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Episode 70 - February 13, 2019 - Light Version

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We have a bit of an algorithm update to report. However, this seems to be a fairly minor ranking adjustment for just a few sites...nothing too big. In this episode, we have a lot to cover including Google’s new guide to rendering, GSC consolidating metrics, info on utm tracking, adding development sites to GSC, and much more!

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Google Optimize: Here’s what’s new!
  • YouTube is making changes to Recommended Videos
  • Dr. Pete says Google is showing many more medical featured snippets on desktop lately
  • AMP pages disappeared for a while & changes to featured snippets
  • Double featured snippet example in the SERPs
  • The video carousel problem makes a return, this time affecting stock photo/video sites
  • Fantastic resource that shows you the different types of structured data that can appear in the search results
  • Can you add a test/development site to GSC?
  • The inspect URL tool is really just for indexable web pages
  • Google sheets have Google translate built in
  • Is Click Through Rate a ranking factor?
  • Don’t forget to build server-side rendered pages says John Mueller
  • Google is testing a new feature on Chrome for speedier browsing
  • Google removes language in policy that protected user privacy
  • Google tested snippetless search results
  • Google testing without video carousels, instead opting for quadrants
  • How to tell if you've been hacked by a bitcoin miner
  • Is Google My Business messaging broken?
  • Local SEO: Is Google Assistant enabled by default in GMB?
  • Local SEO: Does address change impact proximity signal if it’s hidden?
  • Local SEO: Be mindful of how your UTM codes are formatted
  • Local SEO: Someone noticed that snippets from Google Posts are being pulled into the local finder
  • My tl;dr summary of some excellent recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

February 4-7, 2019 Update

For the first time in a few weeks, it looks like we have had a bit of an update that is significant enough for us to mention. This likely was a tweak to Google’s quality algorithms.

Some of our clients who have been working on a number of quality improvements saw very small gains starting February 5-7. Here is a local small business that improved on technical issues and improving user experience:


It doesn’t look like a massive increase, but this site has been making small increases with each quality update we have seen:

Sadly, we did not see any significant recoveries with this update for clients who are trying to recover from Medic  (August 1) or the September 27 update. While we have seen some recoveries in the last few months for these sites, for many of them, the issues that Google likely addressed will require massive business changes in order for them to recover rankings.

For example, if you have a horrible reputation online, that’s not going to be fixed quickly. Or, if your site is lacking in authority, it’s going to take months and months and possibly even years to become recognized as an authority. In one final example, if you have a medical site that was full of unsubstantiated claims, it may take quite a long time to turn that site around to one that Google eventually trusts.

Don’t lose hope though! If you have a good site, with good content, we believe that recovery is possible for every site.

For more information on this February update, you can check out Barry’ Schwartz’s post, here.


Large sites impersonating big organizations are seeing drops

This was an interesting find by Sistrix. They noted that both irs.com (not to be mistaken for irs.gov) and dmv.org (which is not the official site of the DMV) saw massive losses in organic traffic recently. According to SEMRush, these drops started around January 31:

Sistrix speculated that these sites received manual actions. While that is certainly possible, I suspect that these drops reflect a change in Google’s ability to algorithmically determine trust.

We have seen similar drops in some clients that came to us for site reviews. This site, pictured below saw massive drops with the August 1 update:

Even though this site had good information, one of our observations was that the site was seemingly pretending to be an official organization that they actually weren’t.

The point that we’re trying to make here is that Google is working harder and harder to make it so that sites that are succeeding based on tricks and loopholes no longer rank well. If you have aspects of your website that you want to hide from people, then this could contribute to E-A-T issues.


Google Announcements

Google updates content guidelines for Q&A pages

Google made an edit to the "Content Guidelines" section of their Q&A Info page of their Structured Data document. The update is far more useful as it provides Do’s and Don'ts in greater detail.

Here are the new additions:

Thanks for covering this Barry!


 

Google’s new guide for rendering

Jason Miller and Addy Osmani have released a comprehensive guide to rendering on the web that includes a full explanation of the terminology involved as well as different recommendations for what might work best for certain types of sites and web applications.

