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Episode 74 - March 13, 2019 - Light Version

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It looks like we have a moderate algorithm update to report on March 6, with possible subsequent activity on March 11. Also, Google has just confirmed (minutes before publishing) that a big update has just been pushed out. In this episode, we have great tips on JavaScript SEO, how Google determines dates on pages and the best practices to follow, Google’s advice on video pages, image search, multilingual sites and canonical use on AMP sites, takeaways from Pubcon, and much more.

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • We now have a specific date when the old GSC Property Sets are getting shut down: March 28th
  • New mobile friendly SEO test in the Lighthouse Chrome extension and also web.dev
  • An update to some Google Tag Manager Triggers
  • Google Flights and Google Hotel listings in Google Maps will show some new travel insights
  • Google introduces shoppable ads in Image search
  • Are in-depth search snippets gone?
  • Material Theme Knowledge Panels make their debut
  • Mobile-friendliness tip from John Mueller
  • Tip from Andy Drinkwater re: internal linking
  • Clarification on how Google handles image URLs within an XML sitemap
  • Robots.txt is case sensitive, so if you don't have a proper block, it's only a matter of when - not if - Google will find and index that content
  • John has some good advice on canonical use for AMP m-dot sites
  • Wondering why your brand isn't ranking well in the SERPs?
  • How should you handle images for multilingual sites? 
  • Martin Splitt’s latest Javascript instalment: When Does JavaScript SEO Matter?
  • Ann Smarty tip on link building
  • What does Google prefer, HTML or PDF?
  • Is a PDF considered an image by Google? Here’s how they handle them
  • Medical sites (and YMYL sites), take note!
  • The benefits of rewriting old content
  • Best practice surrounding image use according to Google
  • Google Search Command helpful tip
  • How do you ensure that Googlebot focuses its crawling on your most important URLs rather than the lower quality URLs?
  • Google prefers on-page videos as supporting content not the primary content
  • With Moz updating their Domain Authority scores, SEOs are talking
  • How has featured snippets impacted Wikipedia?
  • Google talks Offers and how to utilize it for your business
  • Product collections featured in Knowledge Panels
  • Ads within the Knowledge Panel, but this time they’re not third-party ads
  • Local SEO: Joy Hawkins explains reviews with no text comment
  • Local SEO: GMB tips from Joy's talk at Engage 2019 Conference in Portland
  • Local SEO Pubcon Tips
  • My tl;dr summary of some excellent recent SEO and Local SEO articles

Algorithm Updates

March 12, 2019

Just as we were about to publish this newsletter, Danny Sullivan tweeted out that Google has released a broad core algorithm update:

He also confirmed that the update started yesterday:

We have received a few emails from past clients to tell us that rankings are seeing nice improvements. Most likely at some point this week we will have an article out with our findings after we have had time to assess the details of this update!

March 6, 2019

We had a number of sites that we monitor that saw moderate gains or losses on this date. It is interesting to see that many sites that saw either gains or losses in the update on February 27, 2019 had some of those changes reversed on March 6, 2019. It would not surprise me if Google made a change in how they assess quality and then rolled back many of those changes.

We are also seeing a number of sites that appear to have increases starting March 11, 2019. However, as we are writing this on March 12, it is too early to make an assessment just yet on what is happening here.

There has been a lot of unusual turbulence in the search results recently. We’ll keep you updated if we can find a pattern as to which types of sites are seeing improvements and losses.

Added: This was an interesting tweet by Glenn Gabe (just before the newsletter was published!)


Google Announcements

Google reveals how they determine dates on pages, along with best practice

Curious about how Google selects (or doesn't select) a date to show in the SERPs for your webpage? This recent blog post from Google explains how they determine a date and give some tips on how you can make it more accurate for your pages. In short, they ask that you show a clear date & use structured data. Check out Google’s post for how you can optimize for these and please note that there also guidelines specific to Google News.


SEO Tips

Bing talks verifying your site and when to use the DNS option

In light of the recent news about Google launching Property Sets in GSC that require DNS verification, Frédéric Dubut from Bing mentioned on Twitter that Bingbot both crawls your website AND will verify your site in Bing Webmaster Tools. However, he does go on to say that if you are having crawl issues, DNS verification is the more reliable way to go.


