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Episode 58 - November 21, 2018 (Light Version)

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Once again we have another algorithm update. While several sites that we monitor were affected, this doesn’t appear to be a massive update. We’ll talk more on E-A-T in this episode. You'll likely be interested in reading my thoughts on AJ Kohn’s article in the recommended reading section. There have been some minor changes to Google My Business as well.

In this episode:



Paid members also get the following:

  • Whitespark vouches for Moz’s link intersect tool
  • Discover closely related topics courtesy of the Moz Keyword Explorer research tool
  • Source popular, user-generated questions like a pro!
  • Schema experts are in demand. The market is far from saturated.
  • Healthline had dropped for many of their major keywords. Turns out someone noindexed the entire site! Woops!
  • Google does not always index URLs that redirect
  • Local SEO: Is Google beginning to crack down on GMB offenders?
  • Local SEO: Google Local Service Ads Tests Showing Number of Bookings
  • Local SEO: Local services ads from Thumbtack appear in SERPs
  • Local SEO: Does getting citations indexed impact ranking?
  • My tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

Algorithm updates

November 16, 2018

We reported last week that there was possibly a significant update starting on November 16, 2018. Barry Schwartz reported on a lot of chatter in SEO forums. And also, some, but not all, of the algo checker tools are reporting massive changes. Here is the SEMRush sensor:

This looks to me like a small quality update. We saw a few clients saw increases. All of these were ones who were working hard on improving site quality issues and things that are outlined in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines.

This client was an affiliate site that worked hard to improve how they display author E-A-T. They also are working on improving/removing thin content that is in the index. This site was hit with the August 1, 2018 update and is seeing some improvements now:

Another client of ours that has been working on improving the overall quality of their content saw a bit of a boost up on November 16 as well:

I debated on whether or not to actually call November 16, 2018 an algorithm update that is significant enough to report on. I do think this is another tweak to quality. However, it does not seem like a massive update.


User comments in Google search restricted to live sports games

Google is adding user comments to search. However, this is actually not a new thing!

Here’s how it progressed: During the Fifa World Cup, many users noticed that they could leave comments under the search results. If you clicked on “More about this game” you can see a “comments” section. In there you can see comments that people have left about the game. Contributions seem to only be limited on Sporting Events. Google already allows users to write reviews for Movies, TV Shows, and Books and now users can leave comments on Sports Games. Google seems rather keen on getting user generated content and what better way to get it than right in the SERPS.

While a lot of SEOs are actively discussing this issue, again, it is not new. I do not think that Google will eventually be adding comments to all of their search results.


Google adds event listing to the details filters in GSC performance report

Now in GSC you can filter out Event Listings in the search appearance filter in GSC performance report. You can now see click, impressions position data as well as the provider date on both the List View and Details View. This can be extremely helpful! With this new handy information you can parse through and filter out event listings or event details to help you see how well the event markup is performing on your site.


Interesting discussion sparked by Cyrus Shepard on featured snippets

Unethical, illegal, unfair, or just down right useful? This wildly entertaining discussion stirred up plenty of opinion in the SEO world this week.

Some of our favourite responses to Cyrus:

  • “It is their search engine and we rank for free. They can do whatever they want. If we don't like it, we need to go find a different search engine. Also, it is the only way they can let users 'vote' with their clicks on the best answer, so that they can give it in voice search.” - Cindy Krum
  • “Scraping laws should specify you’re only allowed to display public data if you’re not replicating the same product experience. The lack of scraping laws just mean the bigger company sets the rules when it’s not win-win” - Noam Avigdor
  • “I’m not fighting you. I agree with you. If G wants to show content from another site, they should pay that site on a per impression basis. Otherwise it’s a violation of copyright and fair use.” - Jenny Halasz
  • “Featured snippets are a monopoly inside a monopoly. inSERPtion!” - Brian Gorman

We strongly suggest you take a peek at the full Twitter discussion. Perhaps one of the best comments that came out of the discussion was from Cyrus, saying, “...Google's pace of invention has far outpaced what fair use copyright law could have anticipated, and a serious reassessment of what is legal/ethical/fair is needed.”

