SNYCU Ep. 148 - Sept. 2, 2020 - Light Version

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In this episode we discuss the algorithm changes our team saw on August 24th, looking at SERP features and how to see if you've won or lost them, some great info from the latest Search Off the Record podcast, and more!


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In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • August 24, 2020 - update? Or changes to SERP features
  • Search Off the Record podcast (ep5) discusses index waves, sandboxes, crawling, and more
  • Experiments surrounding the use of title tags
  • SEO Mythbusting: site migrations
  • Google clarifies proper handling of date modified on your site and in structured data
  • Useful insight regarding affiliate sites and affiliate links
  • Bing discusses ranking factors including authorship, site reputation, and more
  • Track Core Web Vitals performance via this new method
  • Could Apple soon be a player in the search engine game?
  • The latest development on ScrollToText fragments
  • Schema tester that’s remarkably similar to Google’s!
  • Spy on competitor GMB categories with this new Chrome extension
  • Create lightning fast comparison tables for measuring Core Web Vitals
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

Possible update on August 24, 2020

We had a large number of clients with significant changes in their traffic starting around August 24, 2020. In some cases we thought we could explain these changes by seasonality, but for the vast majority we did not feel that these were seasonal increases or decreases in traffic.

Our early observations note that many of the sites seeing changes either won or lost SERP features such as Featured Snippets or People Also Ask Boxes, while most “regular” organic keyword rankings did not move.

If you’re a premium reader, in the next section you’ll see some data and explanation as to what we think is happening here. 


MHC Announcements

Two weeks of SEMrush Guru for free! 

We’ve partnered with SEMrush to share awesome promotions to our readers and podcast listeners. This week they’re offering a two week trial of their upgraded membership, SEMrush Guru to those of our readers who have never tried SEMrush. 

You can always find our latest promotions at www.mariehaynes.com/semrush 


SEMrush tip of the week - how to see if a page has won or lost SERP features

In Episode 145 of our newsletter we discussed how to see if a page was ranking for more or fewer PAA positions on a month to month basis. In this episode, we’ll go a little deeper.

When we were analyzing the potential August 24, 2020 update, we used SEMrush to discover that certain keywords had won or lost SERP features. You can do this for individual urls, or for the entire site as a whole.

In the Organic Research section of SEMrush, enter in your domain or a particular url from your site. If you click on “Positions”, you’ll see the top performing keywords for your site, or for that page. SEMrush shows you a blue icon for each SERP feature you own. If an icon is grey, it means that the feature is present on the SERP, but you are not the site chosen. 

For example, for the keyword we have selected below, this client owns the featured snippet (blue crown), but other sites own the sitelinks, People Also Ask, FAQs and images.

If helpful, you can click the screenshot icon to see what the SERPs looked like when SEMrush crawled it. This is useful for explaining to clients that perhaps their rankings declined because Google added a knowledge panel, more ads, or some other feature to the SERPs for that keyword. It was incredibly useful for one of our clients who ranked in a rare double featured snippet for a while.

What we find really useful is to set the date back to see the previous month. As we shared in the analysis of the Aug 24 changes (in the premium section of our newsletter), you can very quickly see which keywords have won or lost SERP features. 

If you want to check this out for your site, we would encourage you to take advantage of this week’s SEMrush trial!


Google Announcements

A new system for reporting bugs is underway

In an effort to help webmasters and site owners report urgent bugs in a timely manner, Google has announced that they’ll be piloting a new reporting system (which will start with security issues and expand if this pilot is successful). This reporting tool is only for users who have a known security issue flagged in GSC, are coming from English-language help pages (for now), and are signed in to GSC.

To find the tool itself, Google has attached a button to the GSC ‘Security, malware, and manual actions’ support page which is the go to resource for resolution consulting.


Google introduces licensing badges on applicable images

Google Images has partnered with art creators and stock images providers to allow users to search its database for licensable content. From now on, images results that are licensable will display a tag that says “Licensable”. Google is also giving this option as a search filter where you can filter results by “Creative Common Licenses” and “Commercial and other licenses”.  This feature also allows users to see what kind of credit and copyright are connected to some images.  


