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Episode 56 - November 9, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

This is a really packed newsletter. There was a significant algorithm update on October 31, 2018 and we are seeing some nice recoveries. We’ll share a story with you in this episode of how we believe one site recovered. We’ll also talk about some Google announcements, some new Bing features, big news for service area businesses in GMB and much more.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • Google is still working on fixing the bug that is keeping some news articles from being found
  • Is the cache still broken for sites moved to mobile-first indexing?
  • Site recovery after removing spammy user-generated content
  • How Google’s Knowledge Graph updates itself
  • Are you confusing the “People also ask” with “People also search” features?
  • Is the age of your domain name a ranking signal?
  • Comments are like gold for sites!
  • Benefits of Google Public DNS
  • Are press releases worth it?
  • Interesting trends for ebay.com
  • Be careful in whom you give complete GSC ownership to for your site
  • SEO Tests and Experiments
  • Local SEO: Thoughts swirl around the GMB service area feature
  • Local SEO: New ‘service areas’ feature on GMB may affect your Google Posts
  • Local SEO: Yelp is on the lookout for businesses manipulating ratings and reviews
  • Local SEO: GMB branded searches defined
  • Local SEO: Good tip for local businesses who want more voice search visits
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

Algorithm updates

October 31, 2018

This appears to be a big update. In the sites we monitor, a large number of them saw significant gains or losses on this day. A couple of our clients are seeing nice recoveries. (I’ll share about one of these at the end of the algorithm update section.)

Many sites that are on our waiting list for a review saw further drops after seeing a drop on August 1, 2018 and also September 27, 2018.

This is a typical profile for sites that had this pattern. This site was hit hard on Aug 1, and again on September 27 and also again on October 31:

Ouch.

There is no clear pattern of a specific issue that this update has gone after. However, it is likely closely related to all of the issues that I pointed out in my September 27 algo update post.

November 4-5, 2018

This appears to be a tweak to the core algorithm as well. It doesn’t appear to be as big of an update as the October 31 one, but it is significant. Again, many of the sites affected had issues related to trust.

We saw several sites across a varying number of niches see slight gains like this:

It is interesting to note that most of the sites that saw changes on November 4-5, 2018 were not medical in nature. We had several clients with finance sites that saw a little bit of a boost on this date, and also some eCommerce clients.


Quality Update Recovery Story

One of my favorite parts of the week is when I get to review our Google Analytics profiles to see whether any of our clients had seen gains. Here is an incredible recovery from a site that was hit with the August 1, 2018 update. It is a site in the health niche. Google Analytics data looks even better than what we’re seeing in SEMRush:

Now, whenever we see a nice recovery like this, it is important to note that the improvement could just be because Google’s algorithms changed to now favor the site. It may not be because of anything that we have done. But, this site worked really hard after getting hit strongly on August 1, 2018 to implement improvements suggested in our site quality review.

Here are some of the changes that they have made:

  • Added info to the home page that boasted about their E-A-T and why people should trust them to write on this YMYL topic
  • Added an advertising disclosure
  • Improved page speed from red to yellow/green
  • Disavowed a large number of unnatural links
  • Added a terms and conditions page - this is very important!
  • They appear to have gained a number of good online reviews
  • Improved BBB rating from C+ to B-
  • Responded to negative complaints online
  • Added a large number of references to scientific articles in each of their posts - again, very important!
  • Added a last updated date on all articles

Big Drops for ripoffreport.com

It looks like this site has seen big drops with the Oct 31 update.

They may have been affected as well on September 27 as the site has been in decline for a few months now:

My guess is that this drop was related to their own site’s reputation. You can see that they are not that well liked, for obvious reasons:


Bing Introduces Slew of New Features

Bing has introduced a number of exciting new features for searchers. These functions show some interesting niches they’re trying to gain more traction in. It also shows that they have a knack for making these updates as timely as possible.