To be fair, Google makes up 92.5% of the world’s search traffic. Is it stretching the limits or fair use? Is it time we begin to push for more restrictive laws?


Tips from Google help hangouts

I am thrilled to announce that we will once again be making public our transcripts of Google’s help hangouts. These hangouts, usually headed up by Google’s John Mueller are an incredible source of information. I have been taking notes on them for many years now and have a document that is over 400 pages long with these notes!

You can find the complete notes here on the November 18, 2018 help hangout. Here are some of the key points:

  • Sometimes if a page is marked as “discovered, not indexed” in GSC it can be the result of poor internal linking. Or, it could be that you have far too many url parameters.
  • Should we pay attention to E-A-T? John Mueller says, “It is very useful to look at these guidelines (the QRG) in terms of the direction that we want search to go.”
  • Info on whether expired product pages should 404.
  • What does “temporarily unreachable” in fetch and render mean?

and much more.


Local SEO

GMB Dashboard Ungroups Primary and Additional Categories

Rather than adding all categories in one field, the Local Search Forum suggests that the categories are ungrouped. The result? The primary category gets its own field, and as Joy Hawkins says, it’s a much cleaner feel.


You can now see insight data up to Yesterday in GMB!

Google has announced they’ve made improvements to ensure that your insights data is more up-to-date. For improved accuracy regarding performance, Insights data now shows you data up to yesterday in Google My Business.


Google My Business sees addition of ‘Get a quote’ button

As Tom Waddington points out, various businesses see this listing depending on given category. This includes: jewelry store, garage door, auto repair, chiropractor, web designer, and some others.


Recommended Reading

The real reason my site got to #1 in Google for Rhinoplasty Plano – Kyle Roof
https://pageoptimizer.pro/2018/11/14/the-real-reason-my-site-got-to-1-in-google-for-rhinoplasty-plano/
November 14th, 2018

Last week we heard about the SEO competition to try and nab the #1 rank for the keywords “Rhinoplasty Plano”. People’s jaws dropped when they saw that the top ranked site, owned by Kyle Roof, had very few backlinks (a powerful ranking signal) and was entirely in Latin.

Hightimes.com and Herb.co Lose Massive Amount of Traffic From Google – Juan Sanchez
https://internationalhighlife.com/traffic-loss-hightimes-herb/
November 13th, 2018

Juan Sanchez wrote in this interesting article about the fall of many popular cannabis websites in between August and September.

An Interview with Arsen Rabinovich on eCommerce SEO – Melissa Fach
https://www.semrush.com/blog/an-interview-with-arsen-rabinovich-ecommerce-seo/
November 9th, 2018

Arsen Rabinovich, Founder of TopHatRank, sat down with SEMrush and shared some insights re: eCommerce SEO, strategies, platforms, and audits. Finally advice from someone who surrounds themself with the topic!

YouTube SEO: Top Factors to Invest In - Whiteboard Friday – Rand Fishkin
https://moz.com/blog/youtube-seo
November 16th, 2018

Inspired by a Justin Briggs presentation he saw, Rand give us the down low on some best practices for optimizing your content on YouTube for their search engine. Much of this information is also based on research conducted by Justin Briggs which looked at 100,000 videos on YouTube.

Search Engine Optimization: 10 Search Engine Ranking Problems – Bill Hartzer
https://www.hartzer.com/search-engine-optimization-10-search-engine-ranking-problems/
November 17th, 2018

This article gives a great overview of things that SEO’s normally help people with in our day to day.

On‐Page SEO: An Actionable Guide for 2018 Joshua Hardwick
https://ahrefs.com/blog/on-page-seo/
November 15th, 2018

On-page SEO is extremely important for optimizing your site so that it can rank better on search engines. Unfortunately most advice that people give out can be outdated and just isn’t relevant anymore. Check out the following list of optimization tips that you should be doing today

Advanced SEO for Food Bloggers: An Interview With Casey Markee
http://simpleseo4u.com/advanced-seo-for-food-bloggers-an-interview-with-casey-markee/
November 19th, 2018

Let’s face it, food blogging is a competitive niche. Competition is fierce and well, often times the content and tutorials are quite similar.

