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Episode 52 - October 4, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

It looks like we have had a significant algorithm update once again. While I was away at Brighton SEO, Google appears to have run a tweak to the August 1 update. I’ll share my thoughts on that in this newsletter. We will also talk about a Google bug affecting urls with a plus sign, whether or not bad links can hurt you, and many more tips. In local SEO, we’ll talk about the “family led business” attribute and a change to Google Posts.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • Returning from the Dead After Being Killed By Panda?
  • Great info on what to do after being moved to Mobile First Indexing
  • Bulk testing advice from John Mueller
  • Goodbye Geocities, You Will Be Missed!
  • Real Time Google Analytics was broken
  • Potential New Bug In GSC
  • Cloudflare launches a new Domain Registration Service at cost pricing
  • Google’s site search function is not always super accurate
  • Google Image Search to Display Creator and Credit Metadata
  • Funny Google Easter Egg
  • How to use Lighthouse on more than one page at a time
  • Does Google have specific algorithms for individual industries?
  • Michael King asked on twitter “What's the wildest SEO situation you've been in due to something a developer did?” For his Brighton SEO presentation
  • Interesting info about what happened when Moz moved their beginner’s guide to a subdomain
  • Missing a month of SEMRush data? Here is why.
  • Is it ok to have auto-translated content in the index?
  • Google Under Fire from Belgian Military
  • Internet Archives Save Over 9 Million Links on Wikipedia. Here’s how we can take advantage of this
  • Do nofollowed links count for anything?
  • Can poor code hurt your rankings?
  • A great tip for forum sites
  • A good tip for a business who did not set up their own Google Analytics
  • Remember those blue checkmarks we saw in the SERPS?
  • Hot Tips for Dynamic Rendering
  • Did you know that Google has a built in tip calculator?
  • Is it true that Google said we should not build links at all?
  • Local SEO: Chrome extension to get a review link
  • Local SEO: How many reviews can you see in your GMB dashboard?
  • Local SEO: Are you a Service-Area-Business? A comprehensive list of sites that allow you to keep your business address hidden
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm updates

September 27, 2018 and October 1, 2018

Both of these dates appear to be the dates of significant algorithmic turbulence.

Danny Sullivan confirmed that there was an update. He called it “small”, but we saw a lot of sites with significant changes.

We saw a number of clients see nice gains on either September 27 or October 1. This is a financial site with which we worked to improve their E-A-T. They saw beautiful gains starting September 27:

This client in a health niche saw beautiful improvements too:

This is a legal site that we reviewed a few months ago. They have been working on improving the user experience, adding better internal links and greatly improving the quality of their content. It appears to be paying off:

For this site, we have been working on improving E-A-T and also reducing things that could cause trust issues with users. For example, we recommended adding a terms and conditions page and more clear information on refunds as this is discussed in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines:

We have several sites who are in our waiting list for site reviews who saw a big drop August 1 and then even more of a drop on September 27:

There are also several sites that saw massive gains on August 1 and almost all of these gains were reversed on September 27:

For some of the sites listed above, their Google Analytics profile clearly shows that the increases started October 1. Yet, SEMRush stats are showing September 27. As such, I’m going to say that this is all one update that rolled out between September 27 - October 1, 2018.

Glenn Gabe is also noticing significant changes in many sites.

If you were affected by this update, there is unlikely to be a quick fix. As usual, with quality updates we would recommend looking at the following:

  • Thoroughly read through Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines. (If you’re a paid member of this newsletter, you can get a copy of the Quality Raters’ Guidelines summary checklist that we use at MHC).
  • Do all you can to improve the number of people that are talking about you online. This means getting good press, getting legitimate forum mentions and producing content that people truly want to read and reference.
  • Have a thorough and critical look for things that could be seen as untrustworthy to searches such as a super pushy sales funnel, promises of “free” product that really isn’t free, poor online reputation (especially in the BBB) and more.