Pubcon tips

Google’s advice on how to make your images stand out in Image search


Google Help Hangout Tips

Craving more hangout tips? We have the March 5, 2019 Help Hangout transcription in full over on our blog. As always, we selected some highlights from past hangout with John Mueller which you can find below!


Other interesting News

Confusion about how Google’s Quality Raters work

This was a really interesting post by Matthew Woodward. We included it in the newsletter because we think that people will find it interesting, but there are some assumptions in this post that we at MHC do not agree with.

In the post, Matthew shows how you can look at Google Analytics data to determine whether a Quality Rater has looked at your site. To do this, go to GA, then Acquisition → All Traffic → Referrals. Then, in the search box, put in either “Lionbridge” or “Appen”, or in some cases, “raterhub”. You can see here, that my site had a bit of activity from some quality raters in November of 2018:

However, this is kind of funny because when I click on “Secondary Dimension” and click on “Page”, I can see that most of these people were likely not reviewing my site. Rather, they were reading my post on whether Google uses the BBB as a ranking factor.

We checked a bunch of sites who had come to us because of massive drops August 1 or September 27. Most of them had no visits from Lionbridge, Appen or Raterhub/Raterlabs. But, the ones that did had patterns that looked like this:

It’s interesting to see that most have a 100% bounce rate and zero time on site.

I think it’s fun to play around with this data, but I don’t think that there is a practical use for it. Still, if you are a client of MHC and you notice something interesting in what pages potential Quality Raters have visited, please do let us know!


Update your Chrome asap!

Update Chrome right now! Google has confirmed there is a vulnerability issue due to a memory mismanagement bug which could allow for malware to be implanted. Fortunately, the new update has patched this vulnerability.

If you type in chrome://settings/help in your Chrome browser, this will show you if you’re using the updated version. Here’s what you should see:


G+ sharing buttons are now gone


Confirmed glitch in SEMrush

Did you see a huge spike all of sudden on SEMrush last week? No need to stress, it was a common sighting for many users of the tool. Good news is everything is sorted!


How to turn a real-life situation into an experiment


Crawling with JavaScript on, results in less links/pages crawled than without

Ashley Berman, tweeted about an interesting case where a site she was crawling showed much more content and links with JS rendering off.

Ashley determined the main culprit here is likely infinite/dynamic scrolling on the page.


Local SEO - Google Announcements

 

Google My Business says you can now use Google Assistant to book restaurant reservations over the phone

This is only available in the US now (only in 43 states) and it has to be on a Pixel phone. If you meet those requirements, then you can ask the Assistant on your phone to book a table at [restaurant] for [x number of people] at [certain time of day], and the Assistant will then call the restaurant for you and try to book your reservation. If it's successful, you'll receive a notification on your phone, as well as an email and calendar invite. Over the next few weeks, this capability will begin rolling out to other Android and iOS devices.

Find out more from Google or check out the SEJ article for much more.


Local SEO - Google SERP Changes

Service Area Businesses see changes to their Knowledge Panel

Joy and Colan noticed that Google seems to have changed so that the city and address no longer show up in the GMB listings of service area businesses (SABs). Joy mentions in Colan's forum post on this topic that she hasn't seen any rankings effect (yet), rather, Google is taking even more steps to completely disconnect the address the SAB used for their GMB verification from the listing itself. Check out the post on the Local Search Forum for more discussion on this!


Local SEO - Tips

GMB is trying to help you feature positive reviews!


Recommended Reading

7 Tips for Structured Data on E-commerce Sites – Tammy Yu
https://www.distilled.net/resources/tips-for-structured-data-on-e-commerce-sites/
March 4th, 2019

Whether it’s for your own site or your client’s, Tammy delivers 7 tips for implementing structured data.


Report: 51% of web site hacks related to SEO spam
– Barry Schwartz
https://searchengineland.com/report-51-of-web-site-hacks-related-to-seo-spam-313468
March 5th, 2019

Sucuri has reported that over half of all sites hacked in 2018 were primarily done for SEO purposes -- this figure is up by 7.3% from the previous year. 


An SEO’s guide to site architecture
Richard Baxter
https://builtvisible.com/solving-site-architecture-issues/
March 5th, 2019

After working as an in-house SEO at a travel agency, Richard Baxter gained a lot of experience working with sites that were generating millions of pages by their nature (flight comparison pages), and thus he gained at a lot of knowledge related to site architecture, in particular with relation to indexing. Around 2011, he gave a pretty well regarded talk at SES in London about what he had learnt. In this article, Richard sets out to explain what has changed, what has been learnt, and what we should be doing moving forward as that presentation was 8 years ago!


