TopHatRank Blogger SEO SEO Resources for Bloggers and Publishers AMA & Review of Q2 Google Updates: SEO For Bloggers Episode #41

AMA & Review of Q2 Google Updates: SEO For Bloggers Episode #41

Recap, Q&A, + All the Resources

Another quarter reviewed and we didn’t hold back!

Our panelists brought you the most recent Google updates news, breaking down the Helpful Content Update, uncovering insights from recent Google leaks, and exploring strategies for recovering lost traffic. We answered live questions from participants, providing practical tips and easy-to-understand explanations.

The episode equipped attendees with the confidence to navigate 2024 with knowledge-backed strategies for their SEO game!

Use these buttons to jump to sections, and don’t forget the “back to top” button (bottom right) for easy navigation:

Replay the LIVE Webinar

Don't Miss Out On Future Resources!

You don’t want to miss out on future virtual and live events with #TeamTopHat and other industry experts. Sign up for our mailing list to get free resources and updates today!

Q&A With The Panelists

These are each of the questions that were asked during the Q&A portion of the webinar. The answers are provided by the panelists. Have a question about this episode you'd like addressed? Reach out to!

Question 1

If we have a few product reviews on our site that are directly related to our niche and the equipment we use, should we worry about updates that are spam updates or the coming August update?

Answered Live.

Question 2

Is there any hope for thumbnails or Google Discover? Most of my thumbnails are gone, and I’ve gone from a high of 3200 discover clicks a day in April to 0 to 4 clicks per day since May 8th.

Answered Live.

Question 3

In order to get an article on MSN, the posts must be less than a year old. How should we approach publishing on MSN if we shouldn’t update the date? A modified date doesn’t count for MSN.

Answered Live.

Question 4

I feel like Google is the cowboy in a spaghetti western, shooting at my feet and telling me to dance. Where else can a blogger pivot to try and gain some other traffic back that was lost from Google?

Answered Live.

Question 5

To clarify. Should I no-index all of my web stories immediately?

Answered Live.

Question 6

In cleaning up a website, if I remove a recipe/post completely, do you recommend I add a redirect back to the homepage on the blog or something else?

Answered Live.

Question 7

Should the MSN category on my site be indexed or no-indexed? Should the MSN posts be no-indexed as well or is it okay for them to be indexed?

Answered Live.

Question 8

Can you please expand on the link building efforts you touched upon? I would like to hire someone but never know what’s ok to pay for.

Answered Live.

Question 9

If I blanket no-index web stories via yoast can I submit any new web stories I might create on an individual basis?

Answered Live.

Resources & Links

Below are links to all tools, articles, and other resources mentioned in this webinar:

  • Food Blogger Central: Facebook Group for food bloggers 
  • API Reference
  • Google Ranking Signals – “Ever wanted to know EXACTLY what Ranking signals Google uses? Here is a searchable list.”
  • Google Search Central: Google Search spam updates and your site
  • Google Search Central: Google’s guidance on creating helpful, reliable, people-first content
  • LinkedIn: John Mu on thumbnails
  • Search Engine Land: Casey Markee’s article on SEL, which covers non-Google channels to expand to
  • How to add Flipboard buttons with Hubbub Pro
  • The new tool, Save This! 🎉 Save This inserts a highly customizable form in your content that lets your visitors save the current page via email
  • (Twitter): This is a tweet on X saying that EEAT is not now, nor has it ever been, a ranking factorFlipboard / Fediverse
  • LinkedIn: How to Get Started in the Fediverse by Flipboard
  • How to get started!
  • 404 page – plugin
  • A Modern 404 feature if you use the Feast Plugin 


Melissa Rice (00:00):
Everybody, I’m sure you’ve noticed Arsen is not with us today. He had a family emergency, so he won’t be joining us, but we will go on without him. But I just want to welcome everyone to our 41st episode.

Casey Markee (00:17):
Really? Wow. Goodness. Ugh.

Melissa Rice (00:17):
I know. Sheesh.

Casey Markee (00:17):

Melissa Rice (00:21):
I know. Today, we’ll be discussing a few glaring topics including the helpful content update and Google leak, which I’m sure some of you are very familiar with at this point.

With us here as always is Andrew Wilder of NerdPress, and Casey Markee of Media Wyse, and me, your host with the most, Melissa Rice, but worry not, we will be discussing strategies for recovery today among other things. So stick around, and at the end, we’ll be holding time for questions. Using the Q&A section below, please enter any specific questions you’d like to hear answered today because we know you’ve got a lot of them.

Casey Markee (00:56):
Yeah, there you go.

Melissa Rice (00:57):
Okay, so buckle up. We’re going, we’re off.

Casey, what are some key takeaways from the recent Google leaks that can be applied to improve SEO, and did anything in particular surprise you?

Casey Markee (01:10):
Wow, the Google leaks. So I talked about this briefly on Food Bloggers Central. I posted a thread there. It’s definitely worth taking a look at. I’ll go ahead and paste that over for everyone who did not see that initially. It’s going in now.

But I went in and I read through them pretty quickly. The thing that I really, I talked to this in detail with Arsen, we got a podcast coming out on this soon, but the thing to understand is that we don’t know if any of these are ranking factors, if they were ever ranking factors or what. These are just documents that detail API calls that are code used for internal purposes by developers within Google. So when they’re building out Google’s AI on the cloud platform, these are an internal document that they would review as needed.

So these documents are not… I think we really have to go with the caveats. They’re not actual ranking factors and there’s also no way to know how Google weighs these elements in its ranking process, either individually or as an aggregate. So we want to get that out of the way.

That being to say there’s a lot of really interesting things to be said here. Now, I’ve had a lot of bloggers or a lot of people, not bloggers, but a lot of associates go through these. I’m going to go ahead and paste over some links for you. First, I’m going to paste over a full list of the modules so you can take a look at them. I’m also going to paste a link from my colleague, Dixon Jones. He actually put these in a database and made them all searchable, so that’s really cool. I’ll go ahead and find that here.

And then my idea, again, when I was looking at these, some of the things that really stood out were the fact that Google admitted to having what are called twiddlers, and twiddlers are basically what you would call little kind of… I don’t really want to use the term baby post algorithms, which they’re used to adjust post core rankings before they’re presented on the screen to users, which was really interesting. And then of course we had things like clutter score, which was interesting. Clutter score is basically a site-level signal that Google says that they might use to penalize sites with a large number of distracting or annoying resources.

So we’ve known for years that Google has top-heavy algorithms. We know that they’re against intrusive interstitials. We know that they’re very clear that you shouldn’t be running aggressive ads above the fold of a page. So this clutter score was very interesting if maybe that this is a way for them to track that at scale.

And if you haven’t had a chance, they mentioned things like the Sandbox. They mentioned things like Baby Panda, which was really interesting, possibly a simplified version of the Panda update, which looks to be used in the recent helpful content algorithm. They talked about small personal sites, which was interesting. That was a classifier that Google used to, again, classify small and personal sites. The implication is that Google possibly could treat those sites differently, which, again, is not a surprise for many of you on the call who may have been negatively impacted by the recent HCU or other core updates, but that was really interesting for them to actually call that out.

