Ross and Scott talked about recent updates in Google Search Console, Google Maps & Product reviews, Bing’s PubHub, and crawling issues in Shopify. They also gave a lot of valuable tips, including the list of online assets that you must have access to as business owners.

Noteworthy links from this episode:


Transcription of Episode 425

Ross: Hello, and welcome to SEO 101 on WMR.FM episode number 425. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my co-host is my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. 
How’s it going, bud? 
Scott: It’s going well, I’m in a bit of a fog from my COVID Booster yesterday. So hopefully I don’t say anything too stupid today, but it wouldn’t be the first time I guess.
Ross: Yes, I have been in the fog for the last few days too, apparently it can take a while for it to kick in. For me, it’s been a couple of weeks. I’ve just been a mess in the last couple days. So who knows? We’ll just be entertaining, I guess. More so than usual, maybe.
First of all, if you’re watching the video, when I finally post these, you’ll see in the background here a couple microphones. One is just an old antique and the other one is John Carcutt’s. Something I’ve just put there. It’s an awfully nice microphone to have sitting there. I’m still debating if I might send it over to Scott there. It’s just nice to have something of our good friend in my room here and always with us. It’s cool. It was very nice of his wife to send it over to us. 
Scott: That keeps him part of the show, still. 
Special guest on the next episode

Ross: Exactly. Well, with that said, we have good news. The next episode, we’ll be featuring Martin Splitt from Google. We’re gonna have a great interview with him and ask lots of awesome questions, that’s our goal anyway. We are going to put out a call out for anyone to add any questions they’d like asked, and we’ll check them out and see if they’re a good fit. If they are, we’ll be asking Martin on the episode. Please keep your eye out on the Facebook group (SEO 101 on WMR.FM Group). Just type it in Facebook, you’ll find it there and please join, we’d love to have you on if you’re not there. 
Scott: As much as I want to. I will not be asking him what the next name for Google Business Profile will be. If you’re hoping I would, it’s not going to be there, sorry. 
Ross: Yeah, that’d be me.
Scott: He’ll give us five names. 
Ross: Or “Can you tell us all about the next update?” Yeah, sure, whatever. I hate when people lead with that stuff. 
First of all, a little sort of news. What’s this about revenue? This is really mild stuff but it’s always interesting to hear.
Google Q4 ad revenue: $43.3 billion
Scott: Yeah, it’s really basic. I don’t know how many people listening will care. I don’t really care but I am interested in it at the same time, if that makes sense. Alphabet, Google’s parent company now, their revenue for fiscal year 2021 was up 41%, compared to 2020, An increase of about $75 billion. I see these numbers with their financials and an increase of 41% through the pandemic is just, I don’t know, that’s incredible to me. I bet a lot of those are small businesses that were forced online and they dove into AdWords, because maybe they didn’t have SEO, or they didn’t have time to ramp up their SEO. I’m sure there’s a big part of that. I don’t know all the ins and outs of where the money came from. It just shows that there aren’t all losers during a pandemic. 
Ross: Yeah. Well, I would imagine a big part of it is the ad revenue but in this case, you consider how much the Canadian government gave out in terms of loans for people to do anything from Ad spends to… you name it. I mean, everyone needed it so it wasn’t exactly fun, but it was free money that we all needed, and that went to Google. So yeah, I can see how things have improved for them. Nevermind the fact that.. I mean, look at how much Shopify grew, it exploded. Those are all people going online that are going to do ads because they have no organic rankings yet. They need to get out there quickly. It’s not been a bad thing for Google in that respect, I gather.
Possible Google Update  
Ross: Alright, now into SEO news. Possible Google update. They always love running with these. Tell us what’s up. 