Using JavaScript to publish content? Here are 6 ways to view rendered HTML via desktop and mobile - Glenn Gabe

https://searchengineland.com/using-javascript-to-publish-content-here-are-6-ways-to-view-rendered-html-via-desktop-and-mobile-313474
March 6, 2019

This is a great guide from Glenn Gabe on how to ensure your JavaScript pages are rendering properly on both desktop and mobile using Google’s tools and some third-party tools. 


A Technical SEO Guide to Lighthouse Performance Metrics
Jamie Alberico
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/a-technical-seo-guide-to-lighthouse-performance-metrics/292703/
March 6th, 2019

This is a super helpful article for anyone who has wondered how to use Google’s Lighthouse to help improve their page speed. 


Anchor Text: A Data‐Driven Guide (384,614 Web Pages Studied)
– Joshua Hardwick
https://ahrefs.com/blog/anchor-text/
February 26th, 2019

Several hundred thousand web pages were studied to answer the important question -- if links are an important factor, is anchor text as well?


How to set Hreflang Annotations for Success - Crawling Mondays
– Aleyda Solis
March 5th, 2019

Last week’s episode of Crawling Mondays covers hreflang annotation and how to effectively manage it in internationally. Let’s face it, hreflang is one of the more complex SEO topics so we’re glad that international expert Aleyda Solis covers this one for us. She guides us through the most important criteria to consider when setting up hreflang tags to specify both your pages relevant countries and languages for success. Keeping things simple and effective, check out Aleyda’s video!


Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

Yelp adds ‘Verified Licenses’ for local providers to lineup of paid products – Greg Sterling
https://searchengineland.com/yelp-adds-verified-licenses-for-local-providers-to-lineup-of-paid-products-313473
March 5th, 2019

Soon enough users will begin to see the blue shields, otherwise known as Yelp Verified Licences (YVL), associated with business listings in selected categories.


Everything You Need to Know About the New Google My Business Site Manager Role
– Joy Hawkins
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-google-my-business-site-manager-role/
March 6th, 2019

Early last week we got our first preview of Site Manager that was announced a few months prior.


Jobs

Condé Nast - Associate Director, SEO

Check out the link below:


Want More?

Paid members also get the following:

  • We now have a specific date when the old GSC Property Sets are getting shut down: March 28th
  • New mobile friendly SEO test in the Lighthouse Chrome extension and also web.dev
  • An update to some Google Tag Manager Triggers
  • Google Flights and Google Hotel listings in Google Maps will show some new travel insights
  • Google introduces shoppable ads in Image search
  • Are in-depth search snippets gone?
  • Material Theme Knowledge Panels make their debut
  • Mobile-friendliness tip from John Mueller
  • Tip from Andy Drinkwater re: internal linking
  • Clarification on how Google handles image URLs within an XML sitemap
  • Robots.txt is case sensitive, so if you don't have a proper block, it's only a matter of when - not if - Google will find and index that content
  • John has some good advice on canonical use for AMP m-dot sites
  • Wondering why your brand isn't ranking well in the SERPs?
  • How should you handle images for multilingual sites?
  • Martin Splitt’s latest Javascript instalment: When Does JavaScript SEO Matter?
  • Ann Smarty tip on link building
  • What does Google prefer, HTML or PDF?
  • Is a PDF considered an image by Google? Here’s how they handle them
  • Medical sites (and YMYL sites), take note!
  • The benefits of rewriting old content
  • Best practice surrounding image use according to Google
  • Google Search Command helpful tip
  • How do you ensure that Googlebot focuses its crawling on your most important URLs rather than the lower quality URLs?
  • Google prefers on-page videos as supporting content not the primary content
  • With Moz updating their Domain Authority scores, SEOs are talking
  • How has featured snippets impacted Wikipedia?
  • Google talks Offers and how to utilize it for your business
  • Product collections featured in Knowledge Panels
  • Ads within the Knowledge Panel, but this time they’re not third-party ads
  • Local SEO: Joy Hawkins explains reviews with no text comment
  • Local SEO: GMB tips from Joy's talk at Engage 2019 Conference in Portland
  • Local SEO Pubcon Tips
  • My tl;dr summary of some excellent recent SEO and Local SEO articles

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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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