This is a very complex topic and it is worth reading in full if it’s of interest to you, but here is a quick summary of the different rendering approaches:

  • Server Rendering: This generates the full HTML of a page in response to a user navigating the site. It typically produces a fast First Paint and First Contentful paint because less Javascript is sent to the client; it is just text and links. However, generating pages on the server takes more time, resulting in a slower Time to First Byte.
  • Static Rendering: This involves a separate HTML file that’s produced ahead of time for each URL. Provided the amount of client-side Javascript is limited, this can speed up First Pant, First Contentful Paint, and the Time To Interactive. Static is not always a workable solution in cases where a site is very large and its pages are very dynamic.
  • Client-side rendering: This renders pages directly in the browser using JavaScript. This creates speed performance challenges, particularly on mobile, and can bring about some significant SEO challenges as well. Implementing lazy loading so that scripts are only loaded when needed can help as well as implementing code splitting techniques.
  • Hybrid Rendering: An example of this is Netflix, which, “server-renders its relatively static landing pages, while prefetching the JS for interaction-heavy pages, giving these heavier client-rendered pages a better chance of loading quickly.”
  • Rehydration: Considered a “novel solution that can have some considerable performance drawbacks,” this involves both client-side and server rendering, where page loads are handled by a server that renders to HTML, with JavaScript and other data used for rendering also embedded in the document.

The authors recommend server rendering or static rendering over the full rehydration approach in most instances.

The mobile friendliness tool is also recommended as a way of testing how a given page is rendered by Google’s crawler, with the ability to look at the HTML content post-JavaScript execution and identify any errors with the approach you’re taking.


GSC’s Performance Report will now be consolidating all search metrics to the canonical URL

Currently, the Performance Report would show the search metrics for whichever URL the user is referred to in Google Search - this means that there would be separate metrics collected for things like your AMP or mobile page (if they are separate from the main version of those pages). Starting on April 10th, however, Google will unify all search metrics and show them for the canonical URL only.

In order to help ease this transition for webmasters and site owners, Google will show both the new and the old version of the Performance Report until April 10th. In addition to this, as a way to provide continuity, the unified version of this data will be available back to January 2018.

As of now, you should be able to see both versions of the Performance Report:

Be sure to check out Google’s blog post about this, which has a few examples showing how your data may change.


SEO Tips

Site owner used our tip for selectively showing which scripts to display and improved page speed!


Dan Shure previews remote job markup for postings in Google Search


How to exclude shopping results in the SERPs

Neat trick, however, I can't get this to work for me. It could be that it’s only available in the US?


Google Help Hangout Tips

Here are some of the highlights from John Mueller in his Webmaster Help Hangout released on February 5th, 2019.  You can find the full video and transcript as well as our notes here!


Gary Illyes’ Reddit AMA Highlights

This past Friday, Google’s Chief of Sunshine and Happiness & trends analyst, Gary Illyes, hosted a long-awaited Ask Me Anything on Reddit. There was a ton of great info on there but we’ll have a post up soon our blog with the highlights. Keep an eye out!


Other Interesting News

Live indexing for Bing & Google coming to Yoast SEO

Sometime after March users will be able to take advantage of live indexing. Announced at YoastCon, Yoast – working with Bing and Google – will soon allow you to publish, update, or delete a post and that will be reflected almost instantly in the indices. Great news if you’re running a WordPress site!

John Mueller added on Twitter that Yoast isn’t the only platform able to do this:

Bing then updated, saying the following:


More on Bing’s move to allow you to submit 10,000 URLs a day -

Bing has been forward about the fact that they want to get away from actively crawling the web. While Bing is still currently using crawlers to make changes to their index, the new tool sends a strong signal to Bing to crawl a URL immediately. Bing has implemented quotas based on a site’s age to discourage spam from getting through their filters.


Chrome University 2018 - Google’s internal training is now available

"Chrome University 2018" features selected talks from Google's internal training for new Chrome developers. If you’re curious about how Chrome works or want to enhance your skills as a developer, here is your chance! Check it out.


What type of searcher are you?

Path Interactive in NYC is curious to learn you interact with the SERPs. They promise to publish the results and we’ll be eagerly waiting until they do!


Local SEO - Google Announcements

Clarification from Google on the use of virtual offices

Thanks to Colan Nielsen for this great post on Google’s clarification on the use of virtual offices.

It’s not uncommon for a business owner to think that they can use a virtual office that is located near their city’s center so that they can rank better on maps listings for local searches from that city.

However, this is against Google My Business’ terms of service.

Their guidelines now say, “If your business rents a temporary, ‘virtual’ office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours by your business staff.”

Those bolded words, “by your business staff” were newly added. So, if you use a virtual office in order to help rank better in a particular location, this is only going to abide by Google’s rules if you have staff working at that office.


