Ashley Segura (00:03:37):
Awesome. Well let’s go ahead and get started. Welcome everyone to the 13th episode of SEO for Publishers. Today we’re going to be talking about how to analyze your drops in website traffic, with everyone’s favorite experts. Casey Markee, Arsen Rabinovich, and Andrew Wildler. So, thank you everyone for joining us. As always, we are going to have Q&A at the very end, so please feel free to drop any and every question you possibly could have inside the Q&A section. On Zoom, it’s on the bottom right. You’ll see a little box, says Q&A, go ahead and click that and drop in your questions. If we run out of time and we’re not able to address all of the questions, which is what usually happens, a week later when we publish this recap with the blog post, the transcript, the video replay, all the resources that were mentioned, we do make sure and answer every single question that’s dropped into Q&A. If it’s dropped into the chat box, chances are, we may not see it, and it definitely doesn’t go into the Q&A. So if you want to make sure your question is answered, put it over into that Q&A box. But, without further ado, let’s go ahead and kick things off. Summer started off pretty interesting. Andrew there are some core updates. Can you explain what core updates, happened, when they happened, why they happened. What happened at the beginning of summer?
Andrew Wilder (00:04:58):
So, core updates. Just let me explain what core updates is first real quick. So, Google has this algorithm it uses that’s hundreds of ranking factors, right? So, it’s got this formula, if you will, and it’s constantly shifting that. So Google is making changes to this daily. They make thousands of edits to the algorithm every year. But usually they’re minor and they kind of go unnoticed. But sometimes they release a core update, which means it’s a really big change. So, a few times a year they flip a switch and implement a significant enough change the algorithm, that it becomes called a core update. Because lots of people see lots of stuff moving around. So, when everybody’s freaking out, that’s usually a sign that a core update’s happening.
Ashley Segura (00:05:43):
Andrew Wilder (00:05:44):
And actually, I want to drop in a link real quick, that Google has on their search central blog. Ill put this in the chat. Talking about the core updates and what you should know. So this is a great read. Put that in there for you.
Ashley Segura (00:05:59):
Found it. And Casey, like I mentioned, we have two core updates. One in June, One in July. Technically two in July. We’ll talk about that later. But, what happened with those first two updates?
Casey Markee (00:06:13):
Well we had the first one in June, June 1st. And then we had a second one that was kind of related to the first one, on July the second. With these core updates, Google’s always refining them with regards to quality. We had a lot of people reach out and say they were impacted by the first update in June. Some people reached out and said they had those changes reversed in July. And some people were not affected at all, by either. So it was kind of all over the place. A core updates, I guess, continuous thing that we live in. Where Google is refining quality. And they’re refining quality. They’re refining user intent. We’re going to look at some examples in a little bit about that in play visually, so it’s easier for all of you on the call they understand. But these core updates, I know Google would like you to say that, hey don’t worry about these. You didn’t do anything bad. It’s just that someone else did something better.
It’s tough for a lot of bloggers to understand. When there is a winner, there has to be a loser. But these core updates also have a search intent portion to it. And that’s really interesting, because we had a lot of bigger bloggers reach out with ranking drops. As a matter of fact, our colleague, Lily Ray, she published over at Amsive Digital, think we could find a link to that. We’ll publish it. Winners and losers, specifically and it was really interesting because, some of the winners for these recent updates were… I’m going to talk about the June and July updates together in many ways. But we had winners, I know we have a lot of food lifestyle bloggers on the call. Winners were sites like, The Pioneer Woman, Delish, and then My Food and Family, that is run by the Heinz Corporation. Yeah, some of these bigger sites really had a lot of upkeep.
But we also had a lot of bigger sites and smaller sites as well, that had drops in visibility. They had drops in visibility. They had drops in rankings. May had drops in bottom line traffic. And you might know several of these. They’re Spend with Pennies, Dinner at the Zoo, Rasa Malaysia, Couple Cooks and Natasha’s Kitchen, Love and Lemons, The Kitchen, Spruce Eats. These are just a couple of the many sites in the food and lifestyle names. Specifically that we saw visibility losses with regards to Lily Ray’s publication from Amsive Digital. And I’m going to go ahead and paste that over for everyone to see, if you haven’t seen it. But basically, it’s just again, a review of kind of the winners and losers of these last updates, and it’s pretty eye opening.
Ashley Segura (00:08:42):
Casey Markee (00:08:43):
Not gone ahead and paste that over there. Again, there has to always be a winner. There has to always be losers. It’s concerning, but in many cases, some of the sites that lost traffic were because they were ranking for things that they probably shouldn’t have been ranking for in the 1st place. And I know that’s concerning or… Well when you lose traffic, you’re always like, man, I wish I could get that traffic back. But we’re going to show you some examples today where it absolutely makes sense that Google kind of changed how some of those rankings presented, and how we kind of have to adjust to that going forward. This isn’t the first we’ll see of it. This is the new constant with Google. We’ll continue to have these core updates, who knows, every six to nine months would be a guess. But I would suspect we’ll have another one in November or December, just like we usually do as well.
Ashley Segura (00:09:36):
And could we clarify a bit, Casey, the difference between the core update and an algorithm update. Are they the same thing? There’s a lot of different blogs that will use different terminology and whatnot, and it’s always just scary in general. So how different are they, or are they the same?
Casey Markee (00:09:54):
Well a core update is always an algorithmic update. It’s an update. It’s a change to the algorithm. Sometimes that changes can be positive, sometimes that change could be negative. There are various updates that could happen. Usually we transfer… sometimes we have… It’s usually easy to say that we have kind of four or five reasons for ranking drops, so to say, so to speak. We could have an algorithmic change, where Google’s pushed out of change that affects a wide swath of sites. We could have a technical, change which is Google has pushed out of manual action, which has caused a negative connotation for a certain blog, or a small number of blogs. We could have a technical issue that’s the result of a mistake on the part of the site owner, that could be page level, or we call that a disruption. A page rank, a traffic disruption, a drop that way. We could have a seasonal change where there’s seasonal behavior related, or seasonality which has caused a drop.
