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Episode 64 - January 4, 2019 - Light Version

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This is a bit of a different episode as my team has produced all of the content in it! For the first time ever in my life, I am off with my family on a warm sunny vacation. As such, the incredible team at MHC has put together this content.

In this episode, we see how Google handles hard-to-understand URL structures, Bing’s reminder regarding robots.txt, advancements to GMB, and of course with the new year, SEOs weigh in on 2019 SEO predictions as well as some great resources to start your year off right!

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • How does the URL Removal Tool in GSC impact indexing?
  • Should you disavow foreign language links?
  • Webmasters share their opinions on mega menus
  • How does Google treat hacked content that returns a 404?
  • Bing may be ignoring your default robots directives
  • Ahrefs gets a new addition
  • Good advice on acquiring links
  • 2018’s top countries using ad blockers
  • A teacher in Norway uses Wikipedia to teach his students a lesson
  • Local SEO: What is happening in this local pack?
  • Our tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

Normally Marie does this section of the newsletter. Because she is on vacation, she has not done her normal checks of Google Analytics for our past clients. However, from what we can see as a team, there has been no real chatter about algorithm updates aside from the typical discussions of seasonality we often see at this time of year.


Spam protection in Messages is here!

Spam protection is rolling out and some users have reported seeing the “New! Spam protection” prompt after opening Messages.


SEO Tips

Google says hard-to-understand URL structures could cause indexing issues

When a user on Twitter asked John Mueller why their eCommerce site had 50k+ product pages removed from the index, and favouring a ‘wildly irrelevant’ canonical, John had this to say:


Search Console detecting mobile usability issues

What do you do when Search Console is detecting mobile usability issues on your site? When one webmaster took to the Webmaster Help Forum asking for help and noting that the problem is A) content wider than the screen and B) links too close together, John Mueller gave his expert opinion replying with:

“One of the problems I see here is that we have a really hard time crawling your site -- the server is slow in responding, which means we can't crawl as much as we'd need to properly understand your website. In particular, sometimes we can't request the various resources used on your pages, which means we can't reliably confirm that your pages are mobile-friendly. In general, the ways to improve this include moving to a faster server, reducing the number of resources needed to load your pages, or finding ways to improve the general speed of your pages (eg, using caching, tuning your setup, etc.). “


Google Help Hangout Tips

You can find the December 14, 2018 Google Help Hangout with John Mueller here for the full summary. Here are some of the key items we learned:

  • In general, for eCommerce sites, having fewer pages may have more concentrated value rather than too many pages diluting things too much says John.
  • Google is good at ignoring links from spammy sites. But it’s good practice to drop any links you don’t want to be associated with in a disavow file.
  • Can you check fetch and render on a page that is not your own? Using the Mobile Friendly Test you can see how Googlebot is fetching a page with a mobile device.
  • Google recently added a way for users to see if Googlebot is crawling your site via smartphone if your site has been moved to Mobile-First indexing.
  • Is it ever recommended using ‘noindex, follow’ for a large set of paginations with valuable content? John says Google will follow links that lead to your paginated pages. But if Google sees the noindex, Google will recognize it, drop it out of the index, and also stop following links to those pages.
  • Someone asked how can you get Google to recognize your social media pages? John says it’s helpful to use structured data markup to assist Google.
  • Have you ever had a page in Search Console requested for a featured snippet upon first crawl then suddenly it’s gone from page 1? Well, without sufficient information, Google may make assumptions about your page (especially if it’s new content) then the algorithm may correct it. On the other hand, they may be overly conservative initially then decide to correct it to rank you better.
  • What’s the best approach towards links in places like forums which point to dead or discontinued products and pages on a website? It’s good practice when you make any changes to your website like updating a product with a newer version to set up a redirect so that those links go through those pages and guide users to the current page.
  • Some users have noticed that the inspect URL indicates that their site is mobile-friendly, a message says it is not, and their validation requests fail. This is because sometimes Google needs to fetch the CSS file and sometimes there’s not enough time or the server is a bit slow.

Other Interesting News

Featured snippets for AMP pages get an update

Glenn also adds that there’s now a scroll to top button when Google highlights part of the page! A couple of days later, Glenn also commented on the impact of ads on AMP pages. With the sought out information highlighted, there’s bound to be plenty of people skipping right past the on-page ads.


Google partners with the NBA

NBA All-Star weekend is just six weeks away which means there are only a couple weeks of voting left. For the 2019 edition, Google’s partnership has allowed users the ability to vote directly from the SERPs. Simply search for ‘NBA voting’ (or a variation of it) or your favourite team, and you’ll be prompted to vote in the sponsored content! Talk about unique advertising!


