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Episode 44 - August 8, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

What a crazy week this has been! I was doing some client training when there were rumblings of an algorithm update happening. My client was up dramatically on almost all of their search terms, so it really was a fun day! In this episode, we’ll talk about this big update and several other Google announcements.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • Don’t get confused by the “Search Update” notification in GSC
  • Does the date on Google’s cached pages mean that is the date Google last crawled the page?
  • Big drop in featured snippets seen
  • When you get a mobile first indexing email, you likely were moved several days before that
  • Does Google use the info from Quality Raters for Machine Learning?
  • Does your site push browser notifications? If so, take a lesson from eBay
  • ‘Why my web traffic dropped’ resource update
  • Google is showing fewer definitions in the SERPs
  • Big firm merger in the UK
  • Even the biggest sites can fall behind sometimes!
  • The Bing Webmaster Tools API is fixed now
  • Clarification from John Mueller on geo-targeting with hreflang vs cctld
  • Case Study: Using The ODN to deploy an emergency migration to HTTPS
  • GDPR is having a big effect on the web
  • Banned from using event markup? You can now ask Google for a reevaluation
  • Apparently you can add emojis to urls
  • Google review card starts featuring more prominently
  • More local service ads are appearing
  • You can now see the email address of those who are on a GMB account
  • Google is offering a new course to help with digital sales
  • Update on Dejan SEO’s disavow experiment

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Algorithm updates

August 1, 2018 - The Medic Update

This was possibly the biggest update I have seen in my 10+ years in SEO. While not every site was affected, those who saw changes often saw massive changes.

I have written a long article about my thoughts on the Medic Update. (Barry Schwartz called the update this as it has strongly affected sites in the medical/health/nutrition verticals.

Some of our clients in health related niches saw massive gains. We’re pretty happy about cases like this:

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However, some sites that we had done reviews for did see significant drops:

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Most of these were sites with E-A-T issues that will be a challenge to fix.

You can read my thoughts on this update in my post, but here is my summary at this point:

  • YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites were most strongly affected.
  • This is likely related to what Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines say about Trust. Many diet sites that sell products that could be seen as potentially scam products saw big drops.
  • There is definitely an E-A-T component. (I am almost done a massive article on E-A-T and hope to have that out soon.)

August 1 Local Update

It does appear that there was a local update at this time as well. This also happened at the time of the March 9 update. Joy Hawkins discusses this in the Local Search Forum.

While the majority of emails that we received from site owners who had been hit were from medical sites, we did get several requests for help from large multi-location businesses who were seeing local drops.

It is also possible that Google is showing more local packs now:

I still have more investigation to do to determine what has happened here. I do feel that Google may have gotten better at identifying who the local authorities were in a particular niche.


Did the Medic Update make the SERPS better?

I found it interesting that several people have pointed out some areas where medical SERPS are really awful still.

Charles Floate also pointed out that some notoriously spammy SERPS got significantly worse.

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I am sure that the Google engineers are working like crazy to analyze the effects of this update. There will likely be more tweaking in the days and weeks to come.


Is the August 1 (Medic) Update link related?

Some have been speculating that this update could be link related. At this point I do not think that this is a link related update.

It can see how people can conclude this as many of the sites that saw drops had sketchy link profiles. The thing is though, that in the health and nutrition niches, almost every site that is performing well has loads of people attempting negative SEO by pointing spammy links at them. I know, because for years I did monthly link audits to try and fight against this.

(Just to clarify, I do not feel that this type of negative SEO attack is effective. But, many site owners want to disavow just to be sure.)

I’ll keep a close eye on things and let you know if I change my mind on whether this truly was an update related to which links Google trusts.


Google SOS Red Alerts

The Search Liaison team has tweeted a refresher on the ‘SOS Alerts’ that appear in the SERPs if you are searching from an area being affected by a major crisis such as a natural disaster. In particular, they have used the recent wildfires in northern California as an example. The post points out the important features of the alert system as well as providing some advice for how organisations can get their content included. This includes making sure you indicate who has created content such as maps, how often they are updated and a way, such as a link to their website, that can help Google verify the validity of the provided information.


GSC index coverage report has been updated

The index coverage report in Google Search Console has received a number of updates over the last two weeks of July which are focused on providing more accurate data for site-owners. That means that if you are seeing big changes around these dates then this is you receiving more accurate data on how Google has indexed your site, not a change to how your site has been indexed. Google has posted about this update in the Data Anomalies Search Console Help page.


