This Week in SEO #116

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Another Core Algorithm Update

Welcome to the fields of murder, the graveyard of good sites that find themselves–sometimes inexplicably–on the wrong side of Google’s algorithm.

That’s right! As if your business didn’t have enough shit to deal with this year after the worst health and economic disaster of our lifetimes (you know, fingers crossed), and the Amazon Affiliate Apocalypse 2.0, now there’s a Google Core Algorithm clutching at your metaphorical ankles trying to pull you not-metaphorically into financial ruin.

Google tried to get ahead of the blowback by announcing via tweet that this is officially called “the May 2020 Core Algorithm Update”

But I have some alternate names for the update to help capture the state of the world in which they’re releasing this. Don’t let them off that hook THAT easily:

The “Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back” Update

The “One Step Forward 18 Steps Back” Update

The “My Site Dropping in Google is Forcing Me to Confront My Own Mortality, We’re All On This Earth For Such A Short Time Oh God Why Am I Spending All My Time Building Coupon Sites I’ve Wasted My Life! I Should Have Been an Artist ” Update.

Feel free to use those on Twitter to to put Google in the place… see what sticks.

Okay, that was all a bit dark–we’re living in some bleak times right now, but here’s an SEO joke I posted on Twitter to help get you through all of this.


As with all updates, it’s still too early to tell who the biggest winners and losers are, why sites are rising/falling (and possibly, we’ll never be able to pin it down), so I don’t have much help to offer you just yet, except this:

Don’t panic. These things take days to roll out, and one day you’re way up, another day you’re way down, and then you’re more or less back where you started. Or you’re down until the next core Algo update and there’s just not much you can do except for learn to meditate and just try to build the best version of your site with the best content…

But also, and I may be a little biased here. You should maybe hire a smart SEO agency to help you WINK EMOJI I’M TALKING ABOUT SMASH DIGITAL THIS IS CONTENT MARKETING.

Waiting for the Drop

A timely post, what-with all the… gestures to literally the entire world.

When traffic is falling, it’s easy to panic and focus on what you can control. Traffic isn’t just a nice-to-have — it puts food on the table and the roof over your head that keeps the water out. In the rush to solve the problem, though, we often don’t take the time to validate the problem we’re solving. Fixing the wrong problem is at best a waste of time and money, but at worst could deepen the crisis.

Interesting post on trying to figure out of it’s not the algorithm, it’s just you or… something else!

Like this:

Given the known timeline of COVID-19 (the WHO declared it a pandemic on March 11), this is about as clean a picture of a traffic drop in the presence of a known cause as you’re going to get. Most situations are far messier. Even here, we’ve got the impact of weekends and day-to-day fluctuations.

Getting some perspective can be helpful–even if the end result is the situation is entirely out of your hands. You know what I’m saying, dawg: Knowing is Half the Battle!

The rest is waiting until Google does an algo update or the COVID 19 crisis ends, etc.

State of the Union for the Narc Link Attributes

NoFollow, UGC, and Sponsored tags. Google wants you to make it easy to see what’s going on when it comes to your outgoing links (and some have argued that this is a Google-endorsement of selling sponsored links, but I’ll be over here drowning in a soup of tin-foil-hat-flavored cynicism).

Anyway… Ahrefs has a great piece of content on the general state of these link attributes.

Here’s the takeaway:

Nofollow is used a lot more than I expected, potentially too much. With Google’s change to a hint model, I expect search results to become even more relevant as they’re able to use more signals from anchor text of nofollow links. Without any kind of forced adoption, UGC and sponsored attributes will likely require different systems to adopt them before we see them become common.

The real stand-out here, though, is this chart that shows just how irrelevant everything that’s not WordPress is as a CMS:


The Great LinkedIn DeIndexationing

So the morning after The “Please Danny Don’t Hurt ‘Em” Update of May 2020, SEOs everywhere were baffled to see that Google had COMPLETELY deindexed LinkedIn, one of the 500 most visited sites on the planet.

After a little digging, though…

It appears that it’s quite possible that LinkedIn’s www subdomain was removed from Google’s search engine results due to something that LinkedIn did, which was to remove the http:// version of their site. See John Mueller’s tweet. LinkedIn may have done this to themselves, and it might not be a ‘ban’ after all:

Here is some exclusive footage of LinkedIn SEOs the day before (green trunk):

watch it over and over and over and over and over and over and over…

And to wrap up this almost unbelievable story, here’s Banana John Banana throwing some shade @ LinkedIn via Twitter:

What a world…

Increasing Time on Site by Monitoring Changing Intent

Gonna leave you with a little bit of perspective, a great write-up from Aaron Wall on the way the web changes over time and, more specifically to SEO, the INTENT of a piece of content (or the intent of the keyword that used to lead visitors to that piece of content that has become at odds):

Last week a client had a big spike from a news topic that changed the intent of a keyword. Their time on site from those visitors was under a minute. After the page was re-created to reflect changing consumer intent their time on site jumped to over 3 minutes for users entering that page. Those users had a far lower bounce rate, a far better user experience, are going to be more likely to trust the site enough to seek it out again, and this sends a signal to Google that the site is still maintained & relevant to the modern search market

There are many ways to chase the traffic stream

  • create new content on new pages

  • gut the old page & publish entirely new content

  • re-arrange the old page while publishing new relevant breaking news at the top

Good stuff. Give the whole thing a read, you’ll leave the site smarter than when you arrived.



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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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