SNYCU Ep. 128 - April 15, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss search behaviour amid COVID-19, Google's changes to their documentation on core updates, Bing ranking, Google's new case studies blog, free resources for webmasters, great Google help hangout tips and more!


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Does User Search Behaviour during COVID-19 impact rankings?
  • How Bing ranks websites
  • Google started a blog series featuring case studies
  • Chrome 81 rollout and an awesome feature that could entice users to stick around
  • Bing announcement: added new options for webmasters to control snippets
  • How to diagnose a spike in number of incoming links
  • Schema and rich results resources all in one place
  • Trailing slash and non trailing slash URLs are being indexed. Can your rankings be impacted?
  • 18 growth hack ideas to consider for you business
  • ICYMI, here are the presentations slides and recap from April 2nd SEO4Life event
  • GSC training - how to temporarily hide your content and how to permanently remove it from Search
  • Separate yourself from the pack and make your site standout in Search when your content is the same as your competition’s
  • What happens when you remove 40,000+ good and relevant comments from a WordPress site?
  • Is deduplication of featured snippet URLs gone? Brodie Clark is seeing examples that this could be the case (in some instances)
  • If you are missing keyword ranking data for some keywords in keyword ranking tools, this could be why
  • France has ordered Google to pay publishers and news agencies for content
  • What is the maximum number of schema types that can get nested into one block of JSON-LD?
  • Cloudflare switches to alternative as Google intends to charge for the reCAPTCHA
  • New study reveals how people read a webpage online -- here’s what you need to know
  • Monitor your website speed for free
  • Track news-specific trends
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates 

We do not feel that Google pushed out any significant updates over the last week. We did see many sites in our profile with significant declines on April 11th or 12th. However, given that this was Easter weekend, it makes sense that many sites would be seeing less traffic than usual.

We’ll keep an eye on this date and let you know if these traffic patterns persist.


More from Google on whether E-A-T is a ranking factor

Google has a blog post, published in August of 2019, called, “What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates”. The post got a lot of attention, but mostly because Google linked out to several SEOs’ articles on E-A-T, including our own.

We have maintained for over three years now, that E-A-T is vitally important part of many of Google’s algorithms. Yet many SEOs are hung up on the semantics surrounding whether or not it should be considered a ranking factor.

We noticed that Google updated their blog post to include the following paragraph:

Google has told us that “assessing your own content in terms of E-A-T criteria may help align it conceptually with the different signals that our automated systems use to rank content.” It is very important!


Google algorithm experts discuss recent volatility on Search Engine Land

This was a really interesting discussion. Marie joined Olga Andrienko from SEMRush, Peter Myers from Moz, and Mordy Oberstein from Rank Ranger in a roundtable discussion led by Barry Schwartz. The discussion centered around trying to decipher what is happening with Google’s algorithms during the pandemic. 


MHC Announcements

COVID-19 resource page 

ICYMI, we created a resource hub with information useful to digital marketers in wake of COVID-19. Included are the steps Google has taken to help users and webmasters, resources for those who have lost their jobs, GMB help, important dates to keep in mind, and more. We hope this can help you get a better understanding of search during the pandemic, while providing you with useful resources. 


Google Announcements

Google launching journalism relief fund

As the news industry changes because of COVID-19, the Google News Initiative is launching a global Emergency Relief Fund for small and medium local news publishers. Publishers can now apply for this relief until April 29 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. If you are a news publisher, you should consider applying. 

Additionally, Google.org is giving $1 million to the International Center for Journalists and the Columbia Journalism School’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. This is aimed to help continue to provide news and information to those that need it most during this time of need.


SEO Tips

Paddy Moogan has made his link building book free

This epic 22 chapter book is now available online for free to webmasters downloadable as a PDF. You can find everything from the basics, what makes a link good vs. bad, planning and executing your initiatives, handy tools to use, and much more!


Outreach tips in the era of COVID-19

When thinking about outreach, it’s important to adjust your methods amid COVID-19. This article does a great job of showcasing some of the important changes you should consider to your link building/outreach methods. 

