March is filled with a surprising number of changes for SEO. Don’t miss this roundup if you like to stay ahead of the pack.
First, you’ll learn some new skills from the top guides. You’ll find out why traffic matters for links, what to do when rich snippets steal your clicks, how to pick Google search entities, and why score data can lead to bad decisions.
Next, you’ll get some data you can put to use from the newest studies. You’ll learn the results of a split test with substantial implications for how you should structure your titles. You’ll also find out why you may have recently lost a favicon.
Finally, you’ll get up-to-date with insights into Google’s latest AI announcement, the status of the Core Web Vitals update for desktops, and the newly-released results from the Pirate Update.
Why Traffic Matters For Links In 2022
Are your links being ignored lately? You may find some answers in my most recent post. You’ll get a history of how the value of a backlink has changed and learn what it takes to get the most out of links right now.
The guide covers what you need to know about the relationship between traffic and ranking—namely, traffic is a more important factor than it has been in the past. You’ll find research demonstrating the value of traffic and some rules you can use to analyze links.
After the theory, you’ll get some step-by-step instructions that can help you find links that move the needle on your site’s rankings. The steps cover identifying links with traffic and estimating the value of the link opportunities you find.
The right links can take a page to the top, but even a #1 ranking page may lose clicks to a snippet. Next, you’ll learn what to do when this happens.
What To Do When Rich Snippets Steal Your Clicks
John Murch provides this look at how you can respond when a rich snippet starts stealing the clicks you need. As he points out, this can happen even when you hold the top position.
In this guide, you’ll learn a series of steps you can take to seize back your clicks. You won’t need a lot of technical knowledge to pull these off. In most cases, it’s a matter of learning how to analyze your content to identify why you’re losing out.
You’ll also figure out how to evaluate the intent of your keywords, find more opportunities for structured markup, and leverage the power of “people also ask” features to reclaim lost clicks.
At the end, you’ll find some additional tips on building your next content piece to capture featured snippets from the start.
One key to claiming more clicks is understanding where your content fits on the knowledge graph. Our next piece looks at learning more about how your topics fit and achieve topical relevance.
GSC SEO: Picking Google Search Entities
Darrell Mordecai brings you this detailed look at identifying Google entities and using them to maximize your SEO.
You’ll get a quick introduction to entities if you aren’t familiar with the concept. In very simple terms, entities are known quantities that Google uses to verify and interpret other information. These entities are mapped across the knowledge graph.
Darren explains how you can use Google Search Console to find entities and build a network of content that covers all the correct information for topical relevance. He breaks down how you can achieve this by improving pages or creating supporting content.
He also includes instructions you can use for tracking your new queries over time, a step he argues is essential if you want to be able to scale your results.
While you’re planning content for the future, you may want to think closely about how you’re using the data you have. The following guide warns even experienced SEOs about the risks of making the wrong decisions from data.
Why Domain Authority (Moz), Authority Score (Semrush) And Domain Rating (Ahrefs) Can Lead To Wrong Decisions
Johannes Beus wants to warn you that there are some pitfalls to using scores such as Domain Authority or Domain rating to decide the viability of any campaign.
Google doesn’t have a complete picture of the internet. It draws only from what it can (or will) crawl and, even then, only assesses a portion of that data for ranking purposes.
All of the major tools that provide scores are stuck drawing from an even smaller pool, and they can’t be sure they’ve covered the same territory as Google. They also aren’t connected to the Google ecosystem and, therefore, can’t really predict when or if links will be evaluated.
The full piece includes further analysis and examples you can use to understand the limits of SEO scoring systems. This isn’t to argue that these scores aren’t useful or even essential in some cases, but you should understand how much risk of error to calculate into your strategies.
That covers the guides for this month. Next, you’ll get to see some data from a couple of case studies starting with a look at whether sentence case or title case delivers better SEO results.
SEO Split Test Result: Should You Sentence Case Or Title Case Your Title Tags?