And then finally, there was a section there on demotion algorithms, which was cool. Basically, it says that Google has various demotion algorithms to exclude URLs from specific search results. This could be everything from anchor text mismatches to exact match domains to navigational embeds to product reviews to adult content or whatever, but they have these algorithms working constantly across many of the indexes so that you don’t even see these sites initially when you search.

So it is really interesting. We could certainly talk at length about it. And I did visit with Arsen recently. We do have a podcast that’s coming out, just him and I talking in detail about that, and Melissa will have those details eventually, but it should be very soon.

Melissa Rice (04:59):
Yep. TopHat Chat’s episode one.

Casey Markee (05:01):

Melissa Rice (05:04):
Next question, Casey, will there be a Google update soon to roll back some of these changes from the helpful content update?

Casey Markee (05:11):
Well, that’s really interesting because about three weeks ago… Well, no, it’s actually a little longer than that. It’s about a month ago now. John Mueller posted a tweet where he said that we should expect an update soon, maybe another core update. If we talk about historically, back in 2023, we had an update in June and we had another core update in August. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we had multiple updates over the next six months, but he specifically said about a month and a half ago that there could easily be another core update soon that would hopefully provide some relief, some solace for bloggers specifically affected by these last two updates.

Well, mysteriously that tweet disappeared from X. He deleted it. So who knows exactly what that means? Does that mean that he just is policing his tweets a little bit more on Twitter, which is now X? Does that mean that maybe that update is not coming as soon as we think it is? Who knows? But I do expect, personally, based upon my experience and the fact that we have a couple years of core updates on the books that we can follow, that we probably will have an update probably in July or August would be my guess. I would expect that we’re probably going to have something in July, and so we’ll just have to stay tuned and see what we see.

Melissa Rice (06:27):
Fingers crossed. The sooner, the better.

Andrew, how important are Core Web Vitals and overall website performance from a technical perspective now post-HCU?

Andrew Wilder (06:41):
I mean, we don’t know how important they were before HCU, right? I mean, we know Core Web Vitals are important to Google, important enough that they’ve made it a big thing that they’ve been promoting and pushing on and having Search Console, so we know it’s important. I don’t know if anybody could tell you truly how important.

We were viewing it basically, anecdotally, it seems more like a tiebreaker in a particularly competitive query, but I would say then it’s important for your readers. I’m always going to be leaning back on what’s best for your audience and having a fast site is good for your audience. Having a site where stuff doesn’t move around a lot is good for your audience.

So will it help with rankings? I don’t know. I feel like Core Web Vitals are now table stakes. If so, that’s where we are. It’s like one of the boxes you have to check for SEO, so I guess that’s the simplest way to put it.

Casey Markee (07:36):
Yeah, exactly. I think that we… It’s just like with the recipe schema. We want to fill that out as much as we can because if we don’t, someone else will, and there’s a possibility that there’ll be more competitive than you. So it’s more of a visibility thing than anything. We want to make sure. It’s just like we always fill out page titles and meta descriptions because it’s the very least we can do to ensure that we’re at least optimizing for SEO 101, and I think that this Core Web Vitals thing is just another best practice we always want to push for.

Melissa Rice (08:04):
Casey, what is the June 2024 spam update going to address? Have there been any or has there been any talk about it?

Casey Markee (08:13):
Well, most spam updates do the same thing. They usually involve a update or an iteration of the SpamBrain algorithm with Google. They also go after, maybe, again, the whole point of that SpamBrain update is to go after spam in search results. There was talk and there’s anecdotal evidence right now that it went after some expired domains. So if you had picked up an expired domain and had got that specifically because you were trying to get to the top of Google fast, we’re now finding that there’s some anecdotal evidence shared in groups that all of those sites have been filtered. They’re not ranking at all anymore, so we’re still looking into that.

But you can see everything that Google says about the spam update right here on this page. Here is the spam update help page from Google.

Melissa Rice (09:02):
Make sure you share with everyone on your settings.

Casey Markee (09:05):
Yeah, let’s see if this works. So hopefully that came over.

Melissa Rice (09:12):
Terrific, yes.

Casey Markee (09:14):
Yeah, awesome. So you can take a look at that. And is this going to affect most regular bloggers? Unlikely. It’s always possible, but extremely unlikely. We had hoped… I was excited. I thought that this might’ve been a core update. It wasn’t, unfortunately. It’s just the spam update. So we’re still waiting on that silver bullet, so to speak, to help those bloggers who’ve made consistent efforts over the last several months to recover their sites on a quality standpoint. But an update.

Oh, and related to this, we’re still waiting on the site reputation abuse algorithm that Google has been pushing for many months, that there’s supposedly a site reputation abuse update coming. Google clarified multiple times on X that this is not it, so most likely that is coming within the next month as well.

Melissa Rice (10:03):
Okay. Let’s see. I’m going to go ahead and ask this again to you, Casey. When is a good time to start reoptimizing older posts? Has the dust settled from the helpful content update? This was a really big question amongst people.

Casey Markee (10:21):
I don’t think there’s any wrong time to update content. If you were affected by the helpful content update, you have a classifier against your site. That means it’s going to be very hard for new content to rank, period. You are going to have a lot more success updating existing content to make it a little bit better so that we can get it moving.

And so I would always advise everyone who hasn’t done so to look at your top 15 or 20 dropped posts, just do a simple year-over-year comparison. Find those 20, 15, 20 top dropped posts, look and make sure that they’re as updated and as current as they can be. Make sure that you’ve been grouping your blocks so you can control the placement of ads more specifically. Make sure that you’ve corrected for any spelling or grammar errors. Make sure that you don’t have five photos of the finished dish in a recipe post, which is certainly superfluous and unnecessary. Make sure that you’ve provided the best possible recipe you can for those at hand.

Do whatever you can. Throw some more internal links into the post, reshare that content. Things like resubmitting sitemaps, not really going to do anything, kind of a waste of time to do that. That’s not going to have any effect for you. But your goal, of course, is to refeature the content if you haven’t touched it in a while, especially if it’s dropped noticeably.

Now, one of the issues that we’re seeing when we do a lot of the audits over this past several months is that it’s not necessarily that there was a quality issue with your content; it’s just that the search result changed or there was an intent-based change.

Related to this, Google just announced that they’re doing away with continuous scrolling on the search results. So what does that mean? Well, it means that for a lot of you, Google is going to take up that entire first page with AI overviews, Reddit results, carousels, possibly paid listings, and then maybe there’s going to be some organic results at the bottom. So most everyone is going to go back to a page two probably pretty soon. So it’s going to be very hard to get on that page one as opposed to now where, with scrolling, there is no… Everyone’s page one. “Hey, I have nothing but first page results because it’s all continuous scrolling.” But no, unfortunately, we’re going to get away from that, and so that’s going to be jarring for several bloggers who are on the cusp. Maybe you are at 12, 13, something like that. Probably going to lose some traffic on that.

Andrew Wilder (12:30):
Casey, let me ask you a question on that. Google recently introduced the web tab, it was a month or two ago with Google I/O, where across the top, you’ve got all images, shopping videos, web, and that’s basically like the old-school blue links, which I find so refreshing.

Is Google… Have you heard anything about people using that? Is that gaining momentum and is maybe Google going to see the light and start to show more of that?

Casey Markee (12:56):
I think you’re going to find that most people on this call probably didn’t even realize that that had happened.

Andrew Wilder (13:00):
Yeah, exactly.