Scott: Well, not much is up, apparently. All the ranking tools, I think it was February 6th or 7th, a lot of them are showing that there was an update at Google but yet nobody’s talking about it and there’s not really any human chatter, it’s just the tools that have noticed it. I think it was Barry Schwartz, or somebody at Search Engine Roundtable, posted about it. Same as what I’m doing right now– asking if anything happened for you. Did your rankings go up? Did they go down? I posted it on Facebook as well, so go in there and answer. Let me know because it’s unusual that the tools all report something but nobody really notices. There’s something going on there but maybe it really didn’t have much of an effect. Maybe it was minor, maybe it only affected spam or something. I don’t know but there’s not a lot of chatter about it for all the forecasts showing stuff had happened. So I don’t know what’s going on there.
Ross: It’s a blip. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into something that’s of significance but for now, it’s just a little notice. It’s always nice to see Search Engine Roundtable posting that. Hey, I almost forgot to mention, Barry announced yesterday, I believe, that he had reached 30,000 posts since he started. That’s nuts. 
Scott: That’s a lot of writing. 
Ross: That’s just a site. I mean, if you include the other stuff, he’s probably in the 40,000 range. What a great guy. He’s been an absolute pi..what the heck is the next word there, see, COVID fog, can’t even get the word out. 
Scott: A pillar! 
Ross: Pillar, thank you. Amazing amount of commitment to this community. It’s just incredible. He’s been doing it for as long as I can remember. He’s been on the show before and is always a great guy to have on. I’m just really, really pleased for him. He must have felt pretty good about that. And he just continues to do the work so it’s not like he’s ending. Whenever he does ultimately retire, if he ever does, it’s gonna be quite the blow. 
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Hopefully, though, he sticks around long enough to shout out to us when we reach 30,000 SEO 101 episodes. We’ll want that shout out when we get there. 
Ross: We’re really almost there. 
Scott: We’re about a century away, but give us some time. 
Ross: We’ll crank it up to one show a day for a while, that’ll catch up quickly.
Scott: Maybe 10 a day. 
Bing’s New PubHub Offers Millions Of New Site Visitors
Ross: Alright, so next up. Bing’s new PubHub offers millions of new site visitors. This is a Search Engine Journal article. What kind of caught my eye here is that it was Bing news. I always like to add a little spice in there, just the Google spice. In this case, I’m quoting from their actual PubHub site, “ Automatically distribute your content to millions of Windows, Outlook and Bing users who get their news through these channels: Cortana, Office & Dynamics, & App.This is your opportunity, if you are a news creator, publisher of any kind, to potentially get added to Bing’s PubHub. They do have some requirements, let me bring that up here. It’s pretty straightforward stuff, nothing that would be unreasonable. Your criteria for qualifying as a news website is it has to have excellent newsworthiness, originality, authority, and readability. If you want to see more about the details on that, just go to Search Engine Journal, look up the PubHub article, and you’ll find a little more about what’s entailed in becoming qualified, because they do include a little more detail there. 
It’s nice to see Bing making some waves. We have clients who do just ads on Bing and see great return, not nearly the amount of clicks and that kind of thing that you would see on a Google ad, but it’s immense, just how much better when these click throughs happen, sometimes it’s better than Google. They’re actually getting better spent. Hard to say what’s gonna happen for everyone, but it’s not something to completely dismiss. The Search Engine Journal article mentioned, “The new PubHub offers an opportunity for publishers who put the effort into creating quality reporting to be rewarded with more readers. This is a win-win-win for Bing because it makes it more useful, for high quality publishers because they will be rewarded for their efforts and lastly it will be a boon for content consumers who will be exposed to more high quality journalism.”  Anyhoo. That’s a lot about Bing but how often do we do that?
Scott: Well, I need to throw in, I’ve been waiting for a segue and I should have said it when you started talking about Bing. The other day my daughter and I were talking and I don’t know how we got to talking about Bing, it came up somehow. She referred to Bing as ‘bad Google’ so Bing has a bit of work to do to capture the teenage girl crowd. They’re not there yet. 
Ross: It’s all DuckDuckGo, right?
Scott: Yeah, that’s all they use in highschool. Probably blocked in their filters as far as I know. Who knows? 
Ross: Although, the way things are going with all these privacy issues, it may have its day.
