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Google’s John Mueller Discusses June 2019 Update Recovery

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Google’s John Mueller was asked in a Webmaster Hangout what to do if a site is suffering a traffic loss due to Google’s June 2019 broad core algorithm update. John Mueller’s answer provided insights into understanding what is happening.

Then Mueller provided hope that Google may offer further guidance on what to do.

Webmaster Asks If It’s a Content Issue?

The person making the question states they’re a news publisher. They ask that because they deal in content, that it may be that the core update issue for them is content related.

Here is the question:

“We’re a news publisher website, primarily focusing on the business finance vertical. we probably have been impacted by the June Core Update as we’ve seen a drastic traffic drop from the June 1st week.

Agreed that the update specifies that there are no fixes and no major changes that need to be made to lower the impact.

But for a publisher whose core area is content news, doesn’t it signal that it’s probably the content, the quality or the quantity which triggered Google’s algorithm to lower down the quality signal of the content being put up on the website which could have led to a drop of traffic? “

The questioner states that webmasters need more guidance:

“…it would really help if Google could come out and share some advice to webmasters and websites.

Not site specific, but category or vertical specific at least on how to take corrective measures and actions to mitigate the impact of core updates.

It would go a long way in helping websites who are now clueless as to what impacted them.”

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller in a Webmaster HangoutGoogle’s John Mueller was asked how to recover from a Google broad core algorithm update.

Why Nothing to Fix

John Mueller did not suggest fixing anything specific. He explained that the reason there’s nothing specific to fix is because a core update encompasses a broader range of factors.

Google’s John Mueller explains:

“I think it’s a bit tricky because we’re not focusing on something very specific where we’d say like for example when we rolled out the speed update.

That was something where we could talk about specifically, this is how we’re using mobile speed and this is how it affects your website, therefore you should focus on speed as well.”

Core Update, Relevance and Quality

John Mueller then discussed the core updates within the context of relevance and quality updates. He did not say that core algo updates were specifically just about relevance or just about quality. He seemed to mention those to aspects as a way to show how these kinds of updates do not have specific fixes.

Here is how John Mueller explained it:

“With a lot of the relevance updates, a lot of the kind of quality updates, the core updates that we make, there is no specific thing where we’d be able to say you did this and you should have done that and therefore we’re showing things differently.”

John Mueller then explained, as an example, of how changes that are external to a website could impact how Google ranks websites.

This is what he said:

“Sometimes the web just evolved. Sometimes what users expect evolves and similarly, sometimes our algorithms are, the way that we try to determine relevance, they evolve as well.”

That may be the most a Googler has said so far to explain about core algorithm updates.

It follows along with what I’ve been saying, that factors like how Google determines what it means for a page to be relevant to a user can change. Some continue to focus on “quality” issues, fixing things like missing biographies, too much advertising on a page, but that kind of advice ignores relevance issues.

John mentions quality, but he also mentioned how users and the web evolve. That’s not a quality issue. Those are factors that are external to a website that need to be considered.

Nothing to Fix

John Mueller related that there aren’t specific things to fix. But he suggested that it may be useful to understand how users see your site, how useful your site is to users.

Here’s what John Mueller said:

“And with that, like you mentioned, you’ve probably seen the tweets from Search Liaison, there’s often nothing explicit that you can do to kind of change that.

What we do have is an older blog post from Amit Singhal which covers a lot of questions that you can ask yourself, about the quality of your website. That’s something I always recommend going through. , That’s something that I would also go through with people who are not associated with your website.”

John Mueller may have been citing a Webmaster Central blog post from 2011 titled, More Guidance on Building High-quality Sites

In it, the author provides a large number of questions a site owner should ask themselves about their content.

Here is a sample of the kinds of questions Google suggests you should ask yourself:

  • “Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?”

Ask a Third Party For a Critique

John Mueller then suggested that a third party that is unfamiliar with your site may be able to see issues that are not apparent to you.

What John Mueller said:

“So, often you as a site owner you have an intimate relationship with your website you know exactly that it’s perfect. But someone who is not associated with your website might look at your website and compare it to other websites and say, well, I don’t know if I could really trust your website because it looks outdated or because I don’t know who these people are who are writing about things.

All of these things play a small role and it’s not so much that there’s any technical thing that you can change in your line of HTML or server setting.

It’s more about the overall picture where users nowadays would look at it and say, well I don’t know if this is as relevant as it used to be because these vague things that I might be thinking about.

