Tag Archive | "core"

What are you seeing? Help us analyze Google’s March 2019 core algorithm update

Tell us if you’re seeing any impact from Google’s latest algorithm update.

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Google’s August 1st Core Update: Week 1

Posted by Dr-Pete

On August 1, Google (via Danny Sullivan’s @searchliaison account) announced that they released a “broad core algorithm update.” Algorithm trackers and webmaster chatter confirmed multiple days of heavy ranking flux, including our own MozCast system:

Temperatures peaked on August 1-2 (both around 114°F), with a 4-day period of sustained rankings flux (purple bars are all over 100°F). While this has settled somewhat, yesterday’s data suggests that we may not be done.

August 2nd set a 2018 record for MozCast at 114.4°F. Keep in mind that, while MozCast was originally tuned to an average temperature of 70°F, 2017-2018 average temperatures have been much higher (closer to 90° in 2018).

Temperatures by Vertical

There’s been speculation that this algo update targeted so called YMYL queries (Your Money or Your Life) and disproportionately impacted health and wellness sites. MozCast is broken up into 20 keyword categories (roughly corresponding to Google Ads categories). Here are the August 2nd temperatures by category:

At first glance, the “Health” category does appear to be the most impacted. Keywords in that category had a daily average temperature of 124°F. Note, though, that all categories showed temperatures over 100°F on August 1st – this isn’t a situation where one category was blasted and the rest were left untouched. It’s also important to note that this pattern shifted during the other three days of heavy flux, with other categories showing higher average temperatures. The multi-day update impacted a wide range of verticals.

Top 30 winners

So, who were the big winners (so far) of this update? I always hesitate to do a winners/losers analysis – while useful, especially for spotting patterns, there are plenty of pitfalls. First and foremost, a site can gain or lose SERP share for many reasons that have nothing to do with algorithm updates. Second, any winners/losers analysis is only a snapshot in time (and often just one day).

Since we know that this update spanned multiple days, I’ve decided to look at the percentage increase (or decrease) in SERP share between July 31st and August 7th. In this analysis, “Share” is a raw percentage of page-1 rankings in the MozCast 10K data set. I’ve limited this analysis to only sites that had at least 25 rankings across our data set on July 31 (below that the data gets very noisy). Here are the top 30…

The first column is the percentage increase across the 7 days. The final column is the overall share – this is very low for all but mega-sites (Wikipedia hovers in the colossal 5% range).

Before you over-analyze, note the second column – this is the percent change from the highest July SERP share for that site. What the 7-day share doesn’t tell us is whether the site is naturally volatile. Look at Time.com (#27) for a stark example. Time Magazine saw a +19.5% lift over the 7 days, which sounds great, except that they landed on a final share that was down 54.4% from their highest point in July. As a news site, Time’s rankings are naturally volatile, and it’s unclear whether this has much to do with the algorithm update.

Similarly, LinkedIn, AMC Theaters, OpenTable, World Market, MapQuest, and RE/MAX all show highs in July that were near or above their August 7th peaks. Take their gains with a grain of salt.

Top 30 losers

We can run the same analysis for the sites that lost the most ground. In this case, the “Max %” is calculated against the July low. Again, we want to be mindful of any site where the 7-day drop looks a lot different than the drop from that site’s July low-point…

Comparing the first two columns, Verywell Health immediately stands out. While the site ended the 7-day period down 52.3%, it was up just over 200% from July lows. It turns out that this site was sitting very low during the first week of July and then saw a jump in SERP share. Interestingly, Verywell Family and Verywell Fit also appear on our top 30 losers list, suggesting that there’s a deeper story here.

Anecdotally, it’s easy to spot a pattern of health and wellness sites in this list, including big players like Prevention and LIVESTRONG. Whether this list represents the entire world of sites hit by the algorithm update is impossible to say, but our data certainly seems to echo what others are seeing.

Are you what you E-A-T?

There’s been some speculation that this update is connected to Google’s recent changes to their Quality Rater Guidelines. While it’s very unlikely that manual ratings based on the new guidelines would drive major ranking shifts (especially so quickly), it’s entirely plausible that the guideline updates and this algorithm update share a common philosophical view of quality and Google’s latest thinking on the subject.

