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Episode 50 - September 19, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

It looks like we had a big algorithm update this week. September 17, 2018 has not been talked about widely as a big algorithm change, but we saw a LOT of sites with nice positive changes on this day. In this episode we’ll talk about how many sites were moved to mobile first indexing this week. We’ll go over new information on how Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines reflect what the algorithms do. We’ll also talk about content pruning, and much more.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • If you block traffic from the US, you’ll likely hurt your rankings
  • Is your cached page broken after being moved to mobile first indexing?
  • AMP Moves Toward Open Governance Model
  • GDPR and the effect it is having on users in Europe  
  • Manage and measure your experiments like a pro with new Google Optimize features
  • Is Google buying links?
  • Three new features in Data Studio are here!
  • How to block Google from crawling PDFs
  • Does WordPress give you a ranking advantage?
  • Great example of how good internal linking can really help
  • More advice from Google on whether content pruning can help
  • Is guest posting for links white hat? New info from Google
  • Can you run a contest to get more reviews?
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

Algorithm updates

September 17, 2018

This appears to be a significant algorithm update. Normally it just takes me a few minutes to review client Google Analytics data and determine whether there is a pattern in which sites saw gains or drops on a particular day. This morning, I have just spent over an hour finding site after site that saw nice increases on September 17, 2018. It was really good for team morale!

I’ll share some examples with you. These are all Google organic traffic and these are not seasonal increases.

Here is a site that we did a site quality review for. They worked hard to improve technical issues as well as improve their E-A-T:

Here is another client of which we are really proud. They worked hard to clean up a lot of thin content and also to establish themselves as an authority in their field. We also did link cleanup for this site. They are continuing to see incredible YOY growth. The Sep 17 update was another nice uptick for them:

I do think it is possible that this update has a link component to it. This site is one that we did not do a site quality review for, but simply did a thorough link audit. We filed a very large disavow file for this site consisting mostly of links that previous SEO agencies had made. They appear to be seeing a nice increase:

It is also possible that this update is connected with the large number of mobile first indexing emails that went out this week. Given that I’m writing this on September 19, not much time has passed since this update. I will hopefully have more information for you next week on this.

September 8-11 - Possible local update? Could be organic too

There is a really good thread in the Local Search Forum on a possible update between September 8 and 11.

Dr. Pete who runs Mozcast noted that there was a lot of shifting in organic listings as well:

I have a one local client that is seeing nice gains after this update. This one is an attorney that managed to jump into the 3 pack for some competitive terms.

However, I did not see much in terms of organic movement at this time for sites that we monitor.

In the Local Search Forum, Colan Nielsen shared some interesting screenshots of ranking data:

If you’re seeing changes in rankings that line up with this update, I’d love for you to leave a comment and let us know what you are seeing.


Very interesting information on how the Quality Raters’ Guidelines reflect what is happening in algorithm updates

This article on CNBC is really interesting! Google invited representatives from CNBC to sit in on a meeting in which Google decided on some algorithm changes. The article talks about how Google uses Quality Raters:

Google contracts about 10,000 of these raters around the world, and while they cannot directly affect search results, their opinions help Google's search team evaluate whether a given tweak should go through or not. Raters typically see old and new results side by side, and determine which are better.

‘Better’ is not a purely subjective term. It's defined by a published document of search quality rater guidelines, which describe how raters should judge a page that shows up in their results. Particular attention is paid to a page's expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

‘You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go,’ Ben Gomes, Google's vice president of search, assistant and news, told CNBC. "They don't tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do."

That last sentence that I’ve bolded really sums up well why we should be paying attention to the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. While they don’t reflect exactly what the algorithm is doing, they reflect what Google wants to do in ranking websites.

The article also talks about the recent changes to the QRG that put more emphasis on author E-A-T. It is my opinion that these changes were reflected in the algorithm starting August 1

“Google in July made some significant changes to the guidelines that, among other things, required raters to consider the reputation of a page's author. As a result, pages with no clear author may now be ranked as lower quality.”


Google Using “Very Limited Search Personalization”

In an interview with CNBC the other day Google did admit to still using personalization for their search functions. It’s not at the same level as they were attempting to do in 2012 and mostly related to localization. Most of Google’s personalization applies to other products that they offer. This should be a relief to all SEO’s who may have been concerned about personalization getting in the way of all their hard work. Thankfully, at least for now, it’s still not a concern.


Chrome 69 adds back the url

We wrote in our last newsletter about how the newest version of Chrome has taken away the ability to see urls. Apparently this has reverted back so that we can now see urls again. (I haven’t been upgraded to Chrome 69 yet, so I can’t test this out.)