Brian Moseley brings you the next in a running series of SEO split tests that cover getting the most juice out of different elements of your SEO. This one examines whether title case (capitalizing every word) or sentence case (capitalizing only the first word) delivers an edge for your Title Tags.
The study was performed using a site where all pages were currently in title case. 70 pages were divided into variant and control groups. The variant pages were all switched to sentence case, and the results were tracked to determine the impact on clickthrough rates.
The effects of the study were nearly immediate. The variant pages experienced drops in traffic that went beyond predictions. The loss wasn’t attributable to the pages losing rank because of the changes. It was clear that the change was having an impact at the point of clicking-through.
The full study describes the motivations, methodology, and results of the study in great detail. It could be a valuable read for you if you’re planning out the style rules for your next big content project.
While we’re on the subject of making an impression on the SERPs page, you may have lost a favicon recently. Our next item examines the reasons that can happen.
Favi-gone: 5 Reasons Why Your Favicon Disappeared From The Google Search Results [Case Studies]
Glenn Gabe has some ideas for you if you have recently lost a favicon or seen it replaced with a less-appealing generic option. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that this can happen, and you may have to troubleshoot your problem one issue at a time. This article can help you do both.
Throughout the piece, you’ll learn some of the most common causes of this problem, including:
- You submitted an image with the wrong dimensions
- txt blocked the favicon
- Your CMS is blocking the favicon
For each of the causes, Glenn provides you with some background on the problem and what steps you can take to fix it. He closes the article with some additional advice on creating and submitting favicons that will be less prone to disruption in the future.
That closes out the studies for the month. Next, there are some SEO news headlines that you shouldn’t miss if you like to stay informed. First is a breakdown of Google’s recent blog post about using AI.
Google’s Blog Post On How AI Powers Search Results And What It Means For SEO
Marie Haynes provides you with this SEO-centered analysis of Google’s recent writeup on AI by Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, Pandu Nayak.
In it, you’ll learn more about how Google is using AI than we’ve been allowed to know in the past. Marie dove into what was said in the release to pull out some critical implications for SEOs.
Marie breaks down the statement from Google, and highlights the excerpts that may have the most impact on you as an SEO. She also calls on some background information and experts to cover:
- How Google’s algorithms have changed dramatically over the last few years
- Why Google understands language better than ever before
- New systems and algorithms that have become part of search (Neural matching, BERT, MUM)
She also examines the meaning of Google’s increasing emphasis on high-quality product pages, and closes on some predictions of where SEO goes from here. It’s a highly in-depth analysis that should appeal to you if you care about future-proofing your SEO efforts.
Speaking of readiness, you should be ready for the full rollout of the page experience update. It’s finally coming to desktops.
Page Experience Update Rolling Out For Desktop Searches
Google’s new page experience update was announced to be rolling out around the end of 2021 and will have some significant implications for you if your sites aren’t ready.
As Google clarifies in this release, this is the same page experience update that was already rolled out for mobile devices.
The update applies the Core Web Vitals scores to all desktop rankings. That means you’ll need to be in full compliance by the time it finishes rolling out. The rollout is expected to continue until the end of March 2022. Your pages may experience ranking instability while the update continues.
The effects may be more long-term if your pages aren’t prepared. There’s no time like the present. Applying Core Web Vitals may be easier than you think.
Now that you know what to expect from the newest update, an older one also hit the news last month. For the first time ever, Google revealed some of the effects of its Pirate Update from years ago.
Google’s Pirate Update Can Cause 89% Drop In Search Traffic For Offending Sites
Google’s Pirate Update rolled out in 2012, and represented Google’s first publicized effort to crack down on copyrighted content. The company was very tight-lipped about the actual effects of this update, but now you have some details, thanks to a legal filing.
The release revealed that Google has a “demotion signal” for sites that generate too many removal requests. The average site hit with one of these signals experiences nearly 90% less Google traffic.
A demotion may also be applied when Google automatically detects content such as movies that are still in theaters or not yet released.
This could give you some clues into how Google handles other kinds of content they don’t like. Stay tuned for anything else we learn about Google’s internal workings in future roundups.
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