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Episode 71 - February 20, 2019 - Light Version

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Google’s algorithms have been a little on the turbulent side this month. There was likely a quality update this week, but it was fairly mild in our opinion. What was big news, however, was the fact that Google released a white paper that supports a lot about what we have been saying on the importance of E-A-T. We’ll also discuss a Bing update, some changes to the Google SERPS, and a bunch of local SEO tips.

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • An interesting recovery story
  • Mobile app properties no longer supported in GSC
  • Google Shopping now features products card buttons
  • New snippet feature in the mobile version of Google News?
  • Is it really ok to “abuse your internal links”?
  • John Mueller approves of rel=prefetch for paginated content
  • Reminder from John: always use redirects when changing URLs
  • Don't forget to troubleshoot on mobile!
  • Inspect URL tool intended only for indexable web pages (not images and other live assets)
  • Does hreflang give you a ranking benefit?
  • How does Google use unlinked mentions?
  • Is E-A-T connected to links?
  • Is it best to remove a large number of pages on your site all at once or in batches?
  • Is there a stigma that follows a site after a manual action so that it will never rank again?
  • Local SEO: Direct review reply goes live in maps
  • Local SEO: ‘Get in Line’ Call-To-Action added to Local Panels
  • Local SEO: What to do when you have two GMB locations and one is closing...is a merge possible? Can you carry over reviews?
  • Local SEO: What you need to know about Google’s change for service area businesses
  • Local SEO: Is Yelp filtering reviews with check-ins?
  • My tl;dr summary of some excellent recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

February 16, 2019 Algorithm update

We had a few clients see nice increases on this date. All of these sites were working on improving overall site quality issues.

We don’t have much to share in terms of traffic screenshots as not enough time has passed yet. Hopefully though, we will have more to report on next week.

At this point, we are seeing increases in a couple of large eCommerce sites and also, in a couple of informational sites. It is hard to tie this together as an update that has a specific focus. As often happens, we feel that this was a tweak to how Google assesses E-A-T. Or, it may be that Google re-ran some E-A-T related checks and determined that these sites have now improved.

It should be noted that Search Engine Journal is reporting on a possible algorithm update on February 14. We did not see obvious movement on this date on sites that we track, but it is still possible that Google made some updates on that day.


Bing Algorithm update - mid-February 2018

We don’t report a lot on Bing updates, but we probably should! Barry Schwartz reported on a possible update to Bing’s algorithms. We looked at several of our clients to see whether Bing traffic changed on a particular date. There are a good number of sites with increases in Bing traffic starting any time between February 4 and 12:

However, we really couldn’t find a connection to explain what the focus of this update was.

Frédéric Dubut, a spokesperson for Bing said the following:


Google Announcements

Google confirms that E-A-T is incredibly important

Google’s VP of Trust & Safety released information over the weekend that gave us insight into how they combat the intentional spread of misinformation online. The white paper itself provides increased transparency on a number of different items including Google Search, Google News, YouTube and our advertising systems.

One important takeaway for us? Google has confirmed that E-A-T is an important ranking signal! (You can click on that link for Marie’s thoughts on the subject.)

Whenever someone starts talking about whether a particular thing is a “ranking factor”, SEO Twitter gets edgy. There are a lot of tweets circulating right now from people arguing whether E-A-T truly is a ranking factor. Although we do feel that E-A-T is indeed a ranking factor, we feel that the wording doesn’t matter. Is it a ranking factor? Is it something that Google measures? Can improving your E-A-T help you rank better?

Google has told us in this whitepaper that they are putting more weight in their ranking systems on the understanding of the authoritativeness, trustworthiness and expertise of a page:

What we don’t know is exactly how E-A-T is algorithmically measured. It’s likely based heavily on links from authoritative places, but there are probably many other factors used as well. While the info in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines is not a direct blueprint for how Google’s algorithms work, they give us great insight into what it is that they want their algorithms to do.

Whether or not we call E-A-T a ranking factor, a ranking signal, or something else, you do not want to ignore it!


Google has begun sending notifications ahead of Google+ shutdown

Google is starting to send site owners notifications reminding them to remove all Google+ integrations from their site's (you know, since Google+ is about to die).

Important to note here, all Google+ web integrations will stop service on March 7th, 2019.


Google Docs gets an API for task automation

Google has just released their “Rest API” which will allow developers to build workflow automation tools for their Google Docs suite. The main use case for the API currently is to automate invoices and documents that rely on information from third-party systems. Think; invoices pulling information from one spreadsheet and price quotes from accounting software. Companies like Zapier, Netflix and Mailchimp have already built solutions using the API and surely more will follow as more developers create for their specific use case.