Other Interesting News

WordPress to publish v5.5.1 as a maintenance release (designed to be a patch)

This new maintenance release was created to stop sites from breaking - an unfortunate side effect of the 5.5 release that negatively impacted millions of sites. It is designed to fix this, and act as a patch so developers have time (until March 2021) to update their software. If you were affected and switched back to an older version of WordPress, they recommend downloading 5.5.1. To see some of the plugins and themes affected, check out this SEL article


A breakdown of how algorithms work

Ever wondered how to explain how algorithms work to your friends and family who aren’t SEOs? This is an easy-to-understand primer from Carolyn Lyden and Search Engine Journal that breaks down how algorithms work for search engines and social media. For some marketers and those of you with a strong understanding of programming and Machine Learning, this might be a bit too top-level, but for everyone else, this is a great overview that explains why algorithms aren’t out to get you.


Interesting observation about Ahrefs’ link index

Have you seen a big spike in Ahrefs’ referring domains in late May and early June? Looks like this coincides with Ahrefs expanding and then pulling back their link index. Be sure to keep this in mind during link analysis and looking at your trends.


Local SEO - News from SterlingSky 

Just a bit of a rise in flux over the last 7 days, but not enough to get us over 3.0. There's no single category that you can point to as the "culprit" but there are a few that have been trending higher than 2.0. Hospitality businesses generally see a bit more flux than other categories, but we're also seeing real estate and legal practices come in over 3.0 as of Tuesday. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

aug 26 flux

local flux by industry


What impact will Apple reviews have?

Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm, and Aaron Weiche discuss the Apple Maps Review landscape and what it means for users, and for Yelp. The new feature coming in iOS 14 will offer users the ability to "thumbs up or down" the business overall, as well as individual products and services. The speculation is that there will be less frequent "flux" but that the initial rollout will be bumpy, as the Apple Maps rollout was also bumpy.


GMB attribute badges now visible on desktop

GMB attribute badges are now visible on desktop Business Listings. These are the badges that indicate the businesses are "Women-Led", "Veteran-Led", "Black-Owned", or "LGBTQ-Friendly". It seems like this would be a feature ripe for the ability to filter or sort within the search results. Pure speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Google go that direction.


Join GatherUp for a Local Search AMA - Sept 8, 2pm ET

Join Mike Blumenthal and Aaron Weiche from GatherUp for a Local Search AMA featuring Amanda Jordan of Locomotive Agency and Claire Carlile of Claire Carlile Marketing. These AMAs generally run for an hour and no local-search focused question is off-limits. Come watch and get your questions answered.


Recommended Reading

5 things you didn’t know about Googlebot – Tomek Rudzki
https://en.ryte.com/magazine/5-things-you-didnt-know-googlebot
August 25, 2020

We found one takeaway from Tomek’s article above particularly fascinating. Patents indicate that Google assigns a priority to the pages it crawls based on PageRank and popularity. However, Googlebot will not crawl and index every single URL for understandable logistical reasons, so they must meet a certain priority threshold to be crawled. This can then be impacted by the speed of the site. To find out the most thrilling insight, read the article in full. 

 

How to Identify Questions & Optimize Your Site for Q&A, FAQ & More – Lily Ray
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/optimize-questions-answers-faq-more/378551/
August 26, 2020

Lily Ray offered up some in-depth methods to optimize for SERP Q&As. If you can afford a SEO tool or software then she has made some paid suggestions however, there are plenty of free ways to achieve this otherwise as mentioned in the article. 

 

How People Use Google Search (New User Behavior Study) – Brian Dean
https://backlinko.com/google-user-behavior
August 20, 2020 

Brian Dean’s case study for Backlinko.com analyzed over 1800 individual behaviour sessions from over 400 users, from their study they found a few interesting things related to clicks on ads vs. clicks on organic results, importance of Google autocomplete, average session length and the number of users that reach the bottom of the SERPs. There are a lot of great takeaways so be sure to read the article. 


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • August 24, 2020 - update? Or changes to SERP features
  • Search Off the Record podcast (ep5) discusses index waves, sandboxes, crawling, and more
  • Experiments surrounding the use of title tags
  • SEO Mythbusting: site migrations
  • Google clarifies proper handling of date modified on your site and in structured data
  • Useful insight regarding affiliate sites and affiliate links
  • Bing discusses ranking factors including authorship, site reputation, and more
  • Track Core Web Vitals performance via this new method
  • Could Apple soon be a player in the search engine game?
  • The latest development on ScrollToText fragments
  • Schema tester that’s remarkably similar to Google’s!
  • Spy on competitor GMB categories with this new Chrome extension
  • Create lightning fast comparison tables for measuring Core Web Vitals
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Note: If you are seeing the light version and you are a paid member, be sure to log in (in the sidebar on desktop or below the post on mobile) and read the full article here.

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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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