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A Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update On February 27th?

I am seeing some new chatter and most of the tools are backing up the chatter around another Google search ranking algorithm update that started around yesterday, February 27th. We just reported on another unconfirmed update around February 22nd as well.
The chatter is pretty limited and fresh but I suspect it will pick up soon in the ongoing WebmasterWorld forums. Here are some of what the SEO community is saying there starting on the 27th:

Anyone seen a drop overnight into this morning?

I saw some moderate shifting happening last night before going to bed. SEMRush is back in the yellow again too.

Seeing some small shifts in this latest update (27th). I’ve got a handful of pages in fragile balance that go up and down depending on what Google have tweaked. LSI/keywords seems to have become less important and authority more important. Not simply link authority to the page, more like total site authority, or perhaps something to do with branded links. This seems to have been a big brand update. I noticed a massive link update in GSC. Google now acknowledging a mere 8% of my backlinks!

In SEMRush, the visibility for my websites showing 3% down today.Also SERP volatility is extremely high.

Here are the tools that show ranking fluctuations starting around the 27th as well.
Mozcast:

SERP Metrics:

Algoroo:

Advanced Web Rankings:

AccuRanker:

RankRanger:

SEMRush:

Have you noticed any significant changes in your rankings and/or Google traffic over the past day or two?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

John Mueller’s Greatest SEO Success Story Was…

A Reddit thread is asking folks to share their greatest SEO success story and there are some good ones. But Google’s John Mueller chimed in and said his was as simple as instructing someone to remove the noindex from their site. He said “sometimes good things come in small checkboxes.”
John said “Told someone to remove the setting that added the noindex to all pages. They were pretty happy; sometimes good things come in small checkboxes.”
The funny thing is – I had a similar situation and I often keep going back to it when I talk to people. A fortune 500 company hired me to talk to their 10 person SEO team about an issue they had with one of their large sites not ranking well in Google. I have this policy of only doing SEO consulting for SEOs – but I generally do not do any SEO consulting – but in some cases I’ll let SEOs hire me for an hour to shoot questions at me. I don’t look at the questions beforehand and I don’t look at the site in question beforehand.
So when the call started, I fired up a screen share, they told me the domain name and within 60 seconds I spotted the site had a noindex. As you can imagine, the SEO team was super shocked and I guess a bit embarrassed since the head of marketing was on the call as well.
But yea – sometimes it is the most basic things that have the biggest impact.
Forum discussion at Reddit.

Multiple Google User Interface Tests Including People Also Ask Icons

Over the past several days I have been inundated with reports from SEOs about Google testing different interfaces. I’d say 80% of them are interfaces we’ve reported on before but here are some new ones I haven’t seen before including an icon for the people also ask section in Google Search.
Valentin Pletzer spotted an icon heading on mobile for the “people also ask.” You can see the blue star, with a smaller red star and a partial circle on yellow wand blue.

Here is another test for the top stories section:

Google testing different top stories layout again #seo #mobile #serp cc @rustybrick pic.twitter.com/ciYRKZgHJh
— Valentin Pletzer (@VorticonCmdr) February 27, 2019
And popular products, although, I am not sure if this one is new:

“popular products” seems to be some product listing ad but without a “sponsored” tag. On click you will land on a new serp with a single product (this time marked as sponsored). It’s new to me #seo #seo #google #mobile cc @rustybrick pic.twitter.com/7P9cwvsBw2
— Valentin Pletzer (@VorticonCmdr) February 21, 2019
Forum discussion at Twitter.

How to Align Your Content & Social Media Efforts for Link Building Success by @kristen_vaughn

Link building. What is it good for? Absolutely everything.
But, seriously. Generating high-quality links to your website is not only valuable to build authority, it also helps:
Drive referral traffic.
Increase brand visibility.
Reach new audiences.
While the many benefits of link building are clear, SEO professionals are challenged to select the tactics that will have the biggest impact.
It might seem overwhelming. There are so many potential strategies to execute, including:
Keep in mind that backlinks are just one many factors that search engine algorithms use to rank a website.
You also need to focus on technical site elements, on-page content optimizations, new content development, and the list goes on.
Leveraging Content & Social to Support Link Building
There are two essential parts of naturally generating authoritative backlinks to a website:
For this reason, aligning content and social media efforts with your link building initiatives is crucial. In this article, I’ll be providing a variety of tactics to do just that.
Creating Link-Worthy Content
Let’s start with the first part of generating authoritative backlinks to your site – producing high-quality content.
It’s important that content and link building efforts are aligned from the very start, before the content creation process even begins.
Not only will this ensure that you’re creating the write type of content, but it will also help you reach and engage key targets when possible, whether that includes specific influencers, industry publications or other third-party websites.
When it comes to creating valuable and link-worthy content, here are some of the tactics that I’ve found to be successful.
Influencer Insights
Create content around industry influencers or experts by sharing their unique insights.
This will offer valuable content to your readers, further position you as a thought leader in the space, and encourage these influencers/experts to share the asset with their highly targeted audiences.
This content could include:
Interview-style articles.
Roundups.
Lists of predictions or trends.
Quotes.
Get creative based on the type of content that you know your audiences is most receptive too.
The best place to start with identifying influencers? Your link building targets.
If you don’t already have a list established, use FollowerWonk to determine credible profiles that are related to the topic.
For example, if you are writing a piece about The Top Artificial Intelligence Predictions for 2019, you can use FollowerWonk to search Twitter bios that reference “artificial intelligence” or “AI”.
Then, sort by Social Authority and Followers to find the best opportunities.

Once the asset is published, be sure to reach out to the people/websites directly, and let them know that you’ve mentioned them in the article.
Depending on your relationship with them, you could even directly ask them to link to it.
Research
No matter what industry you’re in, research is valuable, which makes it link-worthy.
What common questions are you hearing from customers or clients?
It’s likely that other people within the industry have already been asked, or will be asked, similar questions. These types of considerations should help spike ideas for research-based content assets.
People love to reference statistics that prove the value of their jobs, or research that backs initiatives that are typically more difficult to get buy-in from leadership.
Once you distribute this research across social media (and, I’ll get to that shortly), this extremely valuable asset will naturally generate links.
You should consider ways to further align this with link building initiatives from the beginning.
If you have a list of specific link targets related to the topic, be sure to share the article once it’s live. If you don’t have a list already built out, again – you can use FollowerWonk for this.
Or, BuzzSumo also allows you to search for a topic/keyword to determine profiles that are sharing similar content.

Resources
By sharing resources and tools throughout your content, you are making the piece more actionable for readers and creating the opportunity to share the asset with those you are promoting.
To improve your chances of acquiring a link, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of both your blog subscribers and link building targets.
What would make this asset more valuable for readers?
An outline of not only tactics, but also:
The specific tools they can use.
How they can use the tools.
Insights on what other experts have to say.
Other resources and guides around the topic.
Bonus: Each of these elements also presents the opportunity to reach out to the sites mentioned, and encourage them to share the asset and link to it.
What would make this asset link-worthy for the targets mentioned?
If you’re referencing a tool, provide an explanation of what exactly it is, why it’s so helpful, key features, how they can use the tool, and screenshots of what the tools look like.
If your content includes insights or other resources/guides, call out why the guide is unique, what it has to offer, and what makes the resource so credible.
Promoting Content Strategically
OK, so you’ve created all of this amazing content. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s really only half the battle. Now, you need to promote it appropriately and strategically.
One of the most effective ways to do this is via social media.
Here are some specific ways you can use social media to support your link building campaigns. 
Post Sharing
How you’re sharing content across social media can be a make or break when it comes to link building.
With the number of automated messages going out on social media, you need to figure out a way to stand out to your targets.
My advice is to share individualized, customized and engaging messages – always.
For example, instead of tagging every person/website in one tweet, send out individual tweets that are engaging and won’t come off as automated.
Use their name, say something that shows you know them, consider using custom graphics, or quoting them in separate social updates.
Direct Outreach
It’s important that you reach out to the people and websites mentioned in your content directly, whether via direct message on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or email.
Automated messages also won’t cut it when it comes to direct outreach. Here, it’s especially important to create personalized messages that stand out to your targets.
In addition to reaching out directly to those mentioned in the asset, look for other opportunities to distribute across the community.
Leverage some of the tools mentioned above (FollowerWonk and BuzzSumo) to figure out who has shared your content in the past, and may be interested in the topic at hand.
Or, aim to turn sharers into linkers by analyzing the users who have shared your asset on social media that may be an applicable link building opportunity.
You can even set up Google Alerts using related keywords to determine specific articles or websites that would benefit from linking to the asset. 

Advertising 
Don’t underestimate the power of paid advertising on social media.
Now that you’ve created this extremely link-worthy asset, make sure it gets in front of your key targets.
There are numerous targeting options that could be successful here; however, the most refined approach would be to create Tailored Audiences using the list of link building targets that you’ve gathered and/or those mentioned in the article.
You can target those specific profiles, as well as their followers.
Final Thoughts 
Integrating and aligning your link building tactics with content marketing and social media efforts can help move the needle. All this while making your digital marketing campaigns more efficient.
Remember, high-quality content is essential, especially when your goal is to build links back to a website.
Distributing engaging and personalized messages on social media is also key. These principles should remain at the foundation of your digital marketing strategy.
Hopefully this article has given you some actionable ways to align your content and social media efforts, in order to drive link building success.
More Resources:
Image Credits
Featured Image: Created by author, February 2019All screenshots taken by author, February 2019

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Google My Business Launches New Spam Report Form

Google announced they have launched a new form to submit spam reports about Google local, maps and Google My Business related spam. Google calls it the Business Redressal Complaint Form and is for fraudulent activity. You can access the form over here.
Google said If you come across misleading information or fraudulent activity on Google Maps related to the name, phone number, or URL of a business, you may use this form to submit a complaint. Complaints submitted through this form will be reviewed in accordance with the Google guidelines for representing businesses on Google Maps.
Marissa Nordahl, Community Manager, Google My Business said in a Google My Business Help thread “If you come across a business name, phone number, or URL on Google Maps that leads to fraudulent activity, you can now submit a complaint using this form. We’ll close the Spam board on this community, so please use the new form to report spam-related issues.”
Joy Hawkins, a local SEO, posted more details in the Local Search Forums:
Do I get a response when the report was processed? You’ll get a generic response but it will be just like social support where they tell you that since it’s not a business you manage, you won’t get an update on what happened. For this reason, I suggest setting a reminder for yourself to just check back in a few weeks.
What if I want to report tons of locations at once? There is a spreadsheet upload option on the form – use this option.
What if I don’t want to tell Google the business it’s impacting? Lots of business owners are reluctant to report spam because they don’t want their competitors knowing they were the ones to report it. The safest bet here is just to put NA in those fields.
Can I use this form to report fake reviews? Not currently. You should send these requests to Google’s social support. You can tweet to them at @googlemybiz or message them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GoogleMyBusiness/. Usually they respond in 1-5 business days.
Forum discussion at Local Search Forums, Google My Business Help and Twitter.

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