TWIS SEO News & Updates 29 Sept 2017

What’s the latest SEO News & Updates this week?

Slightly delayed by the long weekend in Australia, this week’s SEO News & Updates have had an extra 24 hours to mature.

I think they are more tasty for it.

Google is still denying Fred was an update.

SEJ release another rubbish poll.

Apple ditches Bing on Siri for Google.

Google Shopping rejigged but only for EU.

Plenty of  smart speaker owners have given voice purchasing a go.

And some delightfully distracting SEO Bits & Pieces.

#SEO #SEONews #GoogleUpdates #MarketResearch #Bing #GoogleShopping #VoiceSearch


Google Still Says Fred Wasn’t a Major Algorithm Update

Summary:

  • At the UK Digital Marketing conference BrightonSEO recently, Gary Illyes from Google waxed lyrical about Google’s Fred Update from March this year.
  • He downplayed the importance of this update, saying all updates should be called Fred, as Google routinely makes 2-3 algorithm updates a day. (That’s around 700-1,000 a year, folks).
  • He also revealed that something like 95% of updates are “not actionable by webmasters”.
  • Basically, he wants all webmasters to stop worrying about Google updates.

Google Says Fred Not A Major Update

Actions to take:

  1. The first thing I always recommend is to stop worrying about Google algorithm updates. They happen, move on.
  2. The second thing I always recommend is to build content and sites which are (relatively) algorithm proof.
  3. This means making your content so good and so unique that Google would be failing if it did not rank it well.
  4. The other approach to take is also to understand that Google is a rational, competitive algorithm. You need your site and content to be better than, but within normal bounds to be continuously successful.
  5. Think Goldilocks and being “just right”, not too much, and not too little.
  6. The final thing I recommend is always to pay a little bit of attention to updates, glean where the edges of acceptability might be and make sure you remain inside them.
  7. Click here to contact me to discuss keeping your site Google update safe.

Discussion:

Google appears to be taking a backwards step in its discussions of algorithm updates, which I think is a shame. For years, they trotted out the “xx updates a day” line, and for the most part that is absolutely true.

What the conveniently trite line manages to ignore is the potential, or actual, impact of those updates. Many of the updates will result in extremely superficial changes to the Google search results, some will bring about a fairly significant shake-up. And despite Google’s best efforts at claiming otherwise, it does care about large-scale results shifts. You can see it when results bounce around in the aftermath of a major release as Google fine-tunes its algorithm change to maintain a consistent set of “good” results.

I realise that there are plenty of people who game the algorithm. We all do to a certain extent, but I still think there is room for honest discourse between Google and the webmasters who provide its content on a daily basis.

Finally, I’d love it if Google put the “95% not actionable by webmasters” issue to the test. I’d be willing to bet that percentage is significantly overstated and webmasters would find a way to action and deliver content aimed at improving its performance in the new algorithm.

More info:

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Yet Another Rubbish Poll from SEJ

Summary:

  • Search Engine Journal used to be a decent read on search topics, but recently it has taken to posting tripe.
  • A couple of weeks ago there was a rubbish poll which I thought about commenting on, but this week’s “effort” takes the biscuit.
  • According to the geniuses at SEJ, “Most SEOs prefer unsing AHREFs to Monitor Competitor Backlinks” (59%).
  • Good headline, but truly rubbish “data” and unsustainable findings off the back of the “data”,
  • The “data” was formed from a Twitter poll with 280 responses from their 157,000 followers. That’s 0.18% of their followers. One tenth of one percent.

SEJ Yet Another Rubbish Poll

Actions to take:

  1. Always make sure results you publish are back by data which stands up to scrutiny. Otherwise it’s worthless.
  2. Stop reading rubbish surveys.
  3. Always track back to the data source, if you are able, sometimes it can be enlightening.
  4. If you construct a data set for a survey, you need to actually have a verifiable methodology for scaling that sample up to be representative and somewhat valid.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss how to do market research properly for SEO.

Discussion:

I’ll happily admit I am not a quantitative market researcher by trade (although I did spend a while doing industrial market research, and know how to build a testable market model or two), but this kind of “research” gives the industry a bad name.