Local SEO - Google Changes & Announcements

Improved messaging ability in GMB

The large blue ‘message’ button has appeared in the local panel which really draws users attention. It’s a big improvement from its earliest form!


Unicode within Google local listings

Spotted: a local panel using unicode to make their business name stick out. It’s uncertain if this is here to stay but it’s a neat addition!


Local SEO - Interesting News

Could Google Posts be moving back up?

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that once Google Posts had moved to a lower position, it seemingly wreaked havoc on businesses leads and conversions. Thankfully, Google is testing the placement once again, this time back up to it's above the fold position.

For local businesses, we hope this gets rectified for good!


Recommended Reading

Strategic vs. Tactical Link Building – Ross Hudgens
https://www.siegemedia.com/marketing/strategic-vs-tactical-link-building
December 27th, 2018

This is a great article by Ross that examines the benefits of strategic link building compared to simply using one-size-fits-all link building tactics.


SEO Year In Review: 2018 saw Google updates and a focus on mobile
– Barry Schwartz
https://searchengineland.com/seo-year-in-review-the-2018-edition-309762
December 24th, 2018

Some of the most meaningful highlights from the SEO world in 2018.


Will PWAs Replace Native Mobile Apps? –
Suzanne Scacca
https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/12/pwa-native-mobile-apps/
December 28th, 2018

This article argues that there is likely going to be a growing divide between traditional mobile/web apps and PWAs (progressive web apps).


How to Research, Monitor, and Optimize for Questions
– Ann Smarty
https://moz.com/blog/research-monitor-optimize-questions
January 2nd, 2019

Trying to rank your content for questions is a good way to target visibility in featured snippets and “People Also Ask”. It’s also a great way to target niche audiences!


How to Set SEO Alerts to Keep Updated on the Go
– Aleyda Solis
December 31st, 2018

Exciting news everyone! Aleyda has released the first episode of her weekly video series. In the episode, she describes how she uses different tools (DeepCrawl, Little Warden, Content King, SEOmonitor) to track technical and content updates on sites.

You can follow the new video series on Twitter or on the official YouTube channel.


What Amazon Advertising’s big 2018 advancements will mean for 2019
– Ginny Marvin
https://searchengineland.com/what-amazon-advertisings-big-2018-advancements-will-mean-for-2019-309833
December 31st, 2018

Amazon has taken the mantle of the third largest ad seller in the United States. That doesn’t mean that it’s extremely competitive though since they only possess a 4% market share and still sit far behind Facebook and Google. That being said, there is a lot of speculation of what will lie ahead for advertising with Amazon in 2019.


Amazon plans to expand reach of its Whole Foods stores
– Heather Haddon & Laura Stevens
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-plans-to-expand-reach-of-its-whole-foods-stores-2018-12-30
December 31st, 2018

Amazon.com Inc. has announced that they are planning to build and expand its Whole Foods stores across the US.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

2019 Local Marketing Predictions – David Mihm
https://tidings.com/vault/2019-predictions.html
December 31st, 2018

A new year is upon us and SEOs are as curious as ever regarding what’s ahead. So what does David predict?


How to Completely Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
– Sam Hollingsworth
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-seo/optimize-google-my-business/
December 31st, 2018

As Sam says, most seasoned SEO professionals start at the same place: creating a Google My Business listing. It’s free, it holds plenty of opportunity, and it’s also a great way to to make an impact for businesses locally. So, besides setting it up, what else needs to be done? Sam breaks things down into the major pieces.


10 Types of Ninja Pages You Can Sneak up the Local Search Results
– Phil Rozek
http://www.localvisibilitysystem.com/2018/12/31/10-types-of-ninja-pages-you-can-sneak-up-the-local-search-results/
December 31st, 2018

Rather than using the same-old keywords-across-pages-I-want-to-rank approach, why not be creative with creating pages you want to rank? Phil created an excellent guide to help you create ‘ninja’ pages for your own site!


What you need to know about Yelp’s latest update dubbed ‘Ghost’
– Craig Mount
https://searchengineland.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-yelps-latest-update-dubbed-ghost-309893
January 2nd, 2019

We spoke about the Yelp purge just last week. Now, SEL has decided to coin it “Ghost”.


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • How does the URL Removal Tool in GSC impact indexing?
  • Should you disavow foreign language links?
  • Webmasters share their opinions on mega menus
  • How does Google treat hacked content that returns a 404?
  • Bing may be ignoring your default robots directives
  • Ahrefs gets a new addition
  • Good advice on acquiring links
  • 2018’s top countries using ad blockers
  • A teacher in Norway uses Wikipedia to teach his students a lesson
  • Local SEO: What is happening in this local pack?
  • Our tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO and local SEO articles

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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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