SNYCU Ep. 142 - July 22, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss who reviews Google's algorithms, the pushback of rolling out mobile-first indexing, more documentation on Discover discussing E-A-T, some refreshers on SEO practices, and great articles worth reading.


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Not ready for mobile-first indexing? You’ve got more time now
  • Analyze traffic coming from News tabs on Google Search
  • Have you been having issues with site: commands this week?
  • A lesson in trailing slashes
  • How to pinpoint Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) shifts
  • How to prioritize your structured data low hanging fruit opportunities
  • An A/B test for surfacing content behind tabs and accordions
  • Ask Google Webmasters covers special files in robots.txt
  • Google ignores links from these types of sites...
  • What to know if you have a page using up a large amount of server CPU
  • Can you rank your single language content for additional languages?
  • Be careful if you're blocking traffic from the US
  • Is FAQ markup appearing less frequently for you in the SERPs?
  • Google Search for SEO professionals (it has a built in VPN!)
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates 

We did have a few clients seeing improvements starting on July 13, 2020. However, we did not see enough movement to warrant us investigating this as an update. We did not see corresponding changes on any of the algo checking weather tools like Mozcast or SEMRush sensor.


Interesting info about the people who review Google’s algorithms

John Mueller recently told us that “There are various ‘human’ roles all around search, there’s more than the quality raters”. 

He went on to clarify:

From what we have seen over the years, there are several ways in which Google uses human input to assess websites:

1) Quality Raters - These are contracted individuals who have studied Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. If a Google engineer wants to propose a code change to their algorithms, they will often submit search results before and after implementation, and then the Quality Raters judge whether the results are better with the new code. It is important to note that should a quality rater happen to come across your site, they have no direct impact in Google’s assessment of quality for that site. 

2) Webspam team - We would love to know how many people are on Google’s webspam team! If you have received a manual action, it’s a member of the webspam team who reviews your reconsideration request and determines whether the action should be lifted.

3) Others - John’s tweet suggests that there are other people working at Google (possibly still on the webspam team) who have the skills to directly review potential algorithm changes. While the quality raters can give feedback on whether a change seems to have improved the search results, it’s ultimately a Google employee who determines whether to implement that change.


MHC Announcements

ICYMI - Our post on Google’s Core Web Vitals 

A few weeks ago we shared our post that discusses everything we know about Google’s Core Web Vitals. The post has gotten a lot of attention recently so we thought we’d share it for those that may have missed it. Learn what they are, how you should consider them for your SEO, and why we think they’re an important change to keep your eye on. 


Google Announcements

Changes to the Discover support documentation for publishers

Last week we reported that the documentation on Discover now included E-A-T. Well, now Google has updated their support documentation for publishers. The post discusses how content appears in Discover and some tips to help you optimize it. 

We were most excited to see yet another reference to the importance of E-A-T. The document says, “Our automated systems surface content in Discover from sites that have many individual pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Those looking to improve E-A-T can consider some of the same questions we encourage site owners to consider for Search. While Search and Discover are different, the overall principles for E-A-T as it applies to content within them are similar.”

As a reminder, we have a very thorough document explaining what you need to know regarding E-A-T in SEO


Google’s latest move to block content that contradicts scientific consensus 

A new Google Ads policy was announced last week that will ban ads that promote any conspiracy involving the Coronavirus, going into effect on August 18, 2020. Their ads policy has now been updated to "prohibit content that relates to a current, major health crisis and contradicts authoritative, scientific consensus."

Whether or not Google can programmatically determine if content contradicts scientific consensus has been a hot topic over the last year. You may find this article interesting if you would like to read more on the subject: How could Google measure scientific consensus?


SEO Tips

Episode 3 of Search Off the Record

This episode of Search Off the Record features Google employees John Mueller, Gary IIlyes and Martin Splitt. They discuss ranking in search, submitting feedback, rendering SEO and more. If you want some fun banter and discussion, this is the episode for you. 


A tip for lazy-loading your images

For lazy-loading your images, John says to just add “lazy=loading” into the image tags of your large images. That’s it. Thanks John! 


Other Interesting News

Bill started a ‘tell us about your start in SEO’ thread on Twitter

As many of you know, MHC’s journey into SEO is not a traditional one. Marie originally had a career as a vet, and similarly, most of our staff did not work or train in SEO prior to starting here. So this is definitely a fun one to read! Can you spot MHC team members in the thread? 


Local SEO - News from SterlingSky 

Local Rank Flux again shows not much going on with rankings this last week - although we did have a few clients see some bouncing around, it seems to have been a 1-day short-term thing as we're not seeing it reflected in the 7-day flux numbers.


