The show was packed with a lot of updates, including the following: Yoast’s IndexNow protocol, Google adding learning video rich results, Google’s update on its title algorithm for multi-language or transliterated/scripted titles, Ahrefs new search engine, and much more!

 

 

Noteworthy links from this episode:


 

Transcription of Episode 433

 

Ross: Hello, and welcome to SEO 101 on WMR. FM episode number 433. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my co-host is my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. 

Are you having a good week? 

Scott: I’m having a great week. Some weeks are more productive than others. This is just one of those productive ones where you go to bed and sleep well not worrying about all the stuff you forgot. Sort of. Not exactly but you know, better than some. 

Ross: Must be good. I’m always worrying about stuff I’m forgetting. There’s too many things I need to do. But I know you’re being run off your feet. You’re doing a great job. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Scott: I do the best I can. Then the stuff I forget, I just hope you don’t find out.

 

Yoast Adopting IndexNow Protocol 

Ross: Yeah, exactly. On that note, let’s jump into some SEO news. Not sure if it’s non-SEO news, anyway, why don’t you take it away? 

Scott: Yeah, I put it as non-SEO because it’s about Yoast. Then it is a bit more SEO, but I guess the listeners can be the judge. I guess what’s happening now is Yoast will be adopting the IndexNow protocol. What’s that you ask? Well, we’ve talked about it a few times, but not in great detail. In its simplest form, IndexNow is a simple ping so that search engines know that a URL, and its content has been added, updated or deleted, allowing search engines to quickly reflect this change in the search results. So it’s just a really simple, fast way to tell search engines that something’s different. 

Currently, Bing is heavily involved. Bing has made a WordPress plugin for IndexNow, and a few other search engines, like Yandex, and there’s stuff going on there too, and whatever. But it is being more widely adapted or probably will. 

Originally, Yoast said they will not be doing it, there’s no need for it. He saw no value in it, figuring that XML sitemap solved the problem for URL discovery, which may be largely true. Yeah, it essentially is true. But maybe IndexNow just does it better, I guess, we’ll really have to wait and see for sure. To start off, it will only be implemented into the premium version, the paid version of the Yoast WordPress plugin. Although he does note that, depending on how things go, it may be made available in the free versions as well. He had noted that two of the main reasons that they’ve decided to implement IndexNow with the plugin is that they had heard that some other search engines and systems were implementing it. So I don’t know what search engines those are. But perhaps there’s a bit of Google happening in there somewhere, I don’t know. Also, it’s been changed how it works. Now, they only have to ping one endpoint. That doesn’t really matter to me or any users but I guess the fundamentals of the technology is just simpler now, so it’s more attractive to people like Yoast to develop integration into their plugins. 

Ross: Testing IndexNow, but it’s not rolled out, as far as I can tell. Bing and Yandex are using it, and Duck Duck go. Some game changers there… I shouldn’t joke, Duck Duck Go is doing a good job. They’re slowly taking market share, maybe snail pace, but I mean, it’s pretty hard to take anything from Google. 

Scott: You know, I should be honest, I think the only time I use DuckDuckGo is when we’re recording this podcast and I have to look at something while we’re recording. I think that’s the only time I ever use it. But maybe that’ll change someday.

Ross: Bing is pretty borderline in terms of “we should look at it and probably pay attention to it” and they’re what? 14%? What are they? 

Scott: I don’t even think it’s that high anymore. I haven’t checked it in a long time. Last time I checked, they were under 10% but that was a while ago now. 

Ross: Bing has 2.47% of the worldwide. Wow, Google has 92% worldwide.

Scott: I knew it was somewhere around 90, but that’s higher than I thought.

Ross: That’s insanity. 

Scott: Maybe we should check that more often. 

Ross: You know you got a good business plan…holy cow. Anyway, I didn’t know it was that high. I thought it was in the 80 percentile. I know in some countries it’s 90. I didn’t realize it was worldwide. Obviously, Russia – no. In China, I don’t think so. I think Baidu is the king there. 

Scott: It’s still gotta be, I would think, but again, we have to check. 