And then we have things like reporting glitches, where maybe there’s something going on with our data, and that’s what’s caused the issue. There wasn’t really anything wrong, but maybe we mistakenly took off Google Analytics on our site. Or we’ve launched a new site and forgot to put the tag on every page. Those all go hand in hand. But, when we’re talking about core updates, it’s all algorithmic. These are specific changes Google has pushed out to the main index, and that tends to affect more sites than most.
Ashley Segura (00:11:23):
Okay. Makes sense. Thank you for clarifying that. Andrew, you dropped a link in for Google’s blog. Is there anywhere else to kind of keep track of when these updates are happening? Does Google really ever give much notice, or is there like a central place to find more information about these updates?
Andrew Wilder (00:11:39):
Yeah, so sometimes Google gives notice. With core updates they tend to be like, uh huh, we just did it. But in other cases like with a page experience update and core web vitals, they told us that over a year ago, right? Side note, by the way, the core web vitals and page experience rollout started happening in mid-June. Oh my God. I’m losing track of time. Mid June?
Casey Markee (00:11:39):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mid June.
Andrew Wilder (00:12:03):
Yes. So right between the June and July updates, they dropped in the core web vitals update also. Most people who’ve contacted us saying, my page speed’s down, and that’s caused by traffic to drop. Well actually no. If you really break it down, it’s usually the beginning of June, at the beginning of July core update.
Casey Markee (00:12:22):
Mm-hmm (affirmative)[crosstalk 00:12:22].
Andrew Wilder (00:12:22):
We’re actually not seeing a lot of shift from core web vitals, not that we expect to right away.
Ashley Segura (00:12:22):
Andrew Wilder (00:12:26):
So, just want to clarify that one. But in terms of, what is going on. Facebook groups are not necessarily the best place. Not so much to everybody here. But the Google search blog is a great spot. Also, two really good websites are searchenginejournal.com and seroundtable.
Casey Markee (00:12:45):
Andrew Wilder (00:12:47):
And in terms of Twitter account, Google has a SearchLiaison account. That’s a great one to follow, so definitely check that out. I’m going to paste all these links into the chat as well, and I’ll actually send it to all of you this time, not just all the other panelists. There you go. [inaudible 00:13:04]. Those are those are some good sources to monitor.
Ashley Segura (00:13:10):
And Arsen, have you noticed any side effects from these couple of updates so far that are finish only now? Are you seeing anything right away? Or any kind of patterns?
Arsen Rabinovich (00:13:23):
Right. So it’s definitely been busy since the second week of June.
Ashley Segura (00:13:28):
Arsen Rabinovich (00:13:30):
And what I’ve been noticing in a lot of these calls, a lot of these consults that I do, majority of the people who are coming to us right now are people or feeling declines in traffic. And traffic is a byproduct of having rankings for specific keywords fairly high at the top of the search result. When you move from position one to position two, for us as SEO’s that’s very nominal. That’s a fluctuation, right? That’s just Google saying that, hey, somebody else is just doing a little bit better of a job at answering this query and satisfying the primary secondary tent behind the curve. For you on the receiving end of the money that you’re making from the traffic on the clicks, the difference between position one and position two is almost 50% of traffic. 40% estimated for position one. 20% estimated position two of the volumes for that keyword. And again, these are all estimates. It depends on the keyboard, it depends on the intent, it depends on how the search result page is laid out. But that drop from position one to position two, from position one to position three, from position two to position three, it hurts. You’re seeing declines. You’re seeing declines in traffic. This is where you have to start thinking about why this happening. And the side effects are, the first thing you’re going to feel is a decline in traffic, right? That’s the first thing you want to look at. And Casey’s going to do it fairly deep dive into how to diagnose this. But what I’ve been seeing on my consults is, this is a query matching issue. A lot of times you’ve been enjoying. So just today, I talked to someone, I’m not going to say who they are. I talked to someone who was ranking very nicely for, I think it’s like, funfetti a cake pops, whatever that means, right?
Ashley Segura (00:15:27):
Arsen Rabinovich (00:15:27):
They were number one. With their post that had no mention about confetti, just confetti and whatever cake pop recipe, right? Had no mention of it. They were number one, and that’s a very strong the keyword. Lots of demand for it. And they were getting that traffic. Now, Google’s changed the way it understands the content on your page, the prioritization of the content, how things are structured, the intent behind the query. So it’s still doing a better job at selecting the result that it feels is the most relevant results that will satisfy the intent much better. So she dropped off completely. She went from being on page one to not being in top 100.
That’s a big hit. But when you actually dig into it, when you look at the who’s number one, two, and three, those positions are being taken over by people who are actually creating content that addresses that query. Funfetti, right? Same thing happened for fig recipes. Another one, fig recipes Googles now, for some of these queries we’re noticing Google’s doing a better job at understanding pearls. Somebody who’s searching for fig recipes, or fresh fig recipes, is the intent is to see multiple recipes to choose from. They’re not being very specific about what they’re looking for. So Google is now understanding that a little better and instead of showing a single recipe page, Google is showing roundups, and Google is showing a category pages from some of the bigger publishers. So right now majority of the work that you’re going to be doing from the June updates and July updates and, Lily at the end of that article that Casey posted, I read through it, I talked to Lily about it. She said that we are assuming that this is matching. Query matching. Issue majority of the time. And essentially, that’s what it is. As we look at it we’re seeing that this is you’re not satisfying the query. Look at who’s ranking number one, two, and three, and how close you are to that to those results. And it will make all the sense for you.
Ashley Segura (00:17:32):
In taking that, even a step back, so how do you even know Andrew, if you’re having a drop in traffic? if you’re being affected by these updates and your traffic’s going to start to go down, where do you even go to find that?
Andrew Wilder (00:17:49):
Yeah I love this. It’s like a step back question like do you really have a drop in traffic even, right?