  • U.S. Election Information -  Bing is now offering up featured search results that will show different perspectives on political issues. As well, they are breaking down the major races in all locales across the United States. Most interestingly, they’re also promising to provide live results on election day courtesy of the Associated Press.
  • Improved Image Search - With the Holiday season quickly creeping up these new image search improvements may prove to be popular. Image searches for food will be accompanied by links to recipes for that food. If you’re looking for at outfits or clothing, Bing will also link you to places where you can buy those items.
  • Expanded NFL Results -  Over half-way through the regular season, Bing has improved their NFL related featured results to give searchers access to more in-depth information.
  • Word of the Day – This may not be as timely as the other features but it’s certainly fun. These are the kind of things that help build a unique user experience for searchers and keep them coming back for more.

Google wants to know how they can make the appearance of the SERPs better

Have any thoughts for Danny Sullivan?


Chrome 71 seriously cracks down on sites displaying too many popups

Upon release in December 2018, Chrome 71 comes with new ad-blocking features. Stepping up from its previous batch of tools (released with Chrome 70), Google is becoming more strict on sites that provide abusive experiences. This includes fake messages, phishing, auto-redirect without user action, and unexpected click areas. If sites don’t take corrective action on flagged experiences within the 30 day grace period, Chrome 71 will block all ads running on the site.


Google Announces New Account Security Features

We use our Google accounts for tons of things which is why it was great to hear when Google announced updates to account security. Some of these security updates include increased security on Google sign-in pages, improvements to Google Security Check-up, and more notifications when you share you account data with apps and websites.


Google’s guide to lazy loading

Want to make sure Googlebot has no trouble seeing all the content on your site? On November 5th, they released the ultimate guide. If you use lazy loading for your site, this is definitely worth a read.


A new way to browse hotels on Google

Earlier this year, Google redesigned its hotels search experience for mobile users. The idea was simple: make it easier to explore and filter for hotel. Well, it seems to have worked. With users appreciating the new set up, Google has carried over the same modern look to desktop hotel search as well. Beginning on October 31st, you can browse and experience:

  • A overview tab which features hotel information, as well as neighborhood and location summaries
  • Price comparisons between the top booking sites
  • Hotel reviews from around the web that can be search by keywords like “air conditioning”
  • A detailed summary of the hotel including highlights, amenities, etc.
  • Photos from the hotel or fellow travelers

More people are seeing GSC keyword ranking data in the SERPS now

We reported on this previously, but it is more widespread now. I don’t think it has completely rolled out though as I saw this for my own site when traveling through the US, but I can’t see it now, when I am in Brazil.


Local SEO

Google asks for your permission ahead of Google Assistant bookings

As we reported previously, Google Assistant’s Duplex technology is set to be begin public testing soon. Seemingly in preparation, Google is initiating it’s privacy controls for business owners to determine if they’ll allow access for these AI-based phone calls:


GMB Big changes ahead for service area businesses

All service area business are experiencing an update. Here are some important takeaways:

1. Service area businesses will now be able to create a listing without designating an address (Verification may still be required in most instances)
2. Increased focus on place-based service areas to provide human-readable descriptions.
3. Existing service area businesses will be able to remove their address.
4. Removing your address and not designating a Service area will default to the country.
5. Existing radius areas will eventually translate to places (cities, zips etc).
6. If post card verification is needed, the address will not show on maps.
7. The core reason for this is to better match the consumer to service area businesses
8. If you designate multiple service areas Google will rank them equally.
9. Drastic changes to your service area could require re-verification (i.e. Changing from AZ to NY).

Join the conversation on the Local Search Forum here and see the official Google tweet on this topic:


Google unveils its local ‘Follow’ button

Want to stay up-to-date with your favourite local businesses? Google’s follow button does just that with your favourite restaurants, shops, and more. You’ll receive events, offers, and other updates available in the ‘For You’ tab. As Glenn Gabe revealed, you can follow publicly or privately.

It will be interesting to see how this works, and also how businesses can take advantage of this.


