TWIS SEO News & Updates 10th November 2017

What are the latest SEO News & Updates for w/e 10th November 2017?

I think this week’s SEO News & Updates make for good reading, although I’m not an independent arbiter.

Enjoy the in-depth analysis and insights on the following topics:

#SEO #SEONews #KnowledgePanels #Yelp #Reviews #Twitter #ContentStrategy #LinkDisavowal


Google Gives News Publishers New Knowledge Graph

Key Issues Summary:

  • In a bid to stem the flow of fake news, Google has launched an extended Knowledge Graph panel specifically for news publishers.
  • This is so that users can (nominally) check the veracity, authenticity, and history of a publication, before sharing it with an “OMG have you seen THIS?”
  • The additional information offered includes: topics covered, awards won, claims that have been reviewed by third parties, and other information, such as editor name, founding date etc.
  • It’s not yet clear if this only applies to august organs of the print variety only, or if online publications are included.

Google New News Publishers Knowledge Graph

Key Actions To Take:

  1. If you are a news publisher, or any sort of publisher, you need to take care of this information.
  2. Have a clear editorial line & editorial page describing the topics you cover.
  3. List the awards you have won, or been nominated for and link to the official awards pages listing your prize or nominations.
  4. List all factual data you can for the publication.
  5. Use the relevant schema markup in JSON-LD – start with Organization, NewsArticle and go from there.
  6. Make sure that Wikipedia and other online reference sites have the same information, which is up-to-date and correct.
  7. Even if you are not a large news organisation, this kind of information will help to qualify you as a source of repute.
  8. Click here to contact me to discuss how to generate an extended news publisher Knowledge Panel.

Insights & Discussion:

I find it delightful that Google’s blog post ignores the elephant in the room, and fails to mention they are doing this to combat fake news. I find it delightful, but not surprising, unfortunately.

This is also part of Google’s current friendly approach to news publishers, including ending first-click free and offering new subscription options for publishers, as they have been all but killed by Google News and Facebook’s news streaming, before finding that other fake organisations knew how to game their algorithms to popularise fake news.

I also think this is a bit of PR on Google’s part. It really knows that users are not going to take the time to verify a publisher before clicking share. The whole point of fake news is that it strikes a sharing chord and generates an almost instant, visceral reaction. Still, they can point to having done “something”.

I haven’t yet been able to generate a Knowledge Panel in the same format as the one displayed by Google, although some of the news publishers I tried definitely do have more information.

More Information:

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Yelp Cracks Down on Review Solicitation

Key Issues Summary:

  • Yelp is taking a much tougher approach to local businesses which solicit reviews.
  • Soliciting reviews could result in penalties being applied to the company’s listings in Yelp’s results.
  • In extreme cases, this could lead to a Consumer Alert being flagged against the company’s listings.

Yelp Review Solicitation Crackdown

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Don’t solicit review for Yelp.
  2. If you are soliciting reviews for Yelp, stop it.
  3. Watch out for competitors soliciting reviews on your behalf (I wouldn’t put it past them).
  4. If you do get penalised, work with Yelp to remove the listings penalty, although this can be a frustrating process.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss how to gain reviews from customers to promote your local business.

Insights & Discussion:

Gosh. Yelp is going against review solicitation in a big way, and it’s a bit of a struggle to understand why they are quite so against it. Their review solicitation policies are draconian.

The only rationale that works is that it is too difficult for them to judge grades of solicitation, so a blanket ban is the only answer.

Most other platforms encourage their local business users to seek reviews from customers, but that is mainly because those platforms do not have the inherent base of users and reviews that Yelp has – and the fact that Yelp converts better than Facebook or Google.

Generally, reviews are a good thing. There are significant issues with fake reviews, that if the companies involved put their minds to it could be solved. However, they know that calling a review fake when it isn’t would be worse for their business model than listing a fake review in the first place, so they don’t bother to do much about it. Frankly, with the resources at their disposal, that’s a cop out.

