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Episode 35 - June 4, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

This has actually been a relatively slow news week for SEO, which is something that doesn’t happen often! In this episode we have summarized some incredible SEO articles. We also have info on how the structured data testing tool is not working, whether Moz is actually shutting down their rank tracker, whether PDFs are considered mobile friendly and also a very interesting disavow case.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • StumbleUpon to shut down after 16 years
  • Did you know that Google used to say that their link based algorithm was un-spammable?
  • Want to know how many conversions your blog really creates?
  • Should you block Google from crawling scripts that take a long time to load?
  • Maybe go direct and avoid GTM?
  • Is page speed a ranking factor on desktop?
  • Why you need to optimize your internal links
  • Can we make search more efficient?
  • Popups that show on a timer or on scroll can still be penalized by the mobile interstitial algorithm
  • Google recommendations on linking to your new content from your home page
  • Is GSC rank data accurate?
  • Is the Moz rank tracker being retired?
  • A new plug-in to help with bulk image resizing
  • The new WHOIS Privacy tool from Namecheap
  • Are retail sites taking advantage of mobile friendliness and PWA’s?
  • Are PDFs mobile friendly?
  • Using Server Side Rendering to increase page speed
  • Using Wikipedia Analytics
  • Did the Yoast SEO plugin cause massive ranking drops?
  • SEO Tests and Experiments: Does CTR based on SERP position change by industry?
  • A great tip for moving content from page 2 rankings to page 1
  • Local SEO: 'What’s in Store’ push notifications
  • Local SEO: How not to respond to reviews…
  • Local SEO: Tips for building local links
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome 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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Algorithm updates

For the first time since I started publishing this newsletter, there have been no significant algorithm updates to mention since our last episode.

I did see several sites that saw declines starting May 28, 2018. However, this date was Memorial Day, a US holiday, and I believe that those declines are due to seasonality.

I’ll keep an eye on things and report back next week on whether it looks like May 28 actually was a significant update.

 

Not sure whether you’ve been affected by an algo update?

We are offering a service whereby we check your analytics for you weekly and let you know whether you’ve been affected by the latest Google updates. If you’re interested in signing up for this let me know. The price is currently $49 USD per month. This will likely increase for new signups once we decide to push this service mainstream.


Issues with Structured Data Testing Tool

Several SEOs and webmasters have been complaining over weekend about the Structured Data Testing tool has stopped working with Google Tag Manager. Google are aware of the problem but have made no official comment on what is going on, or when we might see a fix.


Up to a year before all GSC functions are integrated

It looks like Google want to really focus on getting all the classic search console features moved across to the ‘New’ Google Search Console.


Are the top ranking factors really content, links and Rank Brain?

Over two years ago now, Google employee Andrey Lipattsev commented that the top three ranking factors for Google are content, links and Rank Brain.

This stat gets mentioned a lot. John Mueller commented that perhaps this statement should never have been made:


Are PDFs mobile friendly?


SEMRush announces Authority Score

It looks like this will be similar to Moz’s DA or Ahrefs’ DR:

I do find this type of metric helpful in some instances. However, I think that we have to be careful about putting too much stock in tools that estimate PageRank, especially if those estimations are based mostly on link quality.


Did the Yoast SEO plugin cause massive ranking drops?

This is a fascinating discussion, but I do not think that this Yoast issue is to blame for ranking drops.

The Yoast SEO plugin is one of the most commonly used WordPress plugins. Apparently, on March 6, 2018, there was an update to this plugin that caused many sites to start seeing attachment pages indexed.

Here are some quotes from the Yoast blog post on this subject:

As a result of that, lots and lots of attachment URLs got into Google’s index. Some of those sites are now suffering from Panda-like problems….The vast majority of the websites running Yoast SEO probably hasn’t suffered at all. Still, we messed up. I myself, am sorry.”

The theory here is that the sudden indexing of thin attachment pages could cause Google to perceive the overall quality of your website as lower. John Mueller from Google has said many times that when Google assesses the quality of a site, they look at all of your indexed pages.

Why do I think that these ranking drops are NOT due to Yoast changes?

When John Mueller was asked about this issue, he said, “Sites generally shouldn’t be negatively affected by something like this. We often index pages like that for normal sites, and they usually don’t show up in search. If they do show up for normal queries, usually that’s a sign that the site has other, bigger problems. Also, over the time you mentioned, there have been various reports on twitter & co about changes in rankings, so if sites are seeing changes, I’d imagine it’s more due to normal search changes than anything like this.

