The latest in SEO news and updates, including a new Google update that targets link spam.
Google Update Targets Link Spam
In December 2017, there was some chatter around a potential Google update. Unrelated to the recent Maccabees update, this change seemed to affect more ‘black hat’ SEOs, as the sites affected appear to have link spam or unnatural link building techniques connected with them.
According to Barry Schwartz, it’s a little early to ascertain if the actions have been manual, algorithmic or a combination of both.
Some comments that Search Engine Roundtable came across include:
“There has been some chatter (and I've received some inquiries) about many sites, affiliates, in particular, being hit with unnatural link manual actions. Has anybody here heard anything of this yet?
Did you see any fluctuations over the past couple of weeks?
Google Featured Snippets Introduce ‘According To’ Results
According to Search Engine Roundtable, Google has recently introduced a new featured snippet layout.
The new snippet was found following the use of the search term ‘top online marketers’. This particular search revealed the source the information came from, “According to entrepreneur.com”.
This was followed by several images of online marketers, taken from a piece of content entitled, ‘50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch’. Finally, the usual snippet results are presented below the images.
Typically, Google Home responds with information from a particular source with “According to…”.
Does this mean that the way we search online is becoming increasingly aligned to voice search results?
New Search Quality Raters Guidelines Introduced For Voice Search
Google has now introduced Search Quality Raters Guidelines specifically for Google Assistant, which indicate that the following is vital for voice search success:
- Information satisfaction – the content should meet the needs of the user.
- Length – where a displayed answer is too long and users can scan the screen, that is not possible for voice search. That’s why the most important thing is to provide vital, succinct information.
- Formulation – Grammatical correctness is paramount. Where the written word is easier to understand when badly formulated, a badly formulated spoken phrase is a little more difficult to understand.
- Elocution – With spoken information, pronunciation becomes more important. Improvements in text-to-speech technology will continue to improve this factor.
Unlike Google’s release of web search quality guidelines, the guidelines for voice search mean that you are evaluating voice responses from google Assistant instead of what you see on-screen.
“The Google Assistant needs its own guidelines in place, as many of its interactions utilize what is called ‘eyes-free technology,’ when there is no screen as part of the experience.” Google has designed machine learning and algorithms to try to make the voice responses and “answers grammatical, fluent and concise."
Unusual Keywords Spring Up In Search Analytics Reports
How frequently do you use Google Search Analytics as part of your SEO strategy? More importantly, how useful so you find the data?
Often, SEOs may complain that the data in Search Analytics is not wholly reliable. When Google Search Analytics identifies that you’re ranking for a specific keyword and you find that this is not true from a manual check, this may mean that you rank for this search term regionally.
In fact, John Mueller recently stated that the term you are ranking for may actually be related to a universal result such as an image result of a quick answer result. So if your Search Analytics report is not yielding the data you’d hope for, perhaps re-evaluate the way you’re using it, and instead delve into your universal search results.
Google My Business Introduces Video
There have been reports of video content being added to Google My Business results.
Business profiles will now be able to upload video content to their profiles; however, it appears that not all accounts have this feature just yet. This new feature can be found as part of the photos section according to Colan Nielsen on Local Search Forums.
Once uploaded the video content is then viewable via Google Maps when your local listing is presented in search results.
Whiteboard Friday – SEO Ranking Factors & Correlation
In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand asks, “What does it mean when a metric is correlated with Google rankings?”
Rand tells us why relying on ranking factor studies that lean a little too heavily on correlations need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
More SEO News and Advice
Read last week’s SEO News Roundup: Google’s Mobile-First Webmaster Tips
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