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Episode 19 - Nov 6, 2017 (Light Version)

This is one of the biggest newsletters I’ve published so far! There is an incredible amount of news from the local SEO industry. We also cover some recent quality updates. We’ll talk about the big geolocation change that Google made. I’ll share with you my strategy for finding internal link opportunities.

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • A tip that every business can use right now to get good high quality, relevant natural links.
  • How I improve rankings by finding internal link opportunities.
  • How long does it take to see improved rankings after making quality improvements?
  • Should tag and category pages be noindexed?
  • Should your Privacy Policy and TOS pages be noindexed?
  • What does it mean when you see increased crawl activity from Google?
  • Neat information in GSC on different SERP features.
  • A great tip for content ideas.
  • Local SEO: What are you doing to stand out above the crowd?
  • Local SEO: Google is giving data on impression based store visits.
  • Local SEO: This type of review can have a stronger effect on rankings.
  • Local SEO: Are you seeing ghost edits in GMB?
  • Local SEO: Another cool way to use Google Posts
  • Local SEO: Do Google Posts impact ranking?
  • My tl;dr summary of several awesome SEO articles published recently.

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Recent algorithm updates

It looks like there were a couple of significant algorithm shifts recently.

October 28-30, 2017 Algorithm Update

This appears to be a significant quality related update. I checked on the data that I have and I saw a good number of sites that saw significant increases or decreases that appear to start on October 28, 2017.Given that that day was a Sunday, for some sites the change was not immediately obvious until the 29th. Each of these sites that were affected had previously had significant changes that coincided with quality updates in 2017.

Here is a client of ours that came to us after a big drop associated with the February 7, 2017 quality update. They saw a nice increase with the October 9 quality update and it looks like they’re seeing another increase with this October 28-29 update:

That site had a large number of technical issues and we believe they also had issues with E-A-T, meaning that their writers did not have as much experience, authority and trust as competing sites. We worked with them to fix the technical issues, and also to better demonstrate the E-A-T that they do have.

Looking at the big picture, you can see that they’re making good improvements, but still have not recovered to previous levels:

There were several other sites in my database that showed a 10-20% increase or decrease on October 28-30. Each of them had previously been affected by quality updates.

What do you do if you were affected by this algorithm update?

There are very few algorithm changes these days that have a specific fix. In many cases, when a site is negatively affected by a core quality algorithm change, a fix may not even be possible. The reason for this is that Google is getting better at figuring out true quality. If your site is not truly the best of its kind, then recovery may not be possible.

But, in many cases, recovery or at least some type of improvement is possible. My suggestions are to do the following:

  • Do a technical site audit and fix technical issues.
  • Take a very thorough look at your site through the eyes of Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines.
  • Make sure that you are demonstrating your E-A-T. In other words, be sure to make it clear that your writers, staff and other team members are experienced, authoritative and trustworthy.

Possible update November 2, 2017

I don’t see any obvious changes in my clients’ data on this date, but it is early yet. There is some discussion on Search Engine Roundtable of an algorithm update. I have also had a couple of emails from site owners who are seeing changes. Hopefully I can report more on this in the next issue.


Big Google change makes seeing ranking results difficult

Google announced a change that will have a big effect on SEOs who have clients in countries other than their own. They will now show you search results from the country which you are currently in, even if you try to use another Google TLD.

I’m in Canada. In the past, I could go to Google.com/ncr. (NCR stands for “no country restriction”.) This would allow me to see results as seen on Google.com. Similarly, in the past I could go to Google.co.uk to see UK search results. This doesn’t work any more.

Now, if I go to Google.com search for anything I still see Canadian results. This makes it difficult when I want to do a quick ranking check for one of my US clients.


The mobile first index is live for a small number of sites

This is interesting news. At SMX East, Gary Illyes said that the mobile first index is now live for a few sites. He didn’t clarify how many sites Google is using this for though.

I haven’t heard much chatter on mobile ranking shifts, but if you see a big change in rankings, it may be worthwhile looking at whether only mobile traffic is affected, and if so, it’s possible that the mobile first indexing is helping or hurting your site.

In other mobile first news, at SMX, Gary Illyes said that he believes that mobile first will roll out on the host level rather than page by page. In other words, once mobile first affects your site, it will affect your entire domain (or perhaps an entire subdomain) rather than just individual pages. Gary wasn’t 100% sure on this though.


Chrome 62 Non Secure warnings are live

Now that Chrome 62 is live, users will start to see Non-Secure warnings when they start to type info into a form on an http site:

Here are some things to note:

  • This change is not a ranking change. While https is a very slight ranking factor, the change that goes along with Chrome 62 should not improve or decrease anyone’s rankings.
  • The nonsecure warning only appears as someone fills out a form on a site that is not https. It doesn’t cause users to see a red screen of death informing them that the site is insecure when they visit it.

Should you use keyword rich anchor text for internal links?

I see a lot of people who are reluctant to use keyword rich anchor text for internal links for risk of looking too spammy. However, John Mueller recently said in a hangout that SEOs should be using this type of anchor. You can read his quotes here on The SEM Post.

Also, Matt Cutts covered this topic in a video, essentially saying that it made sense to use keyword anchors for internal links. He also said that it would not cause a penalty unless it was extremely spammy such as a footer with thousands of keyword anchored links that are only there for SEO reasons.