Add hotel check-in and check-out times

Kara from the Google My Business team announced on this past week that hotels can now add their check-in and check-out times to their business listing in GMB. This information helps customers know when rooms will be ready and when they must vacate.


Local SEO - Other Interesting News

UTM tracking changes in GSC

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a good bit of noise in the Local SEO community about a change in how data is being displayed in Google Search Console with regards to UTM tracking codes. It is fairly standard for Local SEOs to track the impressions and clicks of their properties by using UTM tracking codes, however, these have dropped out of the GSC impression data. Click data has remained, which some SEOs are observing has made CTR (Click Through Rate) data go through the roof. Glenn Gabe asked John Mueller about this, and his response was to keep watching for the next couple of weeks.


SEO Tools

Preload your pages with instant.page

We haven't used this tool, but it definitely seems handy. Basically, you can start preloading pages once a user hovers over a link. After all, Amazon has suggested that 100 milliseconds of latency is responsible for 1% in sales. Interested in the tool? Visit the link and get the HTML snippet.


Recommended Reading

Are You Using Your Canonical Tags Correctly? – Nick LeRoy
https://nickleroy.com/blog/canonical-errors/
February 4th, 2019

This is a great little post that reminds us exactly when (according to Google) we should be using canonical tags.


Exploring Google's New Carousel Featured Snippet
TheMozTeam
https://moz.com/blog/exploring-carousel-featured-snippet
February 6th, 2019

This is a really enlightening article from Moz that takes us through the ins and outs of Google’s carousel featured snippets.


The Best Landing Page Examples You Gotta Save for Your Swipe File
– Colin Loughran
https://unbounce.com/landing-page-examples/best-landing-page-examples/
February 11th, 2019

A polished, professional landing page can improve your conversion rates. But what’s the recipe for success?


How to Win SEO in Complex Web Migrations Scenarios #YoastCon
– Aleyda Solis
https://www.slideshare.net/aleydasolis/how-to-win-seo-in-complex-web-migrations-scenarios-yoastcon
February 8th, 2019

Described as ‘easy to understand’ and ‘complete’, this presentation sees Aleyda go through actionable steps to follow to effectively migrate your websites without losing rankings and traffic and take the opportunity to grow it.


There’s A Better Way To Classify Search Intent
– Kane Jamison
https://www.contentharmony.com/blog/classifying-search-intent/
February 11th, 2019

Let’s face it, search intent seems to be a growing topic recently. With many SEOs publishing some great content on it, it’s believed that Google is growing smarter thanks to generating search results based on search intent rather than just classical SEO factors.


Redirects: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration - Whiteboard Friday
– Kameron Jenkins
https://moz.com/blog/make-or-break-your-site-migration
January 25th, 2019

Correctly redirecting your URLs is one of the most important things you can do to make a site migration go smoothly, but there are clear processes to follow if you want to get it right. 


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Survey: Local SEO an ‘artisanal’ discipline dominated by small agencies – Greg Sterling
https://searchengineland.com/survey-local-seo-an-artisanal-discipline-dominated-by-small-agencies-311521
February 6th, 2019

This article covered some of the results of a survey that gave us a peek inside the business of Local SEO, a niche of the industry dominated by shops (54%) sometimes as small as the clients that they serve. 


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Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • Google Optimize: Here’s what’s new!
  • YouTube is making changes to Recommended Videos
  • Dr. Pete says Google is showing many more medical featured snippets on desktop lately
  • AMP pages disappeared for a while & changes to featured snippets
  • Double featured snippet example in the SERPs
  • The video carousel problem makes a return, this time affecting stock photo/video sites
  • Fantastic resource that shows you the different types of structured data that can appear in the search results
  • Can you add a test/development site to GSC?
  • The inspect URL tool is really just for indexable web pages
  • Google sheets have Google translate built in
  • Is Click Through Rate a ranking factor?
  • Don’t forget to build server-side rendered pages says John Mueller
  • Google is testing a new feature on Chrome for speedier browsing
  • Google removes language in policy that protected user privacy
  • Google tested snippetless search results
  • Google testing without video carousels, instead opting for quadrants
  • How to tell if you've been hacked by a bitcoin miner
  • Is Google My Business messaging broken?
  • Local SEO: Is Google Assistant enabled by default in GMB?
  • Local SEO: Does address change impact proximity signal if it’s hidden?
  • Local SEO: Be mindful of how your UTM codes are formatted
  • Local SEO: Someone noticed that snippets from Google Posts are being pulled into the local finder
  • My tl;dr summary of some excellent recent SEO and Local SEO articles

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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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