SEO and Google News Update - November 2020

Google says it’s important that web pages are linked internally

Google’s John Mueller said in a webmaster hangout that it is important that the pages on your website are linked from other pages of your website. You should make sure that you do have internal links pointing at your web pages. Otherwise, Google might ignore them:

If you have pages that don’t have internal links pointing at them, so pages that are hard to find from crawling, then usually Google Search will assume that these are not very critical for your website, because you’re essentially hiding away from people who are clicking around within your website.

And if we assume that you think they’re not very critical for your website, then probably we won’t give them as much weight in Search. And if we don’t give them as much weight in Search, then it doesn’t really matter that much what you actually have on those pages. […]

If you have pages within your site that you’re not linking to at all, then we don’t really know what you want to tell us with that. And if those pages are duplicate or low-quality content and we don’t give them much weight, then it doesn’t really matter that much.

On the other hand, if you want those pages to be findable in search, then I would definitely make sure that you do have internal links pointing at them and that you do try to avoid duplicate and low-quality content on those pages.”

Watch video:

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - September 2020

SEO and Google News Update - August 2020

SEO and Google News Update - July 2020

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

Disavow Link Tool Migrated to Google New Search Console

Google also added the ability to download the file and see new errors related to your file.

A year after officially closing down the old version of Google Search Console, Google announced that it has migrated the disavow link tool from the old Search Console to the new Search Console.

Where is the disavow link tool? The new location for the disavow link tool is now at https://search.google.com/search-console/disavow-links. Previously it was located at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main. Both URLs still seem to work, but I suspect Google will redirect the old URL to the new one.

What is new? The big change is the new location, but Google also updated the interface for the tool. You can now also download a disavow file as a text file, and there is a new error reports for uploaded files are no longer limited to 10 errors.

Why use the disavow link tool? If you are concerned that you have bad links pointing to your site that may end up hurting your site’s performance in Google Search, you can give Google a list of URLs or domains you would like Google to ignore. This can be done for manual actions but likely is not needed, according to Google, for algorithmic issues since Google primarily just ignores bad links, as opposed penalizes for them algorithmically.

“If you have a manual action against your site for unnatural links, or if you think that you’re about to get one because of paid links or link schemes that violate our quality guidelines, ask the other site to remove those links,” said Google. “If you can’t get these links removed, then disavow those sites using this tool.”

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - September 2020

SEO and Google News Update - August 2020

SEO and Google News Update - July 2020

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

Google Updates Search Quality Raters Guidelines

Google has just updated the Search Quality Raters Guidelines PDF. The last time it was updated was on December 5, 2019. The new date on this document is October 14, 2020. It has been expanded from 168 pages to 175 pages.

Google has clearly added a number of new things and made several changes.

You can compare the two documents yourself, from when Google updated them on December 5, 2019:

Running it through a scanner, there were 281 content replacement changes, 233 content insertions and 209 content deletions. Most seem stylistic.

Google added a section to explain the role of examples in these guidelines. Google also moved the section about the relationship between page quality and needs met. Google also added a section for rating dictionary and encyclopedia results for different queries.

Google did add a "change log" section on the final page, page 175. Here are the changes:

  • Added note to clarify that ratings do not directly impact order of search results
  • Emphasized 'The Role of Examples in these Guidelines' as an independent section in the introduction
  • Added clarification that Special Content Result Blocks may have links to landing pages; added illustrative example
  • Updated guidance on how to rate pages with malware warnings and when to assign the Did Not Load flag; added illustrative examples
  • Changed the order of Rating Flags section and Relationship between Page Quality and Needs Met section for clarity
  • Added 'Rating Dictionary and Encyclopedia Results for Different Queries': Emphasizes the importance of understanding the user intent and query for Needs Met rating; added illustrative examples
  • Minor changes throughout (updated examples and explanations for consistency; simplified language regarding raters representing people in their locale; fixed typos; etc.)

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - September 2020

SEO and Google News Update - August 2020

SEO and Google News Update - July 2020

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

Can you risk pulling your SEO budget in 2020?

There has been a lot of budget-scrapping over the past few months. A global economic crisis will do that. Businesses are fighting to keep going and as such marketing has and will continue to face cuts.

When looking at marketing budgets it is wise to spend on the channels that are clearly delivering ROI. The problem some channels have is measuring that ROI.