How to add categories to Google Maps and GMB

We hear sometimes from business owners or marketers that are serving a niche that is not represented by the 3900+ Google Maps and GMB categories. Joy goes over some options for contacting Google and getting them to add a new category.


GMB's messaging update that multi-location businesses have been waiting for

Sidney Marchuk goes through the new options for GMB Messaging that rolled out last week.  Soon Messaging will soon be available through several popular partners such as Zendesk, Podium, RingCentral, and more.  You can view the complete list here.


Google's local algorithm and business names -- Google indicates fix is coming

Joy recently pointed out to Google's Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, that Google is weighing the words in a business name too heavily in the local results - which then surfaces an immense amount of spam for various queries. Danny indicated it was something they were aware of and working on.


Google returns to "normal" as all Q&A and reviews are published/publishing

Mike looked at data for the U.S. and there appears to be no more throttling or queueing of reviews and Q&A for any categories of business in the U.S.  He hasn't yet looked at international data, if you see things still being filtered, we'd love to hear about it!


Two Octobers/AgencyAutomators updates Postamatic Tool - Offers GMB posts, Q&A and review management for free

Noah Learner let us know that his team at Two Octobers/AgencyAutomators has updated their Postamatic tool. Previously you could manage your GMB Posts via a Google Sheet interface, they've expanded to include Q&A and Review management via the same Chrome extension and Sheets interface. For free! Definitely worth a look as a way to, at minimum, automate some GMB Posts for clients with limited time/budget!


Recommended Reading

Does Google respect the URL parameters tool? – Chris Long
https://searchengineland.com/does-google-respect-the-url-parameters-tool-337656
July 17, 2020

Chris Long recently investigated how Google may be using the URL Parameters and the Parameters Tool now that it has been moved to “Legacy Tools and reports”. Reviewing a client's log files, it looked like Google may have been ignoring some of these directives, so he decided to do a test. After confirming Google was crawling ‘?cat’, ‘?utm_source’ and similar pages, Chris added these to the URL parameters tool and instructed it to crawl “No URLs”. Hypothetically, these URLs should remain untouched. After a few weeks of waiting, he was still seeing Google crawl these pages - although less frequently - the ‘?cat’ pages were most commonly crawled. The main takeaway for this test is that Google won’t always adhere to your URL parameters and may crawl them regardless. This test was done on a relatively small website (600 pages) so this could be even more prominent on a large e-commerce domain. 

 

Creating Hubs and Spokes with Amy Elmayan – Steven van Vessum & Ondřej Koraba
https://www.contentkingapp.com/blog/hubs-spokes/
July 15, 2020

Firstly, thanks to Ondřej for the very kind words! We love how she has connected E-A-T with her approach to hub-and-spoke content siloing. Comprehensive, high-quality content deployed in a hub-and-spoke model — “content clusters,” as Ondřej puts it — can be a great way to convey topical authority and expertise. There are a lot of great strategies in here for how to approach the structure of hub and spokes in terms of the internal linking, with a great example provided. 

 

Web Stories Powered by AMP – 12 Tips and Recommendations For Creating Your First Story – Glenn Gabe
https://www.gsqi.com/marketing-blog/web-stories-amp-tips-recommendations/
July 15, 2020

Web Stories (formerly called AMP Stories) is something similar to the stories format you see on social media platforms such as Snapchat and Facebook. You can see these appearing in both Search, and as of more recently, Discover. If this is something that you’re interested in testing out on your own websites, we definitely recommend checking out this article from Glenn. It contains so many helpful tips and recommendations that we’ve bookmarked it! 

 

How to Optimize PDFs for SEO (7 Steps) – Patrick Stox
https://ahrefs.com/blog/seo-for-pdfs/
July 16, 2020

PDFs are not the most practical for SEO as the file is often not mobile-friendly and is hard for search engines to crawl. Even more, Google has noted that they much prefer HTML over PDFs. If you just can’t avoid it, Ahrefs recently wrote an article on how to try and optimize PDF files for your SEO needs.


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Not ready for mobile-first indexing? You’ve got more time now
  • Analyze traffic coming from News tabs on Google Search
  • Have you been having issues with site: commands this week?
  • A lesson in trailing slashes
  • How to pinpoint Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) shifts
  • How to prioritize your structured data low hanging fruit opportunities
  • An A/B test for surfacing content behind tabs and accordions
  • Ask Google Webmasters covers special files in robots.txt
  • Google ignores links from these types of sites...
  • What to know if you have a page using up a large amount of server CPU
  • Can you rank your single language content for additional languages?
  • Be careful if you're blocking traffic from the US
  • Is FAQ markup appearing less frequently for you in the SERPs?
  • Google Search for SEO professionals (it has a built in VPN!)
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

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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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