Marie Haynes’ post theorizing the YMYL connection also raises the idea that Google may be looking more closely at E-A-T signals (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust). While certainly an interesting theory, I can’t adequately address that question with this data set. Declines in sites like Fortune, IGN and Android Central pose some interesting questions about authoritativeness and trust outside of the health and wellness vertical, but I hesitate to speculate based only on a handful of outliers.

If your site has been impacted in a material way (including significant traffic gains or drops), I’d love to hear more details in the comments section. If you’ve taken losses, try to isolate whether those losses are tied to specific keywords, keyword groups, or pages/content. For now, I’d advise that this update could still be rolling out or being tweaked, and we all need to keep our eyes open.

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Google’s August core search algorithm update is now fully rolled out

Some SEOs are seeing more fluctuations with the Google rankings now, but Google has confirmed the August 1 update has been fully rolled out.

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SearchCap: Google Core Explanation, Bing Updates & Bad Ads Report

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google Core Explanation, Bing Updates & Bad Ads Report appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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3 Core Pieces of the SEO Puzzle to Boost Your Enterprise Success

Posted by BenjaminEstes

SEO is not something that is done. SEO is a way of doing things that encompasses many teams and initiatives. This is especially true for large organizations with well-established and potentially siloed teams.

Most marketing disciplines have concrete inputs and outputs. Consider the following examples, which may seem trite at first:

  • PPC results in visibility in search results.
  • Email marketing results in visibility in the inbox of folks on your mailing list.
  • Content strategy results in marketing content on your site.

But this isn’t really the case for SEO. Can we say:

  • SEO results in visibility in organic search results?

It’s not quite the same thing, is it?

“Doing SEO” does not directly result in visibility in search results, or traffic. SEO might lead to better indexation of pages on your site, or improved targeting. But these are only stepping stones to increasing search traffic. They are inputs that ranking algorithms will use, not the output of better rankings.

No SEO work can guarantee organic search visibility in the same way paid search guarantees paid placements.

In this way, SEO has more in common with business operations than it does with other marketing channels. It’s about getting the most possible benefit, through organic search, from the marketing assets that you have. It’s the responsibility of the digital marketing manager to make sure that the organization understands this, and that SEO requirements are baked into whatever processes they need to be.

In order to say that SEO is being properly managed, 3 teams and their processes need to be considered. These core practices touch the leadership team, the dev team, and content strategy teams. This post explores why search marketing is important at all, and why doing it right involves each of these 3 groups.

1. Commitment: Your leadership team

Before you can really invest in search marketing, your leadership team must be bought into doing search for the right reasons. If the marketing team is pulling in a direction that the company’s culture doesn’t support, there’s no chance things will end well.

Let’s make the risk of this concrete. You may have heard of penalties like Panda and Penguin. Certainly at Distilled we get a lot of inquiries from companies who are trying to recover from (or get in front of) these problems. But these prospects see them as “SEO” problems that have an “SEO” solution. It’s more accurate — or at least more helpful — to see them as symptoms of bigger organizational issues.

Here’s what I mean: Maybe your organization has decided that increasing rankings and traffic from search is a priority. In fact, it’s such a priority that you should buy links to accomplish it, because everyone knows links lead to better rankings. That’s a plan that is doomed to failure, perhaps ending with a manual action that is hugely detrimental to your site. No SEO practitioner would recommend buying links. The directive comes from somewhere else, and that needs to be dealt with before the organization can make the right choices for the right reasons.

That’s why it’s crucial to get everyone on the same page; if you don’t, SEO can be undermined even from outside the marketing team. Let’s summarize the benefits of getting the whole team on board, and the potential consequences of failure:

  • Aligned communication across team.
  • Effective investment of time and resources.
  • Appropriate reporting and expectation-setting.
  • Panda, Penguin, manual penalties.
  • Ineffective investments of time and resources.
  • Unrealistic expectations and meaningless reporting.