Ross: Things are always moving.

 

Google May 2022 Core Update Not Done Yet…

Ross: Alright. The Google May 2022 Core update, shockingly, is not done yet. Not that shocking, actually, it never seems to happen as quickly as they make it out to be. It always seems to hit hard and somewhat fast, but not on the tail end. So far, even Danny Sullivan said, it’s still underway, don’t panic, it’s still happening. On the panic note, we’ll say it again, and always say it, do not get worried about any changes. When these are rolling out, it’s like you’re on a wavy sea. You’re going to be up and down and all over the place. Until it calms out, you’re not going to know where you’re settling. So don’t worry about it. Hopefully, you’re not settling at the bottom of the sea. To take that metaphor further away. I don’t know how you’d say ‘higher.’ But anyway, that’s where that metaphor starts to fall apart. 

Scott: I thought it was rock solid myself.

Ross: Me too. In any case, just hang tight. Nothing else to really say about that. There are some more information about Google’s core updates so we’ll add to our show notes, from the Search Engine Roundtable article, good ol’ Barry again. We’re hoping that things solidify for everyone in a good way. I mean, we know that local has been quite the ride for many of our clients. That’s not unheard of, though, especially in local because Google’s always messing with that algorithm, because it needs so much work. Some of them are already stabilizing in a more positive positions or where they were before. We’ll see how that pans out, and respond to it as necessary.

 

Google adds learning video rich results

Ross: Another piece is that Google is adding Learning Video rich results. So what does this mean? It’s the way the title sort of sounds odd. It’s a schema that you can add to video, it’s a markup, whatever you want to call it. That is specifically for searches related to academic learning content. I’ll quote them here “Learning video markup  is intended to give more visibility into the educational contents of the video. The markup can hold information about the various concepts and skills taught in the video.” In addition to learning video markup, you must add the video object tag which is required and recommended in the properties. I don’t know anything about that yet. But we have a link there for anyone who wants to learn more about that, we don’t currently have… do we? Do we currently have any learning-related clients right now? 

Scott: No, at the moment, I don’t think we do. If we do, I hope they’re not listening right now because that’s embarrassing. I’m actually looking at my client list right now, to make sure I haven’t screwed up and no, we do not have any educational clients at this point in time. 

Ross: Yeah, we had in the past so I need to be sure. 

A few other few other notes about this… I mean, I can’t show it to you on the show here, but they have an example of this in Search Engine Land of what it’s gonna look like in search results. There’s no proof in the wild that this is happening yet but they showed an example and it does look pretty slick. It’ll allow you to jump right to the component of the video to learn what you need to learn, which is part of what Google already does. But in this case, it allows you to provide that information yourself and set it up yourself, which is always preferable because then you can control things slightly. I’m sure they only take it as a suggestion though, and will probably remove any kind of branding you put in there just for fun. Anyway, a few more tips here: 

  • Video must be publicly available to watch without a subscription.
  • It must be a minimum of 30 seconds long. That’s the total video duration.
  • The markup must be added to a page where users can actually watch the video. It’s a bad user experience to point users to a page where they can’t watch the video. (I love that they have to say this.)

Scott: It seems so logical, right?

Ross: But you know buggers out there who are going to do that right? And be like “Oh sorry, you have to click this to do this” or “Tweet here before you can access it” or whatever 

Scott: or “Scroll down to the bottom of our page and find where we said click here and click that.” 

Ross: You’ll have interstitials popping up as you’re going. 

Scott: I would’ve seen everything. 

Ross: Anyway, there’s more technical details that can be done and there’s a link to that as well. Search Engine Land is the source of this article and we’ll have it in our show notes as well. 

I wanted to leave you with this one. This is a beauty, tell us.

 

Ahrefs reveals its new search engine: Yep

Scott: Yep, I will talk about Yep. So have you heard about Yep yet? Ahrefs has revealed its new search engine –Yep. Did you figure it was gonna be called that? Yep.com, spelt as it sounds, I guess they first announced this back in 2019 and I completely missed that or forgot or something because I don’t remember that. 