John Mueller said in a help hangout, “These updates are just essentially general search ranking relevance updates that we would always make.”

Barry Schwartz has deemed the September 27-Oct 1 update the “Google Birthday Update” as it happened coincidental with Google’s 20th birthday.


Strange Google Bug that could have tanked your traffic

This bug is apparently affecting urls that have a “+” in them. These urls would appear in the SERPS, but users would be unable to click on them.

I have checked GA profiles for a number of sites and can’t see much of an impact. But some are reporting big losses.

Google did confirm that this is not connected with the September 27 algorithm update.


Google confirms that authority is a ranking factor

I have been talking a lot over the last couple of years about E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust). Google confirmed in a blog post that authority truly is a ranking factor. The article says, “For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking.

When I talk about authority as a ranking factor, many SEOs will say that it would be impossible for Google to algorithmically measure authority. I disagree!

The information in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines tells Google’s Quality Raters to look for external information about websites and also about “content creators” or, in other words, authors. Gary Illyes shared with us at Pubcon Austin that E-A-T is primarily based on what authoritative sites are saying about you:

The important point though is that Google knows which parts of the web to trust and consider authorities. Gary said that if you get a mention in Forbes, Google knows which parts of Forbes are likely true mentions and which are likely paid.

The point is that in order to rank well in a competitive niche, you need to be recognized as an authority in your field.


Page authority and image location are now ranking factors for Google Images Search


In the Rich Results Report you can now find support for Event Markups in GSC!

Google has started to issue notices to sites who haven't implemented event markup properly. More here from Barry Schwartz.


SEMrush Hits 3,000,000 Users!

Congratulations to the team over at SEMrush! They have made so many great developments over the last 10 years and we can’t wait to see what they’re up to next!


Chrome no longer shows a green padlock for secure sites

We have reported on this before, but thought we’d mention it before as it is confusing a lot of people.


Meet the New Google Feed: Google Discover!

Many of the new features that will be added to the renamed Google Discover include new topic headers, fresher content, more customization, and more languages. We can also expect to see it take over the simple search page on the mobile version of Google.com.

It will be interesting to see if this changes how people search.


Does Google Care about how many noindexed pages you have?

John Mueller says no:

“No that also has no impact on ranking. It's not a quality signal if a website has a lot of pages that are no Index that that can be perfectly normal. For example maybe you have a website that has a lot of private content or a lot of content that's behind a login and you put all of that on no- indexed pages that show the login form that's perfectly fine. A web site can be fantastic with the current content that is indexable and the other content you just don't want it to be indexable that's totally up to you. That wouldn't affect the kind of relevance of the indexable content on your web site.”


If you have blocked a page in robots.txt by accident, how long does it take for Google to reindex the page once removed?

John Mueller was asked in a help hangout about a site that accidentally blocked a page in robots.txt. It has been 8 days since the block was removed, but the page is still not indexed. John said that for an important page like the homepage of a site, within 8 days the page should be back in the index. But, if this was a page that was less important, Google may not recrawl this page for months and so it could take a long time.

He suggested submitting the page to the index in GSC and this should speed things up.


Google may eventually put some of the info from the Quality Raters’ Guidelines into their general webmaster guidelines

I missed this tidbit from a Google help hangout in early September. Thanks to Deep Crawl for their help hangout summaries for finding this! (And thank you to Berian Reed for pointing this out to me at Brighton SEO.)


Google is starting to show site stats in the SERPS for logged in users

I am not seeing this yet, so it may be a test.

Other people are reporting seeing this even when they search for their top keywords:


Can bad links still hurt your rankings?

According to this article by Barry Schwartz, 63% of SEOs surveyed felt that bad links have a possibility of hurting a site algorithmically.

This is significant as Google has told us repeatedly that the Penguin algorithm no longer demotes sites, but rather, just ignores unnatural links.

What I think

I do believe that unnatural links can hurt a site algorithmically. However, I think that it is rare and only reserved for cases where there is a very obvious pattern of links that have been made by the business itself for SEO purposes.