Organic search is one of those marketing channels where the benefit of the work is harder to define. There are many ways to forecast SEO ROI, but it’s not always about the financial benefit.

The question is, given the increased pressure on business budgets in light of the Covid-19 effect, should SEO budgets be kept? Beyond the obvious financial benefit of SEO, what else does it bring?

Always on

SEO is not like paid media, where money is needed to fuel the campaign. Unlike paid social media advertising or pay-per-click, SEO does not require ad spend as well as management costs. The only cost for SEO, whether in budget to an agency or for your in-house staff, is time. That’s realistically all you are paying for. That means 100% of spend goes to improving your website.

There is longevity to SEO that is not seen in paid media channels. If you stop giving money to Facebook or Google, your adverts will not show. As such, once you pause or lessen the budget you will not notice an immediate drop in traffic from that channel.

This is arguably a reason to pause your SEO expenditure. If traffic will not be lost the moment you stop pushing budget into SEO, then surely a break in activity will not mean a significant loss long-term. Unfortunately this is not the case.

With paid media, you can turn off a campaign and turn it on again with little impact to the success of that campaign. With visibility in the organic SERPs nothing stays still for long. Stop investing in your SEO and your rankings will begin to fall due to your competitors’ content rising. Just because you are no longer investing in SEO, does not mean they are not. As such, all gains you made over the past months or years through organic search optimisation can be lost. Your website’s visibility in the search results will not instantly spring back to its former levels once you start investing again. SEO can take time to build your site’s visibility back up if your website is in a competitive space.

Underpinning other channels

As your website will always be in the search results unless Google is unable to index it (either intentionally or due to technical issues with the site) it can pick up the slack when other channels are not profitable. For instance, if you are running a product campaign for PPC and need to cut the budget, SEO can help to keep your website at the top of the search results for those product searches regardless. PPC and SEO go hand-in-hand and a two-pronged attack on the SERPs might be what’s best for your business under ideal circumstances. When budgets are tight, however, perhaps investing in SEO can help reduce the need to spend as much on your PPC campaigns.

SEO activity can improve user experience

A core focus of SEO is ensuring the right visitors arrive on your website and are minded to convert when there. As a result of that, effort is put into ensuring the on-site copy and calls to action are ones that your audience will respond well to. Keeping your investment in SEO can benefit your website for users beyond making it more visible in the search results.

SEO works as part of a multi-channel approach

The purchase journey is rarely linear. A visitor might land on your website through a social media campaign, leave and return via a Google search. They might click on a PPC advert and convert from that.

Offline

If your audience becomes aware of product or service through other marketing channels, especially offline, they may not visit your site straight away. Consider this; a person sees a billboard ad for a new type of cordless vacuum cleaner. They’re driving their car so they can’t visit the brand’s website straight away. When they return home they decide to look for cordless vacuum cleaners. A competitor has invested in SEO whereas the billboard brand has not. Guess who gets the click. Unless the person took particular note of the brand that was advertised, they might not be searching specifically for it. Therefore, non-branded searches may not yield that advertiser’s website. If the advertiser had also invested in SEO, then the visitor may have been reminded of the brand’s name when it appeared a one of the top search results.

I’ve (unfortunately) seen billboards advertising a brand with simple “search for [brand]” as the call to action, no website mentioned. That’s a risky strategy. There is no guarantee that your website will rank 1st for your brand name, especially if your brand name isn’t entirely unique or is a word in your, or another, language. If you are investing in SEO and using this tactic, it might well be fine. You can ensure you build up another authority, and even look to gain a knowledge panel for your brand name making your website highly visible in the SERPs for it.

If you are not investing in SEO whilst running offline campaigns such as this you are opening yourself up to the competition taking advantage. All they need to do is run some comparison articles, “Why brand Y is better than brand X” and they may get your intended traffic.

Online

Invest in other online channels but not SEO and you may well be losing out on traffic. A visitor might see your social media post, or receive an email from your brand. They may not act on it straight away. If they return to the source of the advert they may find your site that way. However, if they try to find your product or service through a search then your SEO needs to be a part of your total digital strategy to capitalise on this audience awareness.

Google will continue to change

How the search engines rank and display results continues to change. If you are neglecting SEO budget you may not know about those changes, or adapt to keep up. So far in 2020 we have seen the de-duplication of featured snippet websites in Google as well as broad core algorithm updates in January and May. This is alongside and several bugs and many more minor algorithm updates.