Scott: Yeah, I think it’ll keep growing for sure. I think it doubled last year. We’ve talked about that on a recent episode, and I think DuckDuckGo’s market share. I think it doubled in 2020.
Ross: It’s 2% now. 
Scott: I mean, that’s small but when you think about in terms of billions and billions of users, it’s.. 
Ross: Yeah, it’s not bad. There could be worse things. It’s certainly obviously keeping it afloat, which is something to be said. 
Scott: Absolutely. 
Google Search Console Performance Data Issues
Ross: You put together this great segment here on some updates from the Google Search Console, so tell us all about that.
Scott: In the past couple weeks, there have been a whole bunch of little things that you may or may not know about. So I’m just gonna touch on these quickly. I don’t think any of them are really urgent, big talking points, but worth mentioning anyway. The first was some performance data issues at Google Search Console. Google experienced a logging issue between February 1 and February 3. During that time, if you take a look at your performance reports, you may see drops in related traffic and all kinds of issues going on in those two days. If that’s the case, as I always say, don’t panic, it’s not an issue with your website, you didn’t lose traffic, you didn’t lose rankings. The only thing affected was reporting within Google Search Console. So there you go, well, I shouldn’t say “don’t panic”, you could have problems unrelated to the logging issue. Things may have gone bad that aren’t related to this, but just know that that’s possible that it’s a logging issue, but investigate a little bit further, just to make sure. Anyway, the issue is fixed now. I think it was fixed on February 3rd or 4th. So if it was a blip for a couple days, that’s all it is, probably all it is related to that. 
Google Search Console Error Reporting
Scott: Google Search Console also has changed some error reporting on how they handle breadcrumbs and structured data. You may see an increase or decrease in reported errors. Again, it’s not anything happening to your website, it’s just the way Google is reporting on these errors, but you may see some new ones that you hadn’t seen before. So fix them. Simple as that. If you see a decrease, great, whatever you did wrong before is no longer wrong somehow. So you’re good there. Again, check in Google Search Console for that.
Expect More Messages in Google Search Console
Scott: More error messages are going to be shown in Google Search Console. This is kind of good. When Search Console rebranded in 2018, is that when they made the switch from Webmaster Tools? I think maybe. I get all the dates wrong, because they changed names for everything.
Ross: I get it, it’s so wrong, and it’s probably like in 2010, it just feels new. 
Scott: In 2018, they made a change, I can’t remember if it was the name change, but the whole… the backend changed as well. And a lot of their legacy stuff didn’t get moved over. Since 2018, you’ve had a section of messages in Google Search Console that appeared in the new messaging center, and certain types of messaging that appeared in the older legacy tools area. If you were checking that, you can stop checking it now. You can still see the link on the left hand side under legacy tools, messages, you’ll see your old messages there. Things like disavowing links and stuff still appeared there. Well, all that stuff is now appearing in the main messages center as well. So you can avoid the legacy tools from now on, everything’s in one spot. It’s cleaner, which is good. There’s still some legacy tools that Google hasn’t moved over, four years later. Hopefully, they will do it eventually. But who knows?
Ross: I’m just thinking what our good friend John would have said, I’m fairly certain he be grumbling pretty hard about this, because dealing with newspapers, as he was doing for marketing, he would have been having a rough time with these updates, anything that messed with Google Search Console, or as he’d like to call Google Webmaster Tools, always drove him up the walls. We don’t see it as such a big deal but people who live by this stuff are probably fretting and furious over these changes, because it’s not exactly been a stable environment, the last year and a half.
Scott: We deal with a lot of small–, medium- sized businesses where the data isn’t that overwhelming, it’s not so bad. If you’ve got a site with millions and millions of visitors, it’s really screwing with your data, millions of times over.
Google Crawling Stalled on Shopify Sites 
Scott: Then I think there was one more here. In early February, so this is actually a little bit dated now but you might notice it again in Search Console, that Google wasn’t spidering and crawling your Shopify website the way it should. John Mueller had noted that any sites that reported to him are fine, you don’t have to worry about it. It was a temporary drop in how Google calculates how much they crawl. It was affecting some Shopify sites, you’d see Googlebot activity go down. Nothing wrong with your website. Again, just another Googlebot issue. You may see some fluctuations in reporting and Search Console related to that but it should not have affected rankings or traffic. 