Ashley Segura (00:17:53):
Andrew Wilder (00:17:55):
The go-to place is Google Search Console, right? It’s not very granular, right? But you can see the trend and you can get a sense of the traffic. And does that roughly line up with what Google Analytics is telling you. But I still like to have a second stash tool entirely, so that I can cross reference it and say hey, this is saying I had 5000 page views listed today. Google Analytics is saying 5300 page views. That’s pretty close, they’re never going to be perfect. If they’re within five or 10% of each other, you’re probably in good shape. But if Google Analytics is saying 5300 page views and you have Jetpack stats installed in saying like 8500 page views, then maybe something’s going on there. So if you have Jetpack already installed, their stats tool is perfect. I wouldn’t necessarily install jet back just for the stats. I feel like with every Jetpack feature, it’s like, I wouldn’t install it just for that feature. But if you’re going to use a bunch of their features it’s actually pretty good. And I have a list of some other third party analytics tools, that you might want to consider using.
I’ll have to find that and paste it into the chat. There’s one recently, I haven’t tested it yet, but it looks pretty cool, which is Microsoft Clarity, which is sort of like a light hot jar. It’s free, and it has some basic stats in there as well. And it’s supposed to be really fast. So you can drop something like that under your site and then make sure things are really tracking properly.
Casey Markee (00:20:09):
Yeah, I’m actually going to paste in Microsoft Clarity information here for you. No problem.
Andrew Wilder (00:20:17):
Sure. And Andrew while you’re finding that information, Casey you mentioned earlier all the different reasons why drop couldn’t happen. Seasonal drops are definitely one of the most common drops for recipe bloggers in particular, especially after specific holidays. So do you have any tips for how recipe bloggers can avoid seasonality impacting their traffic?
Casey Markee (00:20:39):
Well I don’t say avoid it, I would just plan accordingly. And we’re going to look at a couple examples. I think what, time to do that here in a minute, but when we’re talking about seasonal drops in traffic, that’s extremely common for users. And I think that’s where a lot of bloggers are confused, because what’s happened is we’ve had these core updates rollout in June, July. We’ve had some unannounced information, announced stuff that happened in April, May. And then of course we had this huge change in search behavior because the entire country is reopening from COVID. So we had bloggers contact us in a panic starting in April, May, June, saying that the traffic was down, in many cases 20, 30, 35%. And in many cases, their rankings had never changed. What had changed was the search volume of those head keywords specifically. They were getting a lot of traffic in January, February, March, and now we’re April, May, June, and that traffic is dying down considerably. Now when we talk about traffic drops, what we’re going to do very quickly here, and I think we’re just going to do it now, that’s the best way to go, is I’m going to show you three specific examples of traffic drops so that you can go into your search console and kind of get a better idea of maybe what might be going on specifically.
There are various traffic drops that you could do but we’re going to focus on three specifically, on the call today. The first one we’re going to look at is just a technical issue. A technical issue as Andrew had mentioned, sometimes technical issues can happen where it looks like it’s a huge traffic drop. You think well God, Google must be not liking my site for some reason and usually what has happened is, it’s a technical mistake you’ve made at your end, maybe it’s related to WP Rocket, or maybe it’s related to a plug-in you’ve installed, maybe it’s made it to change. But technical issues will show you kind of what that looks like in the search console specifically. After that we’re going to look at things like changing search behavior. What happens when through no fault, of your own you start to bleed a lot of traffic on some very high volume keyword phrases. And we’re going to look at what that traffic pattern looks like. And then the third one that we’re going to look at is just basically it’s going to be a change, looking at here specifically. It’s going to be a query refinement related change, and we’re seeing a lot of that as Arsen said specifically from these core updates. What’s happened is, again you were ranking extremely well for a keyword that honestly you should not have been ranking for, or you should not have been ranking as highly for.
So without any further ado, we’re just going to go ahead and do a share screen on this really quickly, and come down here and take a look at what, everything here. Let’s go ahead and get rid of this chat. You guys can still see me over here on the side. This is an example of a site, and I’m not sure if Megan is on the call today. But Megan contacted me by email a couple days ago, actually yesterday, saying that she had a noticeable traffic drop. And she was at a loss as to what happens. So we logged into her search console. You guys see this huge traffic drop here? Started at around 7/12, goes down noticeably here. Well this is an example of a technical issue. And she wasn’t affected by an algorithm, she wasn’t affected by a change in query refinement. What had happened was, look at the search console here. Do you see her canonical is the www? Now look at where she’s indexed. See this? What had happened at some point in the last couple of days is that, Megan’s canonical was flipped.
So either there was a problem with her host, or maybe she was making changes and accidentally reversed her canonical, but you can see that Google has already come through and started to re-index her. Do you see how we still have the legacy pages here? See how the legacy page was initially with the www? And so if you were to click on the hummus recipe here, and it was to pop up, see how it redirects to the nine www? Well that’s incorrect, because historically and for as long as I’ve known Megan, we’ve had her site indexed at the www version. And so what’s resulted here is that, it looks like a huge traffic loss, because Google’s re-crawling her. And because we only have access to this here, it looks very bad. So clearly what we need to do is she needs to go back to our host, and we need to reverse this change. We need to have her go back to the www canonical, because we don’t want to put all of her back links and everything else through a needless redirect. And once that’s done, you’ll start to see this traffic loss reversed, and it’s very quickly. Google will re-crawl her and she’ll be back up to where she needs to go. So again this is an example of a simple technical issue. And there are other technical issues that can happen.
Those can happen where you have installed something that blocks your schema, you have mistakenly maybe you switched servers, and you forgot to pull over your Google Analytics tracking, all that stuff. That can result in what we’re seeing here, which is a technical issue resulting in a drop. And you can see that the default view and Google is always 30 days of traffic, so pretty easy to see when you see a large drop like that, okay? So that’s situation number one. Now situation number two, is when we have an example which is a change in user behavior. This is a great example where we have the Olive Garden chicken pasta here, Olive Garden chicken pasta. I’m using the plug-in called SEOquake, and I’m also using it with a plug-in called Keywords Everywhere. I’ve saved this keyword here. You see how it says Olive Garden chicken pasta here? Well, if I was to go in and look at this keyword here, I would go ahead and click up Keywords Everywhere. I would go ahead and click on my favorite keywords, it’s actually right there. And you see where it says Olive Garden chicken pasta here? And do you see how it’s telling you that the search volume in the US most recently is 14,800 clicks a month?
