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Episode 57 - November 16, 2018 (Light Version)

Click here for the paid members version

There has been some interesting controversy this week over whether Google uses information from the BBB in ranking decisions. We’ll talk about that in this newsletter along with information on what appears to be a significant quality update in mid November. This episode has some good information on using Chrome’s new audit feature and tips on things like resizing images, improving rankings for product pages and much more.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • Google is listening to your feedback!
  • Google is working on displaying publisher URLs instead of AMP Cache URLs
  • A friendly reminder to be mindful of your rel="preload"
  • Two step process to indexing JavaScript
  • The least common blogging tactics are the most effective – Blogging Stats & Trends 2018
  • Should your logo be wrapped in an <h1> tag?
  • Is it ok to copy your legal disclaimers & privacy policies?
  • Domain Property Experiment for GSC
  • Resize images without sacrificing image quality
  • Interesting info on filing a disavow
  • Good CSS tips for improving site performance
  • WordPress GDPR Compliance plugin might leave you vulnerable: Update now!
  • Are you ready for WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg editor?
  • Nice increases seen after making improvements to product pages
  • Compare HTML vs DOM with this handy new Chrome extension
  • Great keyword research tips
  • This is funny
  • Good tip from Google on canonicalization and pagination
  • Is it possible to ask Google not to index just part of a page?
  • Local SEO: Should you abandon an established website to use a Google business site?
  • Local SEO: Will Google My Business eventually allow users to view insights over long periods of time
  • Local SEO: Seems that self-serve kiosks can outrank actual brick and mortar businesses
  • Local SEO: GMB: Avoid this mishap! Do your homework and hire a professional
  • Local SEO: Do you have control of your GMB listing? This business got hijacked
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

Algorithm updates

Nov 10-12, 2018

It looks like there was some type of significant quality update around this time. We had a number of our clients for whom we have done site quality reviews who saw nice improvements.

This client is one that has been working hard at improving their authority. They have greatly improved the way in which they demonstrate the E-A-T of their authors amongst other things.

Another one of our clients is a small business. Most of the improvements that they made were technical in nature. They improved the amount of above the fold content that they had on pages, filed a disavow, and cleaned out thin content. This site has been seeing nice improvements with several recent updates.

One client for whom we filed a thorough disavow saw nice gains as well.

The big picture for them is amazing:

My favourite case of a site seeing improvements with this update is this small eCommerce store. They worked hard to significantly improve the value of their product pages. They also improved how much content they had above the fold and other things as well.

We did, however, see some sites see drops. One site that was hit hard with the September 27 update was hit even further on November 27. We feel that this site has issues with trust as it is not clearly disclosed what the purpose of the site is and how they make money.

So, what was this update about? There was no clear obvious pattern in sites that saw either gains or drops. This looks to me like a typical quality update where Google is assessing a great number of factors, both on site and off, in order to highly rank high quality sites.

I do think that there was a link component to this update as several of the sites that saw gains were ones that had recently filed disavows.

November 16 algorithm update

It does look like there is a significant update going on right now. Barry Schwartz has noticed a good amount of chatter in SEO forums regarding sites seeing changes. Some of the algo weather tools are showing a lot of turbulence as well.

This is the SEMRush sensor:

I will report back on this update next week.


Have quality updates improved the search results?

Most SEOs say no.


Fantastic audit information right in Chrome

I have finally had time to play around with the new audits tab in Chrome Dev Tools. We will be adding much of this information to our site quality reports.

To get this information, in Chrome, open dev tools by going to view → developer → developer tools.

Then, open up the site you want to audit and click on “Audits”.

Just for fun, I ran the report on Google.com.

A full explanation of what you can learn with this tool would take a thorough article, but here are some interesting things.

  • Info on Page Speed issues along with ideas on how to improve.
  • Accessibility info. For example, the report on Google.com says that the background and foreground colors do not have sufficient contrast ratio.
  • There is an SEO score that tells you things like the following
    • whether you are using meta descriptions properly
    • mobile friendliness
    • structured data use
    • whether links use descriptive text
    • whether the page is blocked from indexing

Does Google use information from the BBB as a ranking factor?

This has been a highly contested topic this week! John Mueller mentioned in a help hangout that Google does not directly use third party data in determining rankings. However, Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG) have a lot of information on how the raters should look at the BBB info (if available) to help determine whether a business has reputation issues.

