TopHatRank Blogger SEO SEO Resources for Blogger and Publishers SEO Priorities in 2021; Recap SEO For Bloggers Episode #7

Vital SEO Strategies to Focus on in 2021 to Drive Traffic and Rankings

Recap, Q&A, + All the Resources

The first quarter of a new year is the perfect time to dive into fundamental SEO practices, especially with last year ending with a big update from Google. In this episode, panelists discuss where your focus needs to be when it comes to optimizing your blog in 2021, what tasks to prioritize, and how to get back into gear with your SEO.

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

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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

Is there still some activity, because I find posts still rank different from day to day? From ranking 5 to 25 to 4 and so on…

Use something like bytechech.comand and all of which will show you server response times at scale and around the world.

Question 2

How do you know if you have How to Schema? vs recipe schema?

Look in the “Enhancements” section of your Google Search Console – it will show any “How To” content there. You can also test posts with the Rich Results Test tool.


Question 3

Do you have an example of a blogger that uses recipe schema?

Here’s an example of a post with a recipe that includes the Recipe Schema (using the WP Recipe Maker plugin).
Here’s the Rich Test Results for that post:


Question 4

If I write a column on a large site on a semi-regular basis and link back to my site, does that link help build EAT?

Absolutely. Especially if it’s a high-quality site.

Question 5

Should you delete those link rich posts like blog hops and link parties or just no index them?

Are they actually generating traffic? If they are, NOFOLLOW all the links first. But keep them open. If they are not generating traffic delete them. Most don’t in my experience.


Question 6

When bloggers are putting together round ups and asking for links from other bloggers for a round up post is that an okay backlink or would that be similar to a blogger hop?

That’s totally fine since there is a “you can use this or not” component. As long as there is no “you link to me and I link to you” component you are just fine.


Question 7

You spoke about aggressive ads, but what about opt in email form pop ups? If you have it pop up after 30 seconds, yay or nay?

Per Google, a “time delay” does not excuse a first click from Google intrusive interstitial. So either run them as exit-only or between pages. A time delay won’t protect you if it’s still on the first-click-from-Google and it’s a big pop-up.


Question 8

Do you suggest we use the new Yoast “time to read function” on gutenburg?

I don’t. Feast removed this from their theme becasue they found it wasn’t really being used or providing much value. Yoast was just “slow” to add this to their plugin. But honestly, it’s totally up to you.


Question 9

Two questions: 1. Should I always include a table of contents? 2. Is it better to use Yoast FAQs or do an FAQ H2 with questions as H3?

Google doesn’t know it’s an FAQ if you don’t actually use “FAQ Schema” If you were using Questions as H2s and Answers ast H3, Google has no idea that’s an FAQ. Use the schema. Use the Yoast FAQ Block.


Question 10

Should we use jump links AND a jump to recipe button?

Absolutely. The more you can optimize for users the better. You can track both and see what you see for sure.


Question 11

For the Jump to Headers, what’s best practice for writing useful headers?

Don’t stuff them with keywords. Read the detailed resource from Feast on Headings here:


Question 12

What about push notification pop up?

They CAN be okay, if they are relatively small, and they are not negatively impacting your CLS metrics. You should check a page and its CLS with the pop-up and without.

Question 13

Are web stories worth it? Also, I don’t believe they’re available in Canada yet. Would it be worth outsourcing to someone in the US or just skip over them?

They can generate a TON of traffic. But it’s short burts of traffic that dies quickly.


Question 14

How do you identify whether your site is slow due to your host?

Use a tool like and which does a good job looking at server response globally.


Question 15

What is the right way of using ads? between 3 paragraph or more?

I’m of the belief that “less ads” is more. For some people that’s less in-content ads, for others that’s more.


Question 16

Any recommendation on who to hire to help fix page speed issues?

NerdPress, of course! All of their WordPress Support Plans help with site speed issues, as well as security, reliability, and updates.


Question 17

Can we use google web tools to test structure data for web stories?

You can certainly use the Pagespeed Insights tool to check for performance and the AMP Validation Tool to check to see if the story is valid structure. That tool is located at


Question 18

Why are my web stories not being indexed?

It could be a quality issue. Check that the story validates in the AMP Test tool, then review our recommendations on optimizing Web Stories.

Question 19

Is it worthwhile to UNPUBLISH a Just in time content web story and then republish it next year?

No, when you unpublish you are creating a 404 which could be a low quality signal to Google.


Question 20

Can you recommed a plugin that we can use to embed webstories into posts?

I believe that Slickstream has offered a plugin or widget that will allow this. But I’m not aware of anything else that will do this as of yet.

Question 21

Do you have any examples of web stories being linked to within blog posts?

Check out some of the posts from “Oh, How Civilized.” She is doing a good job linking to stories via “Quick View Stories” links on the sidebar and internally in posts. Here’s an example of a post with a in-content link to the accompanying web story:


Question 22

What’s the longevity of a web story? If the traffic drops off should we reoptimise? Delete? Do they become weeds? What are your thoughts?

I would be patient. Web Stories are still very new. Maybe they are picked up and featured again in a couple of months? Maybe you refeature them yourself when they become seasonally appropriate again? But no, these are not “traditional content weeds” and I would not run to NOINDEX them or UNPUBLISH them if they don’t do well the first time.


Question 23

I’ve noticed that my web stories show up in my website search. For example, if you search for “enchiladas” on my website, both the enchiladas web story and the actual enchilada recipe post show up. Is there a way to exclude them so that my website users don’t accidentally click on the web story instead of the actual recipe post?

Use the Search Exclude plugin. Located here

Then, choose QUICK EDIT, on the List of Web Stories screen, and choose EXCLUDE from search.


Question 24

The default length for each web story slide is 7 seconds, is it a good idea to make it shorter?

7 seconds is a bit long, but A/B test 3 seconds vs 7.


Question 25

Do you recommend the Mediavine Web Story monetization?

Sure, it doesn’t hurt you at all.


Question 26

What is the best way to make Web Stories?

MakeStories plugin, Google Web Stories format. New templates are being added regularly so you always need to check the origianl plugin.