Some things to consider: 

  • Take a caring approach. You don’t know what the person on the other side of your email is going through. 
  • Brainstorm on if your topic would be considered insensitive. 
  • Use different platforms to determine themes that will resonate. 
  • Revamp worthwhile old content. 
  • Showcase unique data/research. It may help you stand out more. 
  • Consider location and which places are being hit the hardest. 

There are a ton more full of detail, so we recommend reading the full post. Ultimately, a lot more consideration should be taken right now, and this post helps you navigate that. 


Google Help Hangout Tips

Can guest posts be seen as unnatural?

Great find in a hangout! According to John Mueller, guest posts are, indeed, considered unnatural links and Google recommends using a “nofollow” whenever possible. John also mentioned that with regard to SEO, guest posts aren’t that helpful - depending on the scale you are using them. 


Other Interesting News

Amazon cutting affiliate commission rates April 21 

The US Amazon Associates program has notified its members that as of April 21 there will be cuts to their affiliate commission rates. There is a 5% decrease in commission for furniture and home improvement products and a 4% decrease in grocery - the items that are probably surging right now. Amazon declined to say whether this was coronavirus related. They have made major changes since the virus grew, including changing their shipping of priority products first, closing warehouses, and cutting marketing deals. With a ton of sites using affiliate commission for income, this will hurt many webmasters globally. 

Here you can see the rates currently and what they will be as of the 21st: 

One of the largest and oldest affiliate networks, CJ Affiliate will not advance payments for the upcoming April payment like they normally do. Paired with the Amazon Associates program, there is obviously a shift in affiliates appearing. Whether this is simply due to a lack of need for affiliate revenue, or because of the economic situation is currently speculation. 

This is likely very unfortunate news for many of you who run affiliate sites. You can hear Marie’s thoughts on this situation in her podcast episode for this week.


A.J. Ghergich dissects Google search trends around COVID-19

This was pretty neat! A.J. Ghergich used clickstream data from SEMrush to confirm what Google Trends was showing: that spikes in symptom-related Google searches correlated with Coronavirus cases in the United States. He focused on Oklahoma, Michigan, and New York, and for each found that there was a rise in searches related to flu symptoms, but also for queries related to lack of smell and loss of taste:

What are your thoughts on how this kind of data could be used to help people? Let us know, or join into the discussion going on in the comment section of A.J.’s article!


Have you seen Aleyda's feature snippet test?

What happens when a featured snippet is using your image but your SERP is closely behind? Well if you’re Aleyda Solis, you take claim of that top spot yourself. Here is how she did it:


SEO From Home -- An educational series featuring weekly talks with industry professionals

For the next several months you can enjoy an array of industry experts and see them indulge in everything from panel discussions, to open Q&As and AMAs, full slide deck presentations, and more. The goal of the series is to provide a platform for experts and leaders from around the SEO community to share their experience and knowledge with others who want to learn more and continue to grow in their careers.

Next up on the speaker series covers Linkability (April 16) and as of now, there is at least one event per week. For more info on the series, links to past sessions, and an up to date list of all the upcoming speakers, check out their website.


Local SEO - News from SterlingSky 

Local rankings have been quiet - with the exception of last Thursday which saw some spiking, but then it calmed down to below 2.0, which is even lower than most days since the COVID-19 shutdowns started. Previous weeks showed the flux in the 2.0 to 2.8 range - below 2.0 is especially mellow, something we appreciate with the amount of change in other areas of local search.

rankflux 4.14.20Changes in Google My Business have slacked off as well. We're not seeing too many new features, but we're seeding some of the standards start to trickle back into usefulness.  We're seeing review responses and actual new reviews come slowly back into view. Google has indicated that new reviews will be posting and rolling out by region and category. It could be weeks before we see them at full strength, but for now, some retail and restaurants are showing new reviews. We've received no word from GMB on what will happen with the queued reviews.  They've indicated they've saved them, but not how they'll bring them into visibility again.

