choices 100% of the time, and also using informative and unique anchor text and alt text.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Local Search Industry Survey 2020 – Rosie Murphy
https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-search-industry-survey/
March 4, 2020

Bright Local conducted a great survey of the local search industry and Rosie Murphy wrote a fantastic summary of their findings. These reports are always a great read, with a ton of visual elements and interesting takeaways. Whether you’re interested in starting local work or are already in the industry, survey is super helpful for understanding how the market is valuing these types of services. 


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Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Coronavirus is likely affecting your site’s traffic
  • “Hey Google, read it”: Google Assistant can now read articles out loud on your browser
  • New layout for PDFs appearing in the SERPs
  • New Episode of Search Console Training
  • Should a site you redirect keep its SSL certificate?
  • Tip for e-Commerce sites on improving their product pages
  • Tip for e-Commerce sites on reducing duplicate content
  • Discontinuing products on your e-Commerce site?
  • What headings to use according to John Mueller
  • Advice if you have adult content on your site
  • What if Google thinks your content is thin but users find it valuable?
  • Google Analytics bug is preventing some people from switching between client accounts
  • Google says that if you’re indexing search pages, your strategy is likely watered down
  • Heads up, several WordPress plugins are having issues
  • Updated study on how SERP features impact organic CTR
  • Update your GMB profile if you’ve been affected by the Coronavirus in any way
  • People Also Ask (PAA) box losses relating to these areas
  • Fake reviews have cost American consumers billions in wasted spending
  • Glen Allsopp’s handy SEO extension is now available on other browsers
  • Dev directory for those of you in the UK
  • New options being tested for TikTok’s ‘Add External URLs to Clips’
  • 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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