Question 27

For a blogger who’s only been blogging for 4 months what should my #1 main focus be ?

Making your site as user-friendly as possible (page speed, fixing all tech issues, etc).


Question 28

Is Answer The Public website still a good place to reference/use?

Sure, but it’s only really fully open to UK Subscribers, unless you pay for access.


Question 29

So we shouldn’t use revisionize anymore?

If it’s working well for you, it’s fine to keep using it. But if you’re running into any issues or glitches, give Yoast’s new Duplicate Post plugin a try.


Question 30

I know internal linking is important so you don’t want orphaned content. If I use reusable blocks, Yoast doesn’t recognize links from resuable blocks so how do I know if I have as many orphaned posts as Yoast says?

I was not aware that reusable blocks caused any issues with Yoast not recognizing the links. I would reach-out directly to Yoast and ask for advice on that.


Question 31

On 12/3 with the Google Core Update my ranking increased dramatically. On 1/7/21 google had another algorithm change and my rankings fell as quickly as they went up. Any ideas why? Any suggestions on how to get back in the good rankings?

Googe has updates every day. If they had an update on 1/7 it was not publicized. As with anything, you need to conduct a detailed before and after analysis of what dropped and look for patterns. It’s also VERY possible there was no update at all. We had the Capitol riots on 1/6 and that disrupting a lot of Internet patterns and that could have extended to 1/7 as well.


Question 32

I would be curious to know what your opinion is on Yoast vs RankMath. Thanks!

I have moved more people OFF of Rank Math over to Yoast over the last year than all other plugins combined. The issue isn’t that RankMath is a “bad plugin” it’s just easy for novice bloggers to screw it up. This results in needless schema errors, duplicate or incorrect sitemaps being generated, and excessive over-optimization based on “new ” recommendations. I think what bloggers need to understand is that you are not going to get some kind of “SEO boost” moving from Yoast to RankMath. Far from it actually.


Tools, Links, & Resources for SEO in 2021

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

  1. Nerdpress – WordPress support for small businesses
  2. Resources From Google:
    1. Google Core Updates Guidance – Google’s advice on Google Core Updates.
    2. Google’s post about Mobile Interstitial Penalty – Google’s advice on providing a good user experience on mobile.
    3. Lighthouse – An open source automated tool for improving the quality of web pages.
    4. Pagespeed Insights – Analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
    5. Web Stories Creations Best Practices – Best practices to help keep your readers engaged.
    6. Web Stories Content Policy – Ensure your content surface by following the listed policies.
  3.  Web Stories Plugin – Visual storytelling format for the web.
  4. System Font Stack -Basic system web fonts
  5. Broken Link Checker Plugin – Monitor and test all internal & external links on your site for broken links.
  6. Webpage Test – Test your user’s experience while on your site.
  7. WP Rocket – Caching plugin to help improve the speed of your WordPress site, SEO rankings and conversions.
  8. Lucky WP – Create SEO-friendly table of contents for your posts, pages or custom post types.
  9. Feast Jump Links – provide your readers with a better on-page navigation experience with jump links.
  10. Slickstream – Adding a container to your site to ensure the Slickstream Filmstrip will not affect CLS.
  11. Pinch of Yum – Web Stories example.


Ashley Segura (00:00:01):
All right. We are officially live now, and they’re going to be coming in.

Andrew Wilder (00:00:07):
Casey, are you going to be moaning all over about those cookies?

Ashley Segura (00:00:09):
Depends on how many cookies he’s going to have. And if he goes to the limit, I’m sure there’s no moan with the limit one.

Casey Markee (00:00:17):
Go to my belly.

Ashley Segura (00:00:20):
No milk?

Casey Markee (00:00:24):
No. Energy drink.

Andrew Wilder (00:00:25):
For those of you just tuning in, it’s Girl Scout cookie season. That’s what’s going on right here in the Markee household.

Ashley Segura (00:00:33):
Not candy corn related, Heather, but great guess.

Casey Markee (00:00:36):

Ashley Segura (00:00:43):
Hi Amy. Hi everyone. Thank you everyone for joining us. While you’re all tuning in, let us know where you’re tuning in from. We’re so excited to get back to SEO For Publishers in this new year.

Casey Markee (00:00:55):
Ola for Buenos Aires, again. Good. We’ve got a good… We’ve got a good… Amy again. Hi, Amy? How are you doing?

Andrew Wilder (00:01:03):
We have our first official question from Julie. Hi, Julie? What is your favorite girl’s Scout cookie, Casey?

Ashley Segura (00:01:08):
Great question.

Casey Markee (00:01:10):
Look, I don’t discriminate, they’re all my favorites, but if I had to choose just one, it’d be the Tagalongs. And I don’t have any of those right now because I ate them all. All I have are my-

Ashley Segura (00:01:22):
Have you put those in the fridge?.

Casey Markee (00:01:25):
My wife likes all of her cookies cold, it’s fine. I don’t. I just like cookies, period, hot, cold, left on a radiator, left out, it doesn’t matter. Good times.

Andrew Wilder (00:01:39):
For me, it’s the mints in the freezer, no question.

Ashley Segura (00:01:41):
No, that makes sense. If you’re going to put them in the freezer, put them in something like… I’ll have one.

Casey Markee (00:01:45):
These Samoas are really good. And they have coconut in them, so they have to be healthy. That’s why I love them

Andrew Wilder (00:01:50):
Yeah, high in fiber. You’re good.

Ashley Segura (00:01:53):
Yeah. Great logic. Wow, we have people from all over.

Casey Markee (00:02:04):

Andrew Wilder (00:02:06):
Harrison from Nigeria.

Casey Markee (00:02:08):

Ashley Segura (00:02:08):

Andrew Wilder (00:02:10):
Hi, Harrison.

Ashley Segura (00:02:11):
Lots of snowy places. My pipes froze for the first time, this is my first real winter, and so I got to experience that. So all you living in snow, fun times.

Casey Markee (00:02:22):
I do not miss that at all. Born and raised in Kansas, we used to have the frozen pipes all the time. Nope.