We did have a development this evening (4/14)! As I'm writing this up, we're starting to see a small amount of visibility for the COVID-19 info links on mobile for android devices. It looks like the visibility/device is rolling out as well. This is the first we're seeing the results in the wild but could speculate that this will begin to show up for more health-related categories and areas. For now, I've seen the addition on results in Oregon, Colorado & Chicago. That could mean, hopefully, that the telehealth/virtual services link might roll out soon.


Local SEO - Google SERP Changes

‘View more locations’ showing in the 3-pack

Kudos to Jason Brown for spotting this one. He says that the view more locations button leads you to the local finder and can be seen on a variety of queries. Ben Fisher noted that he’s been seeing this as well on a wide range of queries and believe this is slowly rolling out.


Local SEO - Tips

In case you missed it, here are the features and updates for a variety of platforms you need to be aware of related to COVID-19

We’ve covered a variety of summaries in recent weeks for all things webmasters should be aware of in the local space, but this resource from Milestone should be BOOKMARKED for safe keeping. It expertly outlines what you should know about -- and take action on -- regarding your GMB, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Bing, Apple Maps, Facebook, and Foursquare profiles as it relates to COVID-19. Do not miss this one!


Recommended Reading

What to Do When Clients Push Pause on Your Services – Casie Gillette
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/clients-pause-marketing-seo-services/358956/
April 7, 2020

Casie Gillette from Search Engine Journal reached out on Twitter to determine how many clients have paused their marketing efforts in accordance with today’s global crisis and she found there was an overwhelming response. Check out Casie’s article for more details on how you can help your clients and your companies during this trying time.

 

The Anatomy of a Google Search Results Page in 2020 – Larisa Rosu
https://www.advancedwebranking.com/serp/
April 9, 2020

This is a massive and informative article by Larisa Rosu. She breaks down the component of the SERPs in three detailed chapters: sponsored results, organic results, and SERP features. This is a great resource for training or learning about any of these topics, how to implement them for yourself and additional recommendations. We definitely recommend carving out the time to read this one in full. 

 

How to optimize your Ecommerce for Google Images and Visual Search – Gianluca Fiorelli
https://www.iloveseo.net/how-to-optimize-your-ecommerce-for-google-images-and-visual-search
April 8, 2020

We always love the extensive guides created by Gianluca, and this one is no exception. With image optimization often a heavily under looked part of search, this guide looks to change that for you and your site by examining how to win in Image search, image boxes in organic, rich results with images, and other Google image SERP features. This is well worth a read for all eComm sites!


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Paid members also get the following:

  • Does User Search Behaviour during COVID-19 impact rankings?
  • How Bing ranks websites
  • Google started a blog series featuring case studies
  • Chrome 81 rollout and an awesome feature that could entice users to stick around
  • Bing announcement: added new options for webmasters to control snippets
  • How to diagnose a spike in number of incoming links
  • Schema and rich results resources all in one place
  • Trailing slash and non trailing slash URLs are being indexed. Can your rankings be impacted?
  • 18 growth hack ideas to consider for you business
  • ICYMI, here are the presentations slides and recap from April 2nd SEO4Life event
  • GSC training - how to temporarily hide your content and how to permanently remove it from Search
  • Separate yourself from the pack and make your site standout in Search when your content is the same as your competition’s
  • What happens when you remove 40,000+ good and relevant comments from a WordPress site?
  • Is deduplication of featured snippet URLs gone? Brodie Clark is seeing examples that this could be the case (in some instances)
  • If you are missing keyword ranking data for some keywords in keyword ranking tools, this could be why
  • France has ordered Google to pay publishers and news agencies for content
  • What is the maximum number of schema types that can get nested into one block of JSON-LD?
  • Cloudflare switches to alternative as Google intends to charge for the reCAPTCHA
  • New study reveals how people read a webpage online -- here’s what you need to know
  • Monitor your website speed for free
  • Track news-specific trends
  • 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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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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