Ep. 251 - September 8, 2022 - Light Version
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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.
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.
And if you want to jump to a great part of the podcast about machine learning with @Marie_Haynes and @akent99, check out 18:28: https://t.co/f7OmujBX1q
You should watch the rest of course, but that part is super-important for site owners and SEOs to understand. pic.twitter.com/hLVAGIireL
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) September 1, 2022
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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.
Good morning. Maybe something is happening? pic.twitter.com/YPZcUowC8o
— Dr. Marie Haynes🐧 (@Marie_Haynes) September 8, 2022
Just to be clear, @RankRanger @awebranking and @semrush are all showing Google ranking fluctuations this morning, the others are not yet, but I am starting to see some chatter https://t.co/PhyjOBtl5H pic.twitter.com/mX0irOYd1z
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) September 8, 2022
I have also heard some sporadic reports of sites seeing losses such as this pet product site:
this is ours. the drop in June is because of an issue with tag manager. we have weathered many updates but HCU has impacted us big time. the drop is around 50% pic.twitter.com/4OeEc5IN6a
— Syed Aftab Hussain Hashmi (@islamian2547) September 8, 2022
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.
Interestingly….have you seen this? https://t.co/YaiMvwEkU2
All around the time Google launched the update – all showing up as google/organic as the source/medium.
Wonder how many think the rise in organic is linked to the update.
— Pritesh Patel (@priteshpatel9) September 7, 2022
Yep, looks like that's what's it. All the additional traffic was from Seychelles and Czechia. pic.twitter.com/vmzOcYHuVf
— Joy Hawkins (@JoyanneHawkins) September 8, 2022
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!
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.
More issues at Google – this time with the Ads API
Additional Google issues reported, now affecting API via @nfarley10 https://t.co/C8zaamDoWu pic.twitter.com/ryM1iO5VJR
— Search Engine Land (@sengineland) September 1, 2022
We haven’t heard much chatter about this issue affecting organic search or indexing at all, but thought it was worth mentioning.
Search off the record – all about crawl budgets
Google can crawl different sections of your site more or less frequently and also determine the quality of those sections differently said @methode https://t.co/jgOLw8ysMK hat tip @glenngabe pic.twitter.com/3iQLUKSdDq
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) September 2, 2022
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
If using Merchant Center, one quick thing to check is your feed does not include a URL pointing to your home page instead of a product page by mistake. We combine more and more data in presentation of results.
— Alan Kent (@akent99) September 6, 2022
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
We agree that the blog holds significant value for the SEO community, which is why we have reactivated the service. The site should be accessible shortly.
Thank you for bringing that up, Sam.
— SiteGround (@SiteGround) September 1, 2022
Local SEO - Google Announcements
Odd bug with rejected posts in GBP
If Post marked rejected
1/check your profile & see if it is there. If it is, you are set
2/If it isn’t check your text/ image to see if you used them before. If you have nuke em & use fresh
— Mike Blumenthal (@mblumenthal) August 30, 2022
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.
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
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.