SNYCU Ep. 129 - April 22, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss more on the impact of COVID-19 on the SERPs, Marie's E-A-T presentation with SEMrush, free services from Google, how to ace pagination, great tips from Google, how to compare your search traffic before the pandemic, and as usual, our best compilation of digital marketing tips and resources for you.


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • The presence of YouTube videos in featured snippets is on the rise
  • Rich media SERPs spotted by Dr. Pete
  • Could opting out of featured snippets lead to serious traffic loss?
  • How to ace pagination in a world where Google changes rel=prev/next
  • Does a small set of incorrect hreflang attributes cause Google to disregard the entire code?
  • A creative lesson in link building
  • Can you use international targeting within a GSC Domain Property?
  • Does submitting a sitemap help improve keyword rankings?
  • Everything you need to know about Google’s Popular Products section on mobile
  • Does Google follow links from a 404 page?
  • How Bingbot works: Discovering, Crawling, Extracting & Indexing
  • Know the history of a domain prior to purchasing it
  • Google has been granted a patent on returning video search results using machine learning
  • Shopify seeing daily 'Black Friday' levels of traffic
  • The SEO of Tiger King
  • How to gain success with Quora
  • New additions to Ahrefs’ Site Audit Tool
  • The GMB marketing kit is now available
  • Krystal Taing has spotted GMB attributes on desktop and mobile
  • Using Google Trends for marketers
  • Using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to track anchor text of incoming links
  • Replicate local SERPs with this nifty tool wherever you are in the world
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates 

The current impact of COVID-19 on the SERPs

We were pleased to see that for the first time since we started running this poll, more people are reporting on seeing improvements in organic traffic this week than declining.

Barry Schwartz reported on a possible Google update on April 16, which was Thursday of last week. We did have several clients that saw changes on that day. Thankfully, we saw more improvements than drops! However, we also had clients who saw upticks in traffic starting on April 13. 

At this point, we do not feel that the changes seen are indicative of a significant update to Google’s algorithms. 

We do feel, however, that for many YMYL queries, Google has shifted their algorithms to greatly prefer websites that are seen as authoritative and trustworthy.


MHC Announcements

Four hours of E-A-T 

Catch Marie talking about all things E-A-T in a special presentation by SEMrush featuring SEOs such as Lily Ray and Jason Barnard. Marie’s talk discusses Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines, advice from Google employees, E-A-T, including how it applies to your authors, and more! 

Watch it here!


Google Announcements

By next week, Google Shopping will be free for all merchants

This will start in the US and by the end of year the plan is to go global. Products listed on Google’s shopping tab will be mostly free listings. So what does this mean for you? If you’re an advertiser, now is the time to augment your campaigns for free listings. If you own a store, you may have more traffic from Google shopping. Now is the time to optimize for this. Additionally, Google has partnered with PayPal so merchants can link their accounts. Read the full details of this change here


You can soon expect a new video series to arrive called Webmaster Conference Lightning Talks

A new Google video series featuring some of our favourite Googlers like John Mueller and Martin Splitt is arriving soon! The talks are short conference-like talks normally delivered at the Webmaster conferences globally. They’re covering topics such as links and JavaScript, https, structured data and Search Console, and Google monetized policies. The talks will begin this month and can be found on the Webmaster YouTube channel. 


The recent Google indexing issue appears to be resolved

While the problem does seem to be resolved, we have heard reports that some content may still be not getting indexed as normal. We’ll keep an eye on this for you.


SEO Tips

In what scenario does Google provide example URLs when they give out a manual action?

John says that it depends on the kind of manual action and the site receiving it. In our experience handling manual actions, Google generally does not give example links until a reconsideration request has failed. At that point you’ll receive a very small number of links that they feel are part of a larger pattern.


Compare current search behaviour trends to pre-COVID-19 using a simple script

Martin Röttgerding from Search Engine Land shares a very useful script that helps you make sense of possible changes that have affected search behaviour due to COVID-19. This script also allows you to compare other significant dates such as major holidays, seasons and any other event that could affect search behaviour. For data, this script takes into consideration the day of the week, hour and device used. 


Don’t take your website down because of COVID-19

If you’re losing traffic or sales and think it might be time to take down your website, think again. This can be very harmful to your site as you will likely lose a lot of organic traffic. Search engines will stop referring traffic to you, results will go to your competitors, you can be marked as untrustworthy and more. Instead, update your GMB, remove add to cart, alert users, send them an email, mark your products out of stock etc. All are great ways to keep your site going, but to limit functionality while keeping users informed. 

Here’s an example of a website that did not take this advice and instead closed shop and redirected all pages to their homepage...yikes!


Other Interesting News

Will Google delay mobile-first indexing because of Coronavirus?

A little over a month ago Google announced that they intend to switch all sites to mobile-first indexing beginning September 2020. It doesn’t sound like there is any current intention on Google’s end to delay this, however, the team is open to feedback. At this point in time we’d suggest keeping your sights set on the four month window to prepare yourself as there is a good chance that this end date will not be moved. 