If you are seeing a large number of ultra spammy links such as links from image sites or from incredibly spammy pages, I believe that Google’s algorithms are really good at ignoring these.

But if you have a large number of links that were made just for SEO purposes, there are other link algorithms that can sometimes come into play. We are starting to file some disavows now and have some cases where we are seeing improvements within a couple of weeks or months.

If you will be at Pubcon Vegas in a couple of weeks, I will be giving a talk on how I believe Google is handling links algorithmically these days. It really should be quite interesting!


Google Building Search Engine for Fact Checking

Google’s new Fact Check Tool is officially in beta. Only journalists, researchers, and other fact checkers have access to it currently through their beta registration.


SEO Tools

Tool for Scraping Google PAA’s

This looks like a great tool if you want to optimize your content creation or design better featured snippets! Just remember, it does violate Google’s TOS to scrape their site. If you’re doing this on a really small scale, it shouldn’t cause problems though.


Changes to Chrome Extensions and Chrome Web Store

The Chromium team is coming out with changes to make sure that Chrome extensions will be more secure and reliable for their users. You can find a full list of planned updates on their recent blog post.


New Mobile First Index Checker

As Mobile First Indexing ramps up we’re definitely keeping an eye on awesome tools like this that can provide a lot of value to what we do in SEO.


Fake Followers Tool

Want to know how many of your followers are likely to be fake? Sparktoro has a new tool to help you do this.


Local SEO

Let Customers Know You’re a ‘Family-Led’ Business on GMB

This is great news for family run companies that are trying to get that extra support from their community. It also echoes the ‘women-led’ and ‘veteran-led’ attributes that became available in GMB earlier in the year.


Update to GMB Listings

You now have the ability to suggest an edit in Google Search to list a business as being located inside another location. Before you could only do this by contacting support.


Google Posts Lose Top Spot in Knowledge Panel

Google Posts appear to have been moved to the bottom of the knowledge panel, at least for the time being. This is something that many in the SEO community are a bit disappointed about.


Google Is now showing Search Boxes for Reviews


Where to find Marie

The fall is always a crazy time for me. I have done quite a few podcasts, interviews and talks in the last few weeks and there are more to come.

Here are some places where you can find me.

First, I always love doing an interview with Dan Sure. This was a lot of fun:

This SEMRush podcast was a great discussion on quality links:

I really enjoyed speaking at Brighton SEO. It was a really well put together conference. Here is my talk on Super Practical Nuggets from Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines:

I also had a great time at Optimisey in Cambridge. If you are anywhere near Cambridge, I would highly recommend attending this event!

In the next month or so, I’ll be at Pubcon Vegas, Digital Dealer (in Vegas) and also the RD Summit in Brazil. Hope to see you there!


Recommended reading

How Google’s March, April and August updates might fit together - Eric Enge

https://searchengineland.com/how-googles-march-april-and-august-updates-might-fit-together-305975

September 25, 2018

This article goes into depth about piecing together the March, April and August updates and how each update correlated with each other. Eric recaps each update and shares his thoughts on how the updates affected sites with breadth and depth of content, low E-A-T, and sites that bounced back in August due to their brand recognition and authority.


Can Google make the web faster without taking over the web? - Nilay Patel

https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/25/17898006/google-amp-future-malte-uble-interview-vergecast

September 25, 2018

This article details some parts of the author’s conversation with Malte Ubl who has been leading the AMP project for the last 3 years.


Surprising SEO A/B Test Results - Whiteboard Friday – Will Critchlow

https://moz.com/blog/surprising-seo-ab-test-results

September 28th, 2018

Will Critchlow, the CEO of Distilled, gives us some fantastic insight into the A/B testing that his company has been doing.


Why Author Reputation Matters More Than Ever for Search – Mark Traphagen

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-author-reputation-matters-for-search/262799/

August 14, 2018

Did Google Authorship really go away? That’s one thing this article tries to answer and the answer is: maybe!