You can use 0.18% of a user base as a sample providing you accurately identify, segment and weight your numbers, but if you just blast a survey out on Twitter and imagine the results of 280 people who a) saw and b) acted upon the survey to be anywhere near representative then I have a bridge in Arizona to sell you.

The more concerning thing about this, is that it casts into doubt other research pieces, which may have been carried out using more robust research methodologies and that lessens the value that those research pieces may have. It also calls into question broader research pieces connected to the research and analysis our industry needs to undertake for each client.

In other news, in a recent survey of one webmaster, 100% reported laughing at the latest SEJ research.

More info:

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Apple Flings Bing, Nestles With Google

Summary:

  • Poor old Bing.
  • After last week’s issue when I may have mentioned that Bing Says Links Are Still Important For Rankings was interesting for such a small search engine, Apple goes and ditches it as the provider of Siri search results on iOS & Mac.
  • (Although it has to be said, web results are often so far down the list, that “are they really there?” is a valid question to ask).
  • Bing / Microsoft has said in response that it will focus on the PC search market. It has no choice, it has no outlet on mobile now.

Apple Drops Bing For Siri Search

Actions to take:

  1. You should keep an eye on analytics if you got a lot of traffic from Bing via iOS to see if it is replaced by Google, but the volumes are so disparate that I don’t see this changing overall numbers significantly.
  2. If you were focusing on Bing performance specifically to target Mac & iOS users, you should now pivot towards a Google focus.
  3. Stick your hand up if you use Siri to search on iOS or Mac. I don’t know of anyone who routinely does.
  4. You can see it in action by using Siri on Mac or iOS and scrolling through the long list of Apple generated results (News, System finds, Siri knowledge, Siri suggested websites, websites – the first few from Google with “show Google results” and finally, “search web” which takes you into Safari’s search results.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss ranking content in desktop / system searches.

Discussion:

Bing, apparently, is pretty good as a search engine. Perhaps in the US is it, but down here it is poor. I’ve tried to use it a number of times, and each time I feel like I’m back in an early 2000s Yahoo! nightmare.

Microsoft need to continue with Bing, even if it is publicly unsuccessful. It allows there to be so many avenues and the technology is deployable in multiple streams (Azure search, enterprise search, and system search like iOS).

See the attached images. “when is mother’s day” on Bing yields a US-centric result, even though Bing knows I’m in Australia. None of those results immediately state when Mother’s day is relative to my context.  Compare that to the Google result which knows that Mother’s Day has passed and gives the next date of Mother’s Day. There’s the difference between a linear, keyword-based search engine, and a linguistic, intent-based one, and why Google is now on Apple and not Bing.

More info:

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Alphabet Separates Google Shopping in EU

Summary:

  • In a refinement of its response to Google’s EU billion-dollar fine, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is to separate Google Shopping in areas under EU control.
  • This means, Google Shopping Inc (or whatever it’s called) will compete in an auction process with other Comparison Shopping Engines to see who gets listed in the search results.
  • The CSE’s will therefore have to be “pay to play” rather than relying on organic Google search results.
  • All this sounds fine and dandy, and Google is running with it, but the EU haven’t approved it yet.
  • You’ll also notice that Google continues to make money whether or not it wins the auction.

Alphabet Separates Google Shopping In EU

Actions to take:

  1. If you run a Comparison Shopping Engine you should be all geared up for this change.
  2. You might want to consider not joining in until the EU approves, or else Google might be able to say “look, everyone’s using it, they must be happy”.
  3. Keep an eye on other areas where Google and the EU are heading for a clash. It may be that Google will be chastened, and the EU will be emboldened.
  4. If you are listed organically, keep an eye on traffic levels above as Google will likely tweak the design to continue maximising its revenue in this area.
  5. If you are a retailer, prepare to either pay CSEs for inclusion, or lose traffic if your products are not an auction winner.
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss listing products organically in shopping searches.

Discussion:

Google has gone ahead and launched the service without waiting for the EU to approve of it. This is sensible of them, as it gives them a chance of saying they made “best efforts” to comply with the EU order to mend their ways.