I wrote a long post here on how I believe Google is using information from the BBB. Here is the gist of the post:

  • Google has told us that the information in the QRG is important and although the algorithm does not exactly one to one match what is in the QRG, these guidelines reflect where Google wants the algorithm to go.
  • The QRG say that a low BBB rating is a sign of bad reputation and therefore low quality.
  • Many sites that had F BBB ratings saw drops with either the August 1 update or September 27 update.
  • While we don’t know if Google specifically uses your BBB rating as a ranking factor, we do believe that they look at a large number of factors to help determine whether a business is trustworthy. If your BBB rating is bad, this MUST be fixed.

It is important to note that the QRG do not say that a good BBB rating, or even being accredited by the BBB is a ranking factor.


Increase in People Also Ask boxes

According to a tweet by Dr. Pete Meyers and MozCast Feature Graph tool, there was an increase in the People Who Ask feature on November 7th for more terms!

I’ve added this to my list of algorithm updates and other issues that could impact your site’s traffic.


PageSpeed Insights gets an update (and it uses Lighthouse!)

On Tuesday morning (November 12th), we all woke up to v5 of PageSpeed Insights. The release notes mention, “It now uses Lighthouse as its analysis engine and also incorporates field data provided by the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX).” The new design is dynamic with more of a visual representation of data. Not only that but it looks like Google is also providing a lot more data and insight as well. Providing information on page speed, as well as opportunities to optimize your page (because we all know it’s a growing concern). For more on the matter, visit Barry Schwartz’s article.


Google Responds to Google News indexing issues

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that Google was investigating instances where sites that should be covered in Google news were not. To add to that, it appears that some sites that do appear in the News section, do not appear in Google search. Well, with the complaints piling up in the Google News Help forums and the discussion growing, Google employees (including Gary Illyes) have confirmed that they’re passing the feedback to the team at Google and investigating.

It’s uncertain what this stemmed from, however, it is a known issue to Google and they’re working on a fix to resolve this (likely in the form of an update).


My talk at the RD Summit on Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines


Google’s ‘Discover more places’ feature surges

Google’s discover more places feature for some local intent queries has skyrocketed. Reports indicate that the frequency in which they’re on searches has grown by nearly 130% in the last year in the US—the feature went from 3.5% to about 7.9% of queries showing the feature.

Elsewhere in the world, Canada (150% increase), the UK (388% increase), and Australia (400% increase) have shown some incredible growth as well.


Local SEO

New Google My Business App is launched

The layout is neater, clearer and contains three new tabs in the footer menu:

  1. Home (essentially your dashboard)
  2. Customers (broken down into two sections: reviews & followers)
  3. Profile (shows your current details and allows for edits)

Also take advantage of the updated Google Posts and Photos sections.


Google My Business has hired more staff to take on more support requests!


Recommended Reading

Could Google Alerts spam hurt your SEO? – John E Lincoln
https://searchengineland.com/could-google-alerts-spam-hurt-your-seo-307809
November 8th, 2018

Google Alerts spam is the act of spammers setting up pages and content with popular keywords. These begin to get picked up by Alerts who is searching for those keywords, and assuming it’s relevant to the topic at hand, it includes these said links to your daily Alerts.


SEO Copywriting with Joel Klettke
– Siegemedia
https://www.siegemedia.com/seo/copywriting
November 9th, 2018

Joel Klettke was a very interesting guest to listen to during this interview! He has previously worked in SEO for a number of years before he moved on to do copywriting. As such, he has a good idea of how interrelated the two disciplines are and understands where differences in approach can occur.


How to find & fix broken external links (the right way)
– Roy Skif
https://www.tldrseo.com/fix-broken-links/
November 12th, 2018

Guess what? In 2018 links are still an important part of SEO for getting your pages to perform with organic search rankings! So, if you have old URLs that return 404’s, they’re no longer benefiting from the referring links to that page.


Advanced Structured Data Principles and Practical Implementation
– Sante J. Achille
https://blog.achille.name/search-engines/advanced-structured-data-principles-practical-implementation/#.W-mKDHpKh24
November 11th, 2018

Designed to provide ‘intelligent’ data to search engines, Sante’s presentation on structured data gives us an excellent overview on the following:

  • The Benefits of Structured Data
  • A closer look at the underlying principles
  • Practical implementation aspects
  • Examples

A great resource indeed!


The Difference Between URL Structure and Information Architecture - Whiteboard Friday
– Will Critchlow
https://moz.com/blog/difference-between-url-structure-information-architecture
November 9th, 2018

Will Critchlow of Distilled explains the basics of URL structure and information architecture (IA).


How to measure the brand/non-brand split of your search traffic
– Stuart Shaw
https://econsultancy.com/how-to-measure-the-brand-non-brand-split-of-your-search-traffic/
November 8th, 2018

Driving traffic to our websites is why we’re all here. We should all probably take a closer look at what kind of traffic we’re trying to drive to our sites though.


