SEO News & Updates 8th December 2017

What are the latest SEO News & Updates for 8th December 2017?

I’m really fascinated by this week’s SEO News and Updates for 8th December 2018.

I’m a touch unsurprised by revelations that journalists accept money for mentions of companies, brands or products in their stories.

And a whole heap of stuff around Google dumping rendered AJAX crawling as well as Featured Snippets and Knowledge Panels slowly replacing organic listings until there are none left….

(Don’t forget the SEO Bits & Pieces, they’re wild fun as usual).

#SEO #SEONews #LinkSpam #Googlebot #JavaScript #FeaturedSnippets #SERP


Journalists Accept Bribes To Mention Companies – Google Not Happy

Journalists Accept Bribes For Mentions

Key Issues Summary:

  • In a lengthy and detailed investigation, The Outline exposed the badly-kept secret that “journalists” accepted payments to include company and brand mentions in articles they were writing.
  • The names mentioned in the article were of no surprise. They tended to be the content-churn publications trading off good names to publish significant amounts of dross.
  • The article does not mention SEO directly, but handily outlines the Domain Authority of the sites it “outed” – callously ignoring Domain Authority being an entertainment value metric.
  • We’ve covered some of the sites on this list before with articles like these: Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc NoFollow External LinksGoogle Ignores or Penalises Guest Post Link Spam
  • Google was not happy and reiterated that publishers should not accept bribes for links, which are specifically against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Key Actions To Take:

  1. If you are paying journalists to promote your brand or company for SEO benefit, stop it.
  2. If you have not promoted companies, but like them and have mentioned them often, expect your work to come under scrutiny.
  3. If you are a PR looking to promote companies or brand, expect it to get harder to slip pay-to-play content under editor’s noses.
  4. If you have been relying on these links, then whilst Google has previously ignored those links, it may take a different view and actively penalise egregious linking.
  5. Expect one or two companies to be punished as a result of this. Pour encourager les autres.
  6. Companies hit by this may get a silent penalty, or they may get a Manual Action.
  7. It will be interesting to see if a Disavow will work to negate the poison of these links.
  8. Click here to contact me to discuss this further.

Insights & Discussion:

Sigh. On the one hand, pay to play is obviously bad (mmmkay). But on the other, it goes on regularly and people can be paid in other ways.

I do wonder what Google and others make of journalists being ferried to glamorous product launches, or feted with a nice dinner to explain the finer points of a product; or even being chosen to accept advance review copies.

In my book, even though the editors have gotten all huffy and flounced about declaring their lack of awareness, and adherence to utterly altruistic principles, I would be very surprised if none of them have not been the recipient of some company’s largesse and if that largesse has not given them a more favourable view of the company and its products.

“Shilling” products has a history longer than the internet, although it has become more prevalent since we are not able to see the person typing their shill into the phone or browser.

While I’m pleased these publishers will be taken to task. They should be taken to task more for polluting the web with reams of rubbish content with no use beyond generating clicks. That’s generated a race to the bottom. Still, don;t hate the playa, and all that.

Now, click 19 times to see these funny cat pics taken with my wonderful XYZ brand camera….

More Information:

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Google Dumping AJAX Crawling Scheme

Google Dumps AJAX Crawling Scheme

Key Issues Summary:

  • If you like your URLs unescaped, then Google is about to turn off its rendered AJAX crawling.
  • Instead, using its shiny JavaScript crawling technology, Google will simply crawl and render the hash-bang (#!) version of the URL.
  • The switch off will happen in Q2 2018, so after that you’ll be able to turn off your escaped fragment URLs. Assuming no other search engine uses them.

Key Actions To Take:

  1. For devs, this should be one less headache to take into account when creating websites, unless you have issues with the different types of AJAX URLs.
  2. Use Fetch and Render in Google Search Console to ensure that the #! version of the page renders exactly the same as the escaped fragment version.
  3. Use Google’s developer docs to to debug issues with the code.
  4. Before dropping these URLs, make sure they don’t get significant traffic from sources other than Google.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss the price of fish.

Insights & Discussion:

Rendered AJAX URLs were always a band-aid in search of an injury. They were part of Google’s efforts to index the web, even when developers had implemented pretty poor solutions which meant that Googlebot couldn’t crawl their URLs.

It is important to remember that JavaScript Sites Lose Out on 35% of Traffic and Revenue and of course, that there are issues with JavaScript: JavaScript Issues With Crawling and Indexing.

Leaving a URL only accessible by JavaScript really should be a last-ditch solution. Unfortunately Google is a fan of it, and until that changes, the world has to put up with buggy, slow-loading, resource intensive URLs whose dynamic elements add little or no value beyond a developer effectively typing “look at me! Aren’t I clever!”.