Ashley Segura (00:02:32):
Yup. Had to go throw a heater down the well. Pipes are good now. Awesome. All right. I think everybody’s just about poured in. So we are going to get started with the seventh episode. Happy New Year again, everybody, and welcome to our first episode of 2021 of SEO For Publishers, with our expert panelists, Casey Markee and Andrew Wilder. We’re down one arson today, but don’t worry, we plan to switch things up and we have a lot of technical content today. So as always, feel free to head over to the Q&A box, definitely drop your questions, we’re going to try and answer as many as we can.

Ashley Segura (00:03:15):
Anything that we don’t get to, we will be addressing afterwards. This presentation will be recorded, we’ll put it up on YouTube as well as a recap blog post. So you’ll get the transcript, the video and all of the questions in Q&A answered. So definitely, don’t worry, but by all means, as you get questions, make sure you put them over to the Q&A. That way, we ensure they get answered 100%. So we are going to do things today, a little bit differently. We’re first going to dive into a little bit of some stuff that happened in 2020, and then we’re going to go into how we can prepare for Q1 of 2021.

Ashley Segura (00:03:55):
Casey, let’s get started with some questions for you. Let’s go back to 2020 for just a quick second. I know everyone who’s attending, just brace yourself. But let’s go back.

Casey Markee (00:04:06):
I know you guys, you’re blocking that from your memory. I get it.

Ashley Segura (00:04:10):
Let’s just go back to it a little bit.

Casey Markee (00:04:12):
2020 does not exist. We do not speak of it anymore.

Ashley Segura (00:04:13):
I know. I know. We have to uncover the grave.

Casey Markee (00:04:16):
Zero-zero. No stars. Would not recommend. Totally get it, guys. Totally get it, guys.

Ashley Segura (00:04:19):
No. No, definitely not. For a hot second, let’s go back into the last month of 2020. And Casey, can you remind us what happened on December 4th with the core update from Google?

Casey Markee (00:04:32):
Absolutely. So many of you might be aware that Google launches these core updates, which are the only announced updates that they really do these days, and they launched them very infrequently. We had a core update in January of 2020, we had a core updated May of 2020, and then we had another core update, the last one for the year, in December 4th, 2020. Now, this core update didn’t complete until 12-16, which was interesting because we had a big movement of issues on around 12-9 and 12-10. There was a lot of volatility.

Casey Markee (00:05:06):
I had a lot of bloggers reach out and says, “Oh my gosh, it seems like I was doing okay on the fourth, and then the ninth and 10th came along and they had all this volatility. What happened?” And it’s usually pretty common. Google is going in there pushing out and increasing those. They’re looking at the data, maybe they’re making some changes. Clearly, if you’ve had losses, that doesn’t help you though. I know it’s discouraging for some people, but with these core updates, this is again, Google trying to improve the quality overall of the search results.

Casey Markee (00:05:33):
Now, I know that a lot of people are confused by these core updates and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, just seemed like I was doing everything right, blah, blah. And then all of a sudden I got hit by this core update and now I’ve lost like 20% of my traffic, 50% of my traffic.” And I know it’s frustrating. Now, Google will come out and say, “Well, in many cases you might not have been doing anything else wrong, someone else was doing things better.” And of course, that’s not comforting for a lot of you. But if you’ve been affected by one of these core updates, basically the bottom line is that Google has reevaluated quality signals on your side.

Casey Markee (00:06:06):
And these quality signals can look like anything. It’s never just one thing. Core updates are very aggregated in nature. It’s a matter of improving bottom line quality, it’s a matter of improving or removing aggressive ads, it’s a matter of addressing thin or low quality content, fixing, modifying slow page speed, making sure that we improve anything that’s user specific or user metric related on your site. Now, John Mueller recently explained, especially for positive changes that, let’s say you had been affected by a previous update and you had only made recent changes on your side in the last two to three weeks.

Casey Markee (00:06:44):
And you’re like, “Casey, I don’t understand. I just had an audit maybe October, and when I was expecting to get recovery from the update in May or in December.” In many cases, that’s unfortunately not enough time. Google usually says that in many cases, if you’ve made any changes from two to four weeks in advance, that’s not really enough time to be reflected in the update, and that can be very confusing to users. But in many cases, we really want to focus on the longterm. This is a relevancy adjustment. We want to make sure that we’re looking at our site anew, that we’re trying to do everything we can to get this fine tuning in order.

Casey Markee (00:07:21):
So when we’re looking at what you as a site owner can do specifically to recover from these core updates, I want you to do a couple of things specifically. Number one and most importantly, I want you to start taking a hard look at your content and make sure that it’s satisfying the user intent of the search query. Look at the query, look at how it’s written, look at what’s being returned in Google. One of the examples that I saw from a blogger who reached out is that she had incorrectly been using how-to schema on a lot of posts when the query and the relevancy of those posts were using a recipe schema.

Casey Markee (00:07:56):
A lot of people make that mistake. These are not interchangeable. For those of you on the call who are confused by this, how-to schema should never be used on food and drinks. If it’s edible, we always use recipe schema. And so in her case, that was one of the things that really stood out immediately, is that, whereas she was losing traffic and rankings on very specific posts, when we would go into Google and look at everything else that was ranking, it was recipe schema, it wasn’t how to. So in that case, I think if we switch all of her how-to to recipe schema correctly, she might get some improvements. We also want to, of course, number two, fix all your technical issues. We really want to go in, we want a run a technical crawl, we want to make sure all your broken links are fixed

Casey Markee (00:08:37):
There’s plugins like the Broken Link Check. I might have Andrew paste that in. It’s a great plugin, we use it all the time. We want to go in and fix 404s, we want to go in and fix 503s, we want to go in and make sure that we’ve done everything we can on that side to correct things. We want to look at your site and your recipes specifically in the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. We want to fix all errors specifically. We want to try to fix as many schema warnings as we can. Bottom line, quality, doing little things like that. We want to look at internal linking, we want to make sure, most importantly, brings us to number three, you want to look at your ads. Aggressive ad practices are one of the biggest reasons sites have been negatively impacted by these core updates.