How Site Speed Influences SEO
– Jono Aldeson
https://yoast.com/how-site-speed-influences-seo/
November 13th, 2018

We all know page speed is a ranking factor for Google. In this awesome article by Jono Alderson for Yoast, he explains how users have come to expect their web experience to be fast, seamless and with no friction.


SEO Contest Exposes Weakness in Google’s Algorithm
– Roger Montti https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-algorithm-loopholes/278093/
November 13th, 2018

There was a 30 day ranking challenge started by an SEO facebook group. The goal of the challenge was to rank a site for the search term, Rhinoplasty Plano. The winning page in the 2nd position in the SERPS was a site that was written entirely in Latin.


Explaining SEO to Clients In the Easiest Way I Know How
– Rishi Lakhani
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/explaining-seo-clients-easiest-way-i-know-how-rishi-lakhani/
November 14th, 2018

Sometimes the hardest part of SEO is actually explaining what it is and what it’s values are to your clients.


10 Problems Plaguing Influencer Marketing
– Rand Fishkin
https://sparktoro.com/blog/10-problems-plaguing-influencer-marketing/
November 12th, 2018

In a world where interest in influencer marketing is skyrocketing (well beyond the pace of social media marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing, and even content marketing), it’s expected that by 2020, brands will spend up to $10 billion/year on this trend.

 


Recommended Reading (local SEO)

Verdict is in for CEO involved in forging court order over reputation attack – Chris Silver Smith
https://searchengineland.com/verdict-is-in-for-ceo-involved-in-forging-court-order-over-reputation-attack-307719
November 6th. 2018

Last year a U.S. business owner, Michael Arnstein, was arrested for forging court orders to remove negative reviews about his business. Here are some suggestions Chris has on how the U.S. justice system can do a better job at protecting individuals from online defamation.


Don’t Lose Your Mind with Yelp Reviews!
– Jason Brown
https://www.mckremie.com/blog/2018/11/dont-lose-your-mind-with-yelp-reviews/
November 12th, 2018

We’ve all heard people complain about Yelp. Fortunately, the update to their TOS (last November) indicate they’re cracking down on review schemes.


Review-Gating is Against the Google My Business Guidelines
Joy Hawkins
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/review-gating-is-now-against-the-google-my-business-guidelines/
November 12th, 2018

For those of you not in the know, review-gating is the process of inviting people to review your business and then filtering them so you only receive positive reviews that are publicly available. This is often done with the help of 3rd party tools. It was thought that Google only implemented a policy against this practice on April 12, 2018. As it turns out, Google was actually clarifying the rule.


Guidelines for the Top Local Review Sites: Rules from Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more Explained
– Jamie Pitman
https://www.brightlocal.com/2018/11/12/top-local-review-site-guidelines/
November 12th, 2018

85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation (up by 16% since the question was originally asked in 2010). If that doesn’t add merit, for businesses, these reviews are showing increased importance as a ranking signal.


Local SEO Industry Changes, Running a Local SEO Agency, and Helping Clients Succeed with Andrew Shotland –
Carmen Rane Hudson
https://blog.grade.us/local-seo-agency/
November 12th, 2018

Andrew Shotland was recently interviewed for about the direction that local SEO is going in.


SEO Jobs


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Paid members also get the following:

  • Google is listening to your feedback!
  • Google is working on displaying publisher URLs instead of AMP Cache URLs
  • A friendly reminder to be mindful of your rel="preload"
  • Two step process to indexing JavaScript
  • The least common blogging tactics are the most effective – Blogging Stats & Trends 2018
  • Should your logo be wrapped in an <h1> tag?
  • Is it ok to copy your legal disclaimers & privacy policies?
  • Domain Property Experiment for GSC
  • Resize images without sacrificing image quality
  • Interesting info on filing a disavow
  • Good CSS tips for improving site performance
  • WordPress GDPR Compliance plugin might leave you vulnerable: Update now!
  • Are you ready for WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg editor?
  • Nice increases seen after making improvements to product pages
  • Compare HTML vs DOM with this handy new Chrome extension
  • Great keyword research tips
  • This is funny
  • Good tip from Google on canonicalization and pagination
  • Is it possible to ask Google not to index just part of a page?
  • Local SEO: Should you abandon an established website to use a Google business site?
  • Local SEO: Will Google My Business eventually allow users to view insights over long periods of time
  • Local SEO: Seems that self-serve kiosks can outrank actual brick and mortar businesses
  • Local SEO: GMB: Avoid this mishap! Do your homework and hire a professional
  • Local SEO: Do you have control of your GMB listing? This business got hijacked
  • 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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