How I optimize client’s sites by finding internal link opportunities

(This section is for paid members only.)


It looks like we will indeed be getting one year’s worth of data in GSC

Gary Illyes said the following at SMX:

We don’t know when GSC beta will be released, but hopefully it is soon!


The disavow tool is crazy dangerous

The following tweet came from Gary Illyes’ talk at SMX:

Gary is saying here that we need to be careful when we use the disavow tool. If you’re disavowing good links, then you’re asking Google to not count any PageRank that flow through those links.

Most of you who are reading this know that I have done a lot of disavow work over the years. In most cases I no longer recommend doing any disavow work now that Penguin 4.0 simply ignores unnatural links. Other SEOs will disagree with me and you’ll see a lot of people recommending disavowing. As such, it’s a touchy subject.

If you do decide to disavow, my advice would be to only do it if you have super obvious spammy links that are obviously there in an attempt to manipulate Google. Be careful!


Google is going to help news sites get more subscribers and take a finder’s fee cut.

Techcrunch reported that Google will soon be teaming up with subscription based news sites that operate behind a paywall to help them get more subscribers. It has been speculated that Google will take a 30% cut of the subscriber fees.


You can now book a hotel room right from the SERPS

You can find more information on this here: https://alakov.com/blog/book-a-room-cta


GSC shows voice queries as keywords

If someone does a voice search on their phone or Google Home and ends up visiting your site then this query will show up in your keywords in GSC. But, it is not labelled as a voice query at this point.


It’s getting harder to rank well with directory sites

John Mueller made the following comments about directory sites:

It feels like, over the years, those types of websites have lost importance for many areas. People, when they search for that type of business, want to find that business directly in search. They don’t want to find a directory that has even more listings and categories and more things than the search results directly. That’s something where I kind of understand that, over the years, the traffic to these kinds of sites would drop unless those websites are really doing something amazingly fantastic that really kind of brings people together and is something that people would love to recommend in the search results or on their own website. That’s something to keep in mind. Over the years, the trends on the web shift.


If you fetch and submit, your rankings may initially be higher than they should be

Have you seen how quickly submitting a page affects rankings these days? In my Pubcon talk coming up next week, I am showing some examples of cases where I used GSC keyword ranking data to make tweaks to my content and then, after changes were made I submitted the url to Google’s index. I did it with this method:

But fetch and render from GSC should work the same.

In many cases, after I made changes, the changes were almost instantly shown in Google. Also, for quite a few of my tests, submitting an improved page resulted in an almost instant ranking improvement.

On The SEM Post, Jennifer Slegg wrote about something that John Mueller said in a hangout about submitting new pages. He said that it was common for pages to rank highly when first submitted and then they can often slowly decline in rankings over time.


Moz has new features in Keyword Explorer that are similar to SEMRush

This is something I will be using really soon:

https://moz.com/blog/keyword-explorer-keywords-by-site

In the past, Moz members could only get ranking data on keywords that you yourself inputted. But now, you can see a big list of keywords for which you are ranking and you can also look at competitor comparisons.

This is pretty neat:


Local SEO

Your customers can now book appointments with you right from the Google search results

Google announced that businesses will now be able to take appointment bookings by using a third party service. US businesses can now do this through their GMB dashboard:

You then choose from one of the following booking providers:

Once implemented, you can then track your bookings in your GMB dashboard.

Marie’s thoughts: This looks like a great tool and I think it will greatly increase conversions. I wonder if Google will use this information in rankings. For example, if Google sees that lots of people are booking appointments for your business, this could be a signal to indicate that they should rank you better. We’ll see!


Home Service Ads are now Called Local Services by Google


Google is rolling out “inside this place”

This doesn’t seem to be available to everyone yet, but Sergey Alakov noticed that some businesses have it now:


Home Service Ads (HSA) are in Boston and Detroit now

Here is more information on Home Service Ads.


If you are trying to merge duplicate GMB listings, make sure only one is owned


GMB Messaging is now live in Canada

We set this up for a client of ours and it’s pretty easy to use. When customers click on the message button they end up sending a text or Allo message to a Google phone number. Google then texts the business owner. When the owner replies, it is communicated back to the potential client.


Recommended Reading

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 tip that every business can use right now to get good high quality, relevant natural links.
  • How I improve rankings by finding internal link opportunities.
  • How long does it take to see improved rankings after making quality improvements?
  • Should tag and category pages be noindexed?
  • Should your Privacy Policy and TOS pages be noindexed?
  • What does it mean when you see increased crawl activity from Google?
  • Neat information in GSC on different SERP features.
  • A great tip for content ideas.
  • Local SEO: What are you doing to stand out above the crowd?
  • Local SEO: Google is giving data on impression based store visits.
  • Local SEO: This type of review can have a stronger effect on rankings.
  • Local SEO: Are you seeing ghost edits in GMB?
  • Local SEO: Another cool way to use Google Posts
  • Local SEO: Do Google Posts impact ranking?
  • My tl;dr summary of several awesome SEO articles published recently.

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! As always, I'd love to hear your feedback on what you'd like to see more (or less) of in the newsletter. Also, I'm now starting to do Facebook Live videos to inform people of the latest Google News. If you're not already following me on Facebook, here is my page.

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