Ross: Yeah, I saw that yesterday, that it was resolved too. It is fresh, it’s very, very new. Anyone who felt any drops in sales would be good to know. Like they said, it doesn’t seem to have affected much but what’s interesting with it is the bottom line was affected and many people are not, I don’t know. 
Online Assets You Need Access To As The Business Owner
Ross: Alright, so one of the things that we ran into recently, which kind of blew my mind, and you know what, it occurred to me just how common this is. Many businesses don’t realize the access they should always have to their online assets. This is your domain, your email, your website. It doesn’t matter if you’re not the administrator, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t register the domain, you own it, you need to have complete access. We ran into an issue lately where some really smart people we work with, they just took for granted that they were being looked after by their existing hosting provider and fair enough, you know, I can see why that would happen. Then that provider kind of turned on them. They’d had some sort of arrangement, and they weren’t partners or anything, but it was bad enough that he pulled it all. They could have had time to get in there to copy things over, we were going to move it. I asked for the information and they kind of stopped and then didn’t say anything. I was like “Do you have just the cPanel access, or I need this, I need that.” Then they go, “We don’t have that.” I was just shocked, gobsmacked, I couldn’t believe it.
Here’s a shortlist for you, and yes, you’ll have to check these, say every month or two. Put a warning or notice every two months to check to make sure these are still accessible using the logins and passwords you have, that you’re given because they do change sometimes, and you want to make sure you’re on top of that. Anyway, 

  1. Admin site access. This is whatever content platform you have, or whatever it is that you’re using to run your website, it could be WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, whatever. Even if you’re not using that particular login to make updates to your site, because you’re afraid you’re gonna break something, that’s fine, you can use a lesser accessed account to do those changes. You still need a different account with admin site access, that means that you have full ownership and control over the site. If someone like us comes to you and says we need to do some work on your site, this prevents you from having to reach out to the hosting provider or the person managing the site to get that information. In some cases, they’re not even doing anything to your site, they simply have it locked down to make sure you don’t break it and hey, I’ve done that too for clients, it’s a good idea. But they should always have that admin access. You may have a house and your keys to the house and the keys only open a few doors, because other doors are sensitive, fine. But if you own that house, you should have all the keys somewhere for all the other doors.
  1. Top level access to your hosting. Whatever hosting service you have, they’re going to have different capabilities. The larger hosting packages or more sophisticated ones allow you to get almost root access or cPanel access to your hosting environment. That’s perfect. That’s what you want. If you can’t get cPanel, at least get whatever is the highest level of access, that might just be as little as full file transfer protocol (FTP). So ask for the highest level of access to your site with no restrictions. That’s what you need to make sure you have. Again, you don’t need to use it. You just need to check to make sure it works every once in a while. It’s not okay for you to not have this information. Again, even if you’re a Luddite and you’re not used to this stuff. The fact is, you don’t want someone else to have the keys to things you own and you don’t have those keys. It just doesn’t make any sense.
  1. Domain registrar. Wherever you registered your domain, in our case, Is that Namecheap, or whatever domain you have, is that GoDaddy, Namecheap wherever. You have to have access to that and the ability to move that domain. Do whatever you need to do to it. The kind of access where if someone tries to change your access, you need to approve it. You can get on a support call with that company, and make sure that you do have that access. And if you don’t, make sure it happens. Do this while you’re on good terms with whoever runs it.
  1. Access to your email service. You have email, everyone has email. But if you have an email that’s associated with your business, so, so or Make sure that whatever manages that service, you have administrative access to it. Again, highest level access. If you have Google workspace, or Microsoft 365, there’s admin access, make sure you have that login and password. And again, check every once in a while, don’t have to do anything other than check to make sure it works.

I don’t think I’m missing anything, anything you can think of Scott?
Scott: I would just lean back towards a bit of the SEO stuff as well. 