More Information:

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Google Adds Features to Featured Snippets

Google Adds Features To Featured Snippets

Key Issues Summary:

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Check your favourite results to see whether your Featured Snippets have disappeared to be replaced by Knowledge Panels, of if they are now “new and improved”.
  2. If they are, check traffic, to see what effect these changes are having, whether it’s up, down or sideways.
  3. If it’s up: hooray! Time to work out how to generate more traffic.
  4. If it’s down: Boo! time to work out how to generate more traffic.
  5. If it;s sideways: Hmmm. Time to work out how to generate more traffic.
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss this further.

Insights & Discussion:

Ah, Featured Snippets, how the SEO community loves them, the roguishly-handsome traffic-stealing little boxes of inaccuracy.

I had hoped they were disappearing, but it seems Google was just mucking around with us, and they’ll be back hoping to answer more queries incorrectly before you know it.

Over the longer term, you can see Featured Snippets and Knowledge Panels becoming one and the same – which is where I think Google wants to go with this.

If it could surface  verified and authentic knowledge, as opposed to algorithmically-controlled, but still random, web pages then Google would be a happy bunny.

It would have to deal with fewer sources of knowledge and potential spam, its algorithms would be less negatively focused. Essentially it would return to its roots of searching an academic trove of verified information, and return results quickly.

I do think the web would be a poorer place were this to happen.

Watch this space, it could be a couple of years away..

More Information:

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Google Testing Mobile SERPs With Almost No Organic Results 

Mobile SERPS No Organic Results

Key Issues Summary:

  • SE Roundtable reported a finding from Justin Briggs that there were mobile SERPs in the wild with only 2-5 organic listings.
  • Yep, 2-5. The rest of the listings were ads, shopping ads, knowledge panels, featured snippets, everything bard organic links.
  • The future is here.
  • Note, this was a test, and Google is always testing things.

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Keep you eyes peeled for interesting tests that Google run, occasionally there are some real belters.
  2. We’ve had reduced SERPs ever since Google modified the algo in (about) 2011, to only show 7 listings in some instances.
  3. Prepare for a future when there is no more organic traffic, or rather no more organic links.
  4. Work on being in Featured Snippets & Knowledge Panels.
  5. And work on being one of the lucky few who may occasionally surface in mobile SERPs.
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss this further.

Insights & Discussion:

With the furore around fake news, and pressure being brought to bear by governments all around the world, Google is doubling-down on its efforts to provide verified and trusted information in response to  a search query.

The people that will suffer will be the website owners and bloggers who have not yet been “accredited”. And that’s a shame for the free flow of information and learning.

The reduction of SERP and the move towards “approved” information will have a Chilling Effect on knowledge, and I don’t think that’s a good position for Google to be in long-term.  Sure, some users will always find their information through Google, like they always used to, but then there was a significant rump of traffic over at Yahoo! which hung around for a long while, as Google overtook them and out-stripped them.

Of course there is the argument that users click on fewer results on mobile, or are much more heavily weighted towards the Top 3. This may be so, but of course, if you restrict the number of results, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, the results look like a dog’s dinner, if you ask me.

More Information:

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Google Santa Tracker 

Google Santa Tracker

Key Issues Summary:

  • It wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies, or Google’s Santa tracker, Google’s bit of fun for the festive holiday season.
  • Of course, every time I typed that I wrote Google’s Satan Tracker, which put a slightly different spin on things.

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Eat
  2. Drink
  3. Be merry
  4. Enjoy Christmas and forget about Google. It will still be here next year.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss ways to enjoy yourself.

Insights & Discussion:

See! Now this is what JavaScript should be used for. Unfortunately, it borked my browser so I couldn’t hang around long and do much. Typical JavaScript.

More Information:

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SEO Bits & Pieces 8th December 2017

SEO Bits & Pieces 8th December 2017

  • Facebook has launched Messenger Ads globally. Goodbye any notion of privacy and hello ads about the intimate things you talk about in Messenger, which of course, Facebook doesn’t read. Uh-huh.
  • Google has launched a Best Answer graphic into the carousel of snippets for answers from Stack Exchange. (See. Trusted & Verified information, even though sometimes Best Answers are really Most Popular)
  • The the Battle of the Biggest Losers, Yahoo! is suing Firefox because it was replaced as the default search engine on Firefox. Really? Firefox’s 20 users must have made up a significant portion of Yahoo’s traffic.
  • Click here to contact me to discuss this further.

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TL;DR

  • Journalists have accepted money from PRs, brands and companies for mentions in their articles. Really, who knew?
  • Google is dumping its AJAX crawling scheme because it can render it itself now, thank you very much. Q2 2018 is EOL for that.
  • Featured Snippets have grown again with more images and related searches. SERPs are becoming a dog’s dinner.
  • Mobile SERPs were spotted out in the wild with only 2-5 organic listings. Get ready for no organic listings some day.
  • Google’s Santa Tracker is lovely and launched. It also borks browsers.
  • Ho ho ho

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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