Ep. 251 - September 8, 2022 - Light Version

Looking for the premium members version? Log in here

We’re possibly finally starting to see some movement with the helpful content update. New info from Danny Sullivan to help us understand the HCU. Increased bot traffic is complicating GA and loads of SEO tips.

SNYCU Podcast

This is an off week for podcast, but if you missed it, here is last week’s discussion with Google’s Alan Kent.

Alan said some very interesting things on Google using machine learning to make algorithms.

Subscribe so you never miss an episode! I publish a new podcast every two weeks:

Apple PodcastsSpotify | Google Podcasts  | Soundcloud

News about Google’s Algorithms

What the heck is going on with the helpful content update?

Let me fill you in on the Twitter drama from this week. It seems that a few people have branded myself, Glenn Gabe, Lily Ray and Wil Reynolds as PR mouthpieces for Google. Google reached out to the four of us to tell us in advance about the helpful content update. When I spoke to Danny Sullivan, I really got the impression that this update was a big deal. But yet, we’ve seen very little happening….until today that is! I am honoured that Google spoke to me before this update happened, but a little confused by how mild it seems to be (so far).

With that said, today the Semrush Sensor is finally showing an increase (for US sites only). We don’t know for certain whether this is due to the helpful content update, but given that we’re at exactly two weeks post announcement, it would make sense. I’m really hoping it’s not due to the launch of another update like a core update or product reviews as this will really make things difficult for sites trying to figure out why they’ve been hit.

I have also heard some sporadic reports of sites seeing losses such as this pet product site:

In the premium version of newsletter we share more examples of sites hit, the full discussion between Glenn Gabe and Danny Sullivan which was very interesting.

Increased bot traffic from Czechia and Seychelles

No one knows why this is happening, but I’ve seen a lot of discussion on it.

Premium readers can read about some odd patterns we are seeing with many MHC clients where traffic is up coincidental with the product reviews update at the end of July and ending with the launch of the HCU. Is it bot traffic? It’s hard to say. I have some interesting theories!

MHC Announcements

In case you missed it, last week I wrote an article with my thoughts on why the helpful content update is likely to cause confusion for SEOs for years to come. The classifier that labels sites as unhelpful is running all the time and also constantly learning and changing. This means that if your traffic starts to drop a few months from now you won’t know whether it’s due to the helpful content algorithm or something else.

More here on why the helpful content update is going to cause so much confusion.

Hourly consultation and site reviews with Marie available

Thank you to those of you who booked time to talk with me! I have been really enjoying these hour long discussions where we chat about improving site quality. If you’d like to do a Zoom call with me to discuss your site, my current hourly rate is $300. This will be increasing shortly as I’ve got a bit of a waiting list starting to build again. You can book time here

I am also now offering full site quality reviews performed by me (rather than my team). I currently have a wait list of about one month. If you’d like to get in now before the list gets longer, you can reach out here. My site reviews start at $7500 USD. You’ll get a 100+ page document filled with practical suggestions to improve E-A-T, content quality, technical site health and more. These recommendations are based on over 10 years of studying every word Google has said on improving quality combined with our experience in helping hundreds of sites do better on Google organic search.

Google Announcements

More issues at Google – this time with the Ads API

We haven’t heard much chatter about this issue affecting organic search or indexing at all, but thought it was worth mentioning.

SEO Tips

Search off the record – all about crawl budgets

You can read the transcript for this episode here. What we learned:

  • Most people don’t need to worry about crawl budget
  • Everything Google indexes has to be stored somewhere and that costs money
  • Quality signals play a role in Google determining what they want to crawl. Quality is “not necessarily that you have spammy content, but could be just that people are not looking for that kind of content.” Examples include empty search pages.
  • Technical problems encountered through the crawl can cause Google to slow down their crawl rate.
  • Google may recognize that one part of your site is worth crawling more than others (such as a news blog vs a regular blog that no one is reading.)

A tip for Merchant Center users

As I mentioned in my interview with Alan, for a while now I’ve not paid attention to Merchant Center thinking it was really just for paid search. I was wrong! If you run an eCommerce site you absolutely should be taking advantage of Merchant Center.


Google help hangout tips

Woo! A new help hangout. This one has a new format with Gary Illyes, Martin Splitt, John Mueller and Lizzi Harvey. It’s audio only.

From the hangout:

  • Is there schema markup to tell Google to show your business in local SERPS? No, but claiming your GBP helps.
  • The page experience report only shows Chrome users. If your site gets mostly Safari visitors, can you measure Core Web Vitals? You can’t in GSC, but you can use Safari developer tools.
  • How can I switch domains? Should I clone all the content? Ideally a site migration should have the same content and proper use of redirects from old pages to new.
  • Does Google support full use of schema.org? No. The types Google recognizes are listed here.

We’ve unpacked the full hangout in the premium version. There were some really good questions.

More tips in the premium version:

  • SEO for large sites
  • GA4 Data Studio dashboard
  • Creating a programmatic site with Wix


Other Interesting News

SiteGround keeps Bill Slawski’s website live for the SEO community

Local SEO - Google Announcements

Odd bug with rejected posts in GBP

Recommended Reading

The case FOR AI Content

Kevin Indig – August 29, 2022

There has been a lot of discussion lately about how AI content can be low quality, especially since Google’s announcement on the helpful content update said they want to promote helpful content that is “written by people, for people”. In this article, Kevin shares several use cases where AI can help make content more useful and helpful.


SEO: Speed is Critical, for <10% of Sites

Martin MacDonald – August 30, 2022

Martin says that technical SEO essentially boils down to making your site easy to crawl, render and parse for GoogleBot.


Looking for a new SEO job? SEOjobs.com is a job board curated by real SEOs for SEOs. Take a look at five of the hottest SEO job listing this week (below) and sign up for the weekly job listing email only available at SEOjobs.com.

Want More?

Premium members also get the following:

It’s well worth the $18 per month!

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

  • Conversation between Glenn Gabe and Danny Sullivan about the HCU
  • Marie’s observations on increased bot traffic from Czechia and Seychelles
  • Recent Google SERP changes
  • PAA’s in multiple languages in the SERPS
  • Where to start when doing SEO for large sites
  • Helpful GA4 data studio dashboard
  • Creating a programmatic site with Wix
  • Tips for using AI images in our content
  • A new Google help hangout – We’ve summarized every question!
  • Interesting thoughts on entity attributes
  • Shopify doesn’t want you to use Buy with Prime
  • Advice for SEO freelancers
  • Case study on moving product descriptions above the fold
  • Do people prefer to read short or long form SEO content?
  • Add your products to GBP
  • Tools – how are you backing up GSC data?
  • Our tl;dr summary of some awesome recent SEO articles
You’ll also have access to all past episodes, including this one.

Note: If you are seeing the light version and you are a premium member, be sure to log in (in the sidebar on desktop or below the post on mobile) and read the full article here.

Premium Members Login

Lost your Password?

Register for Search News You Can Use

Personal Information

Invalid Coupon Code

Card Details

USD 18.00 Every Month