It’s also important to note that there was a massive algorithm update that happened between March 7 and March 9. If your site started seeing drops around this time, it is, in my opinion, much more likely that the issues are related to this update and NOT because of the Yoast plugin.

I do think that it is a good idea to reduce the number of attachment pages in the index. Yoast’s post explains a fix for this. But, I really don’t think this is a big deal.


GSC Crawl stats are stuck on May 23

It looks like there is a bug that is causing sites to only show crawl data for up to May 23:

This happens from time to time and usually just fixes itself.


SEO Tests and Experiments

Interesting disavow case

I was asked on Twitter about a situation where a site moved to https but did not upload their disavow file. The site dropped dramatically in rankings.

My initial thought was that this drop was likely due to normal fluctuations in search that happen when you do a site migration. It is not uncommon, when switching to https, to see a temporary drop in rankings across the board.

However, I do think that in this case, the lack of disavow may be contributing to the drop.

This site has a history of having a manual action for unnatural links. In order to have a manual action, this means that the site has to have had a very large number of manipulative SEO made links. While I do believe that Penguin is good at ignoring those links, I feel that there could be other algorithms in play that can demote sites for having massive amounts of link spam.

According to the site owner, after implementing the disavow on the https version, things improved dramatically:

I have not done a thorough review on this case, so it’s really hard to say whether these changes were due to the disavow, or whether Google just took its time in figuring out the site move (to https). Still, I thought that this was interesting enough to mention.


Local SEO

Changes to the Bing Local Search Pack

The new search pack that Bing is testing shows local results in card-form. The initial tests appeared to show results in a 3-pack form similar to the one that Google adopted a couple of years ago, although after a day or two they have appeared to roll out a test version with their more typical 5-pack style. As Jennifer Slegg at The SEM Post obverserves, Bing hasn’t made a change to its local pack in a while, so this is an interesting development!


New feature for users to edit business hours on GMB

For businesses without full operating hours listed on GMB, it looks like Google has been asking users to submit edits of their full hours. The feature also appears to allow the option for users to upload photographic evidence (presumably a real world operating hours plaque, or an image of the business in/not in operation at the stated time) however it doesn’t look like this is compulsory for edits to be made.


Recommended Reading

4 Key Areas You Should Measure for SEO - Jenny Halasz

May 29th, 2018

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/measure-seo/254569/

With so many different tools, metrics, data sets etc. available to SEO’s these days what areas should we actually be focused on to determine what is/isn’t working for us? In this post, Jenny Halasz goes into detail about how to approach this data and the four main categories she suggests we focus on first.

Is PDF. obsolete for the Mobile First Internet? - Roger Montti

May 29th, 2017

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/is-pdf-obsolete/254813/

In this article, Roger Montti looks at whether pdf. files are becoming obsolete as we move towards a mobile focused web.

Internet Trends 2018 - Mary Meeker & Kleiner Perkins

May 30th, 2018

http://kpcbweb2.s3.amazonaws.com/files/121/INTERNET_TRENDS_REPORT_2018.pdf

This is the slideshow/report that goes in hand with Mary Meeker’s presentation at the 2018 Code Conference that took place this week.

How to forecast the revenue opportunity for the coveted ‘position 0’ - Karen Bone

May 30th, 2018

https://searchengineland.com/how-to-forecast-the-revenue-opportunity-for-the-coveted-position-0-299248

Search Engine Land’s contributor Karen Bone has written a helpful guide on how to develop a good forecast for what your client could gain in conversations by chasing after that elusive ‘position 0’ win.

Making HREFLANG Manageable - Nichola Stott

May 28th, 2018

https://www.slideshare.net/NicholaStott/making-hreflang-manageable-search-marketing-summit-sydney

In this presentation given at Search Marketing Summit (Sydney), Nichola Stott goes through what John Mueller has called ‘one of the most complex aspects of SEO’ - hreflang.

SEO Pricing is Ugly: Here’s What to Expect for SEO Prices [New Research] - Henry Foster

May 31st, 2018

https://www.growthramp.io/seo/pricing/

Henry Foster summarises the findings from some new research into a survey of 242 agencies about what they charge for SEO services and compared this new data to similar surveys done by Moz in 2012 and Credo in 2015.

Want Links? Here is how to make Link-Worthy Content - Anna Crowe

May 27th, 2018

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/link-building-guide/link-worthy-content/

As Anna Crowe points out in this article, building a strong link profile with valuable links is difficult, but very worthwhile. Getting links from editorial sites is by far the best, and to do this you need to be writing high-quality, linkable content. Anna writes about how to do that.