Well if I go down here and take a look at this, do you see this drop-down menu? Look at January, February, and March. See how it went from 30,000, 33,000 searches to 18,000 searches, to 12,000 searches, then look at April, May, and June. Well look at the huge drop in search volume. That goes from, again a high of 33,000 to now, we’re at a low of 6,600 for June. Well what does this mean? Well if we go back here and we look at what’s ranking, this is the magical slow cooker here. She is a number one in the search results for this query. She has been number one for this query all year. She’s also number one in the carousel, do you see this? So we’ve got these two results where they’re number one in both the carousel, and of course organically. But if we were to go in and look at the performance, look at the huge drop just on this keyword. Look at that. She’s lost 50% of her traffic. See that? Position is really not changed, but she’s lost 50% of her traffic and it’s from one page. And it’s the page that we’re looking at, the one that’s ranked in Google here. Do you see that? So when we see this, it’s important for you to kind of dial in.
You see how we’ve dialed down to the page here? We want to go ahead and we do a comparison, three months to three months. We choose the query, and then once we have the query, we can hit the page down here and finite, we could scroll right down here and see the large drop in traffic. So in this case, we see her magical slow cooker here through no fault of her own, she is literally lost 50% of traffic just from this one page. Now this will bounce back, but only after search volume changes. And this is what we’re seeing a lot of. A lot of bloggers are contacting us because they’re confused at the fact that, hey, I’ve lost a lot of traffic, but they didn’t really lose the traffic, they lost the potential traffic because there was a change in search volume. Now the third example that we’re going to look at today, involves something that Arsen brought up, which is literally what the whole point of these core updates has been, which is a refinement in search traffic, okay?
This is an example of rhubarb recipes, which is a very valuable keyword phrase. And rhubarb recipes, is again, by the name of the search term, denotes multiple recipes here. So Spend with Pennies is a great example where, if you look at Spend with Pennies, they’re number one in the carousel, right? And you can see that a lot of the carousels here are just a single recipes. But previously, before the June core update, Spend with Pennies was way up here, all right? Now spend with pennies is down here. You see here? Now, you might be thinking, well I mean if they were in the top three, and they dropped down to number five, I’m sure that they would be a noticeable ranking drop, right? And it would be. And it’s reflected pretty noticeably right here, do you see this? Yhey’ve lost 60% of their traffic over the last 28 days alone, just because of this refinement on rhubarb recipes. What’s happening is that, Google has decided, and I know Arsen touched upon this previously, then when people are searching for rhubarb recipes, they’re not searching for a single recipe, they’re searching for roundups.
And what’s happening is, Taste of Home has now gotten two results up here. All her recipes has been elevated up. And so is Martha Stewart, Best Sweet and Healthy Recipes. you can see that Spend with Pennies is holding tight here. But even below, Epicurious is at even better search results. So it’s very possible that Epicurious might flip over with Spend with Pennies sometime soon. And of course this is concerning, because this was a big recipe for Spend with Pennies. The odds of them recovering up though to these-
Arsen Rabinovich (00:30:44):
They have to make new content.
Casey Markee (00:30:47):
Results, is very low. So our advice to Holly and her team are going to be the same. Which is that, we’re probably going to have to find a better resource here, so we can compete more effectively with the actual change in search intent here. And until we do, you should be very happy with this traffic. I know it’s reduced, but even on rhubarb recipes, the fact that you’re still hanging in there is pretty interesting. And a lot of that has to do with the size of your site. You are a very strong site. So just an FYI, those are three simple examples of when we’re looking at troubleshooting traffic drops, what we should be looking at. Sometimes through no fault of yours, it’s just a change in search intent. You were ranking for something that was a little bit too general, Google has pulled that match back, and the result is a drop in traffic. Or it could be with, like it was with Sarah and the magical slow cooker, this is a noticeable change in search behavior. You went from an incredible amount of searches a month, in January, February, and March, and now we’ve lost about 65% of that traffic, potential search traffic. So even though you’re the top result on the page, it’s going to be hard to replace that traffic until seasonally you come back around next year.
Ashley Segura (00:32:03):
And so you’ve shown all of the ways when once you’ve lost traffic, to kind of go in and diagnose it, and why this is happening. But Arsen, other than waiting for seasonality or trying to make content as evergreen as possible, do you have any recommendations to build momentum back up? I mean a lot of site owners can’t just wait and cross their fingers, and hope, okay I’ll make a couple changes and then maybe Google will like this time. Are there any kind of quick fixes that you’d recommend?
Arsen Rabinovich (00:32:35):
Right. So and this is what we’ve been doing for a lot of people who’ve been getting in touch with us since June. We’ve been putting out… We actually formulated a new product for this. But what we’ve been doing, and I’ll tell you exactly processes. And you can do this yourself, you can hire us if you’re lazy and rich, to do it for you. But it’s not rocket science, you can do this yourself. Learn from what’s there, right? And I’ve mentioned this before, And Casey touched on this. If you dropped off, go through your search console, go through your analytics, do a comparison. See which pages have taken hits. Or you probably already know, because your blog very intimately, and you know, okay this post is definitely not performing the same way. Now you have to rule things out. And approach it as if you’re like a doctor, right? Rule out certain things. Did the drop up happen because I am not satisfying the query? Is my content optimized to match this query? Did Google’s update actually do what it’s intended to do, to clean up the result, right? Look at the result. Look at who’s number one, two, three. For some of these, not some, a lot of them, a lot of the recommendations that we’re coming back with is, this piece of content is not designed to rank for this keyword.