2. Platform: Your web dev team

Next up is the team responsible for your website and the platforms that support it. For smaller organizations, it can be easy to identify a change that will help SEO, and to make that change quickly. For larger organizations, actually making the change can prove quite challenging.

In order to improve SEO for the organization, making those changes has to become easier. Specifically, we might push for new platforms or updates that:

  • Generate a site that is crawlable
  • Make it easy to manipulate indexation directives and robots.txt files
  • Make it as easy as possible for content producers to publish their content

None of these things can be done by an SEO practitioner alone. They are unlikely to have the experience necessary to make the technical changes required. Even if they did, organizational boundaries will impede them from making the changes. As in the case with getting commitment across the organization, an individual practitioner cannot be responsible for changing everything that needs to be changed here — rather, the expectation should be set that whenever someone makes a change to the organization’s web platform, SEO must be taken into consideration.

So what does successfully integrating SEO into your web development processes look like? What does it look like when you fail to do so? Here’s a summary:

  • A platform that enables the publishing of new content.
  • Quick indexation of new content.
  • Slowed rate of publication.
  • Indexation problems.
  • Undesired content ranking in SERPs.

3. Content creation: Your content strategy team

The third piece of the core SEO puzzle is the ability of the company to create content in a timely manner.

To make sure requirements for SEO are considered, the content production process must be designed with SEO in mind. Are posts (or product listings or category pages) being optimized appropriately? Does the content that we are creating actually help the user fulfill their objectives?

For instance, if you have individual location pages for offices or stores, you might want listings for those locations to show up in local search. Maybe such pages would have relevant store hours, events, or offers. These pages would clearly benefit SEO. But unless they are prioritized over other content, they won’t be created. SEO must be baked into the content strategy so that the team knows the importance of developing content that’s relevant for SEO.

Without quality, targeted content, there really can’t be any winning in SEO. The consequences of succeeding or failing to produce such content can be summarized as follows:

  • Relevant content produced.
  • Audience need satisfied insofar as they are known.
  • Content appears in SERPs.
  • Unsatisfied audience.
  • Poor conversion.
  • Negative feedback loop in SERP interactions.
  • Undesired content ranking in SERPs.
  • What you should do about it

    As a digital marketing manager, you must do more than hire someone to “do SEO” or even “manage SEO” in your organization.

    Whether it’s lead by one person or many, you must establish the idea of the SEO function in your company — the idea that search marketing is something that must be considered by many people and processes within your company. At the very least, the 3 teams above must be looped in.

    It is the responsibility of the SEO function to:

    • Set appropriate expectations in your organization
    • Hire someone (or partner with an agency) that has enough experience to manage
    • Enable the type of work that needs to get done

    That may mean that if you are hiring one person, it’s not good enough for that person to have a couple years of SEO experience and be able to rattle off the major factors contributing to organic search performance.

    SEO is an exciting, rapidly changing field — and it’s crucial to the bottom line of many enterprise organizations. To take full advantage of the opportunities it offers, though, you need to get these 3 teams working in concert.

    Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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    4 PPC campaigns that violate the 3 core rules of success

    Author (displayed on the page): 

    When was the last time you clicked on a pay-per-click (PPC) ad on Facebook, Google or another site and were disappointed at what you found? Maybe you were confused after going to the landing page of a banner ad or frustrated when a Facebook ad led to information that had nothing obvious to do with what was being advertised.

    PPC Copywriters and Landing Page Specialists understand that – while there are many elements that can increase and decrease conversions in a PPC campaign – there are three core rules that shouldn’t be violated. Those three revolve around:

    • Relevance
    • Clarity
    • Distraction

    PPC Ads Never Work Alone

    These tiny bits of copy are simply not meant to make the sale/conversion on their own power. Instead, they are (or should be) designed to pique curiosity, instill intrigue or otherwise entice the reader to click for more information.

    Because you have two pieces to a puzzle (the ad and the landing page), you have to be oh-so-careful to guarantee that the ads are:

    1 – Relevant: What is stated in the ad copy is relevant to what is on the page. You wouldn’t want to mention something in your PPC ad copy that can’t be found on the landing page or is hidden on the landing page.Web surfers don’t have time to search your landing page. If you mention an offer or a specific product (for example) … make very sure that same information is abundantly obvious on the associated landing page.