Casey Markee (13:01):
So there you go. It’s an acceptance thing. I think that more people should do that, but it’s also not going to decrease the fact that they’re going to remove continuous scrolling from everything, so that’ll be removed as well. So again, you are just going to have that first page of results again and we’ll just have to see what we see there.

Melissa Rice (13:21):
Everyone was so concerned in the registration form. They’re like, “Does Google even know what they’re doing anymore?” You know?

Andrew Wilder (13:26):
That is an actual question.

Casey Markee (13:27):
I noticed that Diane posted a quick question here about updating. “Do you recommend it’s best practice for updating or changing dates on posts?”

Well, you never change dates on posts unless you made noticeable improvements. Just use the last modified date. The days of having to republish content has been over for years, especially considering most people should have a custom homepage. If you don’t have a custom homepage, that’s something I would look into doing because we no longer need to be bringing content to the front of a site artificially. You should just be able to update the post. You should have a last modified date that shows up. Google would like a date on the content. Some people like to show the last modified date. Some people just like to show the published date. Whichever one you show is the one that Google is going to pull on the search results, so you’re going to have to decide which one you’re more comfortable with.

I have no problem recommending both. They’re fine. Google just chooses the one that they feel most relevant, but we really want to make sure that when we’re updating content, we’re making notable changes. If I’m just going to go in and correct a spelling error and I’m going to click update to change the modified date, that’s not what Google wants to see. You’re not going to get rewarded for that. We really need to make noticeable and true improvements on the content if we’re going to update the post.

And again, I would say that in very rare cases, it’s just not needed to republish content, especially for an older post because the disconnect. Imagine you republish a piece of content and you scroll down and all of your comments are from three years ago. It’s just a little strange. It just doesn’t make any sense to me to do things like that. So update the content, call it a day, and move on.

Melissa Rice (14:56):
Well said.

Andrew Wilder (14:56):
You know, along those lines, personally as a user, if a post is old, but you’ve updated it recently, I like seeing the original publication date and the modified date because it gives me context. Now I know, “Okay, this content’s been around for a while, you probably know what you’re talking about. Oh, and you’re keeping it fresh too. Oh, it’s going to be good. It’s not stale.” So for me, I really like that, that context, because as a reader, you’re landing on a page and you’re using these subtle clues above the fold to see, “Should I keep reading or should I click the back button?” And to me, that’s an important one as I’m browsing the web.

I also wanted to add, this morning, I was looking at Google’s creating helpful content guidelines because I was having a conversation with Raptive’s head of SEO about this, about publication date, and Google specifically calls out not changing the date to make it look like it’s fresh content. Where is it? I’m trying to remember. Yeah, their question-

Casey Markee (15:43):
Yeah, we just shared that. I’ve got it right.

Andrew Wilder (15:43):
Yeah, are you changing-

Casey Markee (15:45):
Yeah, I’ve got it. Did we already share that?

Andrew Wilder (15:47):
Yeah, no, but I’ve got the link ready to go here. Their question is, “Are you changing the data pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed?”

Casey Markee (15:56):

Andrew Wilder (15:57):
Don’t try to game the system because that is what you’re doing, and they can see that. Now, if you’re changing the content substantially and you do want to move it to the top for some reason as if it’s a new post, there may be an argument made for that, but like Casey’s saying, that’s less common now. But changing the modified date’s okay if you’re making changes. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s saying, “I’m keeping this content fresh because I’m actually changing it.”

Melissa Rice (16:17):
I like the two dates. It makes me feel like the publisher is concerned with staying informed.

Casey Markee (16:23):

Melissa Rice (16:23):
And as a reader, it’s a priority.

Segueing from that question, Andrew, is it beneficial to focus on updating the older content or is it creating new content that we should be worried about?

Andrew Wilder (16:34):
I feel like there should be a rousing chorus. Say it with me. It depends.

Melissa Rice (16:40):
It depends!

Andrew Wilder (16:43):
I think it depends on your site and how much content you have, how much old content you have, what the quality of your content is, and what traffic changes you’ve seen. If specific posts have dropped, you might want to work on improving those. If you are trying to strengthen an area of content where you, let’s say you’re a barbecue site and you haven’t done a lot of barbecue fish, maybe you want to create new content to round out your whole oeuvre of content. So really, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer for that. It’s going to be site-dependent.

Melissa Rice (17:17):
Okay. Casey, how can bloggers recover lost rankings and why do some well-optimized content never rank? Are there any specific strategies that you can share for us?

Casey Markee (17:29):
Well, I think that we have a cognitive bias in many cases of what you consider personally if our content is really good. Again, all I do is audits. I had an audit today, I had an audit yesterday, and I’ll have two audits tomorrow. And every time we have these audits, bloggers are always surprised that when I show them their content is not as high-quality as they think it is, all we have to do is compare it to what Google is ranking competitively.

Your content is not high-quality if you’re not grouping your blocks and allowing ads to break it up. Your content is not high-quality if you’re including multiple photos of the finished dish for no reason. Your content is not high-quality if you’re not looking at seeing what Google is ranking with regards to the people also ask questions and ask yourself, “Can I emulate those and steal those possibly by writing a better answer and presenting it in my content?”

Those are just many little things that we need to look at overall. We have to look at that dissociatively. You have to step back and ask yourself, “Is my recipe the best it can be?”

We also have to understand that in many cases, the drops we’re seeing from the helpful content update aren’t necessarily because your content is bad. It’s just that the intent has changed. We’ve seen that over and over again. Google has dialed down the intent matches. So if you had a recipe on how to cook white bass, but that recipe was previously ranking for bass recipes, not going to rank any more probably because that’s too general of a keyword phrase. Google’s dialed the intent match down specifically to provide relevance to much larger sites and also to collection pages and roundups.

So that’s just one of many examples where we really have to dial in. You have to look at your top dropped recipes in Google Search Console. Again, year over year is the way to go. Do a 28-day year-over-year comparison. Do not… Again, don’t… We can dumb this down as much as possible. 28-day, year-over-year comparison. Look at the keyword list of that post, look at the top dropped keywords, look at what Google is ranking specifically for that keyword. Now, what is it above you that wasn’t there before? And then we can dial that post in.

But in many cases, we can improve those posts by re-optimizing it around the dropped keywords. We can also build in more internal links by means of those specific focus keywords that have dropped. And we can also look at refeaturing that post externally by finding our friends or a mastermind group members who can link to us with those specific dropped keyword phrases as well.

All that stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum and all of it doesn’t happen to happen individually. That’s why you’re always going to hear, competent site auditors are always going to tell you to take a kitchen sink approach. I’m never going to say, “Okay, you got to do this, and do this over this.” I’m going to say, “You got to do it all,” and that’s the best way for you to make sure that you’ve crossed your Ts, dot your Is, and are giving yourself the best chance to bounce back algorithmically when Google comes back and runs the algorithm against your site so we can get that classifier removed because that’s the only way sites are going to bounce back from this update.

You can make as many improvements as you want for your site and you might get a little bit of improvements, that’s why technical SEO is so important, but you’re never going to get back the traffic you lost until Google reruns the algorithm against your site and removes the suppression classifier that exists.

