SNYCU Ep. 136 - June 10, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss Google's webpage to featured snippet feature, advice on combating spam, should we optimize for user intent, content from our podcast Q&A and some great SEO tips!


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Google explains why combating spam is important (+ the 2019 Webspam Report)
  • Bing announcement: the backlink tool in Webmaster Tools has been updated
  • The launch of Google’s ‘featured snippet to web page content highlight’ feature
  • Should we be optimizing for user intent?
  • Is there any gain from earning a good link pointing to a 404 page on your site?
  • RSS feeds: whether or not Google crawls them and if that’s beneficial
  • A tip for news sites managing the the indexability of their content
  • John Mueller calls out this major software provider for unnatural link building -- you won’t believe this!
  • John Mueller’s advice on handling effective location pages
  • Checklist for local businesses reopening after closing due to COVID
  • Track your various landing page performance
  • Check live mobile SERPs from anywhere in the world
  • Bookmarklet to view the rendered source of a page
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

There has been some chatter about a potential update happening right as we write this. We have several clients with changes either positive or negative in traffic over the last week that we feel are significant. But, there is not one particular day on which changes happened.

As we have been saying for several months now, it is often difficult to determine whether traffic changes are due to a Google algorithm update or due to a change in search patterns. Given that much of the world is starting to emerge from a time of severely restricted social distancing, it makes sense to us that a lot of businesses will see volatility in their search traffic at this time.

If there is a significant Google update happening, we’ll have more of an analysis in our next newsletter. 


MHC Announcements

Tidbits from our podcast episode with Google’s John Mueller 

Last week we aired our Q&A podcast episode with Marie and John Mueller. It has since gotten a lot of coverage as there were some important points mentioned throughout the episode. Search Engine Roundtable has covered some of these nuggets, such as how much content you want on your e-commerce category pages, handling location pages (below), optimizing for user intent (below) and more! 

You’ll definitely want to comb through the episode by either listening to the audio, watching the video or reading the transcript.


Google Announcements

Google announces a new head of Search

There are lots of internal changes happening at Google lately amid these times of upheaval. Prabhacker Raghavan, who was head of Google Ads, has just been named Head of Search and Assistant, replacing Ben Gomes. Raghavan has a lengthy list of experience between his previous work for IBM and Google dating back to 1995. We are excited to see what he brings in his new role.

Google also revealed new names in new roles:

  • Head of Google Education; Ben Gomes
  • Head of Google Ads; Jerry Dischler
  • Central Engineering; Jen Fitzpatrick

There has been some discussion in SEO circles about what this transition means. Prabhakar Raghavan has done much research over the years on link analysis and has had a strong interest in understanding user behaviour. Some SEOs have had concern because Raghavan has recently been involved in Google Ads. There really is no evidence that we have seen so far though to suggest that his recent appointment is indicative of a change to promote more paid search than organic.

For most, this transition may feel minimal but it will be interesting to see what changes in search will result in having new faces and fresh perspectives for these roles.


Bing announcement: new Site Scan feature in Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing just dropped a seriously valuable tool called “Site Scan'' and it’s free. It crawls your site to flag common SEO errors enabling site owners to achieve search engine-friendly websites. The scan breaks down your results into ‘errors, warnings and notices’ based on severity. Anyone with a website should be utilizing this free tool.


Google SERP Changes

Google rich results now eligible to show for a homepage -- or are they?

Early this month a few users noticed that by adding specific schema to your homepage, they would become eligible for rich result snippets. The main issue with this “feature” is the possibility of it resulting in Spammy Structured Data Penalty, as the use of structured data for homepages can be against Google’s guidelines

However, according to Gary Illyes, this is a confirmed Google bug and has now been fixed.  


‘Query tiles’ are being tested in Chrome

Chrome is testing Query Tiles, a great feature that intends to increase user accessibility and search speed. These titles appear as images at the top of your search page, so instead of having to type for “COVID-19”, for example, Chrome gives you the choice to click on “News” which will open many subcategories, including a COVID-19 one. These titles are designed to lead users high quality content related to their queries. 

However, this feature is currently only available on Chrome Dev and Canary, but will likely be implemented for Beta and Stable in upcoming versions. 


SEO Tips

Don’t forget to check this post-migration

Nothing would be worse than migrating a site to a shiny new domain and you forget to port over your analytics code!


Local SEO - News from SterlingSky 

It's been a tad quiet in local search land the last week. We were planning and pulling off LocalU Advanced virtual over at LocalU/Sterling Sky - so that lull was planned well. Universe - thanks!  Also thanks to Marie for her amazing session on E-A-T for local businesses!

Local Search Flux has been quiet for the last 7 days - and for about the last 14 days. Very welcome after the ups and downs we've experienced over the end of April and into early May.  We're happy to say there's not really anything to report!

june ranking flux


Does content in your GMB Q&A impact ranking? 

A recent study by SterlingSky reveals that the content inside the Google My Business Question & Answer features does not impact ranking. While using keywords helps with suggested answers as users interact with the feature - you are unlikely to see any ranking bumps from this feature. What you might see are highlights in the maps results that include the keywords from your Q&A - so get those keywords in there in a natural, totally usable/readable way!

MHC notes:

  1. Don’t overlook the power of GMB Q&A as it’s still a highly valuable feature and should be optimized and well-maintained.
  2. This basis of this experiment had some merit especially considering that John Mueller was previously asked about a site that was ranking for a keyword that did not appear on their website. In this example, Google could have picked up off-site signals such as review sentiment from a third-party platform and linked that to the website itself.

All this is to say that off-site signals are important, even if there is no direct benefit. 


Google is taking a closer look at Garage Door Spam in the Local Results

Ben Fisher reported that he'd heard thousands of listings were popping up countrywide using fake Google My Business websites. Danny Sullivan (who is, interestingly, liaison for ALL of search - including local) chimed in with information that they were looking into reports.

"That's the way it is" - as Walter Cronkite would say 🙂 


Recommended Reading

Introduction to PageRank for SEO – Barry Adams
https://www.polemicdigital.com/introduction-to-pagerank-for-seo/
June 1, 2020

Barry did a fantastic job of walking readers through the concept of PageRank (which includes examples to help you visualize this), along with explaining the damping ranking factor, damping factor multipliers, and a variety of useful tips to help you better your SEO -- don’t miss this part! This was an excellent read that we bet most of our readers can take some new knowledge from.

 

How to Handle Discontinued Products Without Ruining Your SEO – Ondřej Koraba, Steven van Vessum & Vojtěch Zach
https://www.contentkingapp.com/academy/discontinued-products/
May 28, 2020

When you’re running an eCommerce site, product turnover is natural. Managing this however, can be a tall task especially considering that there is no blanketed approach. If you’re looking to avoid the most common SEO mistakes and build a strategy that considers crawl budget, SEO value, and user experience, this article has you covered. 


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Google explains why combating spam is important (+ the 2019 Webspam Report)
  • Bing announcement: the backlink tool in Webmaster Tools has been updated
  • The launch of Google’s ‘featured snippet to web page content highlight’ feature
  • Should we be optimizing for user intent?
  • Is there any gain from earning a good link pointing to a 404 page on your site?
  • RSS feeds: whether or not Google crawls them and if that’s beneficial
  • A tip for news sites managing the the indexability of their content
  • John Mueller calls out this major software provider for unnatural link building -- you won’t believe this!
  • John Mueller’s advice on handling effective location pages
  • Checklist for local businesses reopening after closing due to COVID
  • Track your various landing page performance
  • Check live mobile SERPs from anywhere in the world
  • Bookmarklet to view the rendered source of a page
  • 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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