Cynics might point out that it’s unlikely Google will lose money on this (retailers bid to be part of its shopping results, CSEs can now bid to to take some of that real estate) and that the losers would be Google’s retailers. In fact, if retailers are sensible, they would likely choose to pay for placement in the CSE results as well.

It really doesn’t look like anyone bar Google is the winner here. Surprise.

Finally, I can’t help but chuckle at the inanity of the Google Adwords blog post about changes to Google Shopping in Europe. If you didn’t know any better, you would think it was all a planned change and yet another “exciting opportunity”.

More info:

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57% of Smart Speaker Owners Have Voice Purchased

Summary:

  • Mmmmm. 57% of smart speaker owners have made a voice purchase you say?
  • 7% of the US population have one (20 million in market, apparently).
  • 65% of owners wouldn’t go back to life without one.
  • 50% of all search will be voice by 2020 says comScore. (Hmmmm).
  • So says the National Public Media research done by Edison, the leading podcast research company. All with a nice repeatable methodology, I’m sure.
  • Some of these stats may have been written up to be brilliant stats for speaker manufacturers to trumpet.

Smart Speaker Owners Make Voice Purchases

Actions to take:

  1. Prepare to go back to the future, as smart speaker manufacturers slips screens onto their devices as we are visual beings.
  2. (A number of versions of these hub devices have already been and gone).
  3. Prepare to do voice searches galore to get to comScore’s 50%.
  4. Until the tech gets better, prepare to say what you want multiple, multiple times before adopting a strange, stilted, stultified version of your voice to try and get what you want.
  5. Think about structuring content around natural language search queries as they will be the keywords of the future.
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss preparing your content for voice search.

Discussion:

50% of all search will be voice? By 2020? That will probably be 10% of actual search volume, but repeated 5 times due to mis-hearings, or poor results, unfortunately. Or it will be a case of voice search being so easy, that we do it naturally to answer absolutely anything.

I’m quite intrigued by the stats in this report (you may be able to tell). 57% of the owners have made a voice purchase is not unfeasible. Most of them are likely to be early-adopters willing to give it a try (I know I would). The interesting stat would be how regularly they do it and if voice-purchase has replaced another form of in-person or online purchase. I’m guessing not (yet), but the figures don’t tell that story.

The other interesting stat is how 20 million devices is 7% of the population. I think that figure is likely over-stated due to multiple purchases of the same system (wire up the house) and testing different systems. Dividing the US population by the numbers of speakers apparently sold doesn’t necessarily give you the % of the population who own one.

More info:

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SEO Bits & Pieces w/e 29 Sept 2017

SEO Bits & Pieces 29 Sept 2017

  • Rumours of a Google update #934: yet more rumblings from the depths of Google, as it seems various shifts have taken place through September. Either a large update has been rolled out in stages, or various little ones which affect a lot of tracked websites. Or it’s just normal back and forth.
  • Google suggests that when you go HTTPS it really is better to do the whole website at once. Actually let me rephrase that… what sort of madman would think of doing it any other way?
  • Google Local Finder is now picking up on website mentions of generic keywords, and not just terms in business names, and then showing them in the results pack. Interesting, and probably a display enhancement rather than an underlying algorithm update.
  • Hmmm, there’s been an uptick in the number of AMP pages listed in the mobile results recently, between 14% and 33%. Perhaps a case of more queries displaying AMP results, or possibly more AMP content being made available by publishers.
  • One from the Silly Questions Drawer: apparently John Mu had to explain that Google rankings may vary across country domains, as the competition is different etc. At times I despair of my “colleagues”.  If the person asking was an SEO they should find another job. If the person asking was a site owner, they should find an SEO to help them.
  • Click here to contact me to discuss any of these SEO Bits and Pieces further.

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TL;DR

  • Fred definitely wasn’t a big algo update according to Gar Illyes.
  • SEJ release another unfortunately rubbish poll.
  • Apple ditches Bing rushes back to Google’s embrace.
  • Google separates its shopping service from itself. Still winning.
  • Some interesting voice search stats, which may or may not be brilliantly accurate.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to discuss what these changes mean for your web property, or would like to know how to implement them, please feel free to contact me.

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