So that’s where I’d really try to get people who are un-associated with your website to give you feedback on that.”

John Mueller suggested asking in web communities, including the Webmaster Help Forums, to see how others see your site, if they could spot problems.

One issue with that is that every community have specific points of views that sometimes don’t allow them to get past their biases to see what the real problem is. That’s not a criticism but an observation on the nature of opinions is that they tend to vary.

Here’s what he said:

“…you can talk with other people who’ve seen a lot of websites and who can look at your websites and say well, I don’t know the layout looks outdated or the authors are people that nobody knows or you have stock photos images of instead of author photos. It’s like, why do you have that?

All of these things are not explicit elements that our algorithms would be trying to pinpoint but rather things that kind of combine to create a bigger picture.”

That’s good advice. Familiarity does make a person unable to identify what the problems are in a website.

I know from experience that it’s not uncommon for a site owner who comes to me for help with their site is sometimes surprised that their site contains problems with their content, is outdated in some way or has room for improvement in the way the content is written.

Sometimes they intuit that something is wrong but they can’t see it. I once had a site owner come to me with a negative SEO problem but the feedback I received directly from Google was that they were suffering from content issues related to Google’s Panda algorithm.

It was a shock for them to hear that their content was bad. But having it confirmed by Google made them better able to see that yes, there were problems with the content.

Google May Provide Additional Official Guidance

John Mueller appeared to be moved by the situation experienced by the web publisher. He offered more advice and insight into core algorithm updates than has previously offered and it went beyond the “nothing to fix” advice that, while true, is still felt to be unsatisfactory by many in the web community.

Mueller then offered hope by suggesting he would inquire about providing additional guidance for web publishers.

“I know a lot people have been asking for more advice, more specific advice so maybe there’s something that we can put together. We’ll see what we can do internally to put out a newer version of a blog post or kind of provide some more general information about some of the changes we’ve been thinking about there.”

Takeaway: See the Big Picture

The important takeaways are to be able to step back and see the big picture, which means:

Some issues are external to the website. For example, many fashion brands no longer publish blogs. An SEO recently attributed that to a failure in the content strategy. But that’s missing the big picture. The reason many fashion brands no longer publish blog posts is because users don’t consume that kind of content. They consume content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites.

That’s an example of how users evolve and how it’s not a problem with your site, but rather a change in user habits that may be reflected in the kinds of pages that Google shows in the search results.

Takeaway: Algorithms Evolve

Google’s algorithm does not really match keywords to web pages. It’s about solving problems for users. Google’s increasingly updating how it understands what users want when they type a query. Google is also updating how it understands the problems that a web page solves.

A website that focuses too much on keywords and not enough on providing quick information to users who need it quickly and deep information to users who need depth, may find that Google’s algorithms no longer favor them. Not because your site is broken and needs fixing. But because it does not solve the problem for the user in the way Google has determined users want them solved.

Takeaway: Have a Third Party Review Your Site

Lastly, it may be helpful to have a fresh set of eyes review your website. If that doesn’t provide insights, then someone with experience diagnosing relevance issues may be useful.

Read: June 2019 Broad Core Algo Update: It’s More than E-A-T

Read: What is a Broad Core Algorithm Update?

Watch: Webmaster Hangout

Screenshots by Author, Modified by Author 



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New site Hotspot Law like ZocDoc for lawyers

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Local search is probably more visible than it has ever been since the advent of Google Maps. Yet, paradoxically, there’s almost no consumer-facing innovation taking place. There’s Google, Yelp, Facebook (somewhat) and a range of specialized vertical apps and sites, some of which have simply survived but aren’t thriving.

Little or no ‘horizontal’ innovation. Part of the lack of “horizontal” innovation in local is likely the result of venture capital not wanting to fund anything that goes up directly against Google. The company may appear to many investors now like an insurmountable juggernaut in local/mobile search.

Any new local-consumer startups, therefore, are likely to appear in specific industries or otherwise offer specialized use cases. Such is the case with Hotspot Law, a new legal search site that hopes to bring ZocDoc-style appointment scheduling to the legal profession. It also seeks to provide a more reliable and cost-effective flow of leads to consumer attorneys.

The legal vertical has a quite a few competitors, including Avvo (Internet Brands), LegalZoom, FindLaw and several others. Despite this, Hotspot Law founder Felix Shipkevich believes he’s solving two unsolved problems in the legal vertical.

“The legal market is in dire need of an upgrade,” argues Shipkevich.