It dropped off because it is not relevant. Our recommendation is to create a new piece of content, and that’s what I change it with. You just have to feed a new piece of content, right? If you want to rank, if you want to get back for that keyword, that you’ve enjoyed for years, and now Google is like, well no, this doesn’t make sense anymore. Create a new piece of content. Be smart with internal linking. Link from one to another. Show that relationship, right? You want to diagnose and you want to rule out technical issues, right? Technical drops, and Casey showed this, technical drops look completely different than relevance or query matching drops. Query matching drops are usually one, two, three position fluctuations, right? If you’re not relevant, you’re jumping thirty, sixty, ninety. A lot of times I’m seeing people move from top two pages to not being in top 100, right? Technical jobs are different. Technical drops will either affect a whole website, a chunk of a website. It’s behavior in your data, in your charts, looks completely different.
Identify, isolate specific URLs. Don’t focus on a keyword. Look at the post as a whole, right? In your search console, you can easily create a dimension for, when you go into performance you can do a comparison based on clicks. Past 20 days, compared to time before. Then you can isolate the pages. And then you can see. Positives and negatives. Look at the ones that took the biggest negative hits, right? Click on those pages. Click on queries. See which queries took the biggest hits. How relevant? So approach it. Look at one, two, and three. Use whatever tool. I use the Chrome extension tool. You can use SEO Minion, or whatever it is. Look at the document outline. Are you covering the topic just like the rest of the guys in one, two, and three? If you’re not-
Casey Markee (00:35:46):
Yeah, and it’s important to note that, even though we’ve talked a lot about the search intent today, we cannot understate how important it is to take a kitchen sink approach with these updates. Especially with the core update which is systemic, and can be so jarring for the average site. You really want to look at the technical side of your site. Anyone who would say that technical SEO is not as important as a content or keyword research, I see in these courses that lack at, you don’t worry too much about technical SEO. All you have to have is a content and dial in your keyword research, it’s a total joke.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:36:24):
Casey Markee (00:36:25):
We need to make sure that you’re really focusing on making sure that your site is easy for Google to crawl and algorithmically score as possible. And that’s where we take a kitchen sink approach. And you’ve seen this in every one of these webinars that we’ve talked about. We’ve talked about making sure that you’re looking at fixing technical issues. We’ve talked about the fact that we want to find new links. Links are a big part of making sure that you recover out of these core updates as much as fast as possible. Our colleague, Glenn Gabe, has done multiple reviews on these updates. And he says that, a lot of the sites that he has personally recovered, is a result of them building and new and better links to overcome, in some cases the quality issues that they’ve seen on the sites, they’ve worked to get more and better links deeper into the site. They’ve worked to improve the bottom line content of their quality. The bottom line quality of their content. And of course, most importantly, they’ve worked to republish no index or delete low quality content that cannot be understated. [crosstalk 00:37:31]. Make your site as attractive as possible.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:37:34):
So, that that all makes sense. But for specific, So in specific situations, if you’re number one and two, we can safely assume that those things are checked, right? That if you’re number one and two, which is something your technical Google is to having no issues crawling. These fluctuations are purely, if you were number one, now you’re number three, it’s a content issue. It’s a matching integrity issue. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I agree with you 100%. You took a hit, kitchen sink approach right away. Check everything. Check technical. Check everything. Check back links. check all of that. Yeah, absolutely. But these specific fluctuations that are in June, July, for the sites that were getting hit the most, it’s a content matching. Look, at least-
Casey Markee (00:38:15):
And I know that Amsive Digital has really come out, and nailed that.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:38:15):
Casey Markee (00:38:19):
But when we see sites that were ranking for Apple Pie a la Mode, and it’s an Apple Pie a la Mode recipe, and they went from two to eleven, it’s not matching.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:38:30):
Right. Right. Absolutely. It’s not matching.
Casey Markee (00:38:32):
It’s not matching. It’s a technical issue.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:38:32):
Casey Markee (00:38:34):
And you could see that, when you go, that’s why you have to do the kitchen sync approach. You’re exactly right. A lot of this is query matching. It’s not 100% query matching. That’s why we have thousands of baby algorithms out there. So if you’re in this call, and you’re thinking you should just be relying on query matching, that’s a mistake. You need to be taking a full kitchen sink approach reviewing everything and making sure that, okay, I have provided the best experience I can for the users on the page. Let me give you an example here. We’ve had sites that, I’m not going to call out her name, but she’s contacted me multiple times, and she’s sent over something for me to review yesterday, and it was literally stuffed with ads. So if you’re on the call, and you’re with Mediavine or Adthrive, the very first thing that I would be doing, and you’ve suffered ranking drops, pull up your phone on mobile. Pull up your recipes. Pull up your content. If your ads are being served every two paragraphs, hey, it’s about time for you to move them to every three.
Ashley Segura (00:38:34):
Casey Markee (00:39:30):
Or if you’re finding that you have the arrival unit on, and you’re jumping people to an ad, and you’ve been told this ridiculous bullshit for years, that if you turn off the arrival unit, your RPM will tank, it absolutely won’t. It doesn’t. You know why? Because we’ve been doing it for the last month and a half as a test on some of the biggest sites with Adthrive and Mediavine. And they’ve all emailed me the same thing. Not one drop in RPM. not one drop. So, start thinking of taking a user first approach with your content. Your goal should not be, how can I monetize every piece of money out of this page. That should not be your first approach when you look at a page that’s dropped. Your first approach should be, what can I do to make this page the most useful pleasing query matching result I can for the average user. And then of course, when I do this, the money is going to flow after that. That’s always going to be your goal. So, really understand that. Because I can’t tell you how many times we’ve dialed ads back, or we’ve removed auto playing video ads from the top of the page, or we’ve increased ad density from every two paragraphs to every three. Or we’ve removed jump to arrival buttons.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:42):
Casey’s just giving-
Casey Markee (00:40:43):
And [inaudible 00:40:43] have improved. Again, we’re giving away the entire farm here.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:40:48):
Casey Markee (00:40:49):
These things are things that you have full control over. You have full control over your ads, okay? Lower them. Start thinking about, what’s the best experience for users. Don’t rely on your ad company.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:41:00):
Ashley Segura (00:41:02):
Okay. So, Casey, Arsen, you both just covered a bunch of what to do after you’re experiencing a loss of traffic. But there’s a lot of sites who, on a regular basis, regardless of if it’s because seasonality, or technical, or an algorithm updates. Regardless of what the reason is, they have spikes and drops of traffic pretty consistently. So before we even get to, all right you have a huge drop, you need to go do all of these things, what’s something that publishers can do to avoid having huge drops from happening in the first place?