  1. Google Analytics access. How often do we have clients come to us and you know they have analytics, because you can see the code on their website, and you ask for access to that and they go, “Huh what are you talking about? I don’t have the access” or they don’t even know they have Google Analytics, because maybe a webmaster or previous SEO or somebody, a designer, put the code on there and didn’t tell them or listed it as theirs. You want that historic data, because it can really help influence changes you make to the website into the future.
  1. The same goes with Google Search Console, a little less critical, because it’s not hard to get back access to that data. But analytics back data, if you can’t get in there, it’s gone. You’ll never see it. So make sure you’ve got that, which is why with StepForth, when we set up a new account for a client, we always set it up in the client’s name and then grant us access from their admin account. So you know, in the future, should they leave us or whatever, they don’t have to come back to us and go “How did you do this, and that,” they just have it all. We always make sure our clients have all that access at all times, whether or not they keep it, I don’t know. But we make sure we give it to them at some point. Just make sure you have that.
  1. Any ad accounts – Google ads, Facebook ads, Bing, whatever you’re doing, make sure you’ve got all of that stuff. I think most people probably do. Well, I don’t know, because we see a lot of clients who don’t. So some, some people have it all.

Ross: You may not realize this, but it’s possible for your ad company to put you under their umbrella as their own account. I’ve seen this, actually quite recently, where we wanted to take over an account and they said “I’m sorry, that’s under our account, we can’t give it to you.” What?! They should have requested… what do they call it? It’s in Google ads…
Scott: For the client manager access?
Ross: Yes, ClientManager access. This is what this means, you have your own account as the business owner, they request access to manage your account. That way, should things go south, you just cut them off. You still have all the information, all the access, you are the administrator, you can then provide access to a new paid ad management company if you want to. That’s the way it should be. It shouldn’t be under them, and they just send you reports. It’s something you should check. You may think, “No, everything’s good with these companies. I work with all these great companies, they’re fine” and you’re probably right, but it does not hurt to check. You’re not gonna offend anyone. If they did get offended, whatever, maybe they’re hiding something.
Scott: Maybe.
Ross: 8. Facebook, too, it’s a little trickier but these are areas that you should own. They get access to and you should be able to check in on these. Again, log in and double check.
My little rant is something I was shocked to see and I remembered it all came together. Like you know what, I’ve seen this a bunch lately. I kind of thought that everyone knew this. Of course I did because I do this all the time, I just assumed, but it’s not the case. Protect yourself. The analytics is a big, big, big deal. I was so glad you brought that up because I want to reinforce this. Oftentimes, again, people create these analytics accounts under their own business as a marketing company, for the client, and then it can’t be moved. It’s ridiculous. It should be under your account. You can go anywhere you keep that information. It is so important. That is gold for your next marketing company, for your own uses as your company grows. “We’ve now got this big budget where we tripled in size. Let’s see what’s been working before. Oh, we don’t have access to that information, dammit.” But you should, you should have all that history. 
Okay, let’s take a quick break, and when we get back, we’ll talk about local SEO and some Mueller files that’ll be in the show. 
Welcome back to SEO 101 on WMR.FM. Hosted by myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte.
Google opens up about how Maps review moderation 
Ross: Alright, Google is opening up about how Maps review moderation. So tell us.