Businesses get very frustrated with some reviews and their inability to effect change. The user is always right, rather than the business.

More Information:

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Twitter Doubles Tweet Length

Key Issues Summary:

  • Completely ignoring anguished user cries for an edit button, Twitter has instead doubled the length of Tweets from 140 characters to 280.
  • This, according to Twitter, is due to longer posts driving more engagement, and the fact that ideographic languages like Chinese, or Japanese can convey 280 characters worth of information in a 140 character form.
  • This is also the result of just under 10% of all tweets hitting the 140 limit, whereas under the 240 schema, only 1% do.
  • This is good, if you’re not that brief.

Twitter Doubles Tweet Length to 280 Characters

Key Actions To Take:

  1. If you’re using the default Twitter apps, or the Twitter web interface, you will have access to 280 characters by default.
  2. If you are posting / or re-posting from inside another app, or interface (such as LinkedIn currently), you’re stuck at 140 until they update their code.
  3. Many of the really popular social sharing and posting management apps have already updated. Check your apps.
  4. If creating longer tweets, make sure you still hit your engagement, or action, KPIs.
  5. If longer tweets don’t work for you, go back to 140.
  6. You may need to go back through your planned content shares and rewrite 140 character tweets you’ve already scheduled.
  7. Click here to contact me to discuss how to craft Tweets.

Insights & Discussion:

I like Twitter, even though it’s not used a great deal in Australia. As someone who writes (like this!) I find its brevity forces you to write concisely and accurately.

I’m yet to be convinced that 280 characters is really going to be mind-blowing. A lot of the people I follow still write very concisely, although there are a few who will still manage to Tweet Storm at 280 characters.

Over the last couple of years, Twitter has worked hard to incorporate more actual content in Tweets, handles in replies no longer count to character count, and all URLs get counted as a set number of characters, regardless of how many characters there are.

I understand user desires for an edit button, but that way lies calumny. Twitter’s sometime rapid-fire nature would mean that threads get changed depending on reactions to the original. That has been seen all over forums over the years, which is why many now block editing after a short time.

The question for Twitter is how long would be a viable time to edit. And if it gave an “instant” edit option would users just keep on going on, and on, and on, until they badger a longer time limit. Knowing internet users the way I do, that would take about 15 seconds before the moaning started.

More Information:

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Google Says Fewer Strong Pages Often Better Than Many Weak Ones

Key Issues Summary:

  • John Mueller said on Twitter than “often few strong pages > many weak ones“.
  • This is consistent with Google’s almost constant messaging for the last few years.
  • Notice that John says “often”…

Google Fewer Strong Pages Better Than Many Weak Ones

Key Actions To Take:

  1. If you’re still building 1001 pages for every keyword combination, stop it.
  2. You *should* be building a page for each distinct topic, but equally you shouldn’t be building one mega-page covering every aspect of a big topic.
  3. If building really big pages, you need to make sure your intra-page navigation is top-notch – clear signposts to help users navigate their way through the page.
  4. Remember, that if you have excess content, that Google Says Pruning Content Doesn’t Work For Panda.
  5. Click here to contact me to discuss how to create content which is useful for users and for Google.

Insights & Discussion:

Ever so slightly, Google has been talking out of the side of its mouth on this issue. There was a big issue a number of years back, with thousands of sites having millions of pages of content around every single feasible keyword combination.

This caused indexing bloat, meaning Google had to find a way to get webmasters to stop spraying content pages into the webosphere. Hence, Panda. Low quality, thin pages were wiped out in this update and continue to struggle to rank.

The one unintended consequence of this is page bloat. Instead of concise, relevant pages of useful content about a topic, instead we have monolithic pages which weigh in at around 1500 – 2500 words on a simple topic. This is a content battle of Mutually Assured Destruction, as Google now has to interpret much longer content pages and present heaps of waffle to its users.

NB – Google would probably say that strong content does not equal long content, and it is probably right. Unfortunately webmasters in their continuing battle to rank number 1 don’t see it that way, and the content-length wars continue to rage.