Future open dates available on GMB listings

Thanks to Barry Schwartz’s article, we now know that verified businesses with a future opening date will begin to appear on Google My Business, 90 days prior to opening. Soon-to-open businesses can create a listing before they open which helps them build an online presence and engage with customers, Even more, it’ll be a place to announce their opening date.


Recommended Reading

Google Produced 92% of US Organic Search Visits in Q3 2018 [REPORT] – Matt Southern
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-produced-92-of-us-organic-search-visits-in-q3-2018-report/275005/
October 24th, 2018

There has not been any doubt for a long time that Google dominates US organic search. What’s impressive is that they are seeing increased market share for organic search with 9% gains year-over-year in 2018.

Link building tool roundup: Site crawlers – Julie Joyce
https://searchengineland.com/link-building-tool-roundup-site-crawlers-306855
October 26th, 2018

Once again, Julie gives us incredible value in this article.

23 SEO & Search Takeaways from Google’s Gary Illyes – Danny Goodwin
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/gary-illyes-whats-new-in-google-search-pubcon-keynote-recap/274273/
October 17th, 2018

Coming off his recent talk at Pubcon in Las Vegas, Search Engine Journal has compiled 23 highlights of Gary Illyes discussion.

Forging a fine-tuned SEO machine – Kevin Indig
https://www.kevin-indig.com/forging-a-fine-tuned-seo-machine/
October 31st, 2018

We all want to build better SEO teams but the question is: How?

Night of the Living 302s: How SEO Crawlers and GSC’s Index Coverage Reporting Helped Me Surface A Sinister 302 Redirect Problem [Case Study] – Glenn Gabe
https://www.gsqi.com/marketing-blog/night-of-the-living-302s/
October 31st, 2018

In this article, Glenn recounts a horrific tale of pages 302 redirecting for crawlers but revolving as 200s when manually checked in a browser. Jeepers!

17 SEO experts on the evolution of Google's mobile first index – Lilach Bullock
https://www.wordtracker.com/blog/seo/17-seo-experts-on-the-evolution-of-googles-mobile-first-index
October 30th, 2018

Undeniably almost all of the experts noted that they think page speed is fundamental.

Google CTR in 2018: Paid, Organic, & No-Click Searches – Rand Fishkin
https://sparktoro.com/blog/google-ctr-in-2018-paid-organic-no-click-searches/
October 30th, 2018

Some recent research based on data available from Jumpshot shows that organic and paid CTRs have been consistently dropping over the last 2 years.

How Do Sessions Work in Google Analytics? - Whiteboard Friday – Tom Capper
https://moz.com/blog/how-do-sessions-work
November 2nd, 2018

This Whiteboard Friday covers how Google Analytics defines individual sessions for users who visit a website.

Will Google Knowledge Graph Steal Your Website Traffic? – Tyler Bishop
https://blog.ezoic.com/will-google-knowledge-graph-steal-your-website-traffic/
November 6th, 2018

Over the last several years, Google has made some rather large advances in regards to its Knowledge Graph. This articles breaks down Google’s definition of the Knowledge Graph, whether Google and other experts believe it is good or bad for most websites, and more.

Keyword Volume Relational Accuracy – Russ Jones
http://www.thegooglecache.com/white-hat-seo/keyword-volume-relational-accuracy/
November 1st, 2018

Written by Moz’s Principal Search Scientist, Russ Jones directly works on the model that predicts search volume. In his study, he compares which tools – Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMRush – are best at being proportionally accurate relative to Google Trends keywords data. Find out which tool comes out ahead.

Someone Paid Thousands Of Foreigners 20 Cents Each To Hide HuffPost's Negative Coverage Of A Democratic PAC – Alexander Thorburn-Winsor | Paul Blumenthal
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/end-citizens-united-microworkers-campaign_us_5bd8b5bce4b0da7bfc14afd0
November 1st, 2018

The Huffington Post recently released that they believe End Citizens United, a U.S. political PAC, used Microworkers to decrease the ranking of one of their stories on Google. The post from 2016 was critical of the PAC and their practices.