Casey Markee (00:09:22):
How many ads are you running? Are you running video or auto-playing ads? Do these ads follow the user down the screen? Are you, for example, jumping your users from the top of the post to another ad, instead of saying, “Hey, here’s the jump to recipe button,” but instead of jumping into the recipe, you jump them to another ad? Those kinds of things, especially again, if you were affected algorithmically are things that I would look at changing. We want to focus on giving you the better, the best bottom line quality we can for those recipes. Now, one of the other things that is a lot harder for bloggers to understand is the concept of EAT. And when we talk about EAT, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, it’s not an algorithm, it’s a strategy.

Casey Markee (00:10:10):
When we talk about expertise, we’re talking about showing clear knowledge, answering the right user intent, expressing clear usability in our content. That’s what expertise is. Then we go to the second one, which is authoritativeness. When we’re talking about authoritativeness, we’re talking about being cited by others, we’re talking about we being linked to my others, we’re talking about being featured by other authors. If you have the ability to have to be interviewed, if you have the ability to participate in a podcast, to do maybe guest blogging or guest posting on other larger sites, that can really bottom line help you with regards to your overall EAT.

Casey Markee (00:10:50):
And then we get, of course, the trustworthiness. And then when we talk about trustworthiness, security goes hand in hand with authoritativeness. So if you are cited and linked to, you’re trusted, and that’s where I see a lot of bloggers struggle with, is they just, “God, this backlink building is so tough,” or, “I just don’t know what I need to do to increase my EAT.” And it’s just a lot of little things just like we just quickly discussed here. Now, one of the other things is, and this goes hand in hand with EAT, is the backlinks and the boosting of site authority. A lot of bloggers get to me and like, “Casey, I don’t understand what I’m doing. I just qualify for Mediavine. I really worked hard on my 50,000 sessions. It’s been two years and I haven’t been able to build my traffic.”

Casey Markee (00:11:31):
Well, because when you add ads to your site, you’re going to immediately make it harder to build traffic. That’s the bottom line truth. And so you have to work harder than a lot of other sites once you’ve done that, once you’ve monetized, because you’ve dynamically changed the technical and the speed set up of your site. So we want to go in and we want to make sure, “Hey, what other technical issues can we fix?” When I have an audit, I usually do three areas. We’re looking at the technical issues, that’d be leg number one, we’re looking at the content issues, leg number two. And then we’re looking at leg number three, which are the offsite factors. Things like EAT, things like your backlink profile, things like the size of your email list.

Casey Markee (00:12:08):
All those are going to go hand in hand to improve the bottom line quality of your site. And the goal is to make as many of these changes as we can. It’s basically called the kitchen sink approach. Our goal is to fix as much as we can between core updates so that Google can crawl and reevaluate our content whenever they can. And that’s what we have to work on. So for those of you on the call who are confused by this, we previously did a webinar and you’ll have to help me out here, Ashley. It was a little while ago, and it might’ve been one of our first ones. And we talked about core updates in detail. I think it might’ve been the very first one that we did. And we talk a little bit about what Google’s looking for.

Casey Markee (00:12:44):
And Google’s advice on core updates is honestly not super helpful, but nevertheless, it is something that you should educate yourself on and read. I’m going to paste in that link here specifically. And you want to go through that when you can, but when we’re talking about improving between core updates, don’t get frustrated. That’s the worst thing you can do. People recover from this stuff all the time, but it’s hard to do it on your own. Go ahead and seek out help, consider investing in an audit, consider going into the food blogger groups and getting some help there, having some people go in and review some issues that might be affecting you. But we want to bottom line make your site the best it can be because it’s an extremely competitive niche out there. And it is never just one thing, folks.

Ashley Segura (00:13:31):
And Casey, one of the things you mentioned when you were talking about EAT and trying to get backlinks and how complicated that could be. Won’t another option be to do blog collaborations, recipe collaborations? Lots of times when we think of backlinks, we think of earning them, but we can also collaborate with fellow bloggers. Would you say there’s any risks to that from a competitive nature when it comes to backlinks or would something like that still be strong from a link standpoint?

Casey Markee (00:14:01):
Well, I think that anything can help as long as it’s not done aggressively. So in your case, anything that’s reciprocal in nature, a, you link to me and I’ll link to you, especially if it’s a three way, you can set yourself up for issues. For example, the November unannounced update that we had in 2019, and then again in January, 2020, when we had the announced core update, there was a ton of linking practices that came out of those updates that negatively impacted bloggers. They had been really trading links at scale between the small same group of bloggers, and we just don’t want to do that. So if you’re thinking things like blog hops are going to help you, the answer is now.

Casey Markee (00:14:36):
If you’re thinking of like these, we used to do these themed link parties where you had things like Meatless Mondays, and, what’s another one? Sunday supper, things like that. They had their place and they had their time, and that time has passed. We don’t do any of that stuff anymore because it’s a concerted effort to trade links and we don’t need to do that. So your goal is really to make your site linkable. If you have the ability to link to something that’s related, feel free. We want to link out. I think where a lot of bloggers get confused is that linking out is bad. And I see more and more bloggers are trying to know-follow all of their outgoing links.

Casey Markee (00:15:13):
That’s one of the worst things that you’re going to absolutely do because they’re literally putting a black hole in the linkscape there. It makes it very harder for Google to understand what you’re doing. We don’t know-follow all of our outgoing links, we only know-follow a link that is affiliate or advertorial in nature, that’s sponsored, or that you just do not trust. So whenever you hear someone say, “Hey, you should know-follow all of your social media links.” Do you not trust your own Instagram page? Do you not trust your own Facebook page? There’s no value in that. Anyone who tells you to do that probably believes in a concept called page freak sculpting, and that’s been useless for at least a decade. So don’t do that stuff.

Ashley Segura (00:15:59):
Yep. That makes sense. And as Google updates, a lot happened last year, but there was another update that Google recently put out live, which was Google Passage Based Indexing. Can you explain what that is and how it’s a ranking factor and not so much an indexing change, even though the name suggests it? It’s confusing there.

