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Episode 53 - October 12, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

The algorithmic flux that we are seeing these days is incredible. Google has confirmed that they are rolling out something significant. In this episode, I’ll share my thoughts on that.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • Is the latest algorithmic turbulence due to mobile first indexing?
  • A Look Back On 7 Years of Google+
  • Workaround for Text Only Cache Bug
  • How to recognize traffic that comes from the Google discover feed
  • ccTLD Does Not Replace hreflang
  • Great Tip for Keeping an Eye on Your E-A-T
  • Seeing more crawl activity in GSC? You may be about to move to mobile first indexing
  • How to find and crawl orphaned urls with Screaming Frog
  • Are .edu links more highly valued by Google?
  • The new paid link
  • Is it dangerous to use shared hosting?
  • What happens if Google sees conflicting meta robots tags on a page?
  • Be careful what you’re blocking in robots.txt
  • Local SEO: Google Allows You to Migrate Listings from Multiple Accounts into One
  • Local SEO: Local SERPS on mobile featuring thumbnail images - How the images are selected
  • Local SEO: A plugin To Make GMB Posts From Your WordPress Dashboard
  • Local SEO: Minimalist design testing for local pack (again)
  • Local SEO: How many Google searches have local intent?
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

Algorithm updates

As often happens at this time of year, we have had a large number of algorithm updates. The last couple of months have been extremely turbulent.

Danny Sullivan tweeted, via the Google Search Liaison account telling us that Google has indeed made some updates. You can read the entire tweet thread here. Or, here is a summary of what we can learn from his tweets:

  • Google usually releases one or more algorithm changes every day. But, occasionally they will do bigger updates.
  • Google confirmed that they released a broad core update starting September 24.
  • It will take a week or more for that to roll out. (My note: We first started seeing widespread changes starting September 27. I feel that this ran till approximately October 8, based on GA data that I have reviewed.)
  • For advice on creating great content, he referred us to the Quality Raters’ Guidelines.
  • The Quality Raters’ advice does not feed into the algorithms. Rather, they use it as feedback to see how the algorithms are doing.

We are seeing some really nice increases for some of the sites which we have done site reviews, but not all.

Here is a site that we felt had trust issues quite a few months ago. The business was able to deal with these as these issues mostly centered around one particular person. I know this is kind of vague, but I don’t want to say too much for confidentiality reasons. The point I’m trying to make here is that this site made changes to improve their level of trust and now they are seeing nice gains:

We are also starting to see some partial recoveries in sites that were hit August 1. However, most sites that saw August 1 drops have not recovered. Here is one that saw a tiny increase. This site worked to improve their E-A-T. They brought in subject matter experts. They also made improvements in content so that they were more valuable than competitors:

I believe that the reason why most sites hit August 1 have not recovered is because trust issues are not an easy thing to fix. I do expect that some of the sites hit August 1 will be able to fully recover, but it may take months or even years to do so.

Trust

I really do feel that this latest wave of algorithm updates is based around Google’s ability to assess trust in a website. I have written a very thorough article on Trust (published the same day as this newsletter).

My theory is that Google looks at a number of factors to determine whether your website is trustworthy. Things that could possibly cause Google to distrust a site include:

  • Authors who are lacking E-A-T.
  • Reputation issues, especially with the BBB.
  • A YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) site that has very little external reputation information. (i.e. if no one is talking about your business, then Google may not want to rank it.)
  • Lack of scientific references (where appropriate).
  • Articles that could be kept up to date are not.
  • Having information that contradict science.
  • Lack of information regarding who is responsible for the site, and also contact information.
  • No terms and conditions page. No information on how to get a refund (if applicable).
  • Unmoderated user generated content.
  • Distracting or deceptive ads.
  • No obvious purpose for the site. (This is a big one! I feel that some sites saw drops because they have not made it clear how they monetize. If your site exists to sell leads to people, or make affiliate sales, you should make this clear.)
  • Other deceptive or fraudulent issues that would make people not trust the site.

I do also think that link quality can be a component. We noticed that most of the sites that saw changes in October of 2018 had link issues. Some had disavowed and some had not. I do think that Google has algorithms outside of Penguin that determine how much trust they can put in your link profile.

Given that we have seen some good improvements in some (not all though) sites that we have filed a disavow for, it may make sense to do a link audit and disavow if you know you have a history of links made for SEO purposes.

For more detailed info on these algorithm updates, I would encourage you to read my article on Trust.


People Also Ask boxes rising in popularity and Google’s recent testing

Popularity of ‘People Also Ask’ boxes is increasing at a rapid pace, according to STAT Search Analytics. What’s Google’s latest hand in the matter? The testing of auto-expanding, auto-loading ‘People Also Ask’ boxes as the default setting. Rather than clicking on questions to reveal the contents, this test provides all the contents in the SERPs without hesitation.