Casey Markee (00:41:39):
I wish there was a magic formula there. I think that the most important thing that we could say there is, be useful. The number one ranking factor in Google is being useful. How useful are my pages? What have I done to make it easier for users to digest my content? Usually that involves running less ads than you’re supposed to be running. Usually that involves making sure that your content is easy to digest, with table of contents. Maybe you include a table of contents at the top, so users can easily jump down your headings. Maybe you’ve made it so that every sentence is in a paragraph, which is some pretty silly, In many aspects. Because the more you do that, the more ads are going to pop in. One of the things that we find, especially, that’s why we love the block editor. When you move to the block editor, you have the ability to control how your content is presented a little bit more readily than you did previously, with the classic editor. And by that I mean, you have the ability to group blocks. And grouping blocks is very important.
Because if you could group blocks exceptionally well, then you can control where your ads are going to pop in. So if I’m doing a list and I’ve got a list of five items, I don’t want an ad to pop in between those five items. I want the user to be able to see all those five items uninterrupted. So maybe I group those, by grouping them as a block. Or maybe I grouped the list block, and then I grew up another image below that so that I can kind of control where the ads are going to pop in on the pages. That’s usually very eye opening when we show bloggers how to do this on audit calls. Hey, by the way, if you’re not pleased with the logic bearing algorithm that these ad companies are using to show your ads, you can control them by grouping these elements, so then the ads can only appear here, here, or here. And that’s something to be aware of. That will help you present a little bit more professional appearance to your users, especially on mobile.
Ashley Segura (00:43:39):
Ann switching gears a little bit, just because this pretty much just happened. But Google just launched a new spam algorithm update on the 26th, which, what’s today? That was yesterday.
Casey Markee (00:43:49):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Ashley Segura (00:43:50):
It was a long time ago.
Casey Markee (00:43:51):
Spam algorithm.[crosstalk 00:43:51].
Ashley Segura (00:43:53):
Casey, Arsen, Andrew, have you guys seen anything about this? Is there anything that we should take action on right now? Should we just wait and see how this plays out? What do you guys recommend?
Arsen Rabinovich (00:44:05):
Wait and see, for sure.
Casey Markee (00:44:07):
I think what’s interesting is, if there was any confusion of whether you should be no following affiliate links, that’s gone. I know I get all the time, bloggers say, I didn’t think we had no follow affiliate links. I’m like, we’ve always recommended you no follow affiliate links. They’re a sponsored link. But for you clicking on this link, you would not get any money. It’s a sponsored link. There’s a consideration element there. And for Google to come out with an update, and they specifically say in there, because of a failure by a lot of bloggers and site owners to no follow affiliate links, we’re actually going to be forced to push out a spam algorithm targeting that. And they’re saying specifically, if you do not do this, not only could there be a manual action consequences, but we reserve the right to take algorithmic action against you. And it’s right there in the notice. And I think we’ve already pasted it over. But we’ll paste it over again, so you guys can see this. But absolutely. We need to be tagging all of those affiliate links on our site with a sponsored, with a Rel follow. A Rel no follow, or Rel sponsored. Both are fine. Google specifically says, hey, we’d like you to use the Rel sponsored. It’s just easier for them.
But if you’re already on this call, and you’re thinking, oh crap. Now I got to go through and change all my Rel no follow to Rel sponsored, don’t even lose any sleep over it. No follow’s the same. Google recognizes it. You’re fine. Don’t lose any sleep over it. But we want to make sure that you get this stuff dialed in. Make it easier for Google to understand, this is an affiliate link, this is not. And then go from there. But that’s just a trust signal. This could also be a trust signal. One of those issues where, if I’m going through a site… And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been doing these audits, and I loosed can of the affiliate links on a page. S, I know a lot of you are using tasty links on the call, which is a very popular plug-in extension. Tasty links has a really bad habit of literally finding every reference of pot roast on a site, and make it an affiliate link. Or vanilla, or butter or something like that. And we just don’t want to do that. That’s not necessary.
So, if you’re looking at your post right now, and you’re seeing every other sentence there is an affiliate link, that’s a problem. I think that there’s an issue with, not only is that not useful to users, but it really does look poorly, and it could maybe be a low, a spam flag that you would definitely not want against your site.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:46:40):
So, we noticed this in November. And this was one of the things, in the November 2019 update, the one that we did the whole study for because there was just so much in it, this was one of those things. And if you haven’t listened to us since then, or even before about affiliate links, you need to clearly start paying attention. And this is what Google does. Google says, this is bad. We don’t listen. Google says, this is still bad. We don’t listen. Then Google puts it into an update, packages it up, and says, this is bad. Here is what’s going to happen, If you don’t listen to us. We don’t listen, and now it’s like a one strong update that people are going to get hit. Though Casey’s a 100% right. We can’t-
Casey Markee (00:47:20):
I’m going to paste over. I’m going to paste over a link to The Blog Fixer. And frankly, The Blog Fixer might be your best friend. I’m not going to paste over my affiliate link, this is a great opportunity to do that, but I won’t. I am giving you a notice that I’m not going to do that. But The Blog Fixer is going to be your new best friend, if you have been incorrectly utilizing the no follow attribute on your site for years, because you might have hundreds, if not thousands of links, that need the no follow or sponsored attributes. Instead of you wasting hours of your limited life going through, go over to The Blog Fixer. Have him scan your entire site. He’ll tell you what you’ve missed, and they’ll fix them all at scale for you. I’m going to paste that now.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:48:03):
And Casey, while you’re pasting that over, we only have one more question, and then we’re going to open up to Q&A. So now is your time, if you haven’t already put your question in there, please address it in there. If we don’t get to all of them, we will get to them and publish the answer in the recap next week. Andrew, Casey, And Arsen covered a lot of the different reasons why you could lose traffic. Is page speed one of them?