Casey Markee (00:16:20):
Passage indexing is really interesting, and it’s going to be very beneficial for most of you on the call specifically. Instead of making multiple articles about different topics, a subtopic found in a longer and broader page can now be used as a factor to help improve your rankings for a particular query. Basically, let’s say Google’s basically saying it’s making our job easier, we can help find a needle in a haystack quite a bit easier. Well, what does that mean? Well, the passages themselves are not ranking factors, but passage indexing was initially going to be referred to as passage ranking, that’s how close it was to what they were trying to do.

Casey Markee (00:17:02):
But all this change does is, it exists to help longer web pages rank better by making it easier for Google to go down and pull out the most appropriate passages within the longer posts based upon the intent of the query and nature. A lot of you have been told throughout the years that you need to have these really long blog posts, when we’ve known for, again, years, that word count is not a ranking factor. This has annoyed Google so much that they’ve started to really come back with these things like passage indexing to make it easier to go through this content and fine the meat among all the other spam that’s on the page, so to speak.

Casey Markee (00:17:44):
Using another analogy, they’d be literally pulling out the flowers surrounded in a field of weeds. And that’s what they’re doing with this passage indexing. And that’s good news for a lot of recipe and lifestyle bloggers who still write a lot of these convoluted long posts with superfluous information, it’s going to help it, make it easier for Google to pull out the information at their end. Now, Google will tell you that there’s no way to optimize for this, and that’s good. They want to make it as simple as possible, but for those of you on the call, her like, “Okay I want to make my pages as user-friendly as possible. What can I do to maybe provide a little bit more guidance, maybe some kind of a headline or a signpost per se that would make it easier for Google to find my most important information?

Casey Markee (00:18:27):
And to do that, you use jump links. And I know jump links are something that we’ve talked about repeatedly on some of these other webinars. If you have a Feast theme, Feast has these built-in jump links. I’m going to go ahead and paste over a link to that. They’re called Advanced Jump-To links. I do recommend you use these, they’re great. Feast jump links. And if you’re not on a Feast theme, that’s totally okay. I recommend the use of the Lucky WP plugin. It is a table of contents plugin, it’s fantastic. I’m going to paste that information over here.

Casey Markee (00:19:03):
I’m going to put two bloggers on the spot. I’m going to put Marie at Restless Chipotle and I’m going to put Darren over at Running On Real Food. I think they might be on the call, they might not, but they do a very good job utilizing these individual plugins. And if you want to see these in action, take a look at the examples that I’m pasting over. It is so easy to do these jump menus, especially with lucky WP. It’s just based on the headings on the page. Now, I recommend that you just use H2 headings. A lot of people do use H3s and H4s, but there is a thing as too much detail. So I don’t necessarily need to have a big jump menu with H3s and H4s, H2s are just fine. And you can make it so that the default is that this jump menu is collapsible, and that’s totally fine.

Casey Markee (00:19:53):
Some people like to show the whole jump menu at the top of the page. And by top of the page, I would recommend below the first featured image of the page, preferably, we’ve got some teaser text above the fold, we’ve got a nice featured image, then we’ve got this jump menu that we can take advantage of. You can collapse it, it works very well. And again, you’ve got multiple benefits for using these jump links. Number one, you will generate jump links in Google. I see it all the time. So if someone is doing a search, you can get, especially on the homepage, especially on the front page, you’ll get a listing and it’ll have multiple individual jump indent links below your listing, below the featured image and below the meta description.

Casey Markee (00:20:37):
And those jump links can take you to different places on the page. Very user-friendly. And I think that’s going to help, especially with regards to passage indexing. So check that out and keep doing what you’re doing, but do it smarter.

Ashley Segura (00:20:52):
We have a big update coming in May. You’ve addressed two updates that are already released and some tactics and things to start fixing on sites. But for the big update coming in May, the page experience algorithm, Casey, how prepared do we need to be for that? Are there any major changes other than a lot of the items that you just addressed that publishers need to start focusing on? And I know Andrew, you’re going to be touching on this shortly, but Casey, do you have any input there?

Casey Markee (00:21:18):
Yeah, I’m going to very briefly cover this because I know Andrew has got a lot of cool stuff to talk about this. But this page experience algorithm will go live in May And it’s been told that this is going to be very similar to the tiebreaker algorithms we’ve had in the past, things like the HTTPS ranking boost, things like being mobile friendly, the other one was the mobile interstitial penalty. If you are very close competitively with another site and you’re competing for the same bucket or basket of queries and you have very close metrics, if they have better core web vitals, if they have better page experience algorithm metrics than you do, it’s very possible they can win that tiebreaker. And that’s why this is very important.

Casey Markee (00:22:05):
Andrew’s going to go over these, but this page experience algorithm is reflection, it’s made up of seven individual metric, it’s made up of three core web vitals, Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS. By far, the hardest one to optimize for is CLS, and we’re going to spend some time on that today. And then we have four other metrics that have been around forever and it’s something that we individually talk about in the audits, it’s something that every blog or site owners should know about. And those four individual metrics are a mobile friendliness, safe browsing, and making sure that you don’t have any spam issues against your site.

Casey Markee (00:22:45):
We have a safe browsing tab in Google Search Console, so we can check that. HTTPS, making sure that your site is secured and you’ve converted to SSL, you’ve converted to HTTPS. It doesn’t happen as much as it does previously, but I still run across a blocker onboarding for an audit and they have not moved to SSL. They’re usually with Bluehost, so it’s linked. We also have the last of those four metrics, and that’s intrusive interstitial guidelines. This is a big one. I know a lot of you bloggers struggle with pop-ups. I am really against most pop-ups. If you have anything on your site that engages on the first click from Google, that’s a concern.

Casey Markee (00:23:27):
So you have to ask yourself, are you willing to accept that this is a violation? A lot of people are confused by how the interstitial penalty works, but interstitials are very easy. If it engages on the first click from Google, it really needs to be incredibly small, like one third size of the page. Okay?