Ross: It was like passing a small town. 

Scott: They have a huge focus on privacy so there’s no collection of personal information, no search history will ever be stored anywhere. Let’s see if that changes. They say that now but if it works, maybe they’ll change. The only personal (it’s kind of a loose word) data that they will use are the keywords you search for, obviously, your language preference, and they pull that from your browser settings, and your approximate geographical area based on IP, so your region or city. I think you kind of need that stuff these days, or your search results aren’t going to be very good. One thing they’re doing that will be different is 90% of advertising profits will be returned to content publishers. So, think in terms of when you see Wikipedia and a Google search and the knowledge graph or something like that. When you see that kind of search result in Yep, that advertiser will get a percentage of revenue generated from that search. So that’s pretty cool if it works. They used one example and I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but it’s about Wikipedia. If Wikipedia actually got the advertising revenue percentage. If they actually are receiving that revenue, Wikipedia could stand to see like $6 billion a year come back to them from Google, just looking at percentages as a comparison. So potentially, there’s a lot of money there that could go back to their content publisher. So if that works, that could be potentially huge. 

Ross: Sounds like a nightmare to me. 

Scott: I don’t know how they’re gonna manage that. You probably have to register as a content provider. I don’t know the ins and outs of making that happen. 

Ross: It’s better to have it like you take it or leave it kind of thing. Because otherwise people will complain and argue. 

Scott: It could be a complete nightmare. But I think the trick here is they need a gimmick, they need something to set themselves apart from Google if they want a chance at beating Google and I think that’s what they want to do. 

I read that their end goal is to attract a larger company, for example, Microsoft to essentially buy them out and incorporate them as part of their platform. Now I feel like that’s a bad idea because has Bing ever acquired something for search and made it better? I don’t know. Bing used to have a pretty huge percentage of market share, and now they’re down to 3% or something? Ahrefs could make some money though, I guess. If you currently see in your log files that ‘AhrefsBot,’ soon that will be replaced by ‘YepBot.’ I just like saying ‘YepBot,’ you know, that sounds fun. Ahrefs is currently actually the second most active crawler on the web with 8 billion pages crawled every 24 hours. That’s kind of cool. Second only to Google. I had no idea their bot was that active. We just talked a little bit about IndexNow and yes, Yep does have plans to participate in IndexNow. I’m not gonna say it anymore. I’m just gonna say ‘this new Ahrefs website,’ that’s what I’m going to call it. They will be participating in IndexNow as well, if you cared. I didn’t know that and then I found out last minute and thought that kind of ties in nicely so there you go, give Yep.com a try and then you can forget about it, I guess. I don’t know we’ll see what happens. I looked at it a couple times and did some searches and I feel like… the results are questionable in some cases, but also it doesn’t excite me. I don’t know what they should do to the GUI to make it exciting and make me want to use it, I really don’t know but what they’ve done doesn’t do it for me. 

Ross: Can you imagine how many patents they have to be careful not to mess with? 

Scott: Even just the way they lay out the search results. It’s like Google, you know with the title link and they’ve got site links, so it just looks the same. I get why it looks the same. It’s like a proven format, but I don’t know, do something a little bit different. Mix it up. I don’t know what. 

Ross: Yep. 

Scott: Was it the Muppet Show and there was like”Yep. Yep. Yep” What was that? Anyway.. 

Ross: It’s not gonna be overused at all. I’m sure. Just out of curiosity, I got some more Bing statistics, because why not? Apparently, Bing gets more than 1 billion visits each month. It’s the second largest search engine worldwide with 2.47%. market share. This is from backlinko.com. Microsoft still generated eight and a half billion dollars in search advertising revenue from Bing. That’s nuts.

Scott: That’s a lot of money for 2% or whatever it is. 

Ross: It’s just staggering. I just can’t believe it. It’s available in 105 languages and 238 countries. This part I don’t quite understand. I think there’s more to unpack here. But it says it has a market share of 38.46% among US console users. I think that must be cars and stuff maybe? 

Scott: What about Xbox? Can you search on your Xbox? 

