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Episode 18 - Oct 20, 2017

Once again we have had a super busy couple of weeks with a lot of search news. Google has been going crazy with algorithm changes. In this episode I’ll give some examples of sites that are being affected by the latest changes. We’ll also talk about Panda, and some good link building tips.

As many of you have heard, we lost an incredible part of the SEO industry this week, Eric Ward. Although I never met Eric in person, I was a subscriber of his newsletter for many years. Eric had so much great knowledge on SEO, especially on link building. If you're looking for several hours of link building info to read, I'd urge you to read Eric's strategies.

Something new that I will be starting in this episode, in memory of Eric, is a section on link building. Each episode I'll give you a good tip on building links. This section is just for paid members though.

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • A thorough discussion on removing vs improving thin content.
  • A case study on removing thin content
  • A great idea to use on Google posts
  • Is Grammar a direct ranking factor?
  • What happened to Giphy's rankings?
  • Did you know that your business' reputation can hurt your rankings?
  • Info about a new Google patent on determining site quality
  • How to get into Google's “Top Stories” Section.
  • My summary of several awesome SEO articles published recently.
  • Detailed information on how I do broken link building.

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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Recent algorithm updates

October 8, 2017

There was a significant quality update that happened at this time. Barry Schwartz has a lot of comments on his writeup of shakeups at this time with many people saying they lost significant traffic.

Dan Sharp of Screaming Frog tweeted about a client who saw improvements with several quality updates including on October 8:

We had a few clients that saw significant gains at this time as well. Two of our clients who saw gains were ones that had been hit by the February 7, 2017 algorithm. I have seen many sites that were hit on February 7 that were really lacking E-A-T (Experience, Authority and Trust). We have worked hard with some of these sites to help improve Google’s perception of E-A-T for their site. (There is more on establishing E-A-T in the paid members version of Episode 8 of this newsletter.)

Here is one of our clients who worked extremely hard to improve E-A-T:

It is interesting to note that after the site above was hit by a quality update they lost the majority of their featured snippets. In September of 2017 SEMRush was reporting that they held 67 featured snippets. Now, they are reporting 903!

Now, it’s possible that this site simply gained more featured snippets because many of their rankings increased organically. However, we have seen connections between Google’s assessment of quality and featured snippets in the past. I firmly believe that a site that has been deemed as lower quality by Google will have a hard time getting featured snippets.

Other significant updates

Glenn Gabe has an excellent article on the recent updates to the algorithm. Glenn feels that there were also significant updates on October 4th and 12th. I haven’t seen any obvious evidence of sites being affected on these dates, but I’ll keep an eye out and update you in the next episode if there is more evidence of a significant change happening.

As always, you can stay up to date with these changes on my Google algorithm update list.


Google suggest is once again showing us 10 suggestions

A couple of months ago, it looked like this feature had gone. But we are once again seeing 10 suggestions in Google suggest:

This is one of my favorite resources for keyword research.


New Google Tag Manager feature

This looks interesting!


Google is testing the mobile first index

John Mueller mentioned in a hangout that Google is testing the mobile first index live. It sounds like just a very small percentage of results were affected by this change. He said, “It's possible that for individual sites we were kind of already indexing the mobile version but it's probably like a really small number. So I wouldn't see that as saying like we've started with this but it's more kind of still in the experimental stage.”

What Google is doing now is creating classifiers to help determine whether a site’s mobile pages are the same as their desktop pages and to see whether the site would suffer when the switch to mobile first happens.

John also mentioned that Google is considering notifying site owners via Google Search Console if their site is likely to suffer significantly when mobile first rolls out.

It still sounds to me like the full switch to mobile first is quite far away.


Featured Snippets are Evolving

This could probably be said of anything in our industry, but what works today to get featured snippets may not work tomorrow:


If you use escaped fragment URLs / AJAX,
Google will likely stop crawling them soon.

Although Google deprecated its AJAX crawling scheme two years ago, these pages are still crawled and indexed. John Mueller mentioned in a hangout that Google will soon stop crawling these pages altogether.

Here is Google’s official documentation on AJAX and escaped fragments.


Penguin is running automatically and tweaked occasionally

This is not really new news, but worth mentioning. Here is Mark Traphagen quoting Gary Illyes at State of Search last week:

I do believe that there was a big tweak of Penguin on February 1, 2017 but haven’t noticed any other obvious tweaks since then. I’m not saying that those tweaks haven’t happened, but if they have, they’ve been subtle in their effect.


Looks like we’ll soon be getting a full year’s worth of data in GSC.

This is great news!


Google is starting to monetize voice search

If you’ve wondered how Google will make money off of voice search, here is one of the first indications of what is to come. According to CNBC, Google has a service called Google Express that connects with Walmart, Target, Costco, Kohl’s and Ulta.

In the future, you’ll be able to say, “Hey Google! Order me some shampoo.” If you have your Google Express account linked to both Target and Walmart, Google will figure out where you shop the most and give you shampoo options to order from that store.


Tip: How to stop videos from autoplaying

This is a great tip!


Google has released some AMP updates

This article from SEL describes a number of technical AMP updates including the following:

  • Scrolling animations (including paralax, fade, etc.)
  • Making the sidebar responsive depending on viewport.
  • Native video analytics support.
  • Client ID information to make it easier to track clients as the move from AMP to non AMP pages.
  • More ability to embed fluid sized ads.

You can now see timestamps for some elements on archive.org

I was an expert witness at a court case last year and this feature would have come in handy as we looked at info on archive.org to determine how a website looked in the past. Sometimes archive.org will use recent images when displaying older pages. Now we can see a timestamp for many of these.


Local SEO Tips

Google My Business Go-To Guides

Google has published a number of helpful guides for users of GMB. Here are some of the topics:


Service Area Businesses are appearing again in SERPS with Home Service Ads

This is good news:

Joy Hawkins wrote a great post on SEL about HSA’s and their impact on small businesses. After writing this post Google clarified that SAB’s going missing from the SERPS was a bug, saying the following:

1) Google plans to add pure service-area businesses (SABs) back into the local results — this includes home-based businesses.

2) The disappearance of results for home-based businesses in markets without Home Service Ads was due to a bug (not intentional), which Google says should be resolved soon.

Speaking of which, HSA’s are now coming to Dallas:


You can now automate posting with Google Posts through an API

More info on this here.


Recommended Reading

We’re trying something new this month. Paid subscribers will not only see reading recommendations, but they’ll also have a summary of the important points from each article which will hopefully save you a lot of time.


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • A thorough discussion on removing vs improving thin content.
  • A case study on removing thin content
  • A great idea to use on Google posts
  • Is Grammar a direct ranking factor?
  • What happened to Giphy's rankings?
  • Did you know that your business' reputation can hurt your rankings?
  • Info about a new Google patent on determining site quality
  • How to get into Google's “Top Stories” Section.
  • My summary of several awesome SEO articles published recently.
  • Detailed information on how I do broken link building.

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.

Want to see the full newsletter?

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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

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