Google is announcing monetization options for Google Assistant

Google has really been pushing Google Assistant lately. Now, developers will be able to make it so that you can sell a product or service via the Google Assistant. The example given in this article is that Starbucks has been testing leveraging Google Assistant to allow customers to access their Starbucks rewards app via the Assistant. They have apparently doubled conversions doing this, which is incredible!


September SERPs “Related Questions” were on the rise

For as long as most webmasters can remember, there hasn’t been a shift quite this one-sided. While many SEOs are accustomed to the regular algorithm changes and thereby inherent ranking fluctuations, we can’t help but wonder what’s next from Google and how we all may be impacted.

If you are seeing a drop in converting traffic, yet rankings are the same, it may be that users are finding their answers in the SERPS now and not clicking through to your site.


Bing Webmaster Tools - Submit URL feature not working. What’s the deal?

As we previously reported, Bing removed its anonymous submit URL tool. Now, the submit URL within its Webmaster Tools seems to be non-functioning. You may notice that Bing is not accessing any of the content you’ve submitted. In what should typically take just moments, currently, BingBot is not even fetching the submitted URL within minutes…or days!


Google help forum Top Contributors are now called Product Experts


Pitch to speak at Brighton SEO

Speaking at Brighton SEO was an incredible experience. I’d highly recommend pitching!


SEO Tools

Moz has acquired Stat!

October 10, 2018 will be one to remember. A significant milestone for both companies, it has been announced that Moz has acquired STAT. For over a year now, Sarah Bird, Moz’s CEO, and Rob Bucci, now former CEO of STAT and newly appointed VP of Research & Development at Moz, have discussed the possibility of joining forces. Couple the striking similarities, the shared values, and the nearby offices (Seattle and Vancouver), we’re excited for this match made in heaven. Christmas is nearly here knowing these two will be delivering quality data and pure innovation ahead.


Local SEO

GMB Manual Review Bug

Caution ahead! A bug in Google My Business has surfaced for some users that have locations needing a manual review. What does that mean? Well, a 404 Page Not Found Error may surface. Although they are aware of the issue, Google has not released any updates as to when we can expect a fix. In the meantime, Barry Schwartz suggests you may need to speak to someone at Google to get the listing verified.


GMB Posts Increased to 1500 Characters

Google’s official guidelines still recommend that you keep your posts within 100-300 characters. Many local SEO’s will argue that you should keep your posts within 80-96  characters to avoid having your post being cut off in the knowledge panel.


Family led attribute is no longer available?

We reported last week that Google was allowing you to mark a business as “family led”. However, according to some experts at the Local Search Forum, it looks like Google has removed this option. Hopefully it will come back!


Google Assistant to begin public testing of AI-based Duplex technology

Google has announced that Pixel users in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area will soon be able to experience the new feature in the Google Assistant, powered by Google Duplex technology, aimed at restaurants. Known as an ‘AI System for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone’, the goal is simple: help businesses reach a broader set of consumers and make it easier for them to connect. Now, users are able to book directly through Google Assistant which requires no extra work for the business. The system works with Google’s online booking partner platforms, and provides businesses with full transparency and control. This means you’ll be made aware that it’s Google Assistant calling and you’ll of course have control features to save your preferences for things like opting-out. Want to see how it works? Here’s a preview from Google’s I/O ’18.


“Trending This Week” Appears in GMB Listings

Another instance of “Trending This Week” has appeared in GMB Listings, this time in Europe through Google.nl. Joy Hawkins also notes that she has seen similar iterations popping up since June of this year. There is some speculation that this may be related to the Google Maps Summer 2018 update that sought to create a more exploratory experience for users.


SEO Jobs


Where to find Marie

Google Algo Update Postmortem: How Did It Affect Local Businesses?


Recommended reading

Does Author Authority Matter for Your Content and SEO? – Mark Traphagan
stonetemple.com/does-author-authority-matter-for-your-content-and-seo/
October 4th, 2018

Whether Google actually cares about who writes an article has been a hot topic of discussion since Google Authorship met a sad demise in 2014.

Website redesign mistakes that destroy SEO - Jeremy Knauff
searchengineland.com/website-redesign-mistakes-that-destroy-seo-306182
October 4th, 2018

Website redesign is tough to begin with, but it can become even more difficult when you’re trying to keep up with SEO best practices throughout the process.

I have resigned as the WordPress accessibility team lead. Here is why. - Rian Rietveld
rianrietveld.com/2018/10/09/i-have-resigned-the-wordpress-accessibility-team/
October 9th, 2018

Rian Rietveld of the WordPress accessibility team is leaving.