Scott: They haven’t really changed anything but there was a post over and I’m really boring so Ross is leaving, you can’t see this, if you’re listening to the podcast. They’ve just listed and itemized how they actually handle reviews that get submitted. It’s just good information. If you want to know a bit more, if you want to help figure out how to abide by all the rules and make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, it’s a good quick read. I’ll go over a few of these points really quickly here. One thing that was interesting, though, is they did note how policies and protections evolve over time. When a policy change is required, it turns into both training material for staff and operators, as well as machine learning algorithms. The example they give there is COVID. If suddenly, you have COVID restrictions implemented by your state or provincial legislatures, whatever, and now restaurants have to have vaccine passports, if somebody leaves a bad review, saying, “All the stupid restaurant, they’re requiring a passport for vaccines, blah, blah, blah” and they freak out about that, Google will remove that review because it’s not the restaurant’s decision on doing that. They’re just following local laws. So you know, it’s just not a fair review, so they’re always working to evolve to handle reviews that are like that, and unjust. The same goes for, if you’re a business that maybe you screwed up, and you see this all the time, maybe one of your employees is driving down the road in your company-marked van, and they do something stupid, and suddenly everyone’s shaming them on the internet and everyone rushes over to your Google profile, and you get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bad reviews. It helps them to make that not happen and eliminate those bad reviews, because maybe they’re justified, maybe they’re not. A lot of cases are not, but anyway. What they do is when you submit a review, the first thing that happens is the machine learning kicks in and it looks at: 
Does it contain offensive or off topic content? Does the account have a suspicious history behind it? If you’ve had a lot of other reviews removed, maybe it won’t get approved, has the business seen uncharacteristic activity. So that’s like maybe some weird news attention, that sort of stuff.
If there are no violations, if you leave reviews, you’ll see that they go up, usually within a second or two, they’re almost instant. Sometimes they take even longer, but they’re almost always instant. Once they go through, the system continues to monitor for questionable patterns, for instance. If suddenly the business gets a whole bunch of one star or five star reviews, and maybe yours will come back for review and be removed if needed. Then it just sort of comes down to some manual reviews for flagged content. If somebody flags it, then that’s when humans get involved and they may or may not remove or ban that sort of stuff. Anyway, I said a lot more than I planned on saying but if you go over to the Google blog, you’ll get a really good summary of what’s going on there.
Ross: This is good stuff. This is the kind of question I get a lot of from business owners. Reviews are a big deal. They are the lifeblood of many businesses. When it comes down to questionable patterns, they can get caught with simple mistakes. For example, if they allow people to leave reviews at a practice, their business or whatever it is, using their Wifi. If people are using their Wifi to leave reviews using their phones, if they all come from the same IP address, it can look very suspicious and it’s very likely most of those will be ignored. That’s a negative, right? If you all of a sudden do this powerful campaign to receive reviews. Let’s say you send out a bulletin to all your past clientele or patients, well, it’s not going to look good either. If you get a number of reviews in a short period and there’s absolutely no obvious reason why. Google, for no particular reason that makes sense to me, really makes sense to me anyway, doesn’t like it when you solicit reviews. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. People can say “no.” If they want to leave a review, good or bad, good for them. If you want to remind everyone about it all at once, it should be up to you. But no, I guess it’s due to reasons that we don’t see. There’s probably some clever buggers out there who are doing this in a very malicious manner or whatever and fair enough, I guess. But it’s frustrating again, that business owners get penalized for things that they don’t control and never did. Anyway, reviews are so important and I’m glad you added that, very important stuff.
Scott: One story I’ll add. I don’t know how much this happens at Google. I’m sure it does happen but this is specific to Amazon. Remember, we ordered something, I can’t remember what it was, and the package came with a business card, and it said “Redeemable for a $10 Amazon gift card if you leave us a five star review, and then email us with this address and the link to your review to verify.” I’m sure it must go against all Amazon rules, but nobody seems to care. You know, you look at Amazon and it’s just riddled with fake reviews. You can tell, you just know when you find them. Maybe less so at Google but stuff like that is still happening. That would trigger a lot of this.
 Ross: I think it’s ridiculous. Yeah, I hate those things. It makes me very suspicious of what I bought, I kind of want to send it back.
Scott: Yeah, it’s true.
 Ross: I mean, I’m pretty good. I’m a bit of an Amazon junkie, or was. I’m off a bit but if you have a little experience, you can pick out the fakes. From misspellings to short, overly excited comments, too. Just garbage.
 Scott: I love it when there’s a whole bunch of reviews and they’re from people who ordered but haven’t received their package yet. Like what are you reviewing for? You see those all the time, “I just ordered this, I can’t wait for it to arrive” –  five stars. Well, but you don’t even know if you’re gonna get it and you’ve given them five stars.
