Ross & Scott started the show with news on WordPress vulnerabilities. They then talked about Google’s October 2022 spam update, Google SERP display update, testing of expanded pricing details in Google Product Panel, guidelines for soliciting Google reviews, and so much more.
Bonus: A special offer for business owners for the 25th anniversary of StepForth Web Marketing!
Noteworthy links from this episode:
- October 2022 Spam Update
- Review Google’s SPAM Policies
- Google Data Studio Is Now Looker Studio
- Google SERP Display Update
- Google Webmaster Guidelines now called “Google Search Essentials”
- Google Product Panel In Search Testing Expand Pricing Details
- Google Review Guidelines: Soliciting Positive Reviews is Not Allowed
- Google has added the following line to the Review Guidelines under deceptive content:
- Google: Search Rankings Not Controlled By Evil Outsiders
- Is React hiding your navigation links from Google?
Transcription of Episode 440
Ross: Hello, and welcome to SEO 101 on WMR. FM episode number 440. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my co-host is my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte.
Well, we took a while to put this together today. There have been quite a few things going on. But let’s start with some non-SEO news.
Scott: We’ve got our typical WordPress update. Not a lot to say here but there were 16 vulnerabilities in WordPress. They are recommending that you update to the latest version 6.0.3 to patch those vulnerabilities. WordPress did not comment on the severity of them. But you know, I think 16 is enough that taking some action and patching it is probably a good idea. I would guess a large percentage of you out there listening use WordPress as most of our clients do. Keep that updated, and while you’re at it, next month, WordPress 6.1 is being released. According to Roger Montti, it is jam-packed with performance improvements. So we’ll see what that means. I don’t know the exact details; you can go over to Search Engine Journal and there’s an article by Roger there that goes into the intricacies of what all the little performance updates are. I was going to list some of them and as I read them, I got lost in them because they’re very technical and maybe a little unnecessary to know firsthand, but just know that they’re there, your site should speed up with that update, hopefully, that’s the idea anyway.
Ross: So that’s the core reason for them?
Scott: I think that the main purpose of 6.1 is performance enhancements. Hopefully, that is what they say it’s gonna be.
Ross: That’s great. I have this next piece that made me giggle. I love when Google has a bit of fun. FrightGeist or you put it on there. So you know that.
Scott: I just sort of stumbled on this and I thought it might be kind of fun when your boss isn’t looking and you’re bored and you want to just check some stuff out, or you’re looking for Halloween costume ideas, Google’s frightgeist.withgoogle.com. They have the top costumes for 2022. You can click on a map and see what the top costume is for your state. I think you can get quite specific locally if you’re in the States. Get some good costume ideas, and I will note that the 690th most popular costume idea is a roller coaster. I’m not really sure how that works. How do you dress up as a roller coaster? I don’t know. I feel like I need to accept that challenge this year and try to figure that one out.
Ross: I’m gonna say one thing that’s rather impressive is Number 34 is Beetlejuice. It’s still around. It’s kind of amazing.
Scott: Did you dress up as the character or Michael Keaton?
Ross: Yeah really, you know 31 is alien, 32 is joker, 33 is mermaid, 34 is Beetlejuice. I didn’t see that coming. Not at all.
Scott: That’s three times, don’t say it again, we don’t want him showing up.
Ross: Anyway, it’s good to see all classics are still kicking some butt out there. That’s something fun for you guys to check out.
I also wanted to add, in case you missed it in the last episode, at the very end of the show, I mentioned something pretty special. It’s our 25th anniversary at StepForth, we’re offering a never-before-seen 25% discount on our services for new clients and existing ones that want to try out a new service they haven’t used before, which there’s always more. It doesn’t apply to everything, but it does include some of our biggest stuff and some of our mainstream services from the initial optimization of your site to competitor analysis audits, even our gold standard audit, which is outstanding, done personally by Scott, who does an amazing job, authority building plans and more. Again, we don’t give discounts. This is just a really special, unique thing we’re doing. We’re pretty much taking business until we’re booked up for a while, so please take advantage of it. If you have any issues, especially any ranking issues. There are a lot of updates coming out these days. So if you think you need a little bit of help, reach out. The best way to do that is just to book a free strategy call. You can do it on our homepage stepforth.com on our new website, you’ll talk to me and we’ll figure something out. I’ll make sure you get that discount if it’s at all possible, in most cases it is.