Andrew Wilder (00:48:30):
Yes, but everybody thinks it’s far more important than it is.
Casey Markee (00:48:37):
This is so true. I mean really-
Andrew Wilder (00:48:40):
Casey Markee (00:48:42):
Yeah I knew he was going to say it. He was going to say it.
Ashley Segura (00:48:45):
We don’t have prizes, I’m sorry everybody.
Casey Markee (00:48:48):
We’ll make a donation to Andrew’s favorite charity. So, we’ll do good.
Andrew Wilder (00:48:53):
So, especially with core web vitals recently, I mean Google has said it’s a ranking factor for many years, right? We’ve talked about this a lot. And because we don’t know what most of the ranking factors are, when Google says, hey, core web vitals are a ranking factor. We as humans go, oh, okay. That’s something I know and can quantify.
Casey Markee (00:49:10):
Andrew Wilder (00:49:10):
I have specific targets. And so, we have this psychological bias where we’re just giving it away more weight than Google is. And this is borne out now that, this is rolling out where we’re not seeing major ranking factors from site speed. So, it is important. It is a ranking factor. It is more of a tiebreaker. Content is more important in general. And what we’re seeing also with core web vitals, seems to be similar to what we had with just regular site speed. Where if your site is really, really, really slow, it takes 10 seconds before anything happens, that’s a horrible user experience. And Google penalizes that. But if your site takes four seconds versus three seconds, that’s not going to be a big deal for Google. It’s still better. Faster is definitely better. So don’t misunderstand. But, if your site speed goes from, and I hate to use the overall numbers on GPSI, but if you’re getting an 80 in GPSI, and then next week something changes and you’re getting a 50, that’s probably not going to impact your rankings. It’s worth investigating and fixing, but that’s not the underlying cause, I can almost guarantee it. Oh, one other thing I want to mention about core web vitals, a clarification just to reiterate, Google has clarified since they originally launched, that the closer you are to the good range, the better it is for ranking.
So it is a scale. It’s not just pass or no pass. They need to change the language on GPSI, instead of saying passes. So I just want to say that again to everybody, because people still are misunderstanding that. So if your, let’s say your cumulative layout shift is 0.8 versus, versus 0.3, then that’s helpful. But going from 0.3 to 0.1 probably isn’t as much of a difference. And then once you get to 0.1, in the good range. There’s no SEO benefit whatsoever to getting faster. Still good, but no SEO benefit. So just, in general the site speed faster is better, but it isn’t what we originally thought going to be just a pass, fail, like full black and white thing. It actually is a great gradient. So, if your site speeds hovering area, your largest Contentful paint is hovering at 2.6 seconds, and that’s in the mids improvement, and good is 2.5 seconds, that 10th of a second in the real world won’t make any difference. It just happens to get you from the orange to the green.
Casey Markee (00:51:18):
Right. Right. Now the most important thing to understand about these core web vitals is that, again, we want you to be faster, we want you to be in the green. But if you’re like, Oh my God man, I am in needs improvement, and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get for needs improvement to green. You know what, would lose any sleep over it. Because you know what? We haven’t found hardly any use cases, where a blogger moving from needs improvement to green has caused some miraculous increase in their bottom line traffic. In fact, we’ve actually seen the opposite, where we have seen bloggers who’ve had ranking changes based upon these core updates, and their core web vitals would definitely not be what we would consider competitive. So I would say that, on a very competitive query, and I think both Arsen and Andrew would agree on this. Maybe it’s a tie breaker, maybe it’s not. But it’s just one of many thousands of algorithms that Google uses. Its just the core experience algorithm contains, not just the core web vitals, it contains, again, HTTPS. It contains overall security. It contains you not using intrusive mobile interstitials, okay? All that stuff goes hand in hand.
Now if you’re real a spammy side, you’re not doing any of those things. Then it’s very possible that you have a larger effect negatively with core web vitals than most. But we just haven’t seen that.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:52:39):
Casey Markee (00:52:42):
The Russian has spoken.
Ashley Segura (00:52:44):
And with that, we moved to Q&A. So we have a few questions in there. We should be able to get to most of them with the time that we have left. First one from Tammy. Are we trying to match the long tail keyword query or have long tails that might contain a part of a keyword? Arsen, I think you may have been talking about that at the beginning. It was either you-
Arsen Rabinovich (00:53:06):
Repeat the question or can I get clarified?
Ashley Segura (00:53:09):
Certainly. So, are we trying to match a long tail keyword query, or have long tails that might contain part of a keyword? Does the long tail need to be exactly like the query, or the long tail just need to have the keyword separately?
Arsen Rabinovich (00:53:25):
Right. Okay. So, if I’m understanding the question correctly. So, whatever long tail, short tail, whatever the tail, if that’s your primary keyword for that, post how to make bacon potato soup, or sweet potato soup recipe, right? That should be the main focus. That’s the primary reason the person is coming to your site to get that, right? Everything that gets matched as secondary is a byproduct of you writing a post that covers the topic, the main topic, whether it’s a long tail or short tail, right? Answering [inaudible 00:54:05] brings more, it blossoms your post, for lack of a better word. Bringing and answering questions, brings more keywords in. But focusing on the primary intent, and there’s different ways of approaching from the camp of, if somebody searching for how to make potato soup, I’m going to give them that information right at the top, right? I’m not going to tell them these are the alternative ingredients, or why they should make this potato soup. They know why they want to make it. They need to know how to make it, right? Prioritize that. And look, again, no correlation here. This is just what I’m noticing by observing, in all these consults, and talking to people, 6-7 calls a day. Perform that query.
