Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – December 2018

Welcome to yet another roundup of everything you need to know to stay up-to-date in search. We’re going to look at all the latest news that will carry us into the month of December.

There wasn’t a lot of important algorithm news over the last month (possibly because everybody is already winding down for the holidays), but there was a surprising amount of high drama about decisions made by everyone’s favorite search engine.

Google was involved in two tense events near the end of last month made relations with the SEO community a little tenser than they had been in the past. Both events inspired a lot of discussion about the amount of power that Google has over the success of any website.

After we look at those events, I have some interesting new cases studies to share with you and links to some of the latest guides that are turning numbers around for SEOs like you.

First though, let’s look at the funnier of Google’s two interactions….and the response that suggests they really didn’t appreciate the joke.

What a site ranked entirely about lorem ipsum can tell us about Google’s blind spots

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-algorithm-loopholes/

What ended in mass penalties started with just a simple good-natured bet. A group of SEOs in a Facebook group held a 30-day ranking challenge and Kyle Roof decided to rank a site exclusively in Lorem Ipsum.

Those who run a lot of websites will already know what I’m talking about here, but for everyone else, Lorem Ipsum is a name given to blocks of texts made up of Latin gibberish.

Yes, that’s right—the ancient Roman language. Lorem Ipsum is used to fill empty pages for a variety of reasons like to test the appearance of text on a page before replacing it with the true content.

Our pioneer didn’t ever replace the content, though. Instead, he decided he was going to rank it with his keywords (a cosmetic surgery procedure) being the only Queen’s English on the entire site.

And he did. He got his Latin website to the #2 position for his keyword + Plano, TX.

Rhinoplasty plano serps

Though he never added any intelligible content, he was able to beat out other sites just on the power of other metrics. This raised a lot of eyebrows in the SEO community because it technically shouldn’t have been possible.

However, that turned out to be an excellent reason not to bring their shortcomings to their attention.

Shortly after the story started trending, 20 sites owned by the contest winner were hit with penalties. Ouch.

For some SEOs, that response went a little far, and the grumbling was amplified after Google was involved in a penalty scandal with another website only weeks later. This time, seemingly, for no reason at all.

Are you at risk of being de-indexed without warning or violation? A big mistake on Google’s part inspired a heated discussion among SEOs

 https://www.seroundtable.com/search-engine-land-google-index-26751.html

Sometime around mid-November, the website for the company Search Engine Land simply dropped off search results. It wasn’t pushed down. It was unsearchable. Completely de-indexed.

The company had enough of a presence in the SEO community that it inspired immediate debate. Perhaps a lot of the early energy came from the fact that no one knew what was happening at all.

There were no answers, and people quickly turned to speculation. Some suggested some tricky iframe issues could have been to blame.

The speculation didn’t have a great resolution. When all was said and done, Google insisted that the entire de-indexing was an error. All’s well that ends well, right? Well, some people just didn’t agree.

google why you no index meme

What followed were a lot of angry questions about what kind of accountability Google was going to take for “errors” like these in the future. Google holds the livelihoods of many SEOs in their hands, and now many of them fear their being stripped in an accident.

This revived discussions that have been going on for years about the monopoly-level power of Google, and whether SEOs were really better served by playing along, or by acting like competitors.

While it’s not clear where these discussions are going in the future, the frustration the community is expressing is an important signal for Google going forward.

If the two groups really see each other as enemies instead of partners in a marketplace, it’s possible we might see SEOs trying to take their power back in other ways, even by lobbying for reform by legislation.

But that’s enough of the drama for now. Some things that you can apply right to your site did come out this month, including a guide that will help you prioritize your ranking factors.

Can ranking factors be ranked by the most valuable?

https://zyppy.com/seo-success-factors/

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know that I strongly advocate for working on a healthy diversity of ranking factors.

That’s one of the reasons I was so happy to see this helpful infographic guide by Zyppy boosted by so many of the SEOs I follow. There’s probably no better source online to find the complete list of the factors that lead your site to rank more effectively, organized by importance.

Google-Ranking-Meme

On the inner pages of the guide, you’ll find a lot of great in-depth information on each type of factor. I would recommend it for any beginner and for anyone who is still developing their instincts for what makes Google respond.

And coming up next is another great resource for SEO and website owners looking to improve their metrics as the most advanced level—a look into what makes Google Bots tick.

What 3 months of case study data about Google Bot’s activity tell us about how it behaves

https://searchengineland.com/heres-what-happened-when-i-followed-googlebot-for-3-months-308674

Search Engine Land (Remember, our temporarily de-indexed friend from earlier?) released a great guide right near the end of November that takes a deep look into how the Googlebot behaves when it’s traveling through a site.

The author, Max Cyrek, gave the little guy the full rat-in-maze treatment: Testing how and where it traveled, giving it puzzles to solve and tiny obstacles to overcome.