Stop investing in SEO and these changes could have an overnight impact on your website’s SERP visibility.

So will your audience

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a huge change in how consumers live and spend. More people are working from home, balancing home-schooling and work as well as living in a time of very high-stress. Our spending habits have changed. We are visiting physical stores less.

During this time of more activity happening online. According to data from Bazaarvoice Network, via this article from Marketing Week, there was a 21% increase in online shopping in March 2020 when compared to March 2019.

A study by Adobe showed that in the US “e-commerce shopping levels during COVID-19 (April to May) were higher than what retailers saw during the 2019 holiday season (November to December).”

During the global pandemic it is even more important to be found online.

Final Thoughts

Businesses are facing massive struggles during 2020 as a result of Covid-19. Knowing where best to spend limited resources is critical. So don’t be hasty in pulling your SEO budget. Consider what affect that might have on other marketing channels and your business as a whole first.

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - September 2020

SEO and Google News Update - August 2020

SEO and Google News Update - July 2020

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

How to Find Missing Search Terms for Google Ads

Google Ads reduced visibility for search terms in September. Most advertisers are reporting a 20% drop in the number of search terms being reported.

There are two workarounds to this, and if you have auto-tagging enabled in your Google Ads account, you can find the missing search terms in Google Analytics. Here’s how:

Using vLookup to compare queries in Google Ads vs. Google Analytics

In your Google Ads account, go to Search Campaigns > Search Terms. You’ll notice the total search terms reported.

Make sure the date ranges are the same for your Google Ads and Google Analytics views. In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. Click on google / cpc.

Right here, you can see a mismatch between total search term clicks in Google Ads and sessions in Google Analytics. The Google Analytics numbers are higher.

Click on google / cpc and add a secondary dimension of “Search Query”. This will pull in all the search queries for Google Ads.

Download this report, and the search terms report from Google Ads. You can use a vlookup function in Microsoft Excel to find the search terms that Google Ads did not report on.

The yellow highlighted cells are the search queries from Google Analytics that are missing in the search terms report I pulled from Google Ads. If you’re new to vlookup, here’s a handy video that shows you how to use it.

 

Using Session Data

Within Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Google Ads > Search Queries. You’ll notice the number of sessions are significantly higher than clicks.

You can either sort clicks in ascending order, or create an advanced filter that only shows clicks that are equal to 0. Any queries with 0 clicks and at least 1 session are the ones that aren’t reported within Google Ads.

This is unlike the reporting we’ve seen before, where sessions were usually lower than clicks, for the reasons explained in this support page: Why Google Ads Clicks and Analytics Sessions don’t match in your reports

 

Previous news:

SEO and Google News Update - September 2020

SEO and Google News Update - August 2020

SEO and Google News Update - July 2020

SEO and Google News Update - June 2020

SEO and Google News Update - May 2020

SEO and Google News Update - April 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - March 2020

Top Internet and Google News Update - February 2020

Google News Update - January 2020

 

How Google autocomplete predictions are generated

You come to Google with an idea of what you’d like to search for. As soon as you start typing, predictions appear in the search box to help you finish what you’re typing. These time-saving predictions are from a feature called Autocomplete, which we covered previously in this How Search Works series.

In this post, we’ll explore how Autocomplete’s predictions are automatically generated based on real searches and how this feature helps you finish typing the query you already had in mind. We’ll also look at why not all predictions are helpful, and what we do in those cases.

 

Where predictions come from

Autocomplete predictions reflect searches that have been done on Google. To determine what predictions to show, our systems begin by looking at common and trending queries that match what someone starts to enter into the search box. For instance, if you were to type in “best star trek…”, we’d look for the common completions that would follow, such as “best star trek series” or “best star trek episodes.”

That’s how predictions work at the most basic level. However, there’s much more involved. We don’t just show the most common predictions overall. We also consider things like the language of the searcher or where they are searching from, because these make predictions far more relevant.

Below, you can see predictions for those searching for “driving test” in the U.S. state of California versus the Canadian province of Ontario. Predictions differ in naming relevant locations or even spelling “centre” correctly for Canadians rather than using the American spelling of “center.”