Look at how Google template sizes that search results, right? Google is prioritizing commercial results at the top, you will most likely never rank at the top for that query. Google gives you a kitchen sink result. Or this is the top point, and then we have those little oval buttons at the top that help you refine the query, right? Recipe, delivery, shopping, right? You are most likely going to have a hard… Unless you’re super authoritative, you’re going to have a hard time reading that. So that’s where the long tail comes in, right? Find out, figure out what the long tails, how to make XYZ best thing for blah blah blah. That should be your H1. That should be what you’re optimizing for. Everything else is secondary.
Ashley Segura (00:55:39):
Next question from Kristen. When updating content, and example of something that fell from the top three-E to top 10, 20. How much can you safely delete from that post? Should it be images, any kind of fluff? And is moving the content around on the page considered deleting it? Like moving paragraphs, or moving images up or down. Casey what would you say?
Casey Markee (00:56:02):
Well certainly moving content around is not deleting it. But your issue is really compare, if you were popped off of Page one to page two, we need to find out what was popped in between you. Let’s take a look at the sites that were elevated above you, and take a look at their recipe structure. Now I’ll be honest with you. There are some recipes structures that are just truly horrible, and they might have been elevated because they are incredibly strong sites. You would never want to replicate what you see on an Allrecipes. The posts are just crap. They rank because they have 99,000 linking root domains. No one is ever going to argue against me that there is another reason. Sorry, doesn’t exist. They ranked because they have an incredible amount of link equity flowing through Turkish deviled eggs, for God sakes. Everything on their site ranks. So, it can be confusing for bloggers. Like, Oh my God, I was just outranked by this huge site. You were outranked, not necessarily because the content on the page. You were outranked because of a lot of offside factors, that go into that result.
So, what you need to be looking at, are the other recipe sites between you and those other larger sites, that are of comparative size and structure. And kind of look and see how they put things together. In your example, if you’re looking at deleting content, first thing I would look at is, do you have process shots, or do I just have four photos of the finished dish, and I’ve called it a day? I’d also be looking at making sure that your recipe card is fully enhanced. Have I added nice recipe notes? If someone was to print out your recipe card, would they have all the information they need to make this perfectly? There are various things that we’ve talked about in detail, on all of our previous webinars, about what we consider goes into the perfect recipe posts. And it involves detailed information. It’s not fluff. I have a, here’s why this recipe works, and I’m selling the user right at the top of the page. This is why these are the best Turkish deviled eggs you’re ever going to have. I don’t even know what Turkish deviled eggs are, but I’m sure that they exist, and I’ll probably be getting some for Christmas.
Arsen Rabinovich (00:58:03):
You’re spot on. You’re spot on. And I think you recently sent somebody over to me, and I talked to them today, where they match who’s on page one, almost 100%. Even the order of the headings on that post. Content length, frequency, everything, right? A 100%. And they’re just not hitting page one. Then when you, [inaudible 00:58:24] you pull up that search result, and you see what the referring domains are, right? And you see, oh wow, this is stack. This is an authority plate, and then you compare, I’m not going to name them. You compare, they have 13 referring domains pointing, and out of those 13, only two will follow.
Casey Markee (00:58:43):
Arsen Rabinovich (00:58:44):
Right. So, you have-
Casey Markee (00:58:46):
You can have the best recipe in the world. I mean you could have, literally, the best recipe, and maybe you’re just going to be on a number 11, top of page two forever.
Ashley Segura (00:58:55):
Casey Markee (00:58:55):
Because the top ten sites on page one or freaking huge. They have 10s of thousands of linking root domains, and they have so much authority that is just going to be hard for you to muscle in. And that’s disappointing. And I know it’s hard for a lot of bloggers to understand, but we’ve audited them all. From Spend with Pennies, to Sugar Spun Run, to these huge sites. The RecipeTin Eats that are getting 10, 20, 30 million sessions a month, okay? All of them have had this refinement happen, okay? And it’s not something they’ve done wrong, it’s just that the recipe niche continues to be incredibly competitive. Incredibly competitive. There are something like 300% more food blogs now, than just four years ago. There is a lot of people, especially who were at home during the COVID crisis, right? As matter fact, I believe there’s never been more blogs launched than last year. Because everyone had the time to do it. So when we think about that increase, and the fact that there’s only 10 first place spaces on Google, a lot more competition out there for even the most long tail keyword phrases.
Then there it is. Is that my Turkish deviled eggs?
Ashley Segura (00:58:55):
Andrew Wilder (00:58:55):
Casey Markee (01:00:15):
That’s awesome. That’s fantastic.
Ashley Segura (01:00:17):
Arsen, yours is-
Arsen Rabinovich (01:00:17):
Casey Markee (01:00:17):
Ashley Segura (01:00:20):
Casey Markee (01:00:21):
That’s what that is. [crosstalk 01:00:23]
Ashley Segura (01:00:22):
Casey Markee (01:00:25):
oh Andrew did a better job. But I will call this Turkish deviled eggs. As it called. Those look nice.
Andrew Wilder (01:00:31):
That’s the recipe, courtesy of Kirby, at Leisure Fan Club.
Casey Markee (01:00:34):
Andrew Wilder (01:00:36):
Kirby, if you’re here, thank you for letting me steal your picture.
Ashley Segura (01:00:38):
Looks delicious. Well, that wraps up today’s episode. For the rest of the questions that we weren’t able to get to, we will be publishing the recap on topatrank.com next week, with the video replay, the transcript, the Q&A, and all the resources mentioned. So, as always, thank you everyone for tuning in from all over the world, literally. And thank you to our amazing expert panelists, Andrew, Arsen and Casey. If you guys have any additional questions, go ahead and squeeze them into the Q&A real quick, otherwise we are heading out. Thank you for joining us.
Andrew Wilder (01:01:11):
Casey Markee (01:01:12):
Bye everyone. We’ll see you again.