Ashley Segura (00:23:49):
Are there any tools to use to run through to make sure that it is one third of the page, or how can you know that you’re meeting those guidelines?

Casey Markee (00:23:57):
It’s more visual, especially if you pull out your phone. If I pull out your phone and I click over to a page from Google and I’m immediately confronted with a pop-up that I have to close, that hurts you. And a lot of bloggers think, “Well, I’ve got to get those popups.” One of the things you might want to consider is just a small strip that you use on the top of the page or something like that that will allow you to passively collect these emails. But the better option is to use what are called exit-only popups. These popups only enable after you’re leaving the page or when you start navigating between pages.

Casey Markee (00:24:32):
That’s what we talk about exit-only intent. And I know it’s confusing because we have people pushing pop-up products, but only a very few of them understand how to do it correctly. One of them that does it extremely well is MiloTree. MiloTree, I was very fortunate to visit with their founders earlier this month. I know there’s an interview, there going live in a couple of weeks, and they do extremely well. They really only do exit only, and they make it so that their pop-ups are only seen by one person as they’re navigating through your site. Nothing is more annoying to me than to go through a site and have a pop-up sent to me on every page.

Ashley Segura (00:25:11):
It’s worst.

Casey Markee (00:25:12):
You need to understand that on the call, guys, you’re not doing this. Most of you have to go in and specifically get this fixed. You should only allow the one person during one session to see that pop up. I shouldn’t be closing a pop-up on every page on navigate your site, whether that’s desktop or mobile. So we really want to focus on the user experience. That’s a big one, that intrusive interstitial thing, so be aware of that. I guess the final thing I would say here is that, and this is also important, a good page experience doesn’t override at all relevant high quality content. So in some existences where, and this is again, basically directly from Google’s John Muir.

Casey Markee (00:25:54):
In cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in search. So if the pages are really close together, just what we talked about, tiebreaker, but that the pages are not close together in one page has terrible core web vitals or terrible page experience metrics, but it is by far the better content, Google’s still going to serve that page. So this isn’t an all-or-anything situation.

Ashley Segura (00:26:22):
You still have to have the best developer.

Casey Markee (00:26:25):
Exactly. And I know it’s tough to see, but we’re in an incredibly competitive niche here. So for those in the call that trying to build traffic for those of you, I’m going to use vegan bloggers, gluten-free bloggers specifically because that’s incredibly competitive sub-niches of recipe blogging in general, those bloggers that are able to cross the Ts and dot the Is as much as possible with the concepts that we’re covering today are the ones that are going to have a very, very happy 2021.

Ashley Segura (00:26:54):
In Google’s article announcing the page experience algorithm, which we’ll put a link to here, they talked again about AMP and earlier, Casey talked about ants, Google specifically said in this article, how they continue to support AMP content in Google Search, basically can seem that they’re going to prioritize it. So if publishers haven’t already, what’s the importance of installing the AMP plugin and start creating AMP content? Where do you stand with that?

Casey Markee (00:27:21):
This is very important. If you guys don’t remember anything else today, remember this. You do not need to be using the AMP at all, period. Do not even think of installing the AMP plugin, AMP pages do not monetize, AMP pages are something that Google has really dialed back specifically. Because what happened, and there’s a whole article on this and I’ll try to find the article and reach to it, Congress got involved. When Google came out and said that AMP pages might be treated higher in search, well, Congress came in and says, “Well, hey, not everyone can do AMPs, so you can’t really do that.”

Casey Markee (00:27:53):
And then Google kind of backtracked. It says, “Oh, you’re right. We’re going to say, “We’d like you to use AMP, but we’re not going to give you any super huge benefits to do this.” It’s very important for you to understand that, AMP is not a ranking factor. AMP has never been a ranking factor. AMP paid is have a hard time monetizing. That’s why Google came out with these core web vitals is because it’s easy for you now to optimize a regular non-AMP page to be as fast or competitive as using the AMP framework.

Casey Markee (00:28:24):
Matter of fact, I have plenty of examples where we have non AMP pages that are substantially faster than an AMP story, as an example. Now, let’s talk about where AMP should be used, and that’s in Web Stories. And I know many of you are familiar with that, and we’re going touch upon Web Stories today, hopefully as well. AMP is very important for those, but you don’t have to install a plugin, that’s just the Web Stories. You have the Web Stories AMP, you’re using AMP, but only on the Web Stories. And that’s fine, that’s what I recommend. You want to use the Web Stories, they’re powered by AMP. That’s great.

Casey Markee (00:28:55):
There’s a Web Stories carousel, you’ll get benefit from that, but don’t think that one allows you to do the other. We would never, for example, once you to start using AMP for all of your recipe and other non recipe and other non web story content, because there is literally no SEO benefit to doing that at all.

Ashley Segura (00:29:13):
Yup. 100%. All right. Well, let’s switch gears over to you, Andrew. Casey, thank you. That was so, so much in depth and absolutely incredible. Andrew, Casey talked a little bit about some of the metrics when it comes to core web vitals, but can you share where you can discover if you have any errors or if you’re missing the mark on some of the metrics. Are there any tools out there? Is it in Google Search Console? What do you do?

Andrew Wilder (00:29:39):
Sure.So there are actually a number of really good tools. So just to reiterate, the stuff we’re really looking at and talking about the most right now that’s happening basically with the change coming in May is the three new metrics that will become a ranking factor. That’s Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. So you’re not going to be able to tell what these things are by just loading up a page and looking at them, so you need to use a testing tool to actually get the actual numbers.

Andrew Wilder (00:30:05):
Like Largest Contentful Paint, you want that to be under like two to 2.2 seconds, for example, that’s considered good. The Largest Contentful Paint, what that is, is just the biggest thing on the screen when you load it before you scroll on a mobile device. So if you have a really long post title that spans across three rows, that might be the Largest Contentful Paint for that page. If you have a really big picture, that’s above the fold, that could be the LCP. It may depend on the specific page you’re loading, and your theme will determine the layout, the spacing and stuff like that.