To provide better predictions for long queries, our systems may automatically shift from predicting an entire search to portions of a search. For example, we might not see a lot of queries for “the name of the thing at the front” of some particular object. But we do see a lot of queries for “the front of a ship” or “the front of a boat” or “the front of a car.” That’s why we’re able to offer these predictions toward the end of what someone is typing.

We also take freshness into account when displaying predictions. If our automated systems detect there’s rising interest in a topic, they might show a trending prediction even if it isn’t typically the most common of all related predictions that we know about. For example, searches for a basketball team are probably more common than individual games. However, if that team just won a big face-off against a rival, timely game-related predictions may be more useful for those seeking information that’s relevant in that moment.

 

Predictions also will vary, of course, depending on the specific topic that someone is searching for. People, places and things all have different attributes that people are interested in. For example, someone searching for “trip to New York” might see a prediction of “trip to New York for Christmas,” as that’s a popular time to visit that city. In contrast, “trip to San Francisco” may show a prediction of “trip to San Francisco and Yosemite.” Even if two topics seem to be similar or fall into similar categories, you won’t always see the same predictions if you try to compare them. Predictions will reflect the queries that are unique and relevant to a particular topic.

Overall, Autocomplete is a complex time-saving feature that’s not simply displaying the most common queries on a given topic. That’s also why it differs from and shouldn’t be compared against Google Trends, which is a tool for journalists and anyone else who’s interested to research the popularity of searches and search topics over time.

 

Predictions you likely won’t see

Predictions, as explained, are meant to be helpful ways for you to more quickly finish completing something you were about to type. But like anything, predictions aren’t perfect. There’s the potential to show unexpected or shocking predictions. It’s also possible that people might take predictions as assertions of facts or opinions. We also recognize that some queries are less likely to lead to reliable content.

We deal with these potential issues in two ways. First and foremost, we have systems designed to prevent potentially unhelpful and policy-violating predictions from appearing. Secondly, if our automated systems don’t catch predictions that violate our policies, we have enforcement teams that remove predictions in accordance with those policies.

Our systems are designed to recognize terms and phrases that might be violent, sexually-explicit, hateful, disparaging or dangerous. When we recognize that such content might surface in a particular prediction, our systems prevent it from displaying.

People can still search for such topics using those words, of course. Nothing prevents that. We’re simply not wanting to unintentionally shock or surprise people with predictions they might not have expected.

Using our automated systems, we can also recognize if a prediction is unlikely to return much reliable content. For example, after a major news event, there can be any number of unconfirmed rumors or information spreading, which we would not want people to think Autocomplete is somehow confirming. In these cases, our systems identify if there’s likely to be reliable content on a particular topic for a particular search. If that likelihood is low, the systems might automatically prevent a prediction from appearing. But again, this doesn’t stop anyone from completing a search on their own, if they wish.

While our automated systems typically work very well, they don’t catch everything. This is why we have policies for Autocomplete, which we publish for anyone to read. Our systems aim to prevent policy-violating predictions from appearing. But if any such predictions do get past our systems, and we’re made aware (such as through public reporting options), our enforcement teams work to review and remove them, as appropriate. In these cases, we remove both the specific prediction in question and often use pattern-matching and other methods to catch closely-related variations.

 

As an example of all this in action, consider our policy about names in Autocomplete, which began in 2016. It’s designed to prevent showing offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries in relation to named individuals, so that people aren’t potentially forming an impression about others solely off predictions. We have systems that aim to prevent these types of predictions from showing for name queries. But if violations do get through, we remove them in line with our policies.

 

You can always search for what you want

Having discussed why some predictions might not appear, it’s also helpful to remember that predictions are not search results. Occasionally, people concerned about predictions for a particular query might suggest that we’re preventing actual search results from appearing. This is not the case. Autocomplete policies only apply to predictions. They do not apply to search results.

We understand that our protective systems may prevent some useful predictions from showing. In fact, our systems take a particularly cautious approach when it comes to names and might prevent some non-policy violating predictions from appearing. However, we feel that taking this cautious approach is best. That’s especially because even if a prediction doesn’t appear, this does not impact the ability for someone to finish typing a query on their own and finding search results.

We hope this has helped you understand more about how we generate predictions that allow you to more quickly complete the query you started, whether that’s while typing on your laptop or swiping the on-screen keyboard on your phone.



Wednesday, October 7, 2020





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