Breaking Google search with a simple query

Unusual indeed. This past week Google had a server error, lasting several hours, when users searched for ‘compare the market’. Confirming it to in fact be a server error, Google investigated and low and behold, the issue has been fixed.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a search result with blank results like this before:


More sites moved to mobile first indexing

A bunch of sites were moved to mobile first indexing on September 17, 18 and 19. If you got notification that you have been moved, be sure to annotate the move in Google Analytics. While a move to mobile first indexing should not cause traffic drops, it is possible.

Please note though that John Mueller has said in the past that if you get an email about being moved to mobile first indexing, the move may have happened several days previously.


Say goodbye to Bing’s public URL submission tool

In an effort to reduce spam shown in search results and a focus on promoting more trustworthy content, Bing has announced it’ll be shutting down it’s anonymous URL tool (just like Google did a few month back). Saying that the URLs received through the public URL submission tool were too low-quality to be trustable, you are now being asked to create a Bing Webmaster Tool account, verify the website, and then navigate to the Submit URL tool from Configure My Site menu options.


Image Thumbnails for Google Sitelinks

Image thumbnails in the in the sitelink of search result snippets appear to be a new feature for Google users on mobile. News of this feature was first revealed during a CNBC report earlier in the week. Some users have reported seeing this new feature in in action although it appears it is still slowly being rolled out.


Google’s new carousel featured snippet

True to their word, snippets are evolving! Google is making more of an effort to answer questions before you can even ask them. Introducing, the new carousel snippet. Basically, the feature is incorporating “IQ-bubbles” that are tied to the snippet. From there, JavaScript takes over, replaces the original snippet, and updates the search query to the more refined search. What does this all mean? Well, there are now 6x (or more) the number of snippets on a SERP.


Google’s Inbox app is shutting down in March 2019

After nearly 4 years to the date, Google has announced it will be shutting down the Inbox email app, and allowing users until March to switch over to Gmail. Let’s face it, the signs were evident of their looming end. Earlier this year, their Gmail redesign included almost all of the well-loved key features in Inbox. Google has said more features from Inbox are due to make the transition to Gmail, but no date has been provided.


Bing: Pulling Out All The Stops for Back-to-School (and More!)

Microsoft seems to be pulling out all the stops for the latest Bing update. Their Visual Search tool (used with the help of your device’s camera) can now search by image, solve math problems, and accurately transcribe text. New features for in and out of the classroom include a new suite of categorized educational material as well as resource for learning American Sign Language. NFL fans also have a reason to rejoice as fantasy football starts to become real for many of us. Bing can now break down stats for you and tracks data going all the way back to 2000.


AMP Now Running in Bing Mobile SERPs


SEO Tools

Looks like Screaming Frog has a BIG update:

I am most excited to play around with the new crawl maps. These look similar to what Sitebulb is already offering. We are big fans of Sitebulb’s crawl maps.


SEO Jobs

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6445444460309508096/

Megantic is looking to add a Technical SEO Project Manager to their Melbourne office! As Australia’s only eCommerce SEO specialist, they’ve fast become a market leader in their channel. Project Managers and Account Managers welcome to apply.


Congrats to Get 5 Stars on the rebrand!


Local SEO

Giving a heads up on opening day with GMB

Google My Business has launched a limited pilot project which will let customers know when your new business is going to be opening its doors to the public. This information will be able to be seen in the knowledge panel. As mentioned, this is a limited pilot project and there is no guarantee that everyone will be able to use this new feature for the time being.


Change your mind about a review you’ve left on Google? GMB now lets you “edit” your previous reviews!

Google Maps and Local Directory now allow users who previously left reviews to edit and change their reviews. Google has added an Edit button which allows users to change their reviews, add photos, and change the number of stars for local businesses.


GMB Insights: Here’s what’s new

GMB came forward with a new tab layout. No new reports to mention despite the new layout.


Localize your GMB business name. Here’s the know-how.

Edit the localized version of the business name on GMB. Barry Schwartz tell us all about it! Although not available on the GMB Dashboard, you can edit directly on the knowledge panel.


Okay Google, Can I Use Google Maps on Apple CarPlay?

Yes, you can as of this week! This is an exciting development for CarPlay users who are also fans of Google Maps. This is also great news for advertisers who are excited to use Google Maps for campaigns to drive business to their brick and mortar locations.


Possible bug making inviting people to GMB difficult


Recommended Reading

Scalable link building strategy: How To Generate 1056 Links From The Biggest Sites In The World - Ross Tavendale
https://pitchbox.com/blog/scalable-link-building-strategy/
September 12, 2018

In this article, Ross Tavendale explains the process that writers go through to get links on the biggest sites in the world.

The Game of Cat and Mouse – Has Google Become Better at Fighting Webspam? - Juan Gonzalez
https://www.sistrix.com/blog/the-game-of-cat-and-mouse-has-google-become-better-at-fighting-webspam/
September 13, 2018

After reminiscing about one the most “resilient spam projects he’s ever seen”, Juan attests to the significant improvements Google has made in fighting webspam.

