August was a great month for enjoying the last part of summer, catching up on a few personal development projects, launching new services, and seeing one of my kiddos off to her first day of Kindergarten!
It was also a busy month with announcements from Google and Bing.
I also started reading this great book (A Mind for Numbers) to see if I can find a faster/more efficient way to learn new technical concepts that come flying my way as an SEO. I highly recommend the read.
OK. Let’s get to the big news items this month:
Google Announcements and Updates
Less than half of Google searches now result in a click – Rand Fishkin
Rand Fishkin’s latest research shows that zero-click searches (where users find the answer directly in search or use Google’s own tools – like Maps) are over 50% of all searches.
Here’s the June data:
Especially on mobile, the number of clicks to organic listings is progressively declining.
Here are the big takeaways for your future online marketing plans:
- Look at your Featured Snippets and see if you can find brand exposure opportunities from them.
- Optimize for keywords where there are higher click-throughs
- Optimize your content on Google-owned properties (YouTube, Maps, Images, AMP, Knowledge Panels, etc).
Podcasts are now playable in search results:
Here’s a screenshot of what the results look like when you search for a podcast by name:
I have an Android phone and can play these directly. There’s a bit more in Google’s announcement.
If you want your podcasts to surface in results, you need to mark up your content with podcast schema.org markup and register your podcast.
Google’s search app “Go” available worldwide
This is a mobile app that is designed for devices that are low powered or need to work in bad connection areas. It’s a lightweight app that remembers your search results if your connection drops and will read web pages (or real-world text that you point to with Google Lens) out loud to you. While it was originally launched in India and Indonesia, it’s now available worldwide. Note to marketers: Google has had the functionality to read your web pages. Also, this is part of a larger trend toward the next set of Internet users which will rely on voice to find information. As covered in the Wall Street Journal this month, companies are working on UX that will allow users to find information via using video, images, and voice.
Is your brand ready? Contact us for a voice audit and strategy.
Bing Webmaster Tools adds domain connect verification
You can now register your website with Bing Webmaster Tools via 4 methods – the latest is via DNS provider that has integrated Domain Connect solution with Bing Webmaster Tools. Check out the step by step instructions here.
It’s a good sign that setting up Bing Webmaster Tools is becoming even easier – with 45% of the voice devices powered by Bing voice search results, it’s important for marketers to have Bing optimization on their radar.
New job training structure data
You can now add specific schema.org structured data to your job training program pages. Here’s the announcement.
Doing this helps Google create search results that look like these:
Google warns about Instagram embeds
Be careful if you embed Instagram photos directly onto your site. It turns out that Instagram embeds use a no index robots meta tag, that tells Google that they don’t want those images indexed together with the page itself.
Search Engine Roundtable has captured John Meuller’s response to a site owner that saw a drop in Google Image search traffic and reached out to get assistance.
Sites have Google render budgets
I discovered an interesting post from a former Google engineer about Google’s render budget and how it is like crawl budget — Google needs to decide if your site is popular enough to assign enough resources to render your site if it’s powered by JS. I think this is a great argument for using plain HTML for new sites, as they haven’t accumulated enough popularity signals for Google to assign appropriate render budgets.
CTR impact on new featured snippet types
This article covers schema.org tests that Moz’s Lily Ray has been doing on the impact of implementing the new schema.org markup types: HowTo, Q&A, and FAQ. The takeaway is that getting a Featured snippet for Q&A can drive increase impression for your page, but also a decrease in clicks to your site unless you add links in each answer to additional information deeper into your site. The HowTo schema markup is similar, but it can also be used by Google Assistant when it read out loud the answer.
I also learned that you can get a manual penalty for misusing the markup (whether intentionally or not). Most of the time its webmasters trying to implement scheam.org via JSON-LD code in a way that presents information that is not visible on the page.
Distilled has a case study where FAQ schema markup helped increase traffic, by adding links into the answers that were tracked with UTM tracking codes (which helps you track if users click on the link within the answer vs the linked page that is ranking on its own). Just make sure to set the utm_source to “google,” utm_medium to “organic” as to not destroy your organic data sources.
Browser-level native lazy-loading is now native in Chrome
Starting with Chrome 76, you can start using the new loading attribute to lazy load resources without the need to write custom code or use a separate JS library. This is what the code looks like:
<img src="image.png" loading="lazy" alt="…" width="200" height="200"> <iframe src="https://example.com" loading="lazy"></iframe>
There are three values supported for the loading attribute:
- auto: Default lazy-loading behavior of the browser, which is the same as not including the attribute.