Ross: Maybe, yeah. Yeah, I guess that would be a console. So it’d be XBox, that makes sense. Why is it only 38.46%? That’s not a good indicator at all. 

Scott: Can you put Chrome on an Xbox with Google search? I don’t have an Xbox. I don’t know. 

Ross: Apparently it’s grown though, since 2019. So in the desktop, search engine market Bing has a global market share of 6.15%. Biggest share of the desktop search market has grown 26.8% since 2019, increasing from 4.85%. So they’re growing and they’re not hurting financially. 

Scott: You know, they’re doing all right for just a young startup. So I mean, wait, Bing, right? Oh, sorry. I kind of forgot they’ve been around since like 1970. 

Ross: I’ll never forget when I went to their big launch in Seattle. God knows how many years ago. Were you there with me in that? 

Scott: I was there. That’s the one I went with you to. 

Ross: And we went and did that search on the Bing…, it was to test Bing. What did we put in there? 

Scott: It was kind of in line with the miserable failure searches when Bush would show up. It was kind of like that. Only Bing showed up, like ‘worst search engine’ or something like that. 

Ross: Yeah, it’s something like that. Then the Bing engineer there went pale. Dang it. I’m gonna have to remember that.  It was a priceless moment. I must never forget his face. He was not impressed. And I noticed that changed the next day. 

Let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we have some interesting stuff. Actually quite a bit more stuff to share so we’ll be right back 

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. Alright, so we’ve discussed it – Yep and we’ve gotten into some Bing.

 

Google updates its title algorithm for multi-language or transliterated/scripted titles

Ross: Now we’re talking about Google’s title algorithm. This is really kind of boring but it is notable.  If you have a title tag on your page, and it doesn’t accurately match the language of the page, Google will change the title to match it. I think that’s the gist of it, right? 

Scott: That’s the gist of it. Yeah. 

Ross: I’ll read what you wrote here: for titles that are not written in the language or script predominantly featured on a page, Google will attempt to change the title to match the language used, a much nicer way of putting it. We all know, if you’ve been listening to the show and have been an SEO for a while, you know that Google just takes everything as a suggestion, even our rights, so they just go and they will change the title. If they think it doesn’t look great, they’ll change the description. If it doesn’t look great, all this stuff within search results. So they call it the title link. They love making these names.

 

Common questions and answers about SEO certification from Google

Ross: Next up, and this gave me a kick. Shari Thurow wrote something on Search Engine Land, the Common Questions and Answers about SEO certification from Google. Now remember, we talked about this a while ago and got a chuckle when we heard that Google is going to do SEO certification. The ending of this surprised me a bit though. First of all, I love that when SEOs looked into this a little further, I admit, I didn’t even bother. But when they did, they noticed that one of Google’s instructors was teaching nonsense about keyword density. That is so dated. It’s shocking. I mean, even then I was scoring for it, but I talked about keyword density back in 1997-2000 and still used it frankly, then it worked great for us. The point of matter is, it’s ancient, ancient history. There’s no way anyone should be mentioning that. That’s just an indicator of the quality of that course, be very careful to put too much weight on it or whatever. The certification, if you get it or anyone gets it, it’s not the same as experience. Just like a person who just gets out of school with a degree, does not mean they’re going to be good at their job when they start. Absolutely not. It’s experience that’s more than half the game. The ending that surprised me is that Shari actually said she would take it, she would actually do the course, she plans on doing it. Yes for the credibility. I kind of shudder at the thought, but I guess it makes sense. People will be looking for it. They want to see people who are Google qualified, and I guess those that don’t know better will start using it as a qualifier when they’re choosing a company. Dammit. Anyway, she also wants to do it to evaluate the course. But I think that all in all, I guess, Scott, you and I will give it a shot. This kind of makes me cringe. 