Google PageRank is NOT Dead: Why It Still Matters in 2018 - Tim Soulo
https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-pagerank/
September 13, 2018

This article explains that Page Rank is still a factor in today’s world. Some believe that Page Rank is an ancient metric that Google used to use and is no longer relevant in the SEO world today. But a tweet from Gary Illyes from 2017 states in fact that Google still uses Page Rank as a ranking factor.

 

OK, How can I Rank for Voice Search #LearnInbound
https://www.slideshare.net/aleydasolis/ok-how-can-i-rank-for-voice-search-learninbound
September 13, 2018

The world hasn’t quite shifted over to Voice Search quite yet. In this slide deck by Aleyda Solis, she explains how most people use their Voice Assistants for queries.

Step-By-Step Guide: SEO Pruning with SEMrush - Kevin Indig
https://www.semrush.com/blog/guide-seo-pruning-semrush/
September 11, 2018

This is a great guide if you’ve been thinking about to pruning links with the help of SEMrush.

Google Strongly Recommends Using HTML to Get Content Indexed Quickly – Matt Southern
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-strongly-recommends-using-html-to-get-content-indexed-quickly/269841/
September 14, 2018

In the past we reported that John Mueller said that Google does two waves of indexing. The first wave Googlebot only looks at HTML then a few days or even weeks later Googlebot goes and a second crawl looking at the entire site. This is a big deal for sites that need to have information indexed as soon as possible.

How to improve SEO by Tackling Index Bloat and Crawl Waste - Bill Sebald
https://pitchbox.com/blog/how-to-improve-seo-by-tackling-index-bloat-and-crawl-waste/
September 12, 2018

Don’t skimp on technical SEO!

Ask Yoast: Hiding images for Pinterest in your posts - Joost de Valk
https://yoast.com/ask-yoast-hiding-images-for-pinterest-in-your-posts/
September 14, 2018

Pin it to Win it! Pinterest has been a growing search engine in its own right and the social aspect of the platform can help drive more traffic to your site.

Google on How to Improve Sites that Don’t Rank – Roger Montti
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/how-to-rank-better-google/269719/
September 14, 2018

If you want to be in the top 10 search results, being just as good as your competition isn’t good enough!

How to Exploit the SEO Honeymoon Period - Kaspar Szymanski
https://en.ryte.com/magazine/exploit-seo-honeymoon-period
September 14, 2018

Kaspar Szymanski is a former member of Google’s Webspam team. If you have a new website he recommends considering looking at these 5 pieces of advice.

Content Ideation Process Made Easy (5 Steps) – Arnie Kuenn
https://entrepreneurshq.com/content-ideation-process-made-easy-5-steps/
September 14, 2018

Are you struggling to come up with new creative content ideas? Arnie gives us a great method which uses the help of your frontline staff.

Building a strong Internal Linking strategy – iQSEO
https://www.iqseo.org/building-internal-links-for-seo-wins/
Updated September 18, 2018

Auditing your internal links is useful to make sure that anchors aren’t being overused, to see if anchor opportunities are missing, and to see if incorrect anchors are being used.

How to choose the best content format for link building – Paddy Moogan
https://searchengineland.com/how-to-choose-the-best-content-format-for-link-building-305519
September 18, 2018

The type of content that you’re using can seriously impact how successful you are at link building.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Influence & Convert Customers Direct with Google Posts – Tim Capper
https://searchnewscentral.com/blog/2018/09/11/influence-convert-customers-direct-with-google-posts/
September 11, 2018

Tim gives us some great tips on effectively communicating with your target audience with Google My Business Posts.

Man jailed in Italy for writing fake TripAdvisor review - company - Reuters
http://www.euronews.com/2018/09/12/man-jailed-in-italy-for-writing-fake-tripadvisor-review-company
September 12, 2018

Nine months of jail time and a fine of 8,000 Euros has been given out by an Italian court.


Where to find Marie

I’ll also be speaking soon at Brighton SEO on Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. Hope to see you there!

You can also find our podcast on iTunes and Google Play Music:

iTunes

Google Play Music

Youtube (weekly live updates)


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Paid members also get the following:

  • If you block traffic from the US, you’ll likely hurt your rankings
  • Is your cached page broken after being moved to mobile first indexing?
  • AMP Moves Toward Open Governance Model
  • GDPR and the effect it is having on users in Europe  
  • Manage and measure your experiments like a pro with new Google Optimize features
  • Is Google buying links?
  • Three new features in Data Studio are here!
  • How to block Google from crawling PDFs
  • Does WordPress give you a ranking advantage?
  • Great example of how good internal linking can really help
  • More advice from Google on whether content pruning can help
  • Is guest posting for links white hat? New info from Google
  • Can you run a contest to get more reviews?
  • 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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