Melissa Rice (20:36):
I was a little disheartened in some of the questions from people that were saying they’re still templating all their posts and asking if that’s the right thing to do, and I just was like, “Look at your competitors. Look who’s ranking at the top.” We can’t emphasize that enough. I know we have calls all the time, Arsen and I, and we’re constantly telling people, “Look at what’s ranking.” You know?

Casey Markee (20:59):
Yeah. And again, I don’t see… There’s nothing wrong with using a… Maybe you have a personal template that you’ve used to write all your recipes. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if it’s been successful. For example, we’ve plenty of sites, thousands of sites who have had audits so far and they use a similar template and we have to, whenever we grade recipes, that’s why I require bloggers to send recipes to me so I can grade and I’ll say, “Hey,” when I reply back, and I say, “I have no notes. This is perfect. You don’t have to send me any recipes.”

Even if we can do all that stuff correctly and you still might not rank competitively because you are just not big enough, it’s a keyword that you just don’t have the authority or ability to rank for to begin with. Today, I had it on it with an exceptional blogger and we were trying to rank for oven-roasted chicken thighs. It’s a very competitive keyword phrase. It’s a keyword phrase with, I think, 14,000 searches a month that is dominated by sites that are domain 50, 60 and plus, and you are just not going to break into that carousel if you have less than 300 linking root domains, regardless of whether you have the best oven-roasted chicken recipe in the world, not going to happen.

So we just have to realize that we want to advance in the right direction whenever we can.

Melissa Rice (22:09):
Right. Thank you. Is there anything particular that smaller sites affected by the helpful content update should be doing? Is there any chance for those who were impacted to see recovery, Casey? Because these small sites, they’re worried, they’re really worried.

Casey Markee (22:24):
I would never say… Please understand this. I would never tell a blogger to give up just because you were affected negatively by an update. I know it’s tough out there, but every site bounces back. I have never seen a site not affected by an algorithmic update. I remember when I first started auditing site blocks way back in 2015, one of the first audits I did was on Simply Recipes, and this was before she sold her site and she had suffered a penalty on the site due to the fact that most of her recipes had been copied and reprinted, so she was suffering duplicate content issues. And all we did was have her resubmit DMCA requests at scale, and she managed to get literally every one of her traffic, every one of her recipe posts bounced back and then some, and the rest is history.

So understand the size of your site doesn’t matter. Everyone could get hit by an update. Some help you, some hurt you. But for the smaller sites out there, continue to build your community up, continue to work on your email list, continue to work on third-party things while we wait for Google to get its shit together. Pardon the language there. This takes a while.

Google knows that they’ve overreached with us. I’ve already had conversations with people about this at length. There is corrections coming. Corrections always happen. This is not a cabal. It’s not a concerted conspiracy effort against you as a small blogger. Someone has to get hit for every… Search is a zero-sum game. Everyone, for someone to drop, someone else has to rise. So there’s plenty of small bloggers on this call right now that have had their traffic increase noticeably over the last year.

So you just have to continue to focus on making sure that you’re putting out the best content you can, that you’re working on building up the issues that you can, and that we try to make as many widespread changes to the site as we can before the next classifier’s ran against it.

Andrew Wilder (24:13):
Can I also say, from Google’s perspective, I think it makes sense that they are lifting up larger, more established sites because they’re trying to surface good content, and so it’s easier for them to say, “Okay, this site’s been around for eight years. They have 500 posts that are all pretty good quality. People are sharing a lot. There’s a lot of signals that this site has built up.” So I mean, it is pure competition to a degree. I mean, it seems like since last fall, the trend has-

Casey Markee (24:37):
Everyone hates Allrecipes, but you know what? People expect to see Allrecipes at the top of Google because they’ve been there for so long and they have such a breadth of recipes. Not kidding. I have a lot of people who have only gone to Google for, older people because I’m now old now that I’m 50, but I have older people-

Melissa Rice (24:54):

Casey Markee (24:54):
Older, but I have an older segment of the audience out there who they don’t use Google a lot, but when they use Google, they always tend to see these certain sites and they latch onto those because that’s what they know. One of those is Allrecipes. Allrecipes is never going to disappear from Google. It’s just what it is, and it’s not necessarily because all the recipes are great because I can assure you they’re not. It’s just that they have… That’s the kind of authority they’ve built up. When you’ve got 50,000-plus linking root domains and you’ve got the content they have and you’ve got the reputation they have, they’re expected to be seen in most majority carousel searches.

Andrew Wilder (25:30):
I mean, they have so much content. It’s a different ball game, I think-

Casey Markee (25:34):
It’s crazy.

Andrew Wilder (25:35):
I toured their-

Casey Markee (25:36):
Yeah, and again, a good point to know is that all their content does not rank, folks. Google, in most cases, will only rank about two recipes from your site for a very specific thing. You’re never going to go to Google and find seven Allrecipes for New York cheesecake. It doesn’t exist because we have what’s called a discoverability issue, and you can even see it when you look at the leak. There is a content classifier there that specifically says they limit results from very specific sites, and that’s why we don’t have sites that dominate for various things.

You can never be top three for an New York cheesecake, it’s not going to happen. You’re not going to get one, two, and three. You might get one and maybe another recipe further down, but that’s just how it works. It’s called a diversification factor, and you’re always going to have a diversified issue with your search rankings regardless.

Melissa Rice (26:32):
Andrew, what were you saying about touring?

Andrew Wilder (26:34):
Well, years ago, I went to a cooking demo at the Allrecipes office and there were just carols of desks of content creators and SEO people. There were 40 or 50 people in that office, so it’s a totally different thing. So I would take Allrecipes out of your mind because that’s not even what you’re competing against, I’d say. I mean, that’s just, like Casey said, it’s going to be in there.

But going back to if you’re a smaller site, think about how can you make yourself seem like a larger, more established site? And I don’t mean fake it. I mean, how do you get larger, more established, more content? So maybe you do create new content instead of going back and tweaking little things on old content and getting more back links and building your community and more things like that. And it takes time. It’s just there’s a lot of blogs out there and it takes time to establish that.

Melissa Rice (27:27):
I have a quick question. There were people in our question form that hadn’t been affected and they were curious, should they expect curveballs? Is there anything they can do to protect themselves or is it just sort of like the gloves are off, anyone could be next?

Andrew Wilder (27:43):
I mean, that’s the fear is, “Am I next?” I’ve talked to a lot of clients who are doing okay, but they’re like, “My friend just lost half her traffic,” and so they’re worried that, “Google’s coming for me!” And I mean, I think it’s bigger now, but I don’t think it’s really changed. Google’s adjusted the algorithm all the time over the years.

I think the answer is diversify your traffic as much as you can, diversify your revenue as much as you can, and continue to build your community.

Melissa Rice (28:08):

Casey Markee (28:09):
Well said.

Melissa Rice (28:11):
Yeah, truly. How important is Google Discover traffic and what can be done to increase it?

Andrew Wilder (28:17):
I think depending on the site, Google Discover can be very important. We have some clients who have the majority of their traffic coming from Google Discover. They tend to be more topical and news-related rather than recipe. I think Discover has a lot of time-based stuff associated with it. So it depends. I think I wouldn’t try to write for Google Discover.

Beyond that, I haven’t done a lot of work on how to rank in Google Discover. I don’t know. Casey, if you have some tips on Discover specifically.