Scott: I gotta say, I am curious if there’s anything in that course to learn that would help us. Anything that we don’t already know. As soon as you mentioned keyword density, I’m like, “Oh, well, why would I even give it a time of day.” Are we going to learn about meta keywords, and you know, what else we’re gonna learn about? But like she says, if it adds a bit of credibility, you can say you did it. If people care about that, if potential clients care about it, then you land the business. It’s not like you have to do SEO the exact way you learn in the course. Or maybe you learn something. I do miss keyword density. Remember, you just run the site through a…I still have it somewhere. Like I’ve got it zipped in a backup drive or something. It was awesome. I think it was 7% keyword density and you’re golden. That was it. 

Ross: 6.5 at one point. 

Scott: You hit that percentage, you’re number one. 

Ross: For those that don’t know what the hell we’re talking about, it was the concept of how many times should the keyword that you want to be ranked for show up on a page in comparison to the rest of the text on the page. It’s really just a fancy way of saying “I want to make sure that this keyword appears a few times on the page.” At the time, it was great for teaching. I loved it for training you guys. It was awesome. Just make sure everything’s at this percentage and I could move on. 

Scott: And it worked. 

Ross: It worked fantastic. We had great results. I remember going to this place, Web Mama was talking. I asked her about it at one point and she just tore me a new hole in the middle of this conference thing. I was like, “Excuse me.” Not a very nice lady. Anyway, the scorn was horrendous. 

Scott: You gave away a trade secret. 

Ross: That’s probably what it was. I know people didn’t like it and so be it. Again, it was a phenomenal training aid. And things changed so we moved on to other things, but at the time it worked. Anyway, the fact that you can see it now is kind of scary, to put it mildly.

 

Google: You Can Restrict XML Sitemaps Access To Search Engines 

Ross: Alright. The Mueller files. Actually, I did read these but why don’t you take it away. 

Scott: Yeah. So we’ve got just a few. They’re all pretty small little nuggets, nothing too advanced. Well, nothing even a little bit advanced really. Well, the first one could be, potentially. John Mueller was asked on Twitter by Christoph Cemper and I feel like I need to know his name and who he is, and why do I not know who he is? 

Ross: Oh, you don’t? LinkResearchTools. 

Scott: Thank you. I read his name and I’m like, “I totally know that name.” I couldn’t place it and it was driving me bananas. Anyway, he asked about XML sitemaps being blocked to humans. What was his exact quote? I don’t have it. That’s too bad. Anyway, he asked John if XML sitemaps can be blocked to humans and if that was okay. 

Ross: Why would people be doing it, I guess, was kind of the concept of the question. 

Scott: I don’t even think he said ‘why.’ But anyway, he asked if you could, and John’s response was, “That’s fine. The sitemaps are for search engines and some sites prefer to restrict their access accordingly.” That was it. It was really straightforward and simple, that you can block your XML sitemap to humans if you want to. I thought, “Well, why would you do that?” Even when we do competitor analysis, we don’t always look at the XML sitemap, I guess we do sometimes. But I guess it’s more to try to block your competition from seeing what you’re up to. So if you’re at that level, and you’re deciding, “I want to just block as much as I can from the competition.” You can feel free to block the XML sitemap. To be clear, though, that is not the same as blocking an HTML Sitemap if you block that from humans and not Google, you know, I don’t think anything’s gonna happen, let’s be fair. But that would be a form of spam essentially. Honestly, I don’t know how you even block an XML sitemap, but I was looking to try to find the How To so I could talk about that and the one place I found said, “First, you have to get a WordPress website and then get this plugin and that plug in” That’s like, totally useless. So if you have WordPress, you can find a plugin to do it. If you have Shopify, you can probably find a plugin to do it or a module. 

Ross: I’m sure there’s code to do it for just about anything. 

Scott: Yeah, I’m sure there are lots of ways to do it. But if it’s something you really want to do, I’m sure you probably already know how to do it. 

Ross: In this case, Christoph was saying, in some of their research, they discovered an XML sitemap protected by Cloudflare. We use Cloudflare in some of our clients, too. He’s wondering if Google bot would type in the CAPTCHA that appeared for people to try to access it, or just retry later or just ignore it. In this case, I guess it’s just protected against scrapers. Alright. These Sitemaps are for search engines, and some sites prefer to restrict their access accordingly. He didn’t really mention this but I guess John Mueller is assuming that Cloudflare CAPTCHA is not going to appear if Google goes there. Which, you know, technically, it’s cloaking, but it’s not in this case. He gives it a full on go ahead. 