Good discussion on whether asking for a link from large publishers who republish your content goes against Google’s guidelines

I usually try my best to stay out of SEO controversy on Twitter, but given that this subject is close to my heart, I jumped in.

Rand Fishkin asked the following question

If you’d like to follow the drama, you can click on that tweet to read an interesting discussion. Here are the important points:

  • Danny Sullivan from Google chimed in to say that it can be ok to ask a publisher to either place a canonical tag pointing back to your site or link to you.
  • If you do it on a large scale, then this could be considered a link scheme.
  • If you are clearly crafting your anchor text to be keyword anchored, this is not good.

My main issue with the question though was that Rand wanted to make it a requirement that if anyone wanted to use his content, they must link back. John Mueller has said in a help hangout (this is from 2013) that this is against Google’s TOS. This is from my help hangout notes:

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I think that you need to be really careful in this area. It’s perfectly ok to ask for a link. But, if you’re doing this on a large scale and especially if you are making it a requirement to link to use your content, this is potentially opening you up for a manual review and possibly an unnatural links manual action.


More mobile first indexing emails have gone out

Google has moved more sites over to mobile first indexing. This time, I’m seeing that some of the sites being moved are more sophisticated sites using javascript and other bells and whistles.

Please know though that most sites have not been moved over as of yet.


Google makes its return to China

Google dramatically shut down its service in China 8 years ago amid some major censorship crack-downs on the web by the Chinese government of the time. However, since Sundar Pichai took over the reigns at Google in 2015, the company has been increasing its interest in re-entering the now much larger Chinese search market and has since visited mainland China twice, including an appearance at a state-run internet conference.

Following this, it has been announced this week that Google is in the process of creating both a search and news app that is complaint with China’s stricter censorship laws. It is uncertain when the news app, which is suggested to be a way of Google proving to the Chinese authorities that they are open to cooperating with their strict content laws, will be released. The move to acquiesce to Chinese censorship laws has been meet with out cry from many human rights organisations and activists, and given the current US-China trade tensions it will be interesting to see where this goes.


Staying Zen with Google

Google has added a new, novel, feature to the SERPs which takes you through some guided deep breathing exercises!

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Changes to Google’s structured data recommendations

Google has made a couple changes to their structure data recommendations for non-AMP article pages.


New SERP verticals announced at Google Dance Singapore

Gary Illyes announced sound pretty big changes that will be coming to the SERPs. The new features will highlight parts of the results page like FAQs, Q&As and ‘How to’ sections. These features look similar to what have already been appearing for reddit and quora pages. While this may cause problems for sites that aren’t ranking at the top of the SERPs, for those pages that do manage to snag them, they will take up almost as much real-estate as featured snippets and potentially may be even more valuable. As Jennifer Slegg points out, on mobile winning one of these could result in a page dominating the above the fold search result.


New SERP feature announced making data from news sites more accessible in search

Google have announced a new pilot project that aims to make it easier for data, which is becoming more and more integral to news sites, to be displayed in the SERPs. This new feature takes the form of displaying tabled data for certain queries (such as company expense reports) under the sites snippet. Their is new structured data markup for this feature that can be read here.


Local SEO

Google unveils new Insights feature for Google Posts

The new feature shows you user engagement data on each of your posts including information on views and click-through-rate. This will be really useful for encouraging local businesses to engage through the use of posts as well as helping them hone in on what kind of posts their users are interested in.


“Reserve with Google” hits the UK and Europe

It looks like the “Reserve with Google” feature in the SERPs has been spotted popping up across search in the UK and across more cities in Europe. ‘Reserve with Google’ allows users to book appointments from the SERPs. This roll out is another signal Google is moving in the direction of having it be the front page of local businesses as they streamline more and more CTA’s and conversion funnels into the SERPs.


SEO Tools

Ayima Redirect Tool

We use this quite often. Definitely recommended.


SEO Jobs

Are you a smart SEO looking for a great remote opportunity?

A former client of mine has a profitable site in a competitive niche. He was thinking of selling the site, but instead has decided to hire someone to run it for him.They are looking for a driven, independent person who is good with SEO, content marketing, and conversion optimization. Decent knowledge of affiliate marketing and WordPress are a plus as well. Salary is negotiable, but for the right candidate this should be a job that pays nicely.

Feel free to contact me and I can connect you with this client for more details.