Casey Markee (28:47):
The only tips that Google provides for Google Discover are 1200-pixel-wide main images and be super interesting.

Andrew Wilder (28:53):
Yeah, that’s helpful.

Casey Markee (28:54):
Good times. Yeah, that’s really helpful.

So now, one of the things we have been seeing is the incredible falloff in traffic created by Web Stories. I personally expect Web Stories to be completely dead by the end of the year. I expect that they will probably-

Andrew Wilder (29:06):

Casey Markee (29:07):
… disappear completely by the first quarter of 2025. You can absolutely hold me to that. All I’ve been doing is noindexing hundreds of Web Stories on sites when we do audits because they’re just sitting there doing absolutely nothing.

So if I was going to advance in another direction, or as Andrew so correctly said, diversify my traffic, one of those diversification channels would not be Web Stories. I would be focusing on Flipboard and other sites and my email list and everything else under the sun before I even remotely hired someone to do Web Stories for me. You are just not going to the money back on those Web Stories. You might find one person in 100 who says that they’re getting their money back. They might be paying someone $300 to $500 a month for Web Stories. You have to do the math on those. You’ve got to basically make $1,200 per Web Story to get that money back in many cases.

Melissa Rice (29:58):
Because this question was a little bit specific, not to jump into Q&A, but Cynthia had asked, “Is there any hope for thumbnails or Google Discover? Most of my thumbnails are gone, and I’ve gone from a high of 3,200 Discover clicks a day in April to zero to four clicks per day since May 8th.” Any intel?

Casey Markee (30:16):
Well, the thumbnail isn’t going to affect Discover traffic. That’s completely different. But the thing to understand is that thumbnails of course provide an increased SERP, a visible [inaudible 00:30:27], and that could lower conversion noticeably. But unfortunately, I have no good news for you. John Mueller was quoted on LinkedIn saying that they’ve looked into it repeatedly and they’re saying that it is a quality issue tied to specific sites, which is hilarious because the data doesn’t support that. You can’t rank competitively and be the number one result in the carousel and the number one result in Google and not get a thumbnail for that recipe. It just doesn’t make any sense.

So we’re still pushing them and hopefully that there is some other underlying problem that we can find with this, but as I’ve told bloggers over the last several months, you should plan on these not coming back. That’s the best advice I can give you. Plan on them not coming back. Don’t lose any sleep over it. It is what it is. Move on. Find something else that you can worry on. Continue to make your site the best it can be. Maybe this fixes itself in the future, maybe not, but there is no secret fix here.

We can’t find any reason that one site is having issues and the other site is having 100% thumbnails. Could be related to the size of the site, could be related to the age of the site. Who knows? It’s all correlations and we don’t do the correlation-causation thing much when we’re looking at sites these days.

Melissa Rice (31:39):
Andrew, did you have input on this as well?

Andrew Wilder (31:42):
No, I think it just sucks. Google has basically said, “This is a feature, not a bug,” which we all think they’re wrong, but at least we’ve gotten a response from them finally. That-

Casey Markee (31:54):
Multiple responses, three responses in the last 90 days.

Andrew Wilder (31:57):
Multiple. So at least we don’t have to keep trying to get them to look at it. We just don’t like the answer, but they’ve made this decision that this is, for whatever reason, they think it’s better. And unfortunately, we live in Google’s world and sometimes Google’s world sucks. I wish we had a better answer for you on that.

In terms of Discover traffic, Casey, because Cynthia was asking about that too, has anything changed with Discover that you know of recently?

Casey Markee (32:21):
No, but I would say that they’re asking about, “Should we delete the old Web Stories?” If I was you, folks, I would just noindex them. That’s the easiest thing. Go in under Yoast, toggle off the Web Stories tab. Done. Don’t even worry about it. They’re not noindex, they won’t be counted against you. It’s just nothing to really worry about.

I had a blogger who had BigScoots go in and delete them all. Well, I wouldn’t have done that because number one, all they did was create a ton of internal 404s that now they have to fix. They didn’t even think about that. So just be aware that there are other consequences.

I do not believe that you should be linking internally to Web Stories. That is not an increased experience for users. I do not believe that you should be linking to Web Stories on your footer or anywhere. It’s just we don’t need to be promoting those. They’re a very poor experience for users. We want to send those people to our recipes. That’s our bread and butter.

Melissa Rice (33:09):
Sheesh. Okay. Andrew, are there other sources of traffic that are not Google and Pinterest that bloggers need to focus on?

Andrew Wilder (33:17):
Amazingly, yes. We actually just did a webinar with the Flipboard team for NerdPress clients. Mia and Jessica joined us and they mentioned that Flipboard is the fifth-largest traffic driver on the internet, which I didn’t realize. Now, that’s from them. I haven’t verified that, but that made me take notice.

So Flipboard’s been around forever, but there’s definitely a resurgence. Pinterest is kind of a dumpster fire, Google’s a dumpster fire, so users are moving to other platforms. So if you haven’t jumped on the Flipboard bandwagon yet, I highly recommend it.

The other thing that they made the point of with Flipboard is you can’t just post something and leave. It’s not like Pinterest. They really want Flipboard to be an engagement platform. So when you share something, put a caption on there or a comment, and then engage with your readers as they comment on stuff. So more like Instagram where you’d have comments there. They really are rewarding engagement.

The other thing about their platform is it really rewards recency. So there’s Flipboard boards, magazines, and storyboards, and not everybody has access to storyboards. Those are still in beta. If you’re in the creator community, you may have those. But on the regular magazines, the algorithm really pays attention to recency in terms of when it was published. So what they really emphasize is as soon as you publish new blog posts, immediately within seconds or minutes, go over to Flipboard and share it on Flipboard, and that’s going to help get a bump. And joining group magazines can really help as well.

The other thing is you want to give a Flipboard flip button to your readers so they can help flip your content, and that’s where having good social media sharing buttons come in. So I have to give a shameless plug to Hubbub Pro, the social media plugin that NerdPress now owns. It used to be Grow Social. Many of you use it, I hope. So you can add Flipboard, a flip button to your inline or sidebar buttons. Let me pull up a quick doc on how to do that.

Melissa Rice (35:20):
Awesome, thank you.

Andrew Wilder (35:23):
And the other thing I want people to be thinking about is building community, building community, building community. We’re going back like 10 years in blogging right now, like 2012, 2013, 2014 when it’s like, “I just got a new reader, a new comment,” and you engage with them and it’s really fun and exciting. I think there’s something to be said for embracing that right now. I’m excited about it where it’s not just pumping out recipes. It’s actually engaging and having community.

We also just added another tool to Hubbub called Save This. This is much anticipated. We announced at Tastemaker that we were doing it. This lets you put a form in your content that lets your readers save it for later. It’s very simple. Matt Mullen’s been installing these for sites for about a year and a half, and it’s been very successful where it’s just a little form in your content that says, “Save this recipe for later,” And people enter their email address and it emails them a link to the page. So when they’re looking around and they find a recipe, they’re like, “Oh, I’ll make this tonight,” they can type in their email address and boom, it’s in their email, which is of course their to-do list, and it can add them to your mailing list.

So it’s a win-win. You’re providing them something that they really want. It’s basically like the most effective opt-in lead gen we’ve ever seen. It’s bonkers how good it is because it’s the exact thing the person wants, they just want it later, so they save it.