- lazy: Defer loading of the resource until it reaches a calculated distance from the viewport.
- eager: Load the resource immediately, regardless of where it’s located on the page.
I am definitely adding these to my technical SEO recommendations list…
Mapping out topic structures from a seed topic or webpage
With Google overlaying the topic layer in search, I found this tutorial to be just the answer that I was looking for. It maps out how to let Google and Wikipedia define a topic structure.
Here’s more from the article:
“Essentially, we give the tool a topic or URL, and let Google’s Language API select the top n (3 in our examples) entities (that include Wikipedia URLs) for each entity page and we recursively keep building out a network graph for each found entity up to a maximum depth.”
Here’s the takeaway:
To appear for the main topic and subtopics in search, you need to structure your content to talk about the hierarchy of topics based on the ontology that Google has developed about topics in general. By thinking about how topics are connected, you’ll write better overall topics that are not keyword specific per se, but are more comprehensive about the topics and subtopics – hopefully in a way that ranks better.
It’s also important to note that Google is using these ontologies in relation to what it knows about the searcher’s journey, and inexperienced searchers will have a different topic/subtopic organization (and search experience) than more sophisticated searchers.
How Google might grow its knowledge graph
A recent patent granted to Google describes how Google may build upon data within a knowledge graph so that it contains more information. The patent looks as how Googlebot might crawl news based resources to add new information to the Knowledge Graph and at times use Human Raters to evaluate the additions. Bill Slawski dissects the entire patent here.
Sometimes freshness matters for featured snippets
A recent post from Google outlines when it might take into account the freshness of the query when rendering Featured Snippets. Marketers – keep this in mind when selecting keyword phrases and re-working your content for Featured Snippets.
Most blogs are not set up with a strong SEO structure
This study found that most blog posts were more than 3 clicks from the homepage — in fact, two-thirds of blogs had a click depth of more than 5. Google recommends that your high-quality content should be no more than three clicks from your homepage.
The takeaway? Make sure to leverage your blog content by creating content hubs that are less than three clicks from your homepage.
Displaying authorship for medical sites
Google has made updates over the last year that has impacted sites which provide medical content without being clear about the expertise of the author. Once again this month, John Mueller was asked about this issue. The question was, what’s the best way to tell Google that my content has been reviewed by doctors and should I be doing this at all? Here is John’s response in full:
“So I think, first of all, should I do it at all? I think that’s something that you probably have answered already in that if you’re providing information on your webpage and it is kind of checked or written created by someone who has a lot of knowledge on that topic, then that’s something I would definitely highlight.
“So there are lots of ways that you can highlight that on your webpages, you can link to those profiles, you can put text on the pages. Anything to really show users when they come to your pages that there’s actually something valuable here that they could trust this information. That this is something that’s reliable, that they can forward on to their friends without having to worry that maybe it’s not correct or so.
“In that regard, anything that you can do to make that clear that probably makes sense for users. That’s something you can also check with normal A/B testing. And that probably also makes sense for search engines in that regard as well.”
Be careful of Facebook’s “like” button use if you target EU users
The EU’s highest court (the European Court of Justice) has decided that website owners can be held liable for data collection (and run abreast of GDPR regulations) when they use the so-called “social sharing” widgets. This also applies to Twitter and LinkedIn sharing widgets.
Linkedin launches new marketing resources section
You can check out the new hub of resources here. It does have some interesting data by vertical, though most of the information seems to be geared toward paid advertising insights.
Tweets with video have 10X the engagement
If you’re a video creator, and your audience is on Twitter, you need to be creating videos for your tweets – even screen captures. Twitter announced that videos have 10x the engagement, Tweets with images attract 150% more Retweets than Tweets without images and even Tweets with a GIF gain 55% more engagement than Tweets without a GIF.
Yelp allows users to personalize their search results
Considering that I use Yelp a lot, I’m excited to see if these changes make finding a restaurant that works for me a bit easier. Yelp users can now personalize their search results based on diet, lifestyle, and accessibility, type of cuisine, favorite attractions, and most frequented types of businesses.
Yelp says that the information used to personalize search results is gathered from reviews, photos, and questions answered by other users.
If you have Yelp listings, it would make sense to see if you can get photos, questions or reviews focused on the types of categories you think your users would personalize for.