    2 – Clear: When using discounts or other incentives in your PPC copywriting, you want to have the information within plain view of site visitors once they click to the landing page. One sure way to increase your bounce rate and decrease conversions is to make an offer that isn’t backed up on the landing page.

    3 – Free from Distraction: PPC ad copy works best when it is ultra-specific. Landing pages do, too. If you’re using a generic page from your site that includes navigation links to other pages, you run the risk of visitors getting distracted from your message. In their truest sense, landing pages offer two choices: take the action on the page or leave. When there are links to your services page, other products, your blog and more, the attention span of your visitors will be fragmented and they are likely to wander off, never to return and complete the task.

    Examples from Cyberspace

    These four examples of PPC ads and their associated landing pages break the three most important rules of landing-page success. That isn’t to say they aren’t getting some response, but they certainly aren’t performing at their best.

    Violated Rules: Relevance & Distraction

    This is a screenshot from a Facebook ad I found in my News Feed. The headline works well with copy about getting results. It specifically mentions banner ads and indicates that you’ll discover how to get big traffic and ROI. (Benefits most business people would want.)

    However, when I clicked to the landing page, there were no mentions of banner ads. All the landing-page copy is about spying on other advertisers. The PPC ad isn’t relevant to the landing page.

    In addition, the landing page in this campaign seems to be just their home page. All the navigational structure is in place along with a pitch for people to subscribe to their newsletter, the latest news and more. It’s all a recipe for poor conversion rates.

    Violated Rules: Relevance & Clarity

    I am a steadfast Gamecock fan! When I saw this Facebook ad for college football gear, I was excited to see what Walmart would have for the upcoming SEC season.

    While the PPC ad copy mentions college football and gear (which is what caught my attention), it doesn’t link to a category page on their site. What you get is a link to their Facebook fan page that mentions nothing about football at all. Huh? The ad copy says you can “Like” Walmart, but that’s more of an afterthought.

    The lack of clarity and relevance caused me to leave Walmart’s fan page frustrated and not finding what the ad promised. (And not liking the page, either.)

    Next, I ventured over to Google to find some AdWords ads. It didn’t take me long to come across these two examples.

    Violated Rule: Clarity

    The headline for this PPC ad reads, “90% Off Hiking Boots.” This is a great headline especially for bargain hunters. Since my search was for “ladies hiking boots,” I assumed I would be taken to a landing page showing me the selection of women’s boots at 90% off. Wrong!

    I ended up on a page that includes all hiking footwear and accessories: socks, shoes, boots, men’s, women’s, etc. And there was no mention of 90% discounts to be found. This was a definite cause of confusion. I wasn’t clear about where I was or what went wrong between the PPC ad copy and the landing page, so I just left.

    Violated Rules: Distraction & Clarity

    The folks at Dell should know better than to create a PPC campaign like this, in my opinion. After a search for “antivirus software,” I saw this AdWords ad. The ad copy got my attention by listing benefits such as “Better PC Performance” and “Help You Need.”

    I got a big surprise once I landed at their site. It was a page full of every type of support they offered: not just antivirus software.

    While the ad was relevant to the landing page, there was only one tiny little link down at the bottom of the “Troubleshooting & repair” section that read, “Virus & spyware removal.” Hmmm… not exactly what I’d call antivirus software.

    Because this page was not dedicated to antivirus (as the ad indicated), there was all sorts of distraction, including navigation links, PC checkups, self-help services and more. I was looking for antivirus software and found everything but. Not a good user experience.

    When you’re writing PPC ads and developing landing pages for your campaigns, double-check your relevance, clarity and distraction levels. Ask people outside your organization to review the ads and landing pages to make sure they are communicating the way they should. Taking these simple steps will help your entire campaign perform better.

    Karon wrote an ebook for Wordtracker that can guide you in your efforts to write exceptional PPC ads for AdWords or Facebook. Pick up a copy today.

    Wordtracker Blog

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