So we did just release Save This. It’s available with Hubbub Pro Plus, and we’re about to release an update with a short code so you can actually add it even inside your recipe card directly. I was testing that this morning, so I’m very excited because that’s our number one requested feature. I’ll drop in some links on that, but I want everybody to be thinking about what else you can do, like these tools, other than just Google, Google, Google, because there are only 10 spots on that page no matter what we do, right? Yep.

Melissa Rice (37:05):
The chat is going crazy, Andrew.

Andrew Wilder (37:06):

Melissa Rice (37:09):
Yay! We love new stuff. Casey, how can bloggers identify what Google considers helpful or high-quality content, especially when low-quality results appear in top positions?

Casey Markee (37:22):
Well, Google says they’re not perfect, and those low-quality results are clearly either huge sites that can get away with making those mistakes that you cannot make, or maybe they are more high-quality than you think based upon other external signals that you can’t see. And the most important thing is that Google publishes an incredible resource on what they consider helpful, reliable content. We have that. I don’t know if we shared that above there, but here it is. Here’s the resource on helpful content from Google.

Melissa Rice (37:52):
Thank you.

Casey Markee (37:53):
And this contains a list of questions that have been around since Panda was pushed out in 2012. That’s how old these are. So when we’re looking at these questions, you should be thinking that these questions have been around for years. Does people really like our content? Does it provide an engaging, new way to review information that’s already out there? Does the expertise of the user come across? What is it about my Salisbury steak that’s better than the million of other Salisbury steaks out there? Did you make it with imitation buffalo? I don’t know. But whatever we need to do, we need to make sure that our recipes can stand alone and stand apart whenever possible.

So take a look at this result here. Take a look at what Google is ranking. Unless it’s a huge site… If it’s a huge site, I would literally just ignore what is there in many cases because there’s so many other third-party reasons that it could be ranking and not necessarily content-based, so it can be hard to make any judgements.

But I think where bloggers get confused is that they get focused on the forest as opposed to the trees, where they see these huge sites that are above them, that they’re, “Eh, these recipes are not better than me,” when they’re not necessarily going in and doing a very close analysis of what it is that that site is doing better than you are on a microcosm, and then working to improve that. That’s why we really want to push the fact that we don’t draw causation arguments based upon a couple of very specific search queries. In many cases, when we’re doing a live audit and a blogger says, “I don’t understand why this site is beating me,” we can pull up the site and find a plethora of reasons of why that’s happening. And the blogger is always like, “Oh, okay. Now I see it.”

And again, that’s fine. You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why you seek out the help of professionals. That’s why we’re trying to provide an alternative viewpoint that you can take it and you can take it as you will, but there’s always a reason there. It’s not a conspiracy. There’s usually multiple reasons why a site is outranking you, even though you might not necessarily see it on an on-page standpoint.

Melissa Rice (39:47):
Yeah, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Casey, how do backlinks currently impact SEO rankings according to the recent updates? And should bloggers disavow spammy links or leave them alone? Has anything in this leak caused a shift in the advice regarding this?

Casey Markee (40:08):
No. Again, just to reiterate, we have no idea if or what level these factors relate into search ranking at all. None of them might be used. Who knows? There was a couple triggers in there, API calls involving toxic links. There was a couple in there about link diversity, but we know that links are always important.

A good colleague of arts, Jim Boykin, who owns Internet Marketing Ninjas, one of the most successful link-building firms in the world, published a great study recently about how the top… He took the top 1,000 queries in Google, and the top 10 sites all had an incredible amount of backlinks as opposed to the sites below them. And that, to him, it was a pretty convincing study, case study, showing that links are still incredibly valuable.

Do we know if they’re still in the top three signals? No idea. It used to be content, links, RankBrain. That’s how Google broke it down. We know that that’s no longer the case. Google said that. But do we absolutely believe links are important? Yes. Over the years, Google has tried to take out links, and every time that they’ve taken out links, the results have been horrendous, horrendous. So they’ve had to reverse it immediately, and that is always the case now with links.

Most food bloggers don’t have a lot of links. A blogger I had today, doing very well, but only had 300 linking root domains. The average site that I audit as a whole probably has less than 1,000 linking root domains, but you’re going to find the sites that are in the top three usually have multitudes of that, 2, 3, 4,000 linking root domains. The bigger sites have 12 to 30,000 linking root domains.

So you have to start asking yourself, “What can we do to pull in those links?” We have mastermind groups, we have roundups, we have sites that go out and work with other firms. There’s plenty of opportunity out there, but you cannot ignore links. I believe that you cannot exist in Google now or in the future by looking at links as a vacuum. Content is just not enough. We have to provide votes to that content, and that’s what links do.

Melissa Rice (42:04):
Okay. Andrew, I saw so many questions in our registration form about affiliate links, including whether they harm SEO. Is there a best way to manage them and should bloggers be concerned?

Andrew Wilder (42:21):
I think it’s so interesting that this has come up. I’m guessing it stems from somebody’s guess last fall when they decided having the affiliate disclosure at the top was causing ranking problems, which it wasn’t, that was just what somebody guessed, and that made the rumor mill, and I think that might still be lingering.

There’s no evidence that affiliate links, when done right, are going to cause any problems. And what I mean by “done right” is having them with no-follow tags or sponsored tags. It’s really important you do that. And I think you should also disclose them properly according to the FTC guidelines. You should disclose that it is an affiliate link, that you have some sort of monetary gain from it. The FTC says it has to be clear and conspicuous. I almost said, “Clear and copious.” Clear and conspicuous, which means your disclaimer actually needs to appear before the link, not after it, in a place where somebody’s likely to read it.

I personally don’t like the big blanket statement at the top that says, “All my links may contain affiliate links,” because to me, it’s not valuable content at the top. I like to have, if I’m going to do an affiliate link, I like to say, “Hey, here’s an affiliate link for this product. I would recommend it either way,” that kind of thing. But from a technical perspective, as long as you have the no-follow and/or the sponsored tag on there, it’s not going to impact your SEO.

Melissa Rice (43:39):
Casey, is E-E-A-T still a major factor in SEO rankings?

Casey Markee (43:45):
E-E-A-T has never been a ranking factor. Google has been very clear about that. E-E-A-T is where we hope, and this is Google’s words, filling the concepts of experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness allows you to align your content with where algorithms are. So we want you to really focus on replicating those situations and those requirements within our quality rater guidelines, because if you do that, then that tends to coincide and correlate with higher possible rankings in the future.

But E-E-A-T has never been a ranking factor. This is something that Google has repeatedly commented on. I think we even have a… Where is the link on that? Did I provide a link to that for… Andrew, maybe you can see it.

Melissa Rice (44:30):
I don’t. Let me see.

Casey Markee (44:31):
Oh, there it is right there. So yeah, let me go ahead and get that and I’ll paste it over here. So this is a tweet actually, one of the few that Google hasn’t deleted recently. This is a tweet on X saying that E-E-A-T is not now, nor has it ever been, a ranking factor.

Melissa Rice (44:56):
Well, well, well.

Casey Markee (44:58):
You can take a look at that when you can.

Melissa Rice (45:02):
We’ve got just about 15 minutes left. Let’s jump into Q&A. Let me refresh my most up-voted.

