SNYCU Ep. 145 - August 12, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss the massive Google glitch this week, more on the possible July update, how SEO has changed over the years, see if you've lost PAA boxes in SEMrush and more!


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Very early analysis of the August 2020 Google Glitch (Premium Subscribers only)
  • How to tell if you were affected by an update by checking hourly traffic
  • More on the July 21 / July 27 Google updates
  • Did you have a big drop in FAQs in July? You’re not alone
  • Infrastructure changes to the Search Console API
  • How insights from people around the world make Google Search better
  • Has SEO changed over the years? Here’s one SEO’s opinion
  • Signals that Google has said are not ranking factors
  • Things to know about meta tags and snippets
  • Did Google really say that guest post links have zero value?
  • Link building outreach tips!
  • CLS metrics may be hiding deeper concerns -- pay attention!
  • Testing the impact of FAQ schema markup
  • Affiliate and review sites, listen up! Here’s what might be happening when your URL(s) is not getting indexed
  • Should eCommerce sites be indexing your on-site search result pages?
  • Could a poor reputation online hinder your rankings?
  • Why might other sites be outranking you for your own content?
  • Interesting comment about how Google may be canonicalizing your URLs targeting different countries
  • Screaming Frog conducted a study to see how many sites would pass the Core Web Vitals test
  • This major retailer also slashes affiliate commissions
  • Reminder to clean up who has manager or owner access on your GMB listing(s)
  • Useful tip for WordPress site owners
  • Structured Data testing tool alternative
  • Cumulative Shift Layout tool with handy GIF generator
  • An app to check your Core Web Vitals
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

The great outage that looked like a massive Google update

Monday this week was quite interesting for site owners who keep a regular eye on their traffic. Many websites saw a sudden spike or decrease in rankings and traffic starting at some point in the afternoon or late evening of Monday, August 10, 2020. Here is hourly traffic compared to Monday last week for one site which we monitor:

aug 10 traffic

This site was not an outlier (although the effects seen on this site are more than others). The vast majority of the hundreds of sites that we have Google Analytics access for saw some type of significant change. 

Barry Schwartz has a good summary of the SEO forum chatter from yesterday. Barry said, “To be honest, this reminds me of the old days of when Google would release Penguin or Panda updates. The chatter in the time period is off the scales. Either this is a massive Google search bug or Google pushed out something serious with its ranking algorithm in search.”

It turns out that this actually was caused by a bug of some sort. 

On Tuesday, Gary Illyes from Google shared to some degree what happened in a series of tweets. He explained how there are many components to the indexing system including rendering data, extracting links, extracting and computing some signals, and more, and then pushing the results to the index. Apparently something went wrong with one of those components, leading to a glitch where some odd pages started to rank well.

It was interesting to see that there were slightly more people in my Twitter timeline who told us that their rankings declined with this issue.

We thought it was quite interesting when Gary ended his tweet thread by saying, “Don't oversimplify search for it's not simple at all: thousands of interconnected systems working together to provide users high quality and relevant results. Throw a grain of sand in the machinery and we have an outage like yesterday.”

Although it is challenging to analyze a Google change that only lasted for a few hours, we did note some very interesting patterns when looking at which sites saw increases and which saw declines. For our premium readers, in the next section you’ll see our very early analysis of this update and hear Marie and the team’s theories on what happened and how SEOs can learn from this where a site may have significant issues that might cause Google’s algorithms to treat it as lower quality.

Premium readers will also see a section to explain how to look at hourly traffic in Google Analytics.


MHC Announcements

This week’s exclusive SEMrush deal!

Last week we announced our partnership with SEMrush where our readers and podcast listeners will get special promotions! This week we have a one week Guru and CI add-on (traffic analytics and market explorer) trial. This is normally an additional $200 cost to your SEMrush membership, so you won’t want to miss out! 

You can read more about SEMrush’s competitive intelligence add-on here.


How to see if you’ve lost PAA boxes for a particular url with SEMrush

In our analysis of the late July algo turbulence that is in the premium section of newsletter, we mentioned how we noted that several of our clients saw significant changes in the number of PAA boxes they had. 

Here’s how you check that on SEMrush:

SEMrush PAA boxes

You can change the date back, as we did above, to see that SEMrush detected that this particular URL held 126 PAA boxes. When we change the date to show August of 2020, we found that that url had 245 keywords that triggered a PAA. 

As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter episode, if you want to try out SEMrush to test this for yourself, we’ve given you a discount code for a one-week Guru plan and access to the Competitive analysis add on.


Google Announcements

Support for Article structured data in the Rich Results tool

If you’re looking for support for your Article structured data, it’s here! You can test your pages or learn more about Article structured data and proper implementation in G’s documentation. 


Google SERP Changes

Individual listings now available in Search?

This looks cool. It’s currently only available in India, but some SEOs have managed to get their own listing. We included a cool hack from Alexander Außermayr as well so you can try this yourself!


SEO Tips

Google has released Q&A for the July Rich Results & Search Console Webmaster Conference Lightning Talk

Google released a super informative Q&A session on their blog from a recent Google Lightning Talk on the topic of Rich Results and Search Console. 

Google cleared the air on topics like what exactly FAQ clicks and impressions are based on and will Google show rich results for reviews made by the review host site.

Check out the blog post for more information on structured data and the new rich results testing tool.


What’s the best way to signal the publishing date on articles migrated to a new site?

According to over 1k SEOs, the majority has appropriately indicated that it’s best to maintain the former dates.

For more info on how Google determines dates as well as general best practice, Google’s post from early 2019 is highly recommended.


Google explains crawl delay tokens in robots.txt files

In Gary Illyes’ original tweet, he asks how “Crawl-delay: 10” will affect Googlebot’s fetch rate. The majority of voters in the poll got the correct answer - Googlebot will ignore this directive. For actual help in changing the crawl rate check out this resource.