Andrew Wilder (00:30:35):
First Input Delay is all about interactivity. You want the site to actually work once it’s loaded, so someone can start scrolling or clicking on things. And then Cumulative Layout Shift is you want to avoid stuff moving around as it loads, because it’s really annoying if you like stuff loads, and then you go to click on something and something else loads in its place and it shifts down and you click on the wrong thing. As a side note, Google still does this in the search results and it drives me crazy. On desktop at least, there are times where I’ll search for things, and immediately I’m about to click on like the second search result, and immediately below the first result, it pops up a little box that says like some other popular searches and I end up clicking on that accident.

Ashley Segura (00:31:11):

Andrew Wilder (00:31:11):
So this is one of those cases where Google is, do as I say, not as I do, for sure. So to your question of how you can test this stuff. My go-to is a Google Page Speed Insights testing tool, and I’ll drop a link in here. I’m guessing most of you are familiar with this tool already. I figured, why not go to the source? This is the official tool that Google provides. Now, there are other testing tools out there, is another great one. And I actually haven’t tinkered with it yet, but GT Metrics just recently revamped their testing tool to start using a what’s called Lighthouse.

Andrew Wilder (00:31:47):
Basically, the under underlying testing tool within this is called lighthouse. It’s actually built into the Chrome web browser in the Developer Tools section. So you can even run this on your own site. But from a user friendly perspective, just use Google Page Speed Insights, it’s the simplest way to get the numbers.

Ashley Segura (00:32:06):
Okay. We’ve seen a lot and heard a lot really from publishers that they’ll log in and they’ll see completely different scores or metrics from what’s in Google Search Console and GPSI. Why does that happen and which score should they really pay attention to, or which metrics should they really pay attention to on most of those?

Andrew Wilder (00:32:26):
Well, all of them.

Ashley Segura (00:32:30):
All of the above, of course.

Andrew Wilder (00:32:30):
All of the above, of course. But it’s helpful to know which ones are really measuring which things. So in Page Speed Insights, when you run a test on a given page, at the top it’ll show, you what’s called the Field Data. So the Field Data is real world user data. It comes from the Chrome User Experience Report, which is actually people using the Chrome browser all over the web, and it’s sending back timings, so it’s actually the real-world times. If a page has enough traffic, it’ll show you the Field Data just for that page. And it’ll below that show you what’s called the origin data, which is basically the average across all URLs on your site.

Andrew Wilder (00:33:05):
So that can give you a really good idea of what your site, how it’s actually really performing in the real world. And then below that, you’ll see the Lab Data section. And the Lab Data is, when you put your URL in and it ran that test in that moment, it’s a simulated test that gives you those results. So it’s a way to try to standardize it so you can actually run a test and tweak things and keep evaluating so you don’t have to wait for all that Chrome User Experience data to come back in. So the Lab Data is not real world, but it’s close.

Andrew Wilder (00:33:35):
And I’ll give you an example of where things can vary. In our experience, it looks like the Lab Data for Cumulative Layout Shifts only looks at above the fold on GPSI, but the user experience report looks at Cumulative Layout Shifts for the entire page as a user scrolls around. So that’s why we’re seeing really big discrepancy between those two numbers, especially. And you mentioned Google Search Console. In Google Search Console, it’s using the same user experience report.

Andrew Wilder (00:34:03):
So the stuff that’s showing up in the field data should be about the same as the Google Search Console data. It’s basically Google’s main database of how your site performs. One thing to be aware of with Google Search Console, and I think I mentioned this in our last session, we were talking about this stuff in depth, the user experience report is a 28-day rolling basis. So it’s not just today’s stats. So if you make a change and really improve things, you’re not going to see a result in the data significantly for about a month.

Andrew Wilder (00:34:35):
You might see it, if it’s significant enough, it might skew the average better. And so if you say, improve your site, you want to make sure all your improvements are done for speed and then validate fixes in your search console and wait 28 days, which is all the more reason to start now because May is a few months out, so you still have time to keep testing stuff. But you really want to fix the things, and then click on validate. Every time you click validate fixes in a search console, at least for the core web vitals stuff, that restarts the 28-day clock. So you don’t want to be going in there every day and being like, “It didn’t validate,” and trying again every day.

Andrew Wilder (00:35:08):
In terms of which scores to pay attention to, it’s really all of them, but it depends on what you’re doing right at that moment. If you’re actually actively fixing the site, like we often load up a site, we install WP Rocket, we’re tweaking things and we’re testing, so we’ll make some changes and then retest. And so it doesn’t do us any good to look at the field data there, we have to look at the lab data, and then based on experience, we go, “Okay, we’ve got the lab data, good enough, now, we’re going to validate fixes and make sure in the real world, it actually applies that way.”

Ashley Segura (00:35:37):
And does the lab data, is that simulating what your normal user demographic would be? So it’s supposed to be as if you had a month’s worth of traffic, you’re able to see it within a day?

Andrew Wilder (00:35:51):
I’m trying to remember, I think they’re still simulating a 3G connection. So it’s helpful to simulate a slower connection because you can see more nuanced difference. If you’ve got a crazy fast internet connection and a really fast processor on your mobile phone, things are going to load faster, so you won’t see that nuance, the simulation slows it down a little bit too. Keep in mind that the Chrome user experience a report is global data, so if you’ve got users in more remote locations or who are on slower cell phone networks, not on 4G or 5G, but they’re on 3G, that’s going to affect your scores too.

Ashley Segura (00:36:28):
Okay. That’s definitely something good to consider. So say you go in, you see the metrics, you see that there’s errors, and you’re trying to fix them, how badly do you think that the core web vital metrics, if you don’t meet all of them, and if you don’t check all of the boxes, are you just going to lose traffic right away as soon as May hits, or is this going to be a gradual thing? How scared should publishers be and how fast should they start trying to make changes?

Andrew Wilder (00:37:03):
First, we don’t know yet how big of an impact this change is going to happen be in May. Casey was talking about it a bit, and I agree with him, I don’t think it’s likely to be a massive impact. The content is still the most important thing, user search query, and tends to answer the question, provide great content. If you do that, you’re going to be great. So this is probably going to be more of a tiebreaker or a slight ringing factor. There’s hundreds of signals here, and this is just one more, but everything adds up. So if this is such a competitive space, you want to make sure your recipes perform better or whatever you’re writing about, so why not make it as fast as you can.