And starting it off, Tammy asked, “In order to get an article on MSN, the post has to be less than a year old. How should we approach publishing on MSN if we shouldn’t update the date? Modified date doesn’t count for MSN.”

Casey Markee (45:27):
I’d rethink whether or not that’s worth you doing. Maybe you should just noindex the post if you want to do it that way. I don’t think that a lot of people are going to get a huge amount of traffic from MSN to justify doing something that’s going to piss Google off, which is updating needlessly publish dates, which they go out of their way to say, “Don’t do.”

So I would say that that’s a misconnect between best practices and determining whether or not that’s useful to get traffic. Maybe you just decide that you have to, if you want to really focus on MSN, maybe it should just be on a new content basis going forward, and then that way, you don’t have to worry about triggering any issues long-term with Google or elsewhere.

Melissa Rice (46:08):
Good advice. Andrew, you’re getting so much love in the chat. I just keep seeing, “@Andrew.”

Okay, next question is from Joanne. She asks, or she says, “I feel like Google is the cowboy in a spaghetti western shooting at my feet telling me to dance. Where else can a blogger pivot to try and gain some other traffic back that was lost from Google?” I think you spoke a little bit on this already, Andrew.

Andrew Wilder (46:37):
Yeah, I think anywhere other than Google. I mean, I’m so down on Google as so many of us are, and honestly, I think it’s healthier for the web to have more than one traffic source. I think things started to go downhill when Pinterest wasn’t sending as much traffic, but Pinterest still works for a lot of people, so it’s not dead.

And this is why I got so excited about Flipboard. I feel like there’s this resurgence. I think they have something like 200 million users. And the thing about Flipboard is it’s very creator-friendly. It was really cool talking to them about how they’re trying to uplift creators and they’re highlighting content, and they’re developing relationship relationships with the creators as well. They’ll get to know you and highlight something in their email blast.

So they’re really building community. It’s interesting how they’re doing it because they’re keeping people on Flipboard because there’s so much content that people want to read, but they’re not pulling in and stealing your content like so many other sites. They’re not serving your recipe up on Flipboard. They are still sending people over to your site to read the content. So I don’t know. I’m super excited about Flipboard.

The other thing to start looking into is the Fediverse. As food bloggers, I feel like, especially aren’t quite embracing that just yet, but it’s pretty exciting. That’s basically a new standard for social media where things can be distributed across the Fediverse so you’re not locked into one platform. And what’s really interesting is Facebook Threads is on the Fediverse, and Flipboard is also on the Fediverse. So your stuff that can be posted on Flipboard can be, I think it’s distributed across the Fediverse.

I’m still learning about it. It’s pretty new, but it’s like what social media was 15 years ago as well, and it feels so much more pure, and I think that’s attracting a lot of people and that’s going to grow. So I think you’ll do very well to start learning about the Fediverse and be positioned there because you can be a first player and establish yourself in one of those places.

Melissa Rice (48:34):
Can you add a link to the chat for Fediverse? How do you spell Fediverse? Is it just F-E-T-A?

Andrew Wilder (48:39):
Fed, as in federated, verse like universe. Fediverse, F-E-D-I. I have a good article actually from, it’s on LinkedIn, but from Flipboard about how to get started there.

Melissa Rice (48:54):
Awesome. Quick question, just so we don’t pass it by. Priya asked a quick question to you, Andrew. “How different is the Flipboard from the Mediavine Grow? Save the recipe.”

Andrew Wilder (49:05):
Oh, so not Flipboard, but Save This.

Melissa Rice (49:09):
Oh, sorry.

Andrew Wilder (49:09):
So there are a few different save-this options out there. Grow has theirs. The short answer is ours is way more customizable and if you use the Grow one, I tried it, it’s an advertisement for Grow. The email that users get had the Grow logo or name in three places, and it promotes Grow. So we are giving you more placement options. You can customize all the text. We’re going to add hooks and filters and more places where you can customize things because I know everybody wants different, little tweaks, and so the email especially, we’re going to make it much more powerful for you to customize and do so. There’s lots more flexibility there.

We, right now, also integrate with ConvertKit, Flodesk, MailerLite, not MailerLite Classic, we just learned there’s a classic, but we’ll add that soon, and Flodesk. Did I say Flodesk? And MailChimp. We went with the four bigger ones. We’re going to add more. We’re also going to add either a Webhook or a Zapier integration so that as we build these out, we’ll add more.

We can also add a Grow integration if people want that, so that you could use our form and then send it to Grow instead. The thing about Grow is they’re trying to grow Grow and users have to create a login at Grow, and we could have a whole webinar on that. I don’t know if it’s going to work or not. I think it’s a good effort, and that’s all about the third-party cookies, but this is more of a pure tool that you’ll have more control over.

Melissa Rice (50:30):
Awesome. Darcy asks, “If we have a few product reviews on our site that are directly related to our niche and the equipment we use, should we worry about updates that are spam updates or in the coming August update?”

Casey Markee (50:44):
I think the answer to that, it depends. Are those reviews helpful? Are they getting traffic? Are they something that is unique to your site? Do they add value? It’s hard to say. Just because you have product reviews on your site, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be hit by an update per se. It’s never just one issue anyway. But when we have reviews updates, the review updates goes against sites that have really low-quality reviews, or that they have reviews, maybe they’re a car dealership and you find that they have reviews for satellite dishes, which has happened because they rent out space. So those are the kinds of things you have to look at.

I always tell bloggers this, you need to look at the quality of the page and whether or not these are being asked of your audience. That’s why we always recommend that you go to something like a SurveyMonkey and survey your audience at least twice a year, once in the fall, once in the spring, and ask them if this content is helpful for them. Ask them do they even know it existed? Is this something that they even want? Because if you can provide the data yourself to support that, then it doesn’t really matter what Google says or does.

Melissa Rice (51:53):
Diane asks, “In cleaning up a website, if I remove a recipe post completely, do you recommend I add a redirect back to the homepage on the blog or something else?”

Casey Markee (52:04):
Absolutely not, because that’s an unrelated redirect. We don’t redirect to the homepage. We don’t redirect to a category page. We don’t redirect a blueberry pie to an apple pie. We always want to make sure that we’re sending something that’s going to have the same intent. So the better option for you is just a 404 or 410 that off, and then just go through the site, find any legacy internal links, and remove those.

Andrew Wilder (52:26):
I’ll add also though, to help provide a good experience for anybody who still hits that URL, you want to make sure that your 404 page has a good user experience. If it’s just, “Not found,” and it’s a dead end, then people are stuck. But if it’s, “Not found, here’s a search feature, and oh, here are five other things you might really like,” that can help keep people on your site and keep them getting to, if it wasn’t the exact thing they were looking for, maybe something else that they would want.

Melissa Rice (52:48):
Awesome. Jerry asks, “Should the MSN category on my site be indexed or noindex? Should the MSN posts be noindex as well, or is it okay for them to be indexed?”

Casey Markee (53:02):
It depends on if they’re generating traffic. Did you write them specifically because they’re great posts or did you write them specifically for MSN? Because sometimes I find that if you’re writing these posts specifically for that MSN prompt system, the posts don’t tend to do much traction-wise in Google. I don’t know why it is, but I know that there’s some specific character account issues and you don’t want to have these two long posts and other things, but you’re going to have to make a determination. Are those posts different in quality from your existing content? Did you write those specifically because of just MSN? Are they good, high-quality posts that should do well outside of MSN and everywhere else?