More Information:

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Google: No Manual Action = No Disavow 

Key Issues Summary:

  • Gary Illyes caused a bit of a ruckus last week when he said “if you do not have a manual action, there is no need to disavow
  • Many SEOs are dead keen on the disavow tool, so they got rather upset by this assertion.
  • Many SEOs also disbelieve Google’s ability to disambiguate between a good link and a bad link, and still believe that Google needs a disavow file to set itself back on the straight and narrow.
  • Of course, as Google doesn’t release a list of bad links, everyone is shooting into the dark on this.

Google No Manual Action No Disavow

Key Actions To Take:

  1. Think long and hard before disavowing links, in very few instances is it a viable option.
  2. Don’t believe toolsets that claim links are “toxic”. They call out way too many false positives to be trustworthy.
  3. Always keep an eye on your link profile, but only to ensure it is normal in relation to your ranking competitors.
  4. Expect your link profile to have some “bad” links, and some good links.
  5. Work harder to acquire good links from relevant authorities than you do to get rid of bad links.
  6. Click here to contact me to discuss how to manage your link profile and create great links.

Insights & Discussion:

Since Penguin, the release of the Disavow Tool and the rise of Negative SEO this has been a matter of huge discussion in the wider SEO community.

The simple truth is that Google should have left things as they were. Penalising sites for accruing links of an arbitrary “bad” nature, when you don’t release details of the “bad” links was always going to be a “bad” idea. (See what I did there?). Without the data, you really are shooting into the dark, with the potential to do more harm than good. I’ve seen plenty of websites do themselves harm by disavowing bad links.

The best course of action has always been not to disavow links, unless you were specifically penalised by Google, but to acquire good, great and fantastic links. You do that by creating good content, becoming an expert in your field and by being viewed as an authority.

More Information:

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SEO Bits & Pieces w/e 10th November 2017

SEO Bits & Pieces 10th November 2017

  • In another low blow for SEOs, Google has dropped support for info:domain.com searches. Meaning you now have to do those searches (cache, pages from etc) individually. Honestly, sometimes, Google moves further and further away from its roots as a slightly geeky, user-friendly search engine.
  • Following the recent Texas church shooting, Google’s algorithms went a bit haywire in showing tweets related to the shooting which carried misinformation. Google has promised to “look at ways to improve how we rank tweets that appear in search”.  (Do nothing, in other words). Unfortunately, it’s events like these which highlight serious flaws and inherent weaknesses in Google’s algorithms. Every now and again, they need a hand on the tiller.
  • In a slightly weird thread, John Mu refuted the view that links to images embedded in web pages helped the embedding page. I’m not sure where that thought would have come from, links work URL to URL and images help support content on pages, but links to images don’t magically pass value to other pages.
  • JavaScript links pass link value, if found. The key part of this phrase is “if found”. If Google can’t read your JavaScript (JavaScript Sites Lose Out on 35% of Traffic and Revenue & JavaScript Issues With Crawling and Indexing), then you will not be getting any value to them thar links. Currently, you want your JavaScript to work on Chrome 41: Google Reveals How Googlebot Web Rendering Service Works
  • A study from BrightLocal shows that something approaching 80% of consumers believe they’ve seen fake local reviews. That number is staggering, and possibly driven by the question “have you seen fake local reviews”, rather than a more neutral question. Even so, it’s a big number of people who have some distrust of local reviews. They need to be cleaned up.
  • Click here to contact me to discuss any of these issues further..

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TL;DR

  • News publishers have a swishy new Knowledge Panel showing how authentic and great they are.
  • Yelp is cracking down on review solicitation. How very dare you. Don’t do it, kids.
  • Twitter has doubled tweeeeeeet length to 280 characters. Much longer outrage now possible.
  • Google says fewer strong pages often better than many weak ones.
  • If you don’t have a Manual Action, don’t disavow, so says Google.
  • And some fabulous SEO Bits & Pieces.

Thanks for reading the SEO News & Updates for w/e 10th November 2017. 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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