Apple maps releases mobility trends report

Apple has released some very interesting data that shows how people have changed their travel habits during this time of social distancing.

You can see that in the United States, since mid March when the virus was named a global pandemic, driving traffic has reduced by 47%, walking traffic by 54% and transit by 78%.

mobility trends 2020

Apple updates this data daily and a full CSV of the data, including information for specific cities, can be found here


Blue Array has launched their ‘Mastering In-House SEO’ book

The UK's largest specialist SEO Agency has unveiled this amazing guide suited best for in-house experts and SEO agencies. You can find 26 leading SEO experts discuss things like:

  • Building an efficient SEO team
  • Shifting your mindset to see new opportunities
  • Plenty of eCommerce tips 
  • Data-led journalism
  • Careers and networking advice
  • & plenty more!

To find out how to get your hands on a copy, check out the website below. (Note: in-house SEO professionals in the UK can claim a free copy!)


Local SEO - News from SterlingSky 

All was pretty quiet on the local rankings front this week. We're continuing to see very little volatility or movement outside of normal flux. Nothing to indicate any type of algorithm change, which is welcome during these crazy weeks.

Does The Service Area in GMB Impact Ranking?

Sterling Sky's Colan Nielsen published this case study where he tested the effect of adding service areas to Google My Business listings in an effort to improve rankings. (Hint: meh.) This is testament to how service area businesses with no brick and mortar offices are not treated fairly by GMB. Check out the test and the results.

Verification FAQs for Google My Business

Tim Capper put together a pretty awesome FAQ that asks the most common GMB listing verification questions he receives and answers them with actionable tips. Definitely worth a read if you're fighting to get a listing verified - which has been nearly impossible during the COVID shutdown period.

GMB Reviews are On Their Way Back

New reviews are still slowly becoming visible on Google business listings. Most are captive to the restaurant and shopping categories - but we've seen the stray review publish for other categories - not enough to call it "fixed" for that sector, though.  

Google Rolls Out Nested Departments for Car Dealership GMB

We saw these previously on big-box retail stores (think Walmart & Home Depot) as well as hospital campuses with multiple offices & businesses under one big umbrella. This change shows departments that are broken down by brand nested under the main listing. 

You may recall a few months ago, Google started allowing Car Dealers to have a GMB listing for every new car brand they sold - so a Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealer could have 3 GMB listings for their new car sales - plus service and parts GMB listings as well.

Bright Local Publishes Google My Business Expert Survey

The team at BrightLocal published a survey of foremost local search experts that centers around Google My Business - what we expect to see in the future, and what needs to be improved.  

Among other information - the "most valued GMB tasks" were shared by those surveyed:

  1. Growing Google reviews 
  2. Spam fighting 
  3. Keeping information up-to-date 
  4. Responding to Google reviews 
  5. Writing Google posts


SEO Tools

This GMB post scheduler is free during COVID-19

dbaPlatform has now opened their GMB post scheduler to the public for free usage. During these times of uncertainty, it remains crucial that businesses are continuing to communicate their presence amid COVID-19. GMB posts are great from communicating updates and changes like business hours, take-out/delivery options, safety precautions, etc. Use this free post scheduler for your business’ future announcements! 


Recommended Reading

Tracking What Your Customers Care About – Insights Turn Into Survey Questions – Aaron Weiche
https://gatherup.com/blog/tracking-what-your-customers-care-about-insights-turn-into-survey-questions/
April 17, 2020

GatherUp is an online customer service and review engine that has an excellent method they use to track what your customers care about. This is an excellent read on how to analyze your review profile to acquire valuable feedback from your customers on topics that are important to them.

 

How to Succeed in Google Discover – Abby Hamilton
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-discover/361142/
April 16, 2020

We definitely recommend checking out this article to see just how strong a driver of traffic Discover can be, as well as some great tips from Abby on how to connect with searchers by using Discover, in order to increase your chances of appearing in it.


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • The presence of YouTube videos in featured snippets is on the rise
  • Rich media SERPs spotted by Dr. Pete
  • Could opting out of featured snippets lead to serious traffic loss?
  • How to ace pagination in a world where Google changes rel=prev/next
  • Does a small set of incorrect hreflang attributes cause Google to disregard the entire code?
  • A creative lesson in link building
  • Can you use international targeting within a GSC Domain Property?
  • Does submitting a sitemap help improve keyword rankings?
  • Everything you need to know about Google’s Popular Products section on mobile
  • Does Google follow links from a 404 page?
  • How Bingbot works: Discovering, Crawling, Extracting & Indexing
  • Know the history of a domain prior to purchasing it
  • Google has been granted a patent on returning video search results using machine learning
  • Shopify seeing daily 'Black Friday' levels of traffic
  • The SEO of Tiger King
  • How to gain success with Quora
  • New additions to Ahrefs’ Site Audit Tool
  • The GMB marketing kit is now available
  • Krystal Taing has spotted GMB attributes on desktop and mobile
  • Using Google Trends for marketers
  • Using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to track anchor text of incoming links
  • Replicate local SERPs with this nifty tool wherever you are in the world
  • 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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