Podcasters are getting hit with one-star reviews
Unfortunately, unlike Facebook and Yelp where the content owner can have some recourse for controlling fake one-star reviews, there’s no option for podcasters and some have stopped podcasting altogether.
Cortana, Alexa, Siri and Google listening to voice searches
This month Cortana and Skype were the latest to get caught listening to and having subcontractors have access to your voice queries. I’m still waiting for admission by Facebook that they use your phone’s microphone (it says it does not). You can follow this link and you’ll be able to download everything Facebook knows about you.
The attention of goldfish
While this stat has been referenced online in quite a few places (and I used to use it in my training decks), it turns out that if the content is engaging, you can retain users for more than 8 seconds.
A new analysis of customer behavior shows 81% of video viewing sessions capture people’s attention. And this appears to be more of a phenomenon when people are in “lean forward” mode and watching online video.
When people are in a “lean-forward” viewing mode, they’re 1.5X as likely to pay attention than when they’re in “lean-back” mode. And they’re 1.8X as likely to be in lean-forward mode when watching an online video compared to TV.
Marketers – the takeaway here is that video for your brand is powerful. It’s growing in popularity among your target audience. It’s predicted that by 2022, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be made up of online videos — 15 times higher than it was in 2017, AND you can capture more of your audience’ attention with video.
Not sure about how to optimize for video? You can download my guide here.
New app and web properties in Google Analytics
You can now create a new property type in Google Analytics that will allow you to combine App + Web data in the same property. Before you had to track them in separate properties.
Here are the takeaways:
- These new properties do not use the traditional Session + Pageview data measurement and they rely on events + parameter model
- They have rolled out a new tool called “Enhanced Measurement” which listens for the clicks and helps you record the most common events (scroll tracking for instance) but just selecting that option. It looks like this:
This is a huge change, they are providing a great set of new reports, and there are great resources listed in Krista Seiden’s post here.
Google’s new relative mobile conversion rate metric
Google has looked at conversion rates of mobile versus desktop and has set an industry standard that 70% of your mobile users should convert (versus your desktop). They recommend that you set your relative mobile conversion rate (Rel mCvR) at 50% and then work to improve your page load speed and UX until it gets to 70%. Here’s more from their post. And here’s how to set up relative mobile conversion rate tracking in Google Analytics.
New Google search console data – AMP only swipe on image
Here’s what the swipe to visit action looks like:
Here’s what the screenshot of what the data looks like Google Search Console.
New Tools and Resources
Excel formulas for SEOs
Build Visible has been publishing a set of really useful excel tutorials that are just SEO specific. Their focus for August was a post about Excel formulas regularly used by SEOs, but they have also worked out a post explaining VLookup and Power Query and Power Pivot.
Intro to python book
Here’s another one on my reading list. It’s supposedly the easiest to read book on Python programming. I’ll let you know in a future post what I think once I dive in.
Web page performance calculator
I found an easy calculator to help you figure out what levers to pull to meet your page load speed budget.
Build a free page speed dashboard in Google Data Studio
There’s a great step by step tutorial and template here that lets you create a great dashboard like this:
That will help you stay on top of and improve your page speed. I’m always surprised by the pages that load slowly on my client’s sites. Often improving those page load speeds helps their rankings directly.
How to calculate your internal Page Rank
I found a great tutorial around how to use Screaming Frog and R to determine you’re internal PageRank for each page and a plan for improving the signals your sending to your internal pages. I am adding this one my bookmarks and scheduling some time for myself to run this for one of my clients this month.
Setting up Google Data Studio to track your site’s performance from HTTP to HTTPs
This is a hard chart to generate without Google Data Studio, and Simon Cox walks through his steps for setting this up in Google Data Studio – with clear step by step screenshots. It’s a great resource to bookmark.
Quora in trouble?
You gotta wonder when a Google rep is asking on Twitter for some to contact at Quora. I’m just sayin’. Stay tuned.
Anyone from the Quora SEO team? We need to talk.
— Gary "鯨理" Illyes (@methode) August 28, 2019
And just for fun. DeepCrawl has a great thread of playlist songs for when you are doing your next SEO audit.
🎶We're making an #SEO audit playlist & we're looking for recommendations.
Thought we'd add this one to the top of the list: https://t.co/lm1V0s4gPH
— DeepCrawl (@DeepCrawl) August 7, 2019
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