Ross: Let’s get right into SEO news, another update, this one’s another spam update. It’s again really not saying much. It’s targeting spam in general. It “should” be done by the end of October. If you’re not sure if it’s going to impact you or not, check out Google’s spam policies Review Google SPAM Policies. Hopefully, you already know about that, and you’re really just doing everything aboveboard, with nothing to worry about. If you’re not sure, check them out, make changes, and fix issues, and you should be able to ride this out. Anything else you want to add there, Scott?
Scott: I’m disappointed because at the last show we had three updates to talk about, we’ve had two or three and now we only have one. It’s like Google is slacking off here. We need more updates.
Ross: My God, I feel like my head is spinning, so many lately.
Scott: You know what I do miss from the early days of SEO are the names of the updates like what’s October 2022 Spam update? Who’s writing this stuff? Like, come on, get an animal or food or something.
Ross: Halloween it or something.
Scott: Yeah like the Halloween jack o’ lantern update. I don’t know. Come on Google, disappoint me.
Ross: Yeah, the spam update. They should call it
Scott: Or like the can of spam update, I don’t know.
Ross: Or stranger spam.
Scott: That’s a good segue.
Google Data Studio Is Now Looker Studio
Ross: Apparently, years ago, Google bought a company called Looker. Looker is not a private eye agency that does creepy things. It actually is some kind of an analytic system. In their infinite wisdom, they’ve decided to rename Google Data Studio to Looker Studio. I just don’t know, these people lose connection with the real world, I think, either that or they just believe that everyone’s more mature. I’m not, I’m gonna look at that and I get kind of shaky. I don’t want to play at anything called Looker. Anyway, “it is called Looker studio and now supports more than 800 data sources through 600 connectors”, says Louis Gray from Google, and “more than 10 million users across Google clouds business intelligence solutions each month, including Looker and Google Data Studio. Now we’re unifying these two popular tools under the Looker umbrella.”
Scott: There’s a lot to unpack there, but not really.
Ross: There’s a Looker umbrella. Well, it is what it is, we have no choice, we have to use it. I wish John Carcutt was here to talk about this one, I’d love to hear his thoughts on this. I might just pull a Carcutt and forever continue to call it Google Data Studio, like you did with Google Webmaster Tools because I can’t do Looker Studio.
Scott: I still call Search Console, the Google Webmaster Tools from time to time. Like how long has it been called Search Console? I don’t even know how many years it’s been like that now, but you know, you get used to something.
Ross: I did adapt because I do a lot of the sales, I make sure people understand what I’m talking about, and in fairness, I think there has been a lesser adoption of the word Webmaster in for a long time, pretty much, this new generation doesn’t know what it means. Sounds really hokey and aged. But then again, that’s us. Alright, let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’re going to jump into an update on how our Search Results are showing on mobile.
Ross: 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. Tell us a little bit about this SERP display update. So Search Engine Result Page update, in other words, what we see is changing a bit.
Scott: This is kind of fun, and what I like about this one is that I can see it, so it’s in Canada, too, which is so rare. Usually, we talk about these little updates and I don’t know what they look like. I’m just guessing based on what I’ve read, right or looking at screenshots. Google’s basically updated the result pages to now show your business name, and then your URL, and then the typical SERP that you’re used to seeing where you’ve got the title and the description, besides the business name, and the URL to the left of that is your favicon. It actually looks pretty slick on mobile, if you check it out. It is mobile-only, as far as… I haven’t heard of anything like this coming to desktop, but who knows, it probably will eventually. I think it looks clean, it looks good. It is available in English, French, German, and Japanese, other languages and countries and things will be launched in the coming months, so if you don’t see it now, you will soon. To make sure you’ve got the correct business name… Google is pretty good at picking this stuff out, they’ll probably get you up, but if they make it wrong, or you want to be sure, using structured data organization markup or local business markup, or whatever, with your business name in there, will help ensure they use the right one. Also, ensure that you have a favicon on your website. I think most people have done that now, I don’t come across a lot of websites that don’t have them. It’s something I do check when I do audits, it’s kind of a silly little thing, but it can make a difference so I check, and almost always people have a favicon, and every now and then I find a site without one. Now you want one even more. If it’s going to show up right on the search result pages, you definitely want it… What am I looking at?