Google SERP Changes

"Recently viewed" images in Google image search now

It appears that Google is testing the use of recently viewed images in image search. These are triggered when you’re browsing a similar image as you’ll see below:


SEO Tips

Google Help Hangout Tips

In case you missed it, we have the Reddit AMA with Google’s Gary Illyes over on the blog.

Gary touches on what he believes is the area most SEOs are overlooking these days, Google’s thoughts on machine written content, and much more! The paid version of the newsletter contains a summary of some of the top tips.


Other Interesting News

Majestic now has backlink filtering


Hire by Google is expanding beyond the US

Hire by Google is coming to Canada and the UK. This is a G-Suite based recruitment management tool that integrates with other G-Suite apps and third-party hiring boards (as well as seamless integration with Jobs by Google, of course) to manage candidates through their potential hiring process. Preview it!

This should take away a lot of admin work for Recruiters as Hire will automate a lot of things!


Have you spotted Google Assistant search ads?

Someone recently spotted a Google Assistant ad in the results of a search query. SEOs speculated that this could be a test and later, Barry Schwartz received an update from Google saying, "We're always testing new ways to improve the experience on phones, but we don't have anything specific to announce right now."


Recommended Reading

How to Increase Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-A-T) Signals on your Website – Lola Michels
https://www.stateofdigital.com/how-to-increase-expertise-authority-and-trust-e-a-t-signals-on-your-website/
February 13th, 2019

As most of you know, the August 1st ‘Medic’ update was a broad core algorithm update that heavily impacted YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites. Some of the more notable fields included health, wealth, legal, and eCommerce sites. So what are ways to improve your E-A-T signals online? Lola’s article breaks down eight quick tips. 

 

3 easy internal linking strategies for keywords with different search volumes – Aleh Barysevich
https://searchengineland.com/3-easy-internal-linking-strategies-for-keywords-with-different-search-volumes-311890
February 11th, 2019

Internal linking is extremely important for user experience and SEO. Executed properly, it can help users find helpful information, help search engines crawl your website, increase traffic to low-traffic pages, and improve ranking for certain keywords. In the article, Aleh gives us great strategies that we can use for creating effective internal linking for different breeds of sites.


A Guide to Using Robots Exclusion Protocol (Robots.txt) – Richard Baxter
https://builtvisible.com/wildcards-in-robots-txt/
February 8th, 2019

Knowing how to create and properly implement a Robots.txt file is something every SEO should be aware of. This extremely powerful tool gives bots information about which areas of your site should be scanned and processed. Richard creates a very thorough guide which identifies a myriad of ways these queues can be used to signal bots on how to treat your pages. 


Query Syntax –
AJ Kohn
http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/query-syntax
February 11th, 2019

AJ has put together a really interesting article that breaks down how we can improve our content’s reach and how it appears in SERPs.

 

How to Identify and Tackle Keyword Cannibalisation in 2019 – Samuel Mangialavori
https://moz.com/blog/identify-and-tackle-keyword-cannibalisation-in-2019
February 11th, 2019

This recent blog post on Moz looks into how to identify potential sources of keyword cannibalization on your website, and whether or not it may be harming you. 


Back to basics: What does ‘long-tail’ keyword really mean? –
Anthony Atkins
https://searchengineland.com/back-to-basics-what-does-long-tail-keyword-really-mean-311910
February 11th, 2019

This is a great PSA about keywords from Anthony that a lot of people in the SEO industry need from time to time.


How to gather data to craft newsworthy stories – Alex Andrews
https://builtvisible.com/how-to-gather-data-to-craft-newsworthy-stories/
February 12th, 2019

Alex explains that in order to generate valuable media coverage for your brand, you need to tell stories and provide data in a way that proves your credibility and demonstrates the robustness of your research.


Weekly Wisdom with Ross Tavendale: Time-Saving SEO Hacks
– Ross Tavendale
https://www.semrush.com/blog/weekly-wisdom-with-ross-tavendale-time-saving-seo-hacks/
February 12th, 2019

Known as an agency that works four days a week, Type A Media wants to help you save your time and boost your efficiency. This week’s topic is finding all the URLs that ever existed for a website. 


The Future Of Search: Evolving Algorithms And Voice Search –
Karina Tama - Rutigliano
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/02/04/the-future-of-search-evolving-algorithms-and-voice-search/#56cd41656c33
February 4th, 2019

In 2016, Google’s CEO told us that voice search has accounted for 20% queries on Google mobile apps and Android devices. Since then, those numbers have been expected to see significant growth. This budding niche in search is providing a new front for businesses to compete on.