Scott: There you go. Block if you feel the need.

Ross: These next ones are a riot.

 

Google: Don’t Put Your Company Name In Blank Image Alt Text  

Scott: Yeah, this was posted at Search Engine roundtable. Jared Caraway asked John via Twitter. It’s always via Twitter, isn’t it? I guess that’s the easiest access to John. My client wants to fill in an empty image alt text with their brand name as a default value. I know this won’t benefit them but could it actually hurt them? I’ll get to John’s response first. John says, “It makes no sense. It seems like a waste of time to me. Once wasted time to implement, and again, wasted time to clean it up later.” So yeah, essentially, all images should have text entered into the alt attribute but a blank alt attribute is definitely gonna be better than an irrelevant one. 

Ross: What this sounds to me, it sounds like a client who felt that they knew everything. This guy’s in this awkward position where he’s like, don’t do it and the guy wasn’t listening so he’s just “Fine. I’m gonna get John to reply.” 

Scott: That’s probably exactly what it was, because we occasionally get that from clients. 

Ross: It doesn’t happen anymore, thankfully. 

Scott: No, it actually hasn’t in a while. It’s not always that they’re cocky about it. They just think that this is the way things go. Then they question something that we suggest because, you know, keyword density mattered 22 years ago, and now they think it still does. It could be something like that. 

Ross: It’s because they’re Google certified. 

Scott: That answers it right there. That really does sum it all up, doesn’t it? So yeah, just keep it relevant people, and you’re good. I don’t know what else to say about that. Do you have anything else to say about that?

Ross: No. The next one is something that’s been established for years. Many of us, we don’t do it anymore, we got our own dedicated, but many people get hosting packages where they’re on a server where their website is located on the same server that’s shared with many other websites that are also running on the same server. They technically use the same IP address. This is like living in an apartment building. Everyone is at the same physical address, they just happen to have unit numbers. Well, same idea. Someone was asking, “Does this matter for Google search? Should I have my own dedicated IP? Will I get in any trouble?” John said “No. Many sites share IP addresses, we don’t care, essentially.”  I remember back in the day, just to eliminate any problems, we said, “Get your own dedicated IP address.” This was when we’re talking to big companies that were having issues or whatever it was that was going on. That was the sound policy then. Nowadays, the web has grown so much, that thankfully, that’s not an issue anymore. Even if someone was spamming the crap on everything on that server under that same IP address, it wouldn’t be applied to everyone underneath it. Unless, I guess, 90% of the websites on that IP address were doing it and 10% weren’t, then I wouldn’t want to be that 10% 

Scott: Definitely. Yeah, we used to have that whole bad neighborhood component whenever we do website audits. I mean, it’s been a long time since we’ve looked at that stuff. I think there was some consensus that you know, those bad neighborhoods were a problem. But this goes back a long time. I mean, I haven’t seen anyone talk about shared IPs as an SEO problem. And I don’t even know a decade or more like a long time. 

Ross: The only time bad neighborhoods would perhaps still appear in that rare instance, like as mentioned, but I would say that’s even unlikely, but it would appear if you’re talking about your link profile. You know, if you’re getting a ton of links from “neighborhoods” for websites that are in bad areas that have bad reputations, and a lot of them, and they’re overwhelming the number of good ones you have, then that’s not a good thing. So that’s the one area that I would still consider, right off the top of my head, anyway. There may be some others. That seems like a pretty obvious issue that still exists. 

Ross: Alright. Well, that’s a good show. I think we covered a lot there. So on behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing, and my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte, thanks for joining us today. If you have any questions you’d like to share with us, please feel free to post them on our Facebook group, easily found by searching SEO 101 podcast on Facebook. Have a great week and remember to tune in to future episodes, which air twice a month on WMR.FM 

Scott: Great. Thanks everybody for listening.