More job opportunities at MHC

Want to work with me? We’re doing interviews right now to hire more SEO analysts. We also are hiring a customer service rep to help us wade through emails and stay more organized with client communication. It’s a local position in our fun office in Kanata, Ontario


Marie Speaking at DMC in Salt Lake City August 24

I’ll be talking on the Quality Raters’ Guidelines which is a hot topic right now!


Recommended Reading

Re-writing the Beginners Guide to SEO, Chapter 3: Keyword Research - Britney Muller

August 1st, 2018

https://moz.com/blog/beginners-guide-to-seo-chapter-3

This is the third instalment in the revamping of Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO and this week Britney Muller has taken written about some best practices for conducting keyword research in 2018.

Better Than Basics: Custom Tailoring Your SEO Approach (With Real World Examples) - Laura Lippay

July 31st, 2018

https://moz.com/blog/customize-seo-approach

This article from Laura Lippay provides some good advice on how to approach each SEO client on an individual level.

Why Most Redesigns Fail (and How to Make Sure Yours Doesn’t) - Talia Wolf

July 2018 

https://getuplift.co/why-most-redesigns-fail/

In this useful FAQ style post from Talia Wolf she looks into some of the most common reasons that site redesigns often result in no new, or worse a decline in, conversions.

How to Qualify Sites for Link Outreach - Vince Nero

July 30th, 2018

https://www.siegemedia.com/marketing/qualify-sites-for-link-outreach

Vince Nero discusses in this video from Siege Media about how to determine whether or not a site will link out to you to save time on outreach.

How to use header tags: SEO best practises - Amelia Willson

July 31st, 2018

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/header-tags-seo-best-practices

This is a good beginner’s guide to the basics of using header tags for SEO.

How Small Business Owners Can Use Blockchain and Big Data for Bigger Profits - Marcela de Vivo

July 12th, 2018

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/07/12/how-small-business-owners-can-use-blockchain-and-big-data-for-bigger-profits/#4bee39c61ccb

I love when Marcela de Vivo talks about crypto, as the topic is so interesting! She has written a really insightful article about how developments in the availability and accessibility of blockchain technology is making it easier and more popular for small businesses to engage with big data.

LINK BUILDING STRATEGIES: 30 SEO EXPERTS SHARE THEIR SECRETS - Minuca Elena

https://authority.builders/blog/link-building-strategies/

Minuca Elena reaches out to 30 different SEOs to get their thoughts on uncommon link building strategies.

The Future of SEO Has Never Been Clearer (nor more ignored) - Rand Fishkin

August 1st, 2018

https://sparktoro.com/blog/the-future-of-seo-has-never-been-clearer-nor-more-ignored/

Rand Fishkin has written about where he believes the search industry is going over the next five years.

Calculated Fields in Google Data Studio - Dana DiTomaso

August 3rd, 2018

https://moz.com/blog/calculated-fields-in-google-data-studio

In this week’s whiteboard Friday, Dana DiTomaso talks about using Google Data Studio in order to make use of it’s ‘calculated fields’ feature.

Video Featured Snippets: How Suggested Clips Work - Justin Briggs

https://www.briggsby.com/video-featured-snippets-suggested-clips

In this article, Justin investigates how exactly featured snippets and videos work in the SERPs.

8 Essentials that You Might Not Know About robots.txt (And You Should) - Roy Skif

June 8th, 2018

https://www.tldrseo.com/robots-txt-file/

In this article about using robots.txt, Roy Skif cites a lot of good information from John Mueller about best practices.


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:

  • Don’t get confused by the “Search Update” notification in GSC
  • Does the date on Google’s cached pages mean that is the date Google last crawled the page?
  • Big drop in featured snippets seen
  • When you get a mobile first indexing email, you likely were moved several days before that
  • Does Google use the info from Quality Raters for Machine Learning?
  • Does your site push browser notifications? If so, take a lesson from eBay
  • ‘Why my web traffic dropped’ resource update
  • Google is showing fewer definitions in the SERPs
  • Big firm merger in the UK
  • Even the biggest sites can fall behind sometimes!
  • The Bing Webmaster Tools API is fixed now
  • Clarification from John Mueller on geo-targeting with hreflang vs cctld
  • Case Study: Using The ODN to deploy an emergency migration to HTTPS
  • GDPR is having a big effect on the web
  • Banned from using event markup? You can now ask Google for a reevaluation
  • Apparently you can add emojis to urls
  • Google review card starts featuring more prominently
  • More local service ads are appearing
  • You can now see the email address of those who are on a GMB account
  • Google is offering a new course to help with digital sales
  • Update on Dejan SEO’s disavow experiment

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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