Got your cookouts, fireworks and family vacations out of the way? Good. Because summer school is now in session and there will be a test. This month’s roundup comes with one of the heaviest collections of case studies and guides that I’ve ever published.
First up, my case studies are going to give you data experts’ perspective on some of the most vital trends in search, including Google’s June core update, the best CMS platforms and what clients expect from SEO services.
Then, my collected guides are going to teach you some intensely valuable lessons about how to be an amazing SEO, fix a plateauing rank and understand how Google values different types of links.
Finally, there weren’t many big news items last month, but what there were, you better not have missed. I’m going to cover the shutdown of CCN and what it means that Google has canceled support of robots.txt.
I’ve got a lot to cover, so better jump right in. Let’s start with one of the first really in-depth data dives into the June 2019 core update.
What an Analysis of 2 Million Pages Tells Us about Google’s June 2019 Core Update
It can be hard to keep track of the important changes in SEO while the sun is shining and people are out having fun. However, the consequences of the June update really aren’t something any SEO can safely ignore.
That test I talked about earlier? It’s about whether you can ride the wave of the latest update or get buried by it.
There have been hundreds of writeups on the update so far, but most have been based on first impressions and speculation. This piece by Eric Lancheres is built with hard data—more than 2 million points of it.
The piece opens with support for the idea that the June update doesn’t have much in common with any of the updates that came before it. A new focus other than UX, content, speed or other factors is guiding the sites that were boosted and the sites that were penalized.
[callout]The data seems to suggest that the factor that made the biggest difference was links.
Sites that were similar in every other respect thrived or decayed based on the number and type of links that they possessed.
To get the full analysis, you’ll need to check out the article yourself. It’s certainly worth your time because it will not only guide you toward the steps you need to recover, but may give you insight into where Google is going to make updates in the future.
Among other concerning trends you should note, there’s evidence Google is showing less interest in steering their searchers to results they don’t control.
How Much of Google’s Search Traffic is Left for Anyone But Themselves?
No one will argue that Google isn’t getting better at giving searchers exactly what they want. However, this case study reveals that more and more, Google is focused on delivering results in a way that doesn’t require any further clicks.
Features like the featured snippet are making it easier for Google to provide answers in a quick snippet format without delivering a click to the website that is providing the result. Exact information is extracted from the sourced website, and the searcher can read it right on the search page.
This could have some troubling implications for publishers who carefully build information into content that is designed to provide incentives to build a lasting relationship with the searcher or direct them to helpful products. All that context is stripped out.
Google also owns or has purchased a lot of the biggest destinations from search engine pages. Through acquisitions like Youtube, the percentage of searches that end on Google properties has risen to about 6%.
The good news is that the percentage has been relatively flat over the past few years. It’s also far too early to say that the death of SEO is on the horizon.
The whole piece is worth a read for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the future of SEO. Of course, it’s also important to understand that these trends aren’t necessarily permanent.
Publishers have pushed back in recent months, with Ahrefs even going so far as to announce a competitor search engine that pays publishers directly.
Now, let’s move on to some of the external considerations of SEO. Backlinko has released a massive guide on the expectations of SEO clients.
The Most Important Outtakes from the 2019 SEO Services Report
It’s not often that I cover the client-facing side of SEO in my roundups. In this case, however, it comes packaged in data that was generated from a survey of over 1000 business owners who rely on SEO services—so it should fit nicely with what you’ve come to expect.
And after all, this is data you shouldn’t miss. It includes information about how much businesses expect to pay for SEO, how much value they place on factors like reputation and how quickly they expect results.
Direct referrals account for more than half of all conversions, and clients place a high value on SEOs who is in their geographic area.
On the other hand, the survey shows that there is a great amount of instability in the market. A certain percentage of clients constantly drop their services to hire new ones, and the factors that drive turnover aren’t always based on a good understanding of how effective SEO works.
Anyone providing SEO services owes it to themselves to review the full data for important information on how to optimize their sales and relationships with customers. Highlighting the right factors could make the difference between a lost client and a thrilled one.
Of course, the effectiveness of SEO isn’t always in your hands. If you have clients and they continue to resist migrating to WordPress from Wix, this next article may assuage some of your fears.
What an Analysis of 6.4 Million Domains Tells us about Wix SEO vs. WordPress
Your choice of CMS is not an insignificant one. However, most SEOs believe that they’re making not just the safest, but the best choice when going with global-standard WordPress. Wix has a reputation for ranking in a distant second place, and it has worked a lot to change that.
Wix has made a massive effort in the last two years to improve their reputation among SEOs, updating their product and going as far as to offer a $50,000 prize to whoever could outrank their site for a specific term. But has that effort changed what they offer relative to WordPress?
That’s exactly what this analysis of over 6 million domains set out to determine. That’s a lot of data, but as you might expect, that didn’t intimidate the people at Ahrefs. Through several steps, bias and misleading readings were stripped from the data to produce reliable conclusions.
Those conclusions? They’re best understood by reading the whole piece, but as a preview: it seems that Wix’s poor reputation isn’t entirely deserved.