Google search ranking boss warns against algorithm oversight –
Jennifer Duke
https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/google-search-ranking-boss-warns-against-algorithm-oversight-20190211-p50x0y.html
February 12th, 2019

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has recently proposed oversight over the way that search engines are ranking information and news articles on their platforms. The oversight was proposed in response to the growing prevalence of fake news.

Google VP of search, Pandu Nayak, says that if such a program was implemented it would likely lead to more spam. According to Nayak, the program would force them to be more open about their algorithm which would give spammers far more tools to work with on Google’s platform. He also reiterates that Google has been working diligently to address the problem of fake news.


Volkswagen and EL PAÍS increase conversions by 76% with the first end-to-end AMP campaign
– AMP Project
https://amphtml.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/volkswagen-and-el-pais-increase-conversions-by-76-with-the-first-end-to-end-amp-campaign/
February 11th, 2019

Courtesy of Pilar Sanchez, a mobile specialist at Google, comes this story of two companies, Volkswagen and EL PAÍS, who were early adopters of AMP and agreed to work with the AMP Project to test out AMPHTML ads. 


Donde Search picks up $6 million to help fashion retailers with visual search
– Jordan Crook
https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/12/donde-search-picks-up-6-million-to-help-fashion-retailers-with-visual-search/
February 12th, 2019

Interesting read here for those working with (or owning) an eCommerce clothing site. Donde search, who launched a consumer-facing app back in 2014, has recently pivoted the company to the enterprise space focusing on helping retailers sell products.


Your Smart Light Can Tell Amazon and Google When You Go to Bed
– Matt Day
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-12/your-smart-light-can-tell-amazon-and-google-when-you-go-to-bed
February 12th, 2019

Amazon and Google are recommending that the makers of smart-home gadgets continuously send their data to their connected smart devices, regardless of whether or not users asked their Alexa or Home device to do something. This could give Amazon and Google a continuous stream of data from every device connected to the user's hub, and help them learn the behaviours of their household based on patterns of device use.


A Guide to Setting Up Your Very Own Search Intent Projects
TheMozTeam
https://moz.com/blog/a-guide-to-setting-up-your-very-own-search-intent-projects
February 13th, 2019

In this new article from the team at Moz, they take a look at how to set up individual projects in STAT to track searcher intent. 


How to get Fraggles – Using links to named anchors to improve your search result snippets
– Richard Baxter
https://builtvisible.com/implementing-named-anchors-to-improve-your-serps/
February 15th, 2019

Fraggles, otherwise known as ‘jump to:’ links or ‘quick navigation’ links (Ie. page.html#my-example), work best on well-structured pages with distinct logical sections. 


Google Shows Us How It Uses Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs –
Bill Slawski
https://gofishdigital.com/entity-extractions-knowledge-graphs/
February 14th, 2019

Bill is well known for doing a great job at examining Google patents and this recent post is no exception. The patent that he examines in this article really shows how Google’s process is improving when it comes to the Knowledge Graph.


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Do Businesses Really Use Google My Business Posts? A Case Study – Ben Fisher
https://moz.com/blog/google-my-business-posts-case-study
February 12th, 2019

To find out if businesses are actually using Google My Business posts, Ben set out to study 2,000 GMG profiles from top 20 results in the Local Finder in densely populated cities in the U.S.A.


Jobs


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • An interesting recovery story
  • Mobile app properties no longer supported in GSC
  • Google Shopping now features products card buttons
  • New snippet feature in the mobile version of Google News?
  • Is it really ok to “abuse your internal links”?
  • John Mueller approves of rel=prefetch for paginated content
  • Reminder from John: always use redirects when changing URLs
  • Don't forget to troubleshoot on mobile!
  • Inspect URL tool intended only for indexable web pages (not images and other live assets)
  • Does hreflang give you a ranking benefit?
  • How does Google use unlinked mentions?
  • Is E-A-T connected to links?
  • Is it best to remove a large number of pages on your site all at once or in batches?
  • Is there a stigma that follows a site after a manual action so that it will never rank again?
  • Local SEO: Direct review reply goes live in maps
  • Local SEO: ‘Get in Line’ Call-To-Action added to Local Panels
  • Local SEO: What to do when you have two GMB locations and one is closing...is a merge possible? Can you carry over reviews?
  • Local SEO: What you need to know about Google’s change for service area businesses
  • Local SEO: Is Yelp filtering reviews with check-ins?
  • My tl;dr summary of some excellent 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.

 Marie's newsletter is a game changer because it manages to cut through the fluff and deliver high-quality information that is not only really important for those that do SEO, but it is presented in a format that is really easy to absorb.
If you are looking for a trusted information related to search that is highly actionable I would strongly recommend Marie's newsletter.
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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