Ross: I tried to show it here on the video. Of course, it’s all backward. You can see it there, the icon… it’s useless. Anyway, for anyone who sees the video someday, when we finally post them all.
Scott: Planning ahead.
Ross: Yes, indeed. It is there. I think it looks good. I’ve no problem with it. We’ll see, though, I think it is a good reminder to people to put a favicon on and make it unique enough that it’s part of your branding, and it stands out. Which is not easy. I’ve tried doing favicons myself and oh dear, it can look pretty awful pretty quickly. If you’ve only got 16×16 pixels.
Scott: Google wants a favicon that is at least 48 pixels. So I’m assuming they mean 48×48. It should be square, they typically are so that is what they want. I think that’s a requirement for having it appear on the search result page. I think you are right though, I think 16 might just have to show up in your browser or bookmarks or all the other places, I think that might be the minimum size.
Ross: I lost my page here, let’s go back. Okay. So the improvement, I think over things, they have been testing it for a while. So that’s good.
Google Webmaster Guidelines now called “Google Search Essentials”
Ross: Google Webmaster Guidelines, this is the report that they put out, I wouldn’t say it’s annual, but approximately, they update annually.
Scott: I think you’re thinking about something else, this is just their webmaster guidelines page that they have.
Ross: This isn’t the rating guidelines, sorry.
Scott: No, this is at developers.google.com, they’ve got their Google Webmaster Guidelines is now being rebranded as Google Search Essentials. Again, just more rebranding and renaming, I think we can have a segment about Google renaming things on every episode as well. Eliminating the word Webmaster for various reasons. They’ve also reorganized the data into three main categories, which I think is pretty nice, you know, it makes it a little bit easier to find what you’re looking for, technical requirements, spam policies, and key best practices. A little bit of a change and clean up there, not a bad place to go check out when you’re trying to freshen up your skills or learn about SEO, a good page to read and make sure you’re on top of things.
Ross: Awesome, that’s great. You posted this next one too, so why don’t you take this?
Google Product Panel In Search Testing Expand Pricing Details
Scott: All kinds of stuff today. Yes, I haven’t seen it but I’ve seen a couple of examples online where Google is testing product panel changes that include pricing details, if you’re doing a search and you see a product come up, again, I’m not seeing this live because us Canadians get everything last for some reason. Beside the price in the product panel in the Search Results, you’ll see a little… I don’t know what you call it, you know the little up arrow and little down arrow button thing, you click on that and it expands… don’t you love my technical terms? Then you click on up-py down-y button, it will open up a panel that will display additional pricing information with things like taxes and shipping and return information and just more information about the pricing which is… I mean if you’re a user, it’s great because you know right off the top, what your shipping is going to cost. There’s nothing worse than you find a product you want to buy, you go through the cart and you find they want $85 shipping or some stupid thing like that. Just makes a bit more transparency before you keep moving down the pipeline. That’s kind of cool, I feel like it’s a welcome change, it doesn’t really clutter Search Results at all, so why not?
Google Review Guidelines: Soliciting Positive Reviews is Not Allowed
Ross: Some changes, maybe policy changes, Google review guidelines on local review building, essentially, they’re saying that soliciting positive reviews is not allowed. This is nothing new. It’s just them making a bold statement. I guess that the deal is here, they’re just being more explicit about them in their guidelines. I don’t really understand why people would just say, “Hey, just give me a positive review”, I mean, that’s a good way of getting a negative review. I guess what they’re doing is… I do know businesses that “encourage reviews”… not negative or positive, very unbiased, by giving a little bonus for people who do them, and I get it. I mean, there are some industries where it’s absolutely insanely difficult to get a review because people don’t want to do it.