There seems to be some evidence that WordPress is benefiting from factors that have more to do with who uses it than what it brings to the table on its own. SEO experts who prefer the CMS may be fudging the stats with the expertise that they apply to their WP-built sites.
Of course, the conclusions are more complicated than that. Make sure you check out the data yourself.
While it’s hard to say what the future will bring, there’s a lot to be said about what it means to be an amazing SEO right now. My first guide piece from Authority Builders is going to cover the best in current techniques.
What it Takes to be an Amazing SEO [INFOGRAPHIC]
The last few pieces probably account for a few hours of reading time if you want to dive through all the data. Let’s take a quick break with a piece that takes advantage of pleasant visual aids to lay out the traits that define the top SEOs—As decided by industry insiders.
The data here was gathered from an industry poll of about 100 practicing SEO professionals. They were asked to help define the three main archetypes that defined the most successful SEOs.
The focus was on the archetypes of the thinker (who analyzes and innovates), the learner (who develops their knowledge by accumulating the work of many others) and the implementor (who prizes technical skills and likes to get their hands dirty through trial and error).
The surveyed SEOs placed themselves in one of these categories and took a stab at defining the trait that made each one the most effective. Altogether, the data is a great way for both new and veteran SEOs to learn what skills they need to develop.
Had a chance to breathe? Good, let’s move back to the heavier stuff for a second. Plateauing is a serious problem for any SEO, and the next guide will tell you how to fix it.
12 Reasons your SEO Traffic is Plateauing and how to Fix it
Has your site stopped moving? Possibly for months in a row? There are a lot of reasons this can happen, and this guide looks at a dozen of them in an impressive amount of detail.
It covers frequent problems like slow speeds, excessive amounts of outdated content, too many aggressive ads and even serious problems like competition from Google. For each type of plateau, it provides you with serious, actionable advice on how to get things moving again.
The advice provided is not fluff. In many cases, the article provides specific action plans that may take some work to implement. You can decide for yourself if the site is valuable enough for some of the more intensive suggestions, but you can’t argue the advice isn’t based on results.
You’ll also find that many of the solutions directly involve the quality and quantity of links. If that’s going to give you some trouble, you’ll be well-served by the advice provided by the next item in my list of June guides. It’s all about how to determine the value of links.
All Links are Not Created Equal: 20 New Graphics on Google’s Valuation of Links
Thank goodness—some more pictures to relieve you from all those thick paragraphs and data tables I’ve been throwing at you.
If you’ve been looking for a way to make the value of links make more sense to you, look no further than this brand new guide by the people at Moz.
The guide lays out some of the most important principles for links and then illustrates them with helpful graphics that should make it a lot easier for you to commit them to memory.
Though it’s a long guide that covers 20 different principles, each part is easy to digest on its own. You can easily search and find any specific concept about links that you’ve had trouble internalizing, and then use the graphics to understand the concept at the basic level.
It covers concepts such as how to link higher up in the main content cast more powerful votes, and how links with the most relevant anchor text pass more value. Even if you’re an expert, you’re likely to learn something from this many concepts plainly laid out.
This time, I’m not going to throw you back into the data right after your break. Instead, make yourself some coffee and relax while you listen to this video of me breaking down the latest information.
SEO Fight Club – Episode 21 – Matt Diggity – Affiliate SEO
This Youtube presentation I did for SEO Fight Club is going to be a huge timesaver for you if you’ve been having trouble finding a one-stop resource for affiliate websites and website flipping. Even the different points in the video are broken down in more detail with helpful slides.
The real value of the video is the format of “SEO fight club”. The information isn’t broken down from just one perspective, but from several, with the different hosts (all experienced SEOs) trading questions and offering more insight on different parts of the topics covered.
If you enjoy it, make sure that you check out the entire show. There are more than a dozen episodes up now that all offer the same advantage of competing perspectives.
Now that you should be a little more decompressed, I’m going to cover the two big news items of the month. First, CCN is shutting down as a result of the June core update, and depending on your niche, that should concern you.
CCN is Shutting Down after Google’s June 2019 Core Update
You may have read some takes that suggest the June update was a mixed bag, and that there isn’t much cause for big moves.
For at least one property, that wasn’t true. CCN is reporting that they’re shutting down after a large penalty after the June update. The numbers seem to suggest that they lost 70% of their search traffic.
You don’t have to be a fan of CCN or cryptocurrency, or even care much about what they do to consider what future adjustments might mean for sites in your portfolio. Consider how dependent your sites are on search traffic, or search traffic from just one engine.
The next news item is lighter, but still concerning for anyone focused on strategic indexing.
Google Cancels Support for Robots.txt Noindex
If you’ve been reading my roundups, you know that there was some noise months back about Google ignoring no-index requests. At the time, some of Google’s reps insisted that this was not intentional or intended.
However, they’ve taken a new step now and finally declared that they no longer support robots.txt or consider it a valid directive.
While some will find this concerning, considering that Google respected this standard for years, there are still other options. Google itself laid out a whole list of alternatives that accomplish the same goal.