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Episode 9 - May 22, 2017 - Light version

There have been a number of big algorithm changes in the last few weeks. In this episode we'll look at those dates. We'll also look at all of the latest news in the SEO industry. This episode includes a few tips to help you improve your site. It also goes over a great way to use your social profiles in order to get links.

In this episode:


Paid members also get the following:

  • Some information about the mobile first index.
  • What it means when you get a spike of 404 errors showing in Google Search Console.
  • The true story of how I took advantage of the fact that one of my sites was hacked and turned it around so that it made me money.
  • Observations on the "best" carousels at the top of the SERPS.
  • Super important info for restaurants doing local SEO.
  • Information on how Google filters out fake reviews.
  • Results of an experiment that tested whether Google showed preference to text that was on the page or hidden via javascript or CSS.
  • A neat way to get links by utilizing your social profiles.
  • How to use Screaming Frog to find duplicate products for eCommerce stores.
  • A very cool way to determine whether you are likely to get a featured snippet.

Note: If you are seeing the light version and you are a paid member, be sure to log in and read the full article here.


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Latest algorithm updates

Even though Google is continually changing the algorithm, there are still occasional days in which we notice a significant number of changes. The following dates all seem to be have been dates where Google made significant changes to the algorithm:

  • April 17, 2017 - Lots of sites saw changes on this day. It looks like this was a big tweak to the core quality algorithm.
  • April 27, 2017 - I didn't see much written about this date, but I had a few people contact me saying that they were seeing significant changes. It seems to me that most of the sites that were affected were ones that had previous Panda issues.
  • May 4, 2017 - Again, this looks like a significant update to core quality assessment.
  • May 17, 2017 - This most recent algorithm update also seems to be about quality. Some had suggested that perhaps the changes we were seeing were related to changes in which site is seen as a featured snippet, or possibly due to a test in which people were seeing that the site that won the featured snippet was removed from the organic results. However, Glenn Gabe is reporting seeing sites that were affected that didn't have featured snippet issues:

    I have not noticed much significant change in the sites that I monitor, so I don't have much to offer in terms of recovery advice at this point. However, more and more, the advice for recovery is becoming the same: Do everything that you can to improve the technical SEO and the overall user experience.

     


My algo tracking list is updated now!

Some of you may remember that I have a list in which I keep track of all of the known or suspected algorithm changes and other things that could affect your site's rankings. I had gone quite a while without updating it, but it is fully updated now. Let me know if you think I am missing anything!

I use this list every time I do a traffic drop assessment. If your site was hit on a certain day, often we can get good hints on what needs to be fixed, if we can determine what types of sites that update hit.

I plan to be updating this list approximately every two weeks along with my latest newsletter.


Are spammy links unnatural links?

John Mueller tweeted this recently:

 


I see a lot of confusion about this. Every single site that has any kind of traffic is going to attract spammy links. So, should you be disavowing them?

My opinion is that the disavow tool should only be used in the following situations:

  • If you have links that you (or a company acting on your behalf) made with the sole intention of manipulating Google.
  • In some cases, if a competitor is trying to do negative SEO by pointing keyword anchored links to your site.
  • If you previously had a manual unnatural links action and old self-made links keep appearing in the backlink checkers.

What interests me, is reading the comments section on Barry Schwartz's post on John's tweet. A good number of the commenters are disagreeing with John Mueller and saying things like this:

"If these links come from spammy websites, they are 100% unnatural for your backlink profile. I'd stick with disavowing all the bad links, no matter what Google tweets about."

It disturbs me to see that many SEO companies are strongly pushing regular link auditing for the purpose of disavowing for sites that have no history of spammy link building. I still do some link audit work, but only for sites that meet the criteria mentioned above.

Link auditing is something that is easy to sell. In my opinion though, the only reason why we should be doing regular link auditing is to figure out how to grow. In other words, I think it's a great idea to audit competitors link profiles for link opportunities you can win, or, to audit your own links to see what content on your site is attracting new links. But, now that Penguin 4.0 no longer demotes for unnatural linking, most sites do NOT need to be doing regular disavow work.

 


Do you run an event? Schema it so that it can appear on local searches.

Google announced a new service that will show upcoming events to people who are searching for them. It looks something like this:

local events

 

In order to be included in this list, you'll need to mark up your event page with schema. Instructions on how to do this along with the types of events that can be marked up are here:

http://schema.org/Event


Is Google dropping the featured snippet site out of the organic results?