Making direct connections with lawyers. “Once you’ve finished searching online, you have to start calling,” he said. “You don’t get to speak directly to attorneys, you typically talk to a gatekeeper.” He points out that this process of getting to a lawyer is time consuming for people who need legal help. “None of these [completing] platforms directly connect the consumer with an attorney.”

Shipkevich, who is an attorney and faculty member at Hofstra Law School, said he was inspired by ZocDoc and the way it enables direct connections between doctors and patients. Similarly, he wanted to remove the friction in lawyer-consumer matchmaking. Shipkevich explained that also sees Hotspot Law as a way to make “justice” more accessible to consumers.

Why you should care. Legal lead-gen is costly. Shipkevich believes that existing legal sites and ad solutions don’t serve lawyers particularly well either. “PPC advertising can be extremely expensive; in New York it can be $60 to $80 per click.” He adds that “Yelp is expensive. Sometimes it takes $2,000 to $4,000 to bring in a case.”

He wants to solve that problem with simplified reasonable pricing for lawyers who may be struggling to find clients. But he also sees Hotspot Law evolving into a platform to help attorneys manage existing clients. Currently the site only operates in New York, with plans to expand geographic coverage in the coming months.

For the time being Shipkevich will need to rely on SEO for discovery but over time he hopes to build a branded consumer destination. It will be very challenging given the current structure of local SERPs. One has to admire the ambition and chutzpah.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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Remembering the Tragedy That Made Our Community Start Talking

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About one year ago, everything changed for me and for our community.

A tragedy that struck home so hard it shook us to our core.

A suicide.

A dear friend, brilliant mind, adored father, respected colleague … the list goes on, left us in a way that hits straight to the heart and wakes you up like very few other events can.

I certainly woke up that day. That alarm screamed as loud as it could and I still hear it to this day.

I know I wasn’t alone. So many of my peers experienced similar emotions, sensations, and reactions.

We Could No Longer Ignore the Problem

Sadly, this wasn’t the first tragedy we’d encountered that year – we lost other friends and colleagues as well.

But we knew we couldn’t stand to lose any more amazing people.

We couldn’t look away. We couldn’t just carry on anymore.

So we started talking.

I have been blown away by our internet marketing community. Many of us have never even met face to face and yet the comradery, the friendship, the support among us run rampant!

Never before have I seen a group of people come together so quickly and so openly as when we were forced to face this tragedy.

Groups were formed. Calls were made. Texts were sent. Face-to-face get-togethers were had. Columns like this one were created.

And the best part of it all? It didn’t stop!

We saw the need to stay connected. We recognized that we are a family that needs to support each other. And, perhaps most of all, we saw that we were not alone in our struggles.

It has been amazing to see the openness and honesty that has become so commonplace over the past year. I have seen people that once felt they couldn’t risk being seen without their mask on break down and lay themselves out in the most vulnerable ways.

I include myself in that list. I have become more able to reveal myself to the world around me. That has only been made possible by others sharing in that journey with me.

In leading up to this piece, I knew that I wanted to really find a way to focus on the positive changes that our community has seen because of Jordan Kasteler.

I wanted to honor him in a way that really brought some form of good to this incredible loss that we all experienced due to his passing.

Where Are We Now? Thoughts from Our Community

I reached out and asked a few people in our community if they would share some words of how they have been changed for the better as well as how they have seen our community as whole making changes to support each other over the past year.

Here is what they had to say:

Alexandra Tachalova:

“Working days, nights, and weekends was normal for me a few years ago. However, at that time I couldn’t say that I was really happy. I didn’t understand at the time that my work-life balance was completely off, and I now know that that could have developed into something truly horrifying.

I eventually reached such an emotionally unstable point that I hit a time where one week I was super productive, but the following week I felt hugely demotivated and absolutely miserable. (I know this is a familiar story with many others as well, I hear people telling similar stories and sharing similar experiences regularly.)

Over the past while, I have been working diligently to save myself from this emotional trap. This new focus has led me to investing more time into things that are not related to work and putting more time into the things that help to create a happier life for myself.

I can see that more people in our community are becoming more aware of the need to make this sort of a switch to their schedules and priorities as well, which is brilliant to see!”

Melissa Fach:

“In the past year, I have noticed a massive shift in our community not being ashamed to reach out and ask for help, advice, or just a kind word. I feel like masks have been dropped, and people are not embarrassed to discuss what make them “real”; I love it!

