John Mueller recently tweeted: “There’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry.”
But Google subverts his message by ranking SEO misinformation at the top of the SERPs.
If you search for LSI Keywords on Google, the number one ranked web page asserts that LSI Keywords matter for SEO and the next two search results are LSI Keyword generators.
John Mueller and Google’s search engineers may scratch their heads about where SEO myths come from. As you see above, many times it is Google that is amplifying and reinforcing those SEO myths.
How is a search marketer to know what SEO information is correct when Google’s search results reinforces SEO misinformation?
Discern Between Opinion and Fact-Based Insight.
It’s important to verify if the writer is citing and linking to an authoritative source. Something like a Googler statement, a patent or research paper helps to elevate an opinion into a fact-based insight.
Everything else is just an opinion and they don’t matter if there is zero basis to support it. That something “sounds reasonable” is not enough.
Just because Google ranks something at the top of the search results does not make it true, either.
Googler Statements Must be In Context
Some people have agendas. When that happens they tend to cite Googler statements out of context in order to push their agendas.
The typical agenda consists of sowing fear and uncertainty for the purpose of creating more business. It’s not uncommon for search marketers to say that Googler’s contradict themselves.
I find that Googler’s are remarkably consistent, especially John Mueller. What is inconsistent is how some people interpret what he says.
Google’s John Mueller lamented in a podcast that “two thirds of what he is quoted as saying is misquoted or quoted out of context.”
An Example of Fact-Based Insight
If your rankings dropped nowadays it could be because the algo decided that another page is more relevant to the search query and the users. We know this because Google has published official guidance on their updates.
Among the many insights that Google’s official guidance says about the updates, it shares this:
“…the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
That’s an official statement that one of the reasons a site may lose search positions is because another site was “under-rewarded.”
Now here’s a reason that has not been confirmed. Another reason could be because the content is not factually correct.
Nobody’s discussed the algorithms surrounding this. No Googler has confirmed that the algorithm is fact checking. The SEO community has a feeling that fact-checking is going on.
Is there any basis for the idea that Google is fact-checking? Yes, there is.
Nobody else (as far as I know) has discussed the following research paper. The Google research paper is called, Relevant Document Discovery for Fact-Checking Articles.
That research paper describes a way to fact-check articles. It proposes a way to verify factual information.
So the claim that Google might be fact-checking health related sites has some basis to it. We don’t know for sure. But the fact that there is this research paper (and others) elevates the opinion to a possibility. There is a basis for the idea.
We don’t know for certain. But there is at least evidence that fact-checking is something that Google has been researching.
The next best evidence is a statement from Google confirming that they are doing something.
Fact-check What You Read
In an article about what was said at a Webmaster Hangout, always watch the cited video clip yourself. By watching it you can determine for yourself if the article you read was correct or if it was omitting something in order to push an agenda.
Correlation Studies are Not Reliable
Articles featuring correlation data attract a lot of attention. Data obtained from studying millions of search results will show patterns. It’s undeniable that patterns are revealed.
But the patterns are meaningless because… correlation.
For example, if we extract that the XX percentage of top three rankings are published on WordPress, does that mean publishing on WordPress helps rankings? No, it does not.
Correlations tend to be meaningless. Meaningless correlations happen all the time and are the norm. Assigning meaning where there is no proven meaning is a mistake.
A correlation study of SERPs that typically consists of multiple search intents will not reveal useful information about today’s AI/Machine Learning algorithms.
Articles based on correlation are, in my opinion, great clickbait but generally have no usefulness for understanding ranking factors.
Correlation-based SEO articles consistently reach the wrong conclusion of what caused an effect.
1. Data is concrete and irrefutable. 2. Interpretation of the data is fluid and refutable.
IF there is some research, patent or a Googler statement that shows that it’s been researched, then the test conclusion has a higher probability of being correct.
I’ve been working in SEO for almost 20 years. I have seen all kinds of crackpot hypotheses and reasonable ideas floated to explain things. But they were just ideas. They had no basis in fact.
They are essentially just guesses. Guessing is a poor basis for creating a business strategy.
Proof via citation (research, patent or Googler statement) shows that an idea is at least possible or factual.
Nobody can say with certainty that X caused Y because what happens between the X and the Y happens inside Google’s so-called black box in which nobody can see what is happening.
And what happens in Google’s black box stays in Google’s black box.
On Oct. 31, Google announced the launch of its Site Kit WordPress plugin that, “enables you to set up and configure key Google services, get insights on how people find and use your site, learn how to improve, and easily monetize your content.”
This plugin allows you to easily connect the following Google Services in a dashboard format within your WordPress backend:
It brings the convenience of accessing your site’s performance data while logged into the backend of the site. This is great for webmasters, developers and agencies who are often an admin for their own site or a client’s WordPress site. However, it does not offer the robust and dynamic capabilities of a Google Data Studio report or dashboard to sort data so it may not be ideal for a digital marketing manager or CMO.
With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to implement this plugin as it’s actually a nifty tool that can help you stay on top of your site’s performance metrics. It’s also another way to give Google more access to your site which can have some in-direct benefits organically.
Here is what the Google Site Kit plugin looks like within the WordPress plugin directory.
Installing and setting up Google Site Kit
To utilize the plugin, simply click install and activate as you would any other WordPress plugin. You will then be prompted to complete the set up.
Click on the “Start Setup” button.
You will be prompted to give access to your site’s Google Search Console profile, which means you need to sign in to the Gmail account that has access to your site’s Search Console profile.
Once logged in you need to grant permissions for Google to access the data in your Search Console profile.
Once you’ve granted all the respective permissions, you will get a completion notification and can then click on “Go to my Dashboard.”