Algorithm Analysis in the age of embeddings – AJ Kohn
http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/algorithm-analysis-in-the-age-of-embeddings
November 19th, 2018

This was a really interesting post by AJ. Given that it initially appears to contradict much of my writings on E-A-T, a few people have been asking me for my insight.

In this post, AJ comments that the SEO community has an unhealthy obsession with E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust). He argues that E-A-T is not a ranking signal. I thoroughly believe that it is! I believe that Google started implementing some aspect of E-A-T into the algorithm on February 7, 2017. This is where we had a lot of sites coming to us for traffic drop assessments after being hit strongly with this update. Every single site had an issue where their posts were written by someone who was lacking E-A-T for their topics, and their rankings were taken over by people with really good E-A-T. For many of these sites we worked on improving how E-A-T was displayed on the site and also improving their off-site mentions. We’ve seen some nice recoveries as well.

AJ noted that the Raters’ Guidelines are primarily present for Google to gauge the effectiveness of algorithm changes and debated whether the information from the raters is used in machine learning. When I first started talking a lot about the QRG I really did feel that they used the info from the raters as a machine learning set. However, Google has strongly denied this fact, so I no longer think this is true, for now at least. The article by AJ says, “...the way we should be reading the guidelines is about what areas of focus Google is most interested in tackling algorithmically.” This makes sense to me. The question though, is how much of it they already are handling algorithmically and how much is just a goal for the future.

AJ feels that most of the recent updates have to do with Google’s ability to understand language and determine which pages are relevant to a query. He goes into some very interesting information on something called neural matching in which neural networks can be used to help a machine to better understand a query.

On one hand, I do agree with this. Danny Sullivan from Google has told us a few times that the March 9, Aug 1, and September 27 updates were related to relevancy. We have seen examples of this. For example, I think that Google got good at recognizing that most people searching for “keto diet” wanted information and didn’t want to actually buy a product. As such, many eCommerce stores selling keto products saw drops in traffic.

However, I strongly believe that the August 1 and September 27 updates were heavily focused on Google trying to algorithmically determine which sites are trustworthy. If you want more information on my thoughts, my article on the September 27 update is a good place to start.

There are things in AJ’s article that I agree with, but I respectfully disagree with his statement that E-A-T is not an algorithmic factor.

Lighthouse custom audits tutorial – Aymen Loukil
https://www.aymen-loukil.com/en/blog-en/google-lighthouse-custom-audits/
November 19th, 2018

Aymen suggests that we should be using custom lighthouse audits for examining things like web testing and QA, SEO testing, and web performance custom metrics.


Recommended Reading (local SEO)

Yelp’s Heyday Is Over – Whitney Filloon
https://www.eater.com/2018/11/16/18094979/yelp-stock-plunge-future-viability-competition-google-instagram-twitter
November 16th, 2018

Yelp has been struggling lately, even revealing that they are currently struggling to get advertisers coming back to their site. A lot of this is do to with Google reviews and people being able to gain insight to restaurants through sites like Instagram.

3 Empowering Small Business Tips for Today, 2019, and a Better Future – Miriam Ellis
https://moz.com/blog/3-small-business-tips-2019
November 19th, 2018

Small business Saturday is going to be on November 24th this year and Miriam gets us ready with this lovely read on how small businesses can improve themselves as well as their reach and impact inside their communities!


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Paid members also get the following:

  • Whitespark vouches for Moz’s link intersect tool
  • Discover closely related topics courtesy of the Moz Keyword Explorer research tool
  • Source popular, user-generated questions like a pro!
  • Schema experts are in demand. The market is far from saturated.
  • Healthline had dropped for many of their major keywords. Turns out someone noindexed the entire site! Woops!
  • Google does not always index URLs that redirect
  • Local SEO: Is Google beginning to crack down on GMB offenders?
  • Local SEO: Google Local Service Ads Tests Showing Number of Bookings
  • Local SEO: Local services ads from Thumbtack appear in SERPs
  • Local SEO: Does getting citations indexed impact ranking?
  • 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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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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