How Search Engine Land is changing to support you better - Henry Powderly
searchengineland.com/how-search-engine-land-is-changing-to-support-you-better-306375
October 9th, 2018

New VP of content at Third Door Media, Henry Powderly, lends his voice in welcoming the changes at Search Engine Land.


The SEO Cyborg: How to Resonate with Users & Make Sense to Search Bots - Alexis Sanders
moz.com/blog/seo-cyborg
October 9th, 2018

What is the SEO Cyborg? The article describes it as a single or team of SEO’s that are able to tackle both technical and content initiatives in order to improve the performance of organic search.


Rewriting the Beginner's Guide to SEO, Chapter 5: Technical Optimization - Britney Muller
moz.com/blog/beginners-guide-to-seo-chapter-5
October 8th, 2018

If you are new to SEO, technical SEO, or just want I refresher then I highly encourage you to read this article.


Faceted Navigation Intro – Whiteboard Friday – Serge Stefoglo
moz.com/blog/faceted-navigation-intro
October 5th, 2018

This is a must watch whiteboard Friday if you have any interest in SEO for e-commerce.

Link Inversion, the Least Known Major Ranking Factor - Dan Petrovic
dejanseo.com.au/link-inversion/
October 10th, 2018

Link inversion can be a blessing and a curse to the owners of websites.


I Understand Google Better than Google
- Bartosz Góralewicz
medium.com/elephate/i-understand-google-better-than-google-821f64d69445
October 5, 2018

Citing the time Google was openly looking to hire an SEO Manager back in 2015 to improve its own rankings, Bartosz relays his observations (aka the mistakes) since then that has led Google awry.


How to Make Better SEO Reports for Your SEO Campaigns – Bill Sebald
greenlanemarketing.com/blog/making-better-seo-reports-for-your-clients/
October 8th, 2018

For many SEO agencies their SEO reports are the calling card that sets them apart from their competition.


Updated: The big list of Google Easter eggs - Chris Sherman
searchengineland.com/the-big-list-of-google-easter-eggs-153768
October 9th, 2018

Google has a long history of  jokes and Easter eggs. Fortunately for us, Search Engine Land has compiled the ultimate list.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Google+ Autopsy for People Who Do Local SEO: What to Know and What to Do – Phil Rozek
localvisibilitysystem.com/2018/10/08/google-plus-autopsy-for-people-who-do-local-seo-what-to-know-and-what-to-do/
October 8th, 2018

With Google+ officially on its way out the door Phil Rozek offers us some great advice on adjustments we may have to make to our websites and our approach to Google services.

3 reasons why Google My Business search queries don’t match Search Console – Joy Hawkins
searchengineland.com/3-reasons-why-google-my-business-search-queries-dont-match-search-console-306294
October 8th, 2018

If you haven’t noticed already, there’s a very good chance that your GMB Insights data looks radically different than your Search Console data.

Google Reduced Post Visibility but Now Also Showing Them in Google Maps – Mike Blumenthal
blumenthals.com/blog/2018/10/09/google-reduced-post-visibility-but-now-also-showing-them-in-google-maps/
October 9th, 2018

At the end of last month, Google ended up making Posts a little bit less visible to users.


Leading chef, 39, calls on TripAdvisor to crack down on fake reviewers after a company offers to boost his rating with 840 'good write-ups' at a cost of one pound a review - Terri-Anne Williams
dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6255893/Top-restaurant-chef-sick-death-companies-touting-hundreds-bogus-reviews-money.html
October 9th, 2019

One of Britain's top chefs is putting TripAdvisor in the hot seat after a firm proposed him the writing of 840 positive reviews for £1 each.


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Paid members also get the following:

  • Is the latest algorithmic turbulence due to mobile first indexing?
  • A Look Back On 7 Years of Google+
  • Workaround for Text Only Cache Bug
  • How to recognize traffic that comes from the Google discover feed
  • ccTLD Does Not Replace hreflang
  • Great Tip for Keeping an Eye on Your E-A-T
  • Seeing more crawl activity in GSC? You may be about to move to mobile first indexing
  • How to find and crawl orphaned urls with Screaming Frog
  • Are .edu links more highly valued by Google?
  • The new paid link
  • Is it dangerous to use shared hosting?
  • What happens if Google sees conflicting meta robots tags on a page?
  • Be careful what you’re blocking in robots.txt
  • Local SEO: Google Allows You to Migrate Listings from Multiple Accounts into One
  • Local SEO: Local SERPS on mobile featuring thumbnail images - How the images are selected
  • Local SEO: A plugin To Make GMB Posts From Your WordPress Dashboard
  • Local SEO: Minimalist design testing for local pack (again)
  • Local SEO: How many Google searches have local intent?
  • 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


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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