Once you’re in the Dashboard you will see options to connect other services such as Analytics, AdSense and PageSpeed insights. You can now choose to connect these services if you like. If you go to the settings of the plugin you will see additional connection options for Optimize and Tag Manager.
Here is what the dashboard looks like with Search Console, analytics and PageSpeed Insights enabled. You can see a clear breakdown of the respective metrics.
The plugin allows you to dive into each reporting respectively with navigation options on the left to drill down into Search Console and analytics.
There is also an admin bar feature to see individual page stats.
In summary, this is a great plugin by Google but keep in mind it’s just version 1.0. I’m excited to see what features and integrations the later versions will have!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Tony Edward is a director of SEO at Tinuiti and an adjunct instructor of search marketing at NYU. Tony has been in the online marketing industry for over 10 years. His background stems from affiliate marketing and he has experience in paid search, social media and video marketing. Tony is also the founder of the Thinking Crypto YouTube channel.
Bing announced a new link penalties. These link penalties are focused on taking down private blog networks (PBNs), subdomain leasing and manipulative cross-site linking.
Inorganic Site Structure
An inorganic site structure is a linking pattern that uses internal site-level link signals (with subdomains) or cross-site linking patterns (with external domains) in order to manipulate search engine rankings.
While these spam techniques already existed, Bing introduced the concept of calling them “inorganic site structure” in order to describe them.
Bing noted that sites legitimately create subdomains to keep different parts of the site separate, such as support.example.com. These are treated as belonging to the main domain, passing site-level signals to the subdomains.
Bing also said sites like WordPress create standalone sites under subdomains, in which case no site level signals are passed to the subdomains.
Examples of Inorganic Site Structure
An inorganic site structure is when a company leases a subdomain in order to take advantage of site-level signals to rank better. There have been
Private blog networks were also included as inorganic site structure
Bing also introduced the idea of domain boundaries. The idea is that there are boundaries to a domain. Sometimes, as in the case of legitimate subdomains (ex. support.example.com), those boundaries extend out to the subdomain. In other cases like WordPress.com subdomains the boundaries do not extend to the subdomains.
Private Blog Networks (PBNs) Bing called out PBNs as a form of spam that abuse website boundaries.
“While not all link networks misrepresent website boundaries, there are many cases where a single website is artificially split across many different domains, all cross-linking to one another, for the obvious purpose of rank boosting. This is particularly true of PBNs (private blog networks).”
Subdomain Leasing Penalties
Bing explained why they consider subdomain leasing a spammy activity:
“…we heard concerns from the SEO community around the growing practice of hosting third-party content or letting a third party operate a designated subdomain or subfolder, generally in exchange for compensation.
…the practice equates to buying ranking signals, which is not much different from buying links.”
At the time of this article, I still see a news site subdomain ranking in Bing (and Google). This page belongs to another company. All the links are redirected affiliate type links with parameters meant for tracking the referrals.
According to Archive.org the subdomain page was credited to an anonymous news staffer. Sometime in the summer the author was switched to someone with a name who is labeled as an expert, although the content is still the same.
So if Bing is already handing out penalties that means Bing (and Google who also ranks this page) still have some catching up to do.
Bing mentioned sites that are essentially one site that are broken up into multiple interlinking sites. Curiously Bing said that these kinds of sites already in violation of other link spam rules but that additional penalties will apply.
Here’s the kind of link structure that Bing used as an example:
All these sites are interlinking to each other. All the sites have related content and according to Bing are essentially the same site. This kind of linking practice goes back many years. They are traditionally known as interlinked websites. They are generally topically related to each other.
Bing used the above example to illustrate interlinked sites that are really just one site.
That link structure resembles the structure of interlinked websites that belong to the same company. If you’re planning a new web venture, it’s generally a good idea to create a site that’s comprehensive than to create a multitude of sites that are focused on just a small part of the niche.
Curiously, in reference to the above illustration, Bing said that kind of link structure was already in violation of link guidelines and that more penalties would be piled on top of those:
“Fig. 3 – All these domains are effectively the same website. This kind of behavior is already in violation of our link policy.
Going forward, it will be also in violation of our “inorganic site structure” policy and may receive additional penalties.“
It’s good news to hear Bing is improving. Competition between search engines encourage innovation and as Bing improves perhaps search traffic may become more diversified as more people switch to Bing as well as other engines like DuckDuckGo.
Read Bing’s announcement: Some Thoughts on Website Boundaries
Google has released version 1.0 of its Site Kit plugin for WordPress, which means its officially out of beta after 6 months.
In the time since the developer preview of Site Kit was released, Google says it drastically simplified the setup, fixed bugs, and polished the main user flows.
Site Kit allows WordPress users to access data from Google products right from their site’s dashboard. The plugin aggregates data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, and AdSense.
With Site Kit there’s no additional code editing required, which makes it easy to set up products like Google Analytics for those without any developer experience.
Anyone can install Site Kit, but Google emphasizes that it’s especially useful for professionals who work on sites for clients. The reasons why include:
Clients and other teams can easily access data from Google products by logging into the WordPress dashboard.
Clients will see performance states and improvement recommendations directly from Google
Site Kit allows you to set roles and permissions and make sure only relevant people can see the data.
To get the most out of Site Kit, Google recommends reviewing the main dashboard on at least a weekly basis. You can also check the stats of individual pages by navigating to the page and clicking on Site Kit in the admin bar.
With this data, Google recommends comparing the top performing pages and seeing how people found them. This can help you discover trends, such as which topics get the most engagement on Twitter, which get the most engagement on Facebook, and so on.
To get started with Site Kit, simply install it from your WordPress dashboard.