 Ross: Right. Then the ones that are obviously crap, which all say they were given a free product. Of course, there’s going to be some that are really honest people but I think it’s reasonable to assume it’s not going to be very good. I would be fine with that. I would be 100% honest, I don’t care if they give it to me for free.
 Scott: No kidding, right?
 Ross: That’s probably why I wouldn’t get more than one. Unless it was great, I guess.
Google Recommends Original Photos For Product Reviews 
Ross: Let’s jump into Mueller files. Google recommends original photos for product reviews. This is pretty good. Google, really (I read this earlier) feels that you should truly be reviewing a product. That usually means taking your own photos of the process and documenting it. You’re authentic, you’re not simply regurgitating a review from somewhere else. Lipstick on a pig, this does not make sense, right? That’s the stuff that Google doesn’t need any more of online. By adding custom photos, your original photos, that will help, it will show Google that you are in fact more legitimate, and there’s a better chance of you showing in search. This is particularly important when a live reviewer goes and looks at your content and determines whether or not you have authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and expertise. They’re going to be looking at that. That’s part of what they look at. They want to ensure that you really are who you are, and you are earning the right to rank. Use custom photos when you can. Now one thing if you want to know, one thing he said there, which is a bit of a tip off is that, if you alter the photos in some way, unless it’s a human that looks at them, Google won’t necessarily realize that they aren’t original. But I didn’t say that! I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. Well, the fact is, people may want to do that for all their new stuff, original photos, but they couldn’t do that for their old. They can go back and edit a few right, as long as it’s legit.
Scott: I would say, Google is just getting smarter and smarter and smarter and and eventually, I think the algorithms will pick out all those unique photos and original content, and it probably will make a difference down the road. So you’re kind of future-proof if you’re using photos that you’ve taken yourself. Unless everyone else has said, “Hey, those are great photos” and they’ve replicated them on all their review sites, but I guess they could be honored.
Ross: Yeah. As long as you’re the one that gets the credit. That’s the way we do all of our work with our clients. It’s future proof. We want to do everything above the bar, make sure that you’re set to succeed, no matter what algorithm change comes down the pipe. Most cases, unless there’s something completely absurd, which does happen once in a blue moon. In any case, it’s always meeting Google’s guidelines and it’s simple. It’s not that hard to do. I mean, yeah, it’s more work but the results speak for themselves and the longevity of them even more so.
Text to Code Ratio Not a Ranking Factor
Scott: I wasn’t going to include this. I saw it and I thought, “I think we talked about that before. Let’s just check,” and we never have. It’s just one of those little tips that just sort of come out of the woodwork sometimes, let’s just include it. Just like a little quickie Tip of the Day. Somebody in Reddit had asked “How important is code to text ratio?” John’s simple response was “Code to text ratio is not and never has been a factor in SEO.” There you go. Don’t worry about having way too much code for just a little bit of on screen stuff. I will add to that a little bit, though, if you’re really bloated and like really bad, that’s probably slowing down your website, which will affect your rankings.
Ross: Exactly. 
Scott: I don’t see that a lot where it’s just a code issue, unless there’s lots of JavaScript calls and weird stuff going on. I guess it could have an indirect factor, but it’s not a one to one corresponding ranking factor.
Ross: Exactly. If you got that much code on there and there’s very little text. It might be weird. It might prompt a little more of a scan. In other words, it’s not a ranking factor directly. Anyway, that’s a nice little tip to end the show.
Make sure you all tune into the next episode with Martin Splitt. Well, all episodes, of course, but definitely the one with Martin Splitt. It’s gonna be a good time. He’s a great guy and I’m looking forward to interviewing him. We’ve had John Mueller on a couple times but not Martin, so it’d be nice to have some new blood.
Well, on behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. Thank you for joining us today. Remember, we have a show notes newsletter you can sign up for at Don’t miss a single link and refresh your memory of past episodes at any time. Have a great week and remember to tune into future episodes on WMR.FM
Scott: Thanks for listening, everyone.


Mueller Files: