This Week in SEO #115

Me, December 2019, planning for the New Year:

Me, Actually in 2020

So… how’re things?

What’s new with you. Me? Oh, you know: same old. Just aging 70 years in a god damned week.

I’m here to distract you from the apocalypse with some SEO updates and sh*t memes. If you’re gonna be stuck inside not exposing yourself to the unspeakable horror of the virus, you might as well learn some new stuff and get some better rankings for your site.

Cynical but Probably Accurate Take on Google’s Business Response to COVID19

Great post (as usual) from Aaron on what the future of the SERPs may look like as the economy grinds to a halt from a global pandemic…

As Google sees advertisers pause ad budgets Google will get more aggressive with keeping users on their site & displacing organic click flows with additional ad clicks on the remaining advertisers.

When Google or Facebook see a 5% or 10% pullback other industry players might see a 30% to 50% decline as the industry pulls back broadly, focuses more resources on the core, and the big attention merchants offset their losses by clamping down on other players.

In addition to being the world’s most articulate SEO pessimist (to say nothing of the accuracy of those predictions which… have been pretty spot on), the post actually does take a positive look at how trying times have resulted in some pretty great innovation. This post probably won’t result in any big action taken on your part, but it’s a smart, forward-looking post and you should absolutely check it out.

WTF is Google Discover and Why it is Yet Another Thing You Need to Care About

Have you noticed those stupid “interesting finds” boxes taking up a bunch of SERP real estate on mobile lately, pushing your #2 organic placement about 500 pixels lower?

Yeah. That’s called Google Discover and, like Featured Snippets, is probably something you should pay attention to and optimize for, as much as possible.

This post does a nice job of introducing the concept and giving some basic tips. Start here, and then go look for more advanced tutorials once you’ve got it down solid.

Since Google Discover pulls information the same way Instagram’s “Explore” feature does, it’s important that you are constantly creating fresh content that is also relevant. For those that use Instagram and search for content using the “Explore” feature you know that it’s always suggesting new posts.

You aren’t going to see old or outdated content being promoted on the feed, as the algorithm is designed to match fresh content that has a high likelihood of being something a user is interested in reading.

More important than ever, I guess? Fresh content.


You Down With PAA?

Yeah you know….may

Interesting problem that someone who guest-posted @ Moz brought up about People Also Ask (which apparently is present in over 90% of searchies):

The quality issue I’m running into is that I still find several obscure PAA questions and results or content from other countries.

When I run searches that have a universal answer, such as “can you eat raw chicken?”, the answer is universally correct so there is no issue with the results. But when I run a search that should return local (UK) content, such as “car insurance”, I’m finding a heavy influence from the US — especially around YMYL queries.

Now, as to what to do with this info… I guess if you’re a UK-based site actively trying to optimize for PAA, maybe it’d be better to spend time optimizing for something where the deck isn’t stacked against you?

And if you’re in the US and you VPN to other locations and see that US properties dominate the PAA, maybe you can do a little work to optimize for that and collect some extra international traffic while it’s there for the taking.


What to Do With URLs for SEO Best Practices

Helpful refresher post if you forget what a URL is…

Super eye-spraining eye roll at how this piece of content starts.

Anyway. There’s actually some good content here, and it’s a question I see come up a lot in SEO discussions, so a good resource to read/share.

The post is not super quotable due to how it’s structured, but it covers things like “trailing slash or no trailing slash,” “subdomain or subfolder,” and other similar considerations when structuring a website.

Content Theory: What Kind of Content is Right for Your Site?

Are you building a library or a publication?

That’s the question posed by this article… a bit of content marketing theory. It helps you frame your content marketing efforts, and gives some advice on what to focus on depending on which type of content you’re aiming to publish:

To news or not to news?

That’s the big content strategy question. And it’s answered when you create your content mission statement. If you haven’t done this yet, you can create yours using this template:

Our company is where [audience X] finds [content Y] for [benefit Z]

It’s a question of topics, which is that middle part.

You are running a publication if… [Content Y] includes the words news or trends, latest or recent.

You are building a library if… [Content Y] doesn’t have any of that, then it’s probably all educational and evergreen, as in, it is relevant for a long time.

This post goes on to highlight the importance of each different type of content, and what to optimize for depending on which one you choose.

Solid post.

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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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