Melissa Rice (53:37):
All right. And I know you talked about this earlier, Casey, but we’ve got an anonymous question asking to expand on the link-building efforts. They’d like to know if they hire someone, what’s okay to pay for? It’s what’s-

Casey Markee (53:56):
Well, and that’s a good question. And here’s the bottom line of it. Your competitors are paying for links. Probably some of them are on this call. That’s totally fine. That’s how it works. You don’t just go out and get links in a vacuum. Google is against all link building. There’s no such thing as Google-friendly link building. It’s pretty… That’s a misnomer. It’s like military intelligence, little things like that.

But just to understand that there are some more reliable people than other. ContentYum, you’re familiar with the… We’ve had Ashley here. Ashley used to host this webinar, Ashley Segura’s ContentYum. They have an incredible link-building option there, so that’s certainly something to think of. That’s, I think it is. Right, Melissa?

Melissa Rice (54:34):
It is. I also have a [inaudible 00:54:36]. You can write me directly.

Casey Markee (54:38):
Yeah, yeah. You can go there. Go there, right there. Tell her I sent you over so she can buy me dinner. Yeah, good-quality link-building services exist.

I mentioned Jim Boykin, the father of link building in the SEO niche. He’s been doing this since, gosh, I was in law school. That’s how long ago it is. The good old days when it was the 10 Commandments that we had and that was basically our laws. But there are plenty of firms out there, quality firms. If you have an audit with me, I provide a whole list of link-building resources at the end. I stand by all of those recommendations.

So you just have to determine what you’re comfortable with. But I think that if your goal is to go from 20,000 sessions a month to 2 million to 5 million to 10 million to make this a career, link building is just like email. It’s something that you have to commit to doing and it’s something that involves an expense on your part. It’s just like any… It’s just like registering your domain or paying your taxes. It’s just an expense to doing good business long term.

Andrew Wilder (55:36):
Yep. I think part of it is also getting yourself out there. It’s not necessarily I’m going to hire a firm who’s going to spam everybody and get me some spammy backlinks. That’s not the goal. Being active on Twitter and engaging with reporters can get you stuff.

I mean, it’s probably harder now, but when I was getting started, I did a big challenge on my site about healthy eating and it got a lot of interest. It got me blog posts in The LA Times, The New York Times. So you’re doing stuff that’s getting noticed, and again, a lot more competition, a lot more noise. So I don’t say this lightly, like it’s so easy, it’s harder than ever, but getting out there, reaching out to people who have other blogs, and working with them.

One of the reasons we’re on this webinar is to get links, right? I mean, it’s not the primary one, but it is a benefit. And that’s why TopHatRank posts the replay on the blog after every episode and has all the links, and NerdPress built out a whole bunch of links linking back to TopHatRank. So there are ways to do that and all of that, the genuine ways to link build are all benefiting real humans, it’s not for search, and I’m always leaning back on that one.

Melissa Rice (56:48):
Last question and we’re just out of time, so we’ll go through this one quickly. Cynthia asked, “If I blanket noindex Web Stories via Yoast, can I submit any new Web Stories I might create on an individual basis?” Is that…

Casey Markee (57:06):
No. If you’ve noindexed all your Web Stories, Google won’t pick up any Web Stories you submit in the future. Now, you could just decide to noindex individual Web Stories, but you got to do that on a… No, you can’t. It’s impossible. You can’t noindex individual Web Stories that I’m aware of. It’s impossible. You either have to noindex all of them through the plugin or you have to delete them.

So there’s no way in Yoast individually noindex Web Stories unless you do it possibly at the server, but it’s set up so that you have to go into Yoast and either noindex all Web Stories or you just don’t worry about it. You have to decide what you want to do. But if you’re thinking of noindexing Web Stories at all, I don’t see any reason to consider adding new Web Stories in the future. That, to me, is a mismatch.

Melissa Rice (57:47):
Right. Well, guys-

Andrew Wilder (57:48):
Can I also say, real quick, the one place I’ve ever seen a Web Story actually that I liked was where it was embedded in a blog post and it was a how-to make the recipe, step by step, and it was like an interactive video where it was like the first step was this little page, and then you tapped and it went to the next one, and you could step backwards. And so each little mini-video was like a chapter of each step.

And that wasn’t to get traffic. It wasn’t to try to link to that. It was actually, it only existed there to help the reader make the recipe. And to me, that was really cool because then the format, it’s a better format than just the video that autoplays where you have to pause and you can’t rewind because it has those chapters.

I’m not saying you should go do that, but I’m just saying I liked it because it was good for the reader, not good for traffic. And the way everybody has used Web Stories is to create them to try to get traffic to the Web Story, and Google explicitly said, “We don’t want you to do this,” but everybody did it anyway because it was driving traffic for a while, and now it’s dying because it wasn’t actually a good user experience.

Melissa Rice (58:49):
All I’m hearing, Andrew, is, “Kick it old school.”

Andrew Wilder (58:52):
I mean, yeah, it feels good. It’s kind of a relief, but make blogging fun again.

Melissa Rice (58:58):
Right? Very intense-

Casey Markee (59:00):
Patent pending. Patent pending.

Andrew Wilder (59:04):
That’s right.

Melissa Rice (59:05):
Well, everybody, thank you so much for joining us. We filled this hour, I think, really well. There was a lot of good stuff. So we will be back next quarter to go over whatever the crazy things that Google has done, so stick around. I’ll be emailing everybody in about a week with the recap post if you’re subscribed.

And again, if you want any more information on ContentYum, as Casey mentioned before, for link-building services and a bunch of other stuff, you can go ahead and email me directly or go to the site.

So yeah, thanks again, Andrew, Casey.

Andrew Wilder (59:39):
Thank you.

Casey Markee (59:39):
Happy July 4th, everyone. We’ll see you again soon.

Melissa Rice (59:42):


About The Panelists

Melissa Rice

Melissa, our webinar host, comes from sunny Los Angeles, CA. She is TopHatRank’s Client Success Manager; those who have chatted with her know how awesome she is. As she dives into the digital space, Melissa likes to discover new online marketing techniques and practices, UX design, and more.


Casey Markee

Speaker, writer, and trainer Casey Markee has been doing SEO for 20+ years, has conducted over 1000+ site audits, and has trained SEO teams on five continents through his consultancy Media Wyse. He believes bacon should be its own food group and likes long walks to the kitchen and back from his home office.

Casey on X >>

Andrew Wilder

Andrew Wilder is the founder of NerdPress, a digital agency that provides WordPress maintenance and support services for publishers and small businesses, placing an emphasis on site speed, stability, and security. He has been building, fixing, and maintaining websites since 1998, and has spoken on a wide variety of technical topics (in plain English!) at conferences such as WordCamp LAX, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Food & Wine, Techmunch, BlogHer, BlogHer Food, and Mediavine.

Andrew on X >>

Arsen Rabinovich

Digital Marketer, SEO, International Speaker, 2X Interactive Marketing Award Winner, Search Engine Land Award Winner. Founder @TopHatRank, a Los Angeles based marketing agency that specializes in innovative digital marketing techniques for modern brands of all sizes.

Arsen on X >>

Back to top