Jennifer Slegg wrote this week of a test that she saw in which for every search result, if a site was in the featured snippet, it was not seen in the organic results. This was an extensive test that a lot of people saw. However, it looks like it is not sticking. I am still seeing that if a site is in the featured snippet it is also in the organic results.


SEO Experiment: Can you use canonical tags on images?

I found this post an interesting read:

Do tags on images work? A Brighton SEO Experiment

In this experiment, Dan Callis ran an experiment in which he added a canonical tag to an image to see if Google would honor it.

For beginners in SEO, let's take a step back and describe what a canonical tag is. If you have two identical pages either on the same site, or on different sites, you can add a canonical tag to each page to tell search engines which one is the one that should be ranking. Search engines will usually honor the canonical tag provided that the pages are quite similar.

So how do you apply a canonical tag to an image? The article describes how it can be done using .htacess.

The results of the study showed that Google did not honor this canonical tag.

 


Google Analytics Amp changes

If you use Amp for your pages then you know that Google analytics metrics can be confusing to understand for these pages. Google is rolling out changes over the next few weeks that will improve the ability to analyze Amp pages. You can read more info on this here.


Google may automatically nofollow widget links

I think that widgets can potentially be a good way to get links. Widget link building is a tactic whereby you build a tool that someone would like to embed on their site and then you give them the opportunity to link back to you from within that tool.

However, this is a tactic that is often abused. I am consulting right now with several companies that have received unnatural links penalties because of widget link building.

In my years of dealing with manual penalties, I have seen quite a few unnatural link penalties that were dished out to sites that produced widgets with keyword anchored links. For example, let's say that I wanted to rank well for "Google penalty expert". In the past, something I could have done for links would be to build a tool to offer site owners. For example, I could make a widget that SEO's could embed in their sites that shows the date of the most recent significant algorithm change. I could make it so that whoever installs the widget also links back with a link saying, "Tool provided by Google penalty expert, Marie Haynes".

If you do lots of linking link this, though, this can land you an unnatural links penalty as these people did not choose to link to me and did not choose the anchor text.

What I have found interesting lately though is that several of the sites that are getting unnatural links penalties are getting example links from Google and Google is giving them example unnatural links that don't have keyword anchors. Instead, these links are anchored with their Brand name or url. It seems that Google really is not liking the idea of building links via widgets.

I found this recent statement by John Mueller quite interesting. He said,

"For the large part we notice those things too, especially those things that are larger scale and we just nofollow them on our side. So essentially we crawl these sites, see these links and say oh, these are all the same widget, we will just nofollow of of these links for them."

Woh. So, John is saying that if the algorithm recognizes widget links are being built on a large scale, then they'll just ignore those links and treat them as nofollowed.

Looks like I won't be building that latest-algo-change widget any time soon.


Recommended Reading

Can Google properly crawl and index JavaScript frameworks? JavaScript SEO experiment. 

7 unannounced updates to Google My Business we’ve seen in 2017

52 Local Strategies for SMBs

5 Reasons Your Law Firm Website Isn’t Generating Leads & How You Can Fix It!

Marie's interview on Exposure Ninja


Want more?

Paid subscribers of my newsletter received lots of additional information this week including the following:

  • Some information about the mobile first index.
  • What it means when you get a spike of 404 errors showing in Google Search Console.
  • The true story of how I took advantage of the fact that one of my sites was hacked and turned it around so that it made me money.
  • Observations on the "best" carousels at the top of the SERPS.
  • Super important info for restaurants doing local SEO.
  • Information on how Google filters out fake reviews.
  • Results of an experiment that tested whether Google showed preference to text that was on the page or hidden via javascript or CSS.
  • A neat way to get links by utilizing your social profiles.
  • How to use Screaming Frog to find duplicate products for eCommerce stores.
  • A very cool way to determine whether you are likely to get a featured snippet.

Note: If you are seeing the light version and you are a paid member, be sure to log in and read the full article here.

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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 reccomend Marie's newsletter.
Paul Macnamara - Offers SEO Consulting at PaulMacnamara.com

I would love for you to leave a comment on any of the topics I have written today. Also, if there is something you would like to see more (or less) of in this newsletter, please let me know.

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