I think many people used to feel they had to have public persona that was acceptable, and now they know we all have issues and it is OK to talk about.

I have a picture of Jordan out that I see every day. I moved past the guilt and the pain when I looked at it, and he is now a daily reminder to stay present with my friends as much as I can.

And, it is a reminder to me to stay focused on my well-being as well. I tend to overwork and do too much for everyone and end up exhausted. I take steps now to take care of me more than ever before.”

Steve Wiideman:

“Though I’ve been in the industry for years, I’m still a somewhat newer member of the SEO community. Call it fear of rejection, social anxiety, whatever, I’ve always been nervous to put myself in a position to be judged by my peers.

It really wasn’t until I was invited to an amazing Facebook group made up of a small close-knit group of industry peers focusing on supporting each other through the day-to-day struggles that I realized that nearly everyone shared the same fears, anxieties and experiences that I have.

What a relief it is to know there is a place where we share what we are feeling and have so much empathy! Finally I have a place I can turn to where people understand me.

Even if I don’t share as much as others, I have peace of mind knowing there are people there ready and willing to listen and help, where there’s no judgement, just open arms.”

Danny Goodwin:

“We’ve definitely made a lot of progress over the past year as a community. However, if I’m being completely honest, we still have a long way to go. I’m still hearing about issues of bullying. I’m seeing people piling on people they disagree with on Twitter.

While, thankfully, these are in the minority, the polarization and black-and-white thinking needs to stop. The judging and assuming needs to stop. The trolling and “mob mentality” needs to stop.

We need to stop fighting each other and start lifting each other up – treating everyone like human beings. Nobody is perfect, but I hope we will continue to see more people be able to let go of their hate and negativity to accept love and positivity into their lives. I know that will continue to be our aim with Friday Focus – to remind everyone that they are not alone in their struggles.

Ultimately, though, I am so happy to be a part of something so positive in our community – and it’s great to see so many others jumping onboard, too.”

Kim Krause Berg:

“It’s easy to assume that your peers are generally doing better than you, making more money than you, and are super successful in every way. It is only in the past few years that I realized this is baloney.

I respect people who remove their masks and show who they really are. We are people with lives and struggles, heartache, depression, and pain.

In the past year I have opened up more and made new friendships as a result. We have more in common with each other than we might think.”

Dave Davies:

“Over the past year I’ve seen an incredible shift in our community.

Social media itself breeds an environment where we see only the best of our peers and post the best of ourselves and being in marketing, needing to be on social media, needing to market ourselves on social media and seeing only the best version of those trained in presenting the best version of themselves – one can feel very alone in difficult times. Compounding that we face an often isolated profession where even sitting beside someone, we are focused on a screen and all they contain.

Sadly, we all know too well what that leads to, and over the past year we collectively recognized that we are human. That those around us are human. That others need support and perhaps most importantly, that we do too.

We finally heard the words spoken all too often after those tragic events, “If only they had asked for help.” And we took it upon ourselves to do so.

We finally knew to listen, to watch and to find out how those around us were doing, lest we face the loss of another friend who we would have dropped everything for, ‘If only they had asked for help.’

The community has grown it’s heart and soul over the past year.

There is still a lot to do. There are still many who don’t know where to turn. Many who don’t know who to talk to. But each time we reach out and each time we talk about challenges openly, share our own and listen to theirs … each time we do that, the community grows it’s heart a little more.

It has been a incredible year of change. While we will forever mourn the spark, the now burning fire keeps us all warmer.”

Jeremy Knauff:

“One thing that has changed dramatically in our industry over the last year, is that as individuals, we’ve become a lot more vocal about asking for help when we need it.

I think most people are more than willing to help each other. They just have to know that someone needs help. Now that people are starting to open up more about their personal struggles, the community is able to better support them.”

Thank You!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you – whether I know you in person, whether I know you online, even if I don’t know you at all –- thank you for being here.

Thank you for caring and sharing and being a part of the positive change that we are all working so hard at creating.

Keep being a force for good in our community.

Together we will make a difference.

Remembering the Tragedy That Made Our Community Start Talking  

 

This piece is written in memory, honor, recognition, and gratitude of Jordan Kasteler. For all that he gave us, shared with us, taught us and left us with. We are eternally grateful.

 


***PLEASE DO NOT STRUGGLE ALONE! Reach out, ask for help and know that you are valued.
CLICK HERE for a list of phone numbers for Suicide Hotlines around the world.***



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20190718 SEL Brief

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