Ep. 232 - April 28, 2022 - Light Version

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In this episode, we discuss a possible unconfirmed algorithm update, Google pulling featured snippets from different sources of information, leveraging your meta descriptions for category/product pages, and the latest SEO news from across the industry.

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The following topics are covered in the premium version of this episode:

  • Webspam Report 2021: How Google fought spam in 2021
  • Are meta descriptions a ranking factor?
  • Looking to embed Google Trends real-time charts?
  • Google Search Console notices for removing intrusive interstitials
  • Our tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO articles
You’ll also have access to all past episodes, including this one.

Algorithm Updates

Possible Google search ranking algorithm update on April 20th & 21st (unconfirmed) 

There was a lot of algorithm turbulence being reported in both the webmaster forums and by the weather tools as highlighted by Barry on both April 20th and 21st. 

We are not seeing much chatter elsewhere in the SEO community, and looking at the sites that we monitor we are seeing some fluctuations occurring that may be attributed to seasonality, however nothing significant enough for us to label it a significant update. 

Google updates elements of its system multiple times a day, as you can learn from our guide on Google’s Core Ranking System, and it’s very likely that there is an element of this that adapts in real-time to adjust for relevancy and intent shifts for certain queries. An uptick in these kinds of shifts (as opposed to a meaningful update to how Google ranks content) could easily account for the movements that webmasters and the weather tools are reporting.

MHC Announcements

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Google Announcements

Goodbye to the URL Parameter Tool in GSC

Friendly reminder that as of April 26, 2022 (earlier this week), the URL Parameter Tool has officially been decommissioned. Barry Schwartz also wrote an article on this for more context if you’re interested.

Google SERP Changes

Google creating its own knowledge panels for some queries

It is no secret that knowledge panels are great in that they further expand user experience while also providing SEO benefits. While (when depending on the entity) the content of knowledge panels is often extracted from sources such as Wikipedia.org, users are now noticing that Google seems to be using AI to write knowledge panel descriptions. 

According to Danny Sullivan, this practice is not new and Google has been using AI to write some content since 2018. The only difference now is that Google is also including the “written by” attribute.   


Featured snippets pulling from additional sources?

A new search result feature that pulls information from multiple websites has been flagged. And as Lily says notes, it’s a major update to SERP features indeed. 

Glenn Gabe also points out that these tests appear to have a few different styles but all amount to sharing a featured snippet to provide different perspectives. 

Suddenly you may be forced into sharing some coveted real estate.

SEO Tips

Redirecting AMP URLs to non-AMP URLs?

Recently, a Redditor on r/TechSEO mentioned that they were having an issue with an AMP page. The page in question was being ranked well by Google but when the AMP feature was disabled, Google would redirect the URL to the homepage. The user was looking for alternatives to have the AMP URL redirected to the correct one.

John Mueller commented saying the current redirect set-up would fix itself with time but the site owner wouldn’t be able to change the redirect in the meantime. If they wish to speed up the process, John suggested taking a look at Google’s documentation on how to update cached pages


Crawling Mondays: SEO testing

In Aleyda’s latest Crawling Mondays episode, she invited two SEO testing experts onto the show, Emily Potter and Nick Swan, to provide tips on running successful SEO tests. 

A few of our main takeaways:

  • An effective SEO test needs to start with a sound, descriptive, and detailed hypothesis, as well as a willingness to potentially iterate on this hypothesis for follow-up experiments. The hypothesis should be oriented around influencing one of the three levers to improving SEO results: improving existing rankings, expanding on the number of keywords for which you rank, improving click-through on existing rankings, or a combination thereof.
  • The next step is selecting pages and a methodology for measurement (split test, time-based test, etc). A split test where a control group can be deployed to control for seasonality (or algorithm turbulence) is always best, but it’s not always possible for all websites due to limited amounts of traffic flowing into pages. Sometimes it requires bravery in regards to the URL selection; Emily and Nick note that there can be a hesitance to test on pages that are highly trafficked or convert well, but these are also the pages that provide the most meaningful testing data.
  • There is also a level of patience that is required over the duration of a test, particularly for lower-traffic websites that need to leave experiments running for longer. Making changes during a test, or ending one prematurely, can muddy the waters and leave us with misleading or meaningless data.