Scott: Legal would be a good one.
Ross: Absolutely one I was thinking about. No one wants to put their name next to that. There’s real estate, lawyers, there’s all that stuff where it doesn’t seem so bad. When it comes to personal injury, and all these things, getting reviews is difficult if it’s even allowed where you are. In any case, I do know people who have incentivized, it’s against my recommendations, but they do it. Google’s just saying that be aware and beware that this is not a good idea. If you’re doing it, you’re gonna get yourself in some trouble.
Scott: I do have to wonder though, like, worst case scenario, you get suspended from Google Search, bad, really bad. And they say “don’t do it and all this”, but I have to wonder how easily you can get caught. Like really, there will be a lot of ways to be sneaky about it if you wanted to just don’t put it on your website. “Here, click here to review us, and we’ll send you a gift card.”
Ross: Well, that’s it. The problem is, there are stupid people who post the incentivizing issue and whatever they’re going to give away. If that happens, they’re gonna get caught, and frankly, that’s kind of a stupid tax.
Scott: I want to ask you, how often have you ordered something from…It’s not Google now or Amazon. Have you ordered something off Amazon and it comes with a little business card that says “please leave us a positive review for 10% off your next purchase through our store” Have you ever gotten one of those?
Ross: Totally. I never do it.
Scott: Totally not allowed to do it. I’m not up to date on Amazon’s terms. I’m pretty sure they disallow that, technically.
Ross: If you do a review, you’re supposed to say it was, you were given a free product or whatever it is, which thankfully, I see a lot of people do, but God knows who doesn’t. There’s probably a lot.
Google: Search Rankings Not Controlled By Evil Outsiders
Ross: This is funny, this is something that was posted on Search Roundtable, it’s something that John Mueller said, in response to bollywood.com. They said,” I’ve been told by someone influential that your boss doesn’t quite follow the “don’t be evil” standard placed by Google founders years ago. I agree with that, but somewhere along the lines in that conversation, which I couldn’t find, by the way, that’s just my Twitter. I don’t use it very much. He must have said something about something that was very far-fetched other than just that, because John Mueller says, “I feel at this point, you’ve veered far from the probable explanations”. And it gives a link to outcomes razor, “in my greater than 15 years at Google, I haven’t run across a site whose ranking is secretly being controlled by outsiders. I couldn’t imagine that being the case.” I think there’s always a very good case that Google’s abandoned the “Don’t be evil”, but when it comes to this, I think there’s more context we can’t see. Anyway, bollywood.com did follow up by saying well, “we’ve definitely been taken advantage of and blah, blah, blah”. Interesting, only that I don’t usually see John respond to stuff like this.
Scott: You know, you do have to wonder, I don’t think big corporations are going to Google and getting priority rankings. I really don’t think that happens. But how would you know? How can we really know that?
Ross: Uh-oh, we’re going the conspiracy route.
Scott: We could go deep down the conspiracy route for sure.
Is React hiding your navigation links from Google?
Scott: Definitely, if you’re using one of those hamburger menus, make sure you’re checking to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. How do you check that? I guess the Inspect Element in Chrome would be a good way to see if those navigational links are being rendered.
Ross: No, I don’t think so. Maybe yes, you do that first, and then look at it after you’ve clicked it.
Scott: Then click it and check again and compare the code.
Ross: Yeah, it’s definitely higher-end stuff, you’d need your programmer to figure it out. If you have some indexing or crawling issues, let’s call it, make sure that you do look into this because it could be the case. Now, if you’ve got WordPress, or any of these really, really established platforms, don’t worry about it. That’s not an issue unless somehow you’ve incorporated these, but it’s really for custom-built websites in NextJS or React, and some of the other ones, but those are the main ones mentioned.
Okay, well, on behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of Stepforth Web Marketing, and my company senior SEO, Scott Van Achte, thank you for joining us today. Remember, we have a show notes newsletter, you can sign up for it at seo101radio.com where you can make sure you don’t miss a single link and refresh your memory of a past show at any time. Have a great week and remember to tune into future episodes, which air twice a month on WMR.fm.
Scott: Great. Thanks for listening everybody.