Andrew Wilder (00:37:43):
Also, it’s not just about SEO, it’s actually about user experience. If your site is fast, your users will like it more, they’ll spend more time on the site, they’ll actually wait for the site to load, so they’ll actually see your content. And then with the cumulative layout shift, that’s more about annoying visitors. I will say ads are the biggest culprit here, particularly as people are scrolling, so as ads pop into place, and if they shift content down, that’s really obnoxious for a reader. That’s the thing when we’re talking about. Things can be implemented gracefully, or they can be like plunge your audience.

Andrew Wilder (00:38:25):
You want to make sure you’re going to have to serve ads if you want to make money, but you want to make sure they’re implemented gracefully.

Ashley Segura (00:38:33):
Okay. Both you and Casey have mentioned a variety of different tools, but when it comes to trying to make some of these fixes and definitely prepare for May, are there any tools that you use in your database that you absolutely love or that you would recommend for publishers when they’re trying to optimize both their site speed, their content, their user experience?

Andrew Wilder (00:38:55):
In terms of actually fixing the problems rather than testing the problems, our first tool is WP Rocket, we include that on all of our support plans. It’s a premium plugin that does caching, but also on page optimization. And it’s constantly evolving, they recently changed how they do some JavaScript stuff. It works pretty well out of the box, but you do have to enable a few more settings and test carefully to make sure it’s actually optimizing all of those things. Sometimes we have to do a little bit of code, honestly, especially with cumulatively out shift, we might have to put a CSS spacer in there so that we’ve already predefined the space.

Andrew Wilder (00:39:33):
Another thing that WP Rocket recently did was they have image heightened width fix. So if you happen to have some images that don’t specify the image, height and width in the code, the browser doesn’t know how big it is, so it won’t put any space there. And then when it actually loads the image, it expands the space. Well, WP Rocket can now basically add that to the code to say, “Okay, the image is going to be this big.” That’s not a huge problem on WordPress, especially in content because normally when you insert an image, WordPress by default will put that in there, but that’s one little tweak.

Andrew Wilder (00:40:06):
One other thing, this is actually breaking news as of like a day or two ago, for those of you who use Slickstream, which is that recommendation engine with a film strip at the top, we’ve been working with Kingston and Karl there to help with the cumulative layout shift issues on that, because what was happening was the page would load, and then the film strip would load and we push the content down. And so that triggered a whole big layout shift. We were manually adding some style to put a spacer in for that bar, but now they’ve actually made it easier with the most recent update of their plugin, if you use the Genesis theme or Genesis framework, so anybody using Foodie Pro or Brunch Pro, there’s now a setting in the plugin to actually insert it and it’ll manage the layout shifts.

Andrew Wilder (00:40:49):
We still got a few months, and all these tools everybody’s working to solve these problems right now. So that’s another example, I guess.

Ashley Segura (00:40:55):
And prepare. Well, as if we didn’t have enough new things or things to start working on, there’s another, I guess, I’d call it a fad, it’s been around for a year now, but it’s now getting really popular, and it’s the Web Stories. So is this Google’s version of Instagram Reel, or Instagram Stories or what are Web Stories? And is it something that everyone needs to go jump on the bandwagon right now?

Andrew Wilder (00:41:21):
Well, Web Stories are basically like Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories where you’ve got a vertical pane that’s the shape of a mobile phone screen and it’ll auto play, it’ll auto advance between steps, or you can tap and it’ll jump forward. Personally, I hate them. I hated them on Instagram, I hated them on Facebook and now I hate the Google Web Stories. And the reason I hate them is because I think usability is horrible. They’re basically carousels from early 2000s, and the usability has been dug up from that. So that’s my soap box, that’s my own personal opinion. So, that may be controversial, but I just think that the interface isn’t great.

Andrew Wilder (00:42:00):
Now, can they be great? Maybe. And I may be tilting at windmills because if I’m going against Google, then Google is going to win. Basically, this is Google’s implementation that allows publishers to publish their own version of Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories on their own website. Technically, it’s actually just another webpage, it’s built an app, but you don’t really need to know that, and they will step through those different pages like a slider, and you can view it on desktop as well. It gives you like the thing and you can see on the side, the next slides coming up. And then within those pages or panes, you can add animation, you can add video, you can add various things in there to create an engaging experience, hopefully.

Ashley Segura (00:42:43):
Okay. Is this something that you would recommend publishers start trying and see if it works further, the further users and have a great experience with it, especially with the page experience algorithm or there’s enough going on with preparing for May, it’s not a top priority?

Andrew Wilder (00:43:05):
I think it’s worth testing. We’ve had a lot of clients testing it, and basically what’s happening right now, it’s still a land grab, it’s the Wild West. And a couple months ago, Casey started telling everybody to do it and people started jumping on it, and it makes perfect sense.

Casey Markee (00:43:15):
And it’s been fantastic. We’ve had bloggers, I’m not kidding. I think Andrew and Ashley could both tell you on the call, how much stuff I got sent to me during Christmas, it was ridiculous.

Ashley Segura (00:43:28):
A little jealous. I was jealous.

Casey Markee (00:43:29):
A little jealous, yeah. I got people sending me, I got hams. I had a woman who she’d never qualified for, and Andrew’s going to love this, but she literally could not build traffic. The most traffic she’d ever made from Google was 5,000 sessions in a month. She did one Web Story and got 25,000 recorded traffic just in a week. And here’s the best thing is that it’s not going to help her much qualify for Mediavine, but she got a crap ton of email signups that she was able to convert that traffic other ways.

Andrew Wilder (00:44:02):
That’s the trick. So what we’re seeing though is… Here’s what happens basically right now, is you can publish a Web Story, if you have Yoast SEO installed, it’s smart enough to add your Web Stories to your site map. That’s all you need to do for Google to crawl it. And also if you want