The Beginner’s Guide to the Google Analytics Dashboard – Kim Scotland
https://thebloggenie.com/google-analytics/the-beginners-guide-to-the-google-analytics-dashboard/?linkId=59040566
October, 2018

Your Google Analytics tracking code has been set up and you’re ready to go. Here is the beginners guide to navigating the GA dashboard.

Encouraging SEO Research – Oliver H.G. Mason
https://ohgm.co.uk/encouraging-seo-research/
November 5th, 2018

This! 👆

Oliver does a great job of explaining why we as SEOs need to do better at cooperating, supporting one another, and generally being civil on Twitter.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

7 small business SEO tactics that you can do in-house – Bill Hartzer
https://www.godaddy.com/garage/7-small-business-seo-tactics-that-you-can-do-in-house/
October 30th, 2018

Running a small business is a demanding task where the day-to-day responsibilities of owners and managers often don’t leave time for a whole lot else. This leads to a local business’ website often falling to the wayside. Bill Hartzer put together a list of tricks that small business owners can use to improve their web presence.

Google Reviews Study – Bright Local
https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/google-reviews-study/
October 31st, 2018

Google Reviews are extremely important to businesses, especially when it comes to helping Google gauge a businesses’ legitimacy.

When Can Service-Based Businesses Have Multiple Google My Business Listings? – Joy Hawkins
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/multiple-google-my-business-listings/
October 30th, 2018

Joy has put together a fantastic article that corrects a lot of misconceptions that business owners have around what they’re allowed to list as their address on Google My Business.

Yelp vs Google: How they deal with fake reviews – Joy Hawkins
https://searchengineland.com/yelp-vs-google-how-do-they-deal-with-fake-reviews-307332
November 1st, 2018

As we’ve seen recently, Yelp has began cracking down on businesses with fake reviews. With that being said, Google has yet to take similar action in the matter.

Denver lash salon owner says she's the victim of fake reviews – Jennifer Lee Kovaleski
http://thedenverchannel.com/3056101187/denver-lash-salon-owner-says-she-s-the-victim-of-fake-reviews.html
November 2nd, 2018

A salon owner in Denver, CO has recently gone public after she suffered fake negative reviews being posted about her business on Google.

What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019 – Miriam Ellis
https://moz.com/blog/local-customer-service-ecosystem-2019
November 5th, 2018

Once upon a time customer service was based on one-on-one interactions between a customer the representative of a company. These days things are radically different as customers interact with your brand in many different ways (in-store, search, social media, email) which aren’t always in person.

Online Reviews Study: Restaurants & Reviews – Aaron Weiche
https://gatherup.com/blog/online-reviews-study-restaurants-reviews/
November 5th, 2018

Restaurants are the industry most likely to have reviews on Google. This is not surprising since considering that 58% of people use reviews to inform their restaurant choice a quarter of the time with an additional 36% of people using reviews to inform their restaurant choice half of the time. Not enough restaurants are using Google Reviews (popular among a young demographic) and instead rely on Yelp and TripAdvisor.


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Paid members also get the following:

  • Google is still working on fixing the bug that is keeping some news articles from being found
  • Is the cache still broken for sites moved to mobile-first indexing?
  • Site recovery after removing spammy user-generated content
  • How Google’s Knowledge Graph updates itself
  • Are you confusing the “People also ask” with “People also search” features?
  • Is the age of your domain name a ranking signal?
  • Comments are like gold for sites!
  • Benefits of Google Public DNS
  • Are press releases worth it?
  • Interesting trends for ebay.com
  • Be careful in whom you give complete GSC ownership to for your site
  • SEO Tests and Experiments
  • Local SEO: Thoughts swirl around the GMB service area feature
  • Local SEO: New ‘service areas’ feature on GMB may affect your Google Posts
  • Local SEO: Yelp is on the lookout for businesses manipulating ratings and reviews
  • Local SEO: GMB branded searches defined
  • Local SEO: Good tip for local businesses who want more voice search visits
  • 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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