40+ Copywriting Tips that’ll Boost Your SEO Rankings - Nicole Ahlering

May 30th, 2018

https://www.siegemedia.com/creation/copywriting-tips

Nicole Ahlering makes a really good comparison when she says that writing great content is like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time - it is harder than it looks.

How Much Data is Missing from Analytics? And Other Analytics Black Holes - Tom Capper

May 28th, 2018

https://moz.com/blog/analytics-black-holes

Ever wondered why your analytics data within a tool (in particular Google Analytics) doesn’t always appear consistent?

The 4 Pillars of Mastering Google’s Website Crawl - Matt Diggity & Rowan Collins

June 4th, 2018

https://diggitymarketing.com/site-crawlability/

In this article, Rowan Collins covers four of the actionable changes that you can make to help GoogleBot crawl your site better and more frequently.

Quick Wins for Growing Organic Traffic in 2018 - Charles Floate

June 4th, 2018

https://charlesfloate.co.uk/growing-seo-2018

In this blog post, Charles Floate looks at some cool ideas of gaining more traffic for sites that are already ranking and getting organic traffic.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Small Business in Leeds going out of business because of Google - Tim Capper

May 30th, 2018

https://onlineownership.com/small-business-in-leeds-going-out-of-business-because-of-google/

This is an interesting (and quite sad) piece by Google Top Contributor Tim Capper, reports on the very difficult time he has been having with a client who has lost over 50% of their business revenue due to a sustained negative review attack by a local competitor.

Local Businesses: Get Review Snippets in Google with aggregateRating Schema - Nick Pierno

May 10th, 2018

https://whitespark.ca/blog/how-to-use-aggregate-review-schema-to-get-stars-in-the-serps/

After a fairly solid clamp down on which results Google is awarding ‘Review Star Rich Snippets’ (rich snippets including your aggregate star rating), there is now not a lot of clear information on how to trigger this search feature. Nick Pierno, in this article, aims to clear up some of the confusion.

Winery Sues Google over bad Reviews - CBS News

May 30th, 2018

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/winery-sues-google-over-bad-reviews/

A Napa Valley Winery and Art Gallery have made the news after filing a lawsuit against Google after months of frustration with something that many of the Local SEO community can sympathise with - getting persistent, negative reviews from numerous profiles seemingly run by one user.

5 SEO Question with Lee Odden; Pro Content Tips for Mom and Pops - Melanie Nathan

May 30th, 2018

https://www.semrush.com/blog/5-seo-questions-lee-odden-pro-content-tips-for-mom-and-pops/

In this interview, SEMrush’s Melanie Nathan talks to Lee Odden from TopRankBlog about content creation particularly focused for small local businesses.

Googles ‘Reserve’ tool winning converts, taking search to the next level - Paresh Dave

June 1st, 2018

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-google-reserve/googles-reserve-tool-winning-converts-taking-search-to-next-level-idUSKCN1IX3MG

Paresh Dave at Reuters reports on the ‘Reserve with Google’ function that has been rolled out over the past year.


Where to find Marie

We are now live with our podcast on iTunes and Google Play Music

iTunes

Google Play Music

Youtube (weekly live updates)


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • StumbleUpon to shut down after 16 years
  • Did you know that Google used to say that their link based algorithm was un-spammable?
  • Want to know how many conversions your blog really creates?
  • Should you block Google from crawling scripts that take a long time to load?
  • Maybe go direct and avoid GTM?
  • Is page speed a ranking factor on desktop?
  • Why you need to optimize your internal links
  • Can we make search more efficient?
  • Popups that show on a timer or on scroll can still be penalized by the mobile interstitial algorithm
  • Google recommendations on linking to your new content from your home page
  • Is GSC rank data accurate?
  • Is the Moz rank tracker being retired?
  • A new plug-in to help with bulk image resizing
  • The new WHOIS Privacy tool from Namecheap
  • Are retail sites taking advantage of mobile friendliness and PWA’s?
  • Are PDFs mobile friendly?
  • Using Server Side Rendering to increase page speed
  • Using Wikipedia Analytics
  • Did the Yoast SEO plugin cause massive ranking drops?
  • SEO Tests and Experiments: Does CTR based on SERP position change by industry?
  • A great tip for moving content from page 2 rankings to page 1
  • Local SEO: 'What’s in Store’ push notifications
  • Local SEO: How not to respond to reviews…
  • Local SEO: Tips for building local links
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome 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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