Web accessibility tips

Alison Iddings brings a few tips on web accessibility and the importance of Universal Web Design. Here are our favourite tips from her article: 

  • Always have alt text for visual elements: This can be crucial for users who are visually impaired. Alt texts can also provide search engines with extra context about your website. 
  • Keep headings and subheadings appropriate to each section of your page: Users who are visually impaired depend heavily on text-read softwares. By adding the appropriate h1s, h2s and h3s, you can significantly improve user experience. 
  • Provide more than one way to navigate your page: While this isn’t common for most websites, providing users with options can help them better understand and navigate your page. 


Google Help Hangout Tips

Google on handling forum profile pages

The quality of your forum pages matters! We have seen good results in advising clients to noindex massive quantities of profile pages and other types of content that very few people would want to land upon from search. 


What to know if you’ve got NSFW content

We briefly touched on this last week, but if you have a site that contains NSFW content, it could trigger the Safe Search algorithm and impact your ranking. If you only have some NSFW content, it’s best to separate it otherwise it could impact your site altogether. 

This is a great example of this in action. Be cautious of what kind of language you are using and how you use it or you may also see similar impacts: 


Local SEO - News from SterlingSky 

Happy "OMG I'M SO GLAD IT WASN'T AN UPDATE" Day!

Wow, that was a bit of a roller coaster. Not Disney level, more like county fair death trap level. A ranking flux overnight from 8.10 to 8.11 seemed to shake things up with really poor, mixed, and nonsensical results. We woke up to a tweet from John Mueller stating it was a glitch on Google's end (then again confirmed by the @GoogleWMC account), and most of our clients are bouncing back to near normal within 12 to 18-hours.


Why you might not want a Featured Snippet

38,000 page views in 1-year - 90% of phone calls thinking you're Google - that's what being in a Featured Snippet resulted in for Sterling Sky. Colan Nielsen and Dave DiGregorio take us through a case study into why a featured snippet might not be such a money tree and can turn into a time suck!


Google adding call buttons in local Knowledge Panels

Call buttons are not an entirely new thing - but in a desktop Knowledge Panel, they're definitely new. If your computer has the capability (like Mac + FaceTime) you could make the call directly from your laptop or desktop. Android/Windows is a bit harder. It will be interesting to see how this impacts GMB insights for call volume and if they'll split it out mobile vs desktop.


Google My Business adds an online operating hours feature

This new attribute will let you add a label that says you have online operating hours - implying you might be answering phones outside of the brick and mortar opening hours. - but it does not affect the "open" and "closed" labels on your GMB listing.


Which category should a family lawyer use in Google My Business?

Joy guest posts over at the Family Lawyer Magazine discussing which primary category a family law attorney should choose. While it depends upon what kind of law that lawyer or firm prefers - if we're talking volume, the divorce attorney category delivers. It's a reminder that, in most cases, specific is best - although in practice|practitioner settings - that could be something you look at tweaking. Bottom line - test test test.


Which GMB categories have the new review attributes?

Mike Blumenthal gathers a nearly complete list of the GMB categories that feature review attributes. For those that don't know, the review attributes are the phrases that a reviewer can choose that are pre-populated in the review window - this helps add sentiment-focused context to a review.


New menu management features in GMB for restaurants

Google is now linking Restaurant GMB dashboards to SinglePlatform in an attempt to help them update their menus. Unfortunately - if you update at SinglePlatform, they'll charge $109/mo. Thibault Adda of the Darden Restaurant Group pointed out on Twitter a new ability to go to Single Platform to update, as well as upload your own menus.  Mike Blumenthal indicated that you CAN get the SinglePlatform info taken down - but you have to get pretty insistent with SinglePlatform to get it done. The recommendation is to remove your SinglePlatform menu and upload your own via GMB.


Recommended Reading

SEO for Images: See What You’re Missing in Your Visual Search Strategy – Danny Goodwin
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-images-visual-search-strategy/376594/
August 5, 2020

As Google Images drive more traffic to sites, big brands are investing heavily in new ways of optimizing their sites to appear in image queries. Sites that have content related to news, how-to, recipes, media and even local eateries, can benefit from optimizing their pages for images. In his recent article, Danny Goodwin talks about the most valuable practices webmasters can utilize to, possibly, improve their traffic. 


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Very early analysis of the August 2020 Google Glitch (Premium Subscribers only)
  • How to tell if you were affected by an update by checking hourly traffic
  • More on the July 21 / July 27 Google updates
  • Did you have a big drop in FAQs in July? You’re not alone
  • Infrastructure changes to the Search Console API
  • How insights from people around the world make Google Search better
  • Has SEO changed over the years? Here’s one SEO’s opinion
  • Signals that Google has said are not ranking factors
  • Things to know about meta tags and snippets
  • Did Google really say that guest post links have zero value?
  • Link building outreach tips!
  • CLS metrics may be hiding deeper concerns -- pay attention!
  • Testing the impact of FAQ schema markup
  • Affiliate and review sites, listen up! Here’s what might be happening when your URL(s) is not getting indexed
  • Should eCommerce sites be indexing your on-site search result pages?
  • Could a poor reputation online hinder your rankings?
  • Why might other sites be outranking you for your own content?
  • Interesting comment about how Google may be canonicalizing your URLs targeting different countries
  • Screaming Frog conducted a study to see how many sites would pass the Core Web Vitals test
  • This major retailer also slashes affiliate commissions
  • Reminder to clean up who has manager or owner access on your GMB listing(s)
  • Useful tip for WordPress site owners
  • Structured Data testing tool alternative
  • Cumulative Shift Layout tool with handy GIF generator
  • An app to check your Core Web Vitals
  • 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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