How to Handle Your Brand’s Disaster Response in Phases - Justin Joffe

https://www.prnewsonline.com/disaster-response

September 26, 2018

While the article is written from a PR perspective, we should always keep in mind how PR in the online world can influence SEO.


SEO Advice from SurveyMonkey Director of SEO and Growth, Eli Schwartz - Craig Cannon

https://blog.ycombinator.com/seo-advice-from-surveymonkey-director-of-seo-and-growth-eli-schwartz/

September 27th, 2018

Eli Schwartz gives us a great break down of the basic concepts of SEO.


Mobile-first indexing: Will it change your rankings on desktop? - Janet Driscoll Miller

https://searchengineland.com/mobile-first-indexing-will-it-change-your-rankings-on-desktop-306023

September 27, 2018

This article is great at addressing how mobile first indexing will really affect your website.


BrightonSEO Slides – September 2018 - Aymen Loukil

https://twitter.com/LoukilAymen/status/1046018616204906496

September 29, 2018

Did you want to show your colleagues what cool stuff they missed miss out on BrightonSEO? Or did you miss it yourself? Either way, don’t worry! Aymen was kind enough to gather up most of the slide decks (tweet him if he’s missing yours!) and video of presentations all onto one page .


Google is giving advertisers more ways to target YouTube users – Nick Statt

https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/1/17924422/google-search-targeted-advertising-youtube-expansion

September 25, 2018

It doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody that Google would be looking to improve their ad game. It’s currently doing this by using YouTube as an extension of its core search engine instead of a completely different service.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

How to Get More Reviews on Google - Drew Eastmead

https://www.verticalmeasures.com/blog/search-optimization/how-to-get-more-reviews-on-google/

September 25, 2018

Recent research shows that customers are more like to interact directly with a business that has positive Google reviews, even without visiting their website!


Online Reputation Management Survey - BrightLocal

https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/online-reputation-management-survey/

September 2018

This recent study of 255 marketers, SMBs, and enterprise employees showed that 76% of the respondents are planning to spend more time on ORM in the next year.


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Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Returning from the Dead After Being Killed By Panda?
  • Great info on what to do after being moved to Mobile First Indexing
  • Bulk testing advice from John Mueller
  • Goodbye Geocities, You Will Be Missed!
  • Real Time Google Analytics was broken
  • Potential New Bug In GSC
  • Cloudflare launches a new Domain Registration Service at cost pricing
  • Google’s site search function is not always super accurate
  • Google Image Search to Display Creator and Credit Metadata
  • Funny Google Easter Egg
  • How to use Lighthouse on more than one page at a time
  • Does Google have specific algorithms for individual industries?
  • Michael King asked on twitter “What's the wildest SEO situation you've been in due to something a developer did?” For his Brighton SEO presentation
  • Interesting info about what happened when Moz moved their beginner’s guide to a subdomain
  • Missing a month of SEMRush data? Here is why.
  • Is it ok to have auto-translated content in the index?
  • Google Under Fire from Belgian Military
  • Internet Archives Save Over 9 Million Links on Wikipedia. Here’s how we can take advantage of this
  • Do nofollowed links count for anything?
  • Can poor code hurt your rankings?
  • A great tip for forum sites
  • A good tip for a business who did not set up their own Google Analytics
  • Remember those blue checkmarks we saw in the SERPS?
  • Hot Tips for Dynamic Rendering
  • Did you know that Google has a built in tip calculator?
  • Is it true that Google said we should not build links at all?
  • Local SEO: Chrome extension to get a review link
  • Local SEO: How many reviews can you see in your GMB dashboard?
  • Local SEO: Are you a Service-Area-Business? A comprehensive list of sites that allow you to keep your business address hidden
  • 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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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.

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Paul Macnamara - Offers SEO Consulting at PaulMacnamara.com


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