Other Interesting News

Google Analytics real-time reporting bug won’t be fully fixed

As our team enjoys monitoring real-time stats when an exciting new piece of content goes live, we’ve noticed a problem with a few of our clients’ Google Analytics reporting: The real-time stats will show figures of active users that are clearly too low relative to the daily traffic data for the site.

Barry has been tracking this bug since early April and has provided us with the most recent update from Google. Their response indicates it won’t be fully resolved and the impacted sites should make the move to GA4, where the real-time reporting won’t be an issue.


Fake DMCA requests using AI-generated lawyers to demand links

It looks like some black-hat link builders are now using AI-generated images of people to give the impression that a real lawyer is seeking image attribution. Fear can be a big motivator and when less experienced webmasters learn that they may have used an image without properly indicating who owns the rights, they often will provide a backlink. If you receive a DMCA infringement notice from what seems to be a legitimate lawyer, be a bit skeptical and take a deeper look as it may be a black-hat looking for a link. 


This cool technical SEO audit checklist needs beta testers!

Daniel K Cheung has set out with his sights locked on being included in Aleyda Solis’ LearningSEO.io resource – which is excellent by the way! Although it’s not released yet, he’s looking for testers. 

The current checklist is built with WordPress/WooCommerce in mind and it explores a series of tools available to webmasters and supports documentation. Interested? Connect with him on Twitter.


Recommended Reading

FAQ Blog Post: Easy Copywriting Technique to Get Fast SEO Results – Samuel Schmitt
April 10, 2022

This is a walk-through on creating a blog post that is built around answering the most frequent questions that your target audience has. It’s slightly different than a dedicated page for frequently asked questions, as it is intended to be able to provide a much more comprehensive overview of a given topic.


11 breadcrumb SEO best practices for a mobile-first strategy – Jes Scholz
April 20, 2022

Breadcrumbs are almost obvious on desktop pages in terms of where to position them and what value they bring. Users can see where they are in the context of a website and trace the path in the site hierarchy. On the mobile view, however, some sites incorrectly implement breadcrumbs or simply do not include them at all. Unless you have a website with a very flat structure or don’t have many nested navigation levels, breadcrumbs can be useful to users and to Google.


Content optimization: The complete guide – Priscilla Tan
April 19, 2022

This guide on optimization emphasizes how you don’t have to make the same changes as everyone else, but rather changes made should depend on your goals. In this article, Priscilla Tan covers how to optimize content for SEO, conversions, and social shares.

Recommended Reading (Local SEO)

The Visual Future of Local Search – Part 1 – Mike Blumenthal
April 13, 2022 

Google has made a variety of changes over the past few years which seem to have resulted in images and visuals taking up an increasing amount in the mobile SERPs. Because of this, businesses should be keeping this in mind as they create (visual) content and take advantage of the situation at hand. This goes for product images, thumbnails, logos, images in the local pack, etc. 


How to Identify Content Gaps for Local Businesses – Celeste Gonzalez
April 20, 2022 

Blog content for local businesses can be just as important as blog content for larger-scale businesses. Celeste Gonzalez has written a really helpful article for identifying content gaps for local businesses specifically. 


How to get reviews for local SEO: The must-do list – Erin Jones
April 21, 2022 

We’ve discussed the importance of local reviews before and how powerful they can be. Reviews can provide trust and credibility amongst users and can assist in your SEO efforts (how reviews affect rankings). In the awesome article by Erin Jones, we learn about how you can get more reviews. 


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The following topics are covered in the premium version of this episode:

  • Webspam Report 2021: How Google fought spam in 2021
  • Are meta descriptions a ranking factor?
  • Looking to embed Google Trends real-time charts?
  • Google Search Console notices for removing intrusive interstitials
  • Our tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO articles
You’ll also have access to all past episodes, including this one.

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