Fun as it is to see the bot put through the wringer, there is some really good advice in this piece that shouldn’t be missed. If you take on the whole thing, you’ll get advice on how to better structure your content and some really good analysis of the “First Link Counts” rule.

Google bot crawlers

Experienced SEOs will know this rule as the one that states that Gbot only recognizes the first link to a subpage, and ignores all the ones that follow.

In the case of these experiments, the rule held very firmly, even when the links were modified in every way possible. If there’s one lesson you can take away, it’s that you’re not fooling Google with 301 redirects, canonicals, anchor links or other tricks to get around it.

Also revealed in the piece, Google can definitely see content that’s been hidden inside a tab of some sort (for example, a “show more” feature), and if it finds a link there, it will follow them.

You’ll find it worth it to read the whole guide. Next, we’re going to take a different sort of look into Google’s behind the scenes behavior. We’re going to look at whether they’re already trying to apply searcher intent…

Is Google using contextual history to understand searcher intent?

https://gofishdigital.com/query-intent-contextual-histories/

One of the big problems that continue to vex search engines is the problem of context. For example, if someone just pops open their search engine and types “Pizza”, how is a search engine supposed to know what they want?

Should it return results for local eateries? Photos of pizza? Recipes for pizza? Google isn’t quite sure yet, but they seem to know how to find out.

These-arent-the-results-youre-looking-for

As reported by GoFish Digital, Google has recently reserved a patent for technology that will add context to searches by utilizing data about the searcher, the location, past searches, time of day and many other factors.

If Google can pull this off, it could be an amazing thing for SEOs, as well. If traffic can be better separated by intent, it would make our work a lot more direct.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this one. In the meantime, let’s look at some of the ways that you can expand your linkable assets beyond guest posts.

Tested alternatives to guest posts as linkable assets

https://ahrefs.com/blog/linkable-assets/

I’m always down to talk about links, and this entry for the roundup finally gives me my chance in this article. This post by Ahrefs is a great guide if you have been struggling to build content that attracts better, more authoritative links.

Sure, everyone knows that you build “good” content, but that’s a frustratingly hard concept to define. Enter this great resource with a chunky list of 6 of them that you can use as a guide to building the most killer link assets you ever have.

linkable asset backlink profile

It goes through a lot of the major types of content you can use to draw links, from infographics to definitive guides and even tiny apps.

Each type discussed in the article is followed by tons of examples so you can easily examine them until you have a really good feeling for what’s working. I recommend both new and old SEOs check it out to learn how to step their content game up.

With that out of the way, I want to turn our attention to some changes that Google is making on the search results page itself. It’s looking like we’re in the early phases of a new rollout that will expand the amount of information that is offered in the GMBs.

GMB is expanding to include Q&A APIs allowing questions, answers and FAQ sections

https://twitter.com/glenngabe/status/1068125901441982464

Just as November was almost gone, some important new changes for GMBs dropped. The update amounts to a ton of new features that business owners and their digital marketing teams will find useful.

The new features include FAQs for GMB pages, including functions to retrieve questions, post answers and separate different questions by store location.

GMB illustration

These changes are likely intended to make GMB pages more competitively useful for searchers (what a surprise that Google wants their own results to be the natural first click), but that could be good news for people who still run brick and mortar locations.

The features make GMBs a more centralized place to see and respond to customer problems. FAQs are a relieving expansion for businesses who dealt with more questions than could be easily answered in the limited space given for descriptions.

While we’re on the subject of businesses that rely on Google searches, the final item of our roundup is the busting of a related myth.

Is there truth to the rumor being spread that Google uses BBB ratings for ranking? (No)

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-bbb-algorithm-ranking-26673.html

There has been a rumor going around for probably a few years now that BBB (Better Business Bureau) ratings were a ranking factor.

For non-Americans, BBB is an influential organization and site that provides a rating to businesses based on consumer reports that have been given to them by consumers. For many years an “A” rating from the BBB has been considered a great trust factor as far as advertising is concerned.

But is it a rank factor? The people claiming so weren’t those who got a boost, but instead the ones who were convinced that their tanked BBB score was the cause of some search penalty.

raises google ranking meme

When it comes to penalties, For what it’s worth, Google says “no”, or at least, Google’s John Meuller does. In a video hangout with some SEOs, John was asked the question specifically by Glenn Gabe.

John went further than answering that question, volunteering that not only was the BBB not a ranking factor, but neither were any type of reviews.

The rumors may have come from the fact that a poor BBB rating does affect a site’s measure of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (EAT).

Certainly, a site that does great on any of these scores is going to have an easier time improving, but BBB rating alone is just one trust factor of many. If BBB complaints are becoming a problem, it’s likely there is more than one trust issue on the site.

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