Summary of SEO 101 Episode 363

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John and Ross dig into the latest news on Google’s efforts to force service area businesses (SABs) into specific region names. They also discuss why mobile versions of sites may show in desktop search, more news on Google’s efforts against domain leasing for SEO benefits, and much more.


Important Links from SEO 101 Episode 363

Google: Some M-Dot Sites In Google Desktop Search May Be Unstable – Search Engine Roundtable

“From our point of view with an MDOT site with mobile first indexing it’s more likely that you would see the MDOT version in the desktop search results.” – John Mueller

Majestic Goes Deeper Into Link Analysis – Search Engine Roundtable

Link analysis tool Majestic announced a product upgrade that shows users more context around the links that the tool analyzes. Users will also see the link density within a small section of the web page where the link is found.

“They really dug a little bit deeper into relevancy of the links.” – John

“If you dig deeply into this stuff, this is nerd gold.” – Ross

Google Begins Penalizing Domain Leasing – Search Engine Roundtable

In a previous episode, the hosts discussed this topic about websites hosting third party content and how Google knew about this practice.

While domain leasing is not considered a violation of Google’s guidelines, Googler John Mueller said they were considering ways to handle such content.

Now Google apparently started taking action against the sections of those sites that have leased out their subdomains and subfolders to other companies.

“It’s not really a penalty… It’s basically they’re just devaluing the content in these spaces.” – John

Local SEO News Segment (Weekly)

Google My Business Dropping Distance-Based Service Areas – Search Engine Roundtable

Google said the remaining distance-based service area businesses (SABs) will be removed and automatically converted to the closest named areas.

Ben Fisher: “So, Google started down this path in November of last year. The idea is to remove the radius and use service areas. This is geared toward making SAB’s as important as a storefront. They have given listing owners an ample amount of time to make the change and now this update will force a change to your nearest service area. As of today… this will NOT help you rank better. Down the road, I think the intent is to help users find you better (ranking) in places you serve.”

Google Local Tests Continue With New CTA And Related Searches –

In his latest blog post, local search expert Mike Blumenthal shared the results of Google’s recent local search test.

These include Google showing “All search results” then the “Top rated” results, followed by suggested alternative topics. There’s also a new, larger “View More” call-to-action in the 3 Pack (or the 4 Pack).

The Mueller Files

A photo of Google's John MuellerOur weekly section of commentary from Google’s John Mueller.

Google On How It Picks The URL It Shows In Search – Search Engine Roundtable

In one of his #AskGoogleWebmasters videos on YouTube, John Mueller explained how Google picks the canonical URL to searchers.

Here are the site preference signals as per Mueller:

  • Link rel canonical annotation
  • Redirects
  • Internal linking
  • URL in the sitemap file
  • “Nicer”-looking URLs

Questions from SEO 101 Listeners

Ross and John also welcome some SEO-related concerns from listeners. Please listen to the show to find out their detailed answers to these questions.

1.) “Those of you with restaurant clients, beware: ‘Yelp is Screwing Over Restaurants By Quietly Replacing Their Phone Numbers.’ The phone numbers add tracking before connecting to a restaurant so that Grubhub can bill for a marketing fee.” – Brenda M

2.) “I have recently been told that businesses can not ask for Google Reviews.. is this correct? I cannot see why you would not be allowed to ask patients or customers for a review when leaving your place of business?” – Dale O.

A: “Depends on your business. There are specific requirements within different businesses… If you do have a patient, there are rules and regulations within your industry and in some cases where it’s completely unethical to ask for a review.” – Ross

3.) “If I asked you to ‘Take A Survey On-Line’ after my service is complete and receive 22.5% off on your next order, could I not ask you to leave a review after you take the survey? This review request would be sent only to the people who left 5-star reviews in the survey. Would this be a violation of the Google T&C’s?” – Steven K.D.

A: “If you are sending requests only to people who left 5-star reviews, that is against Google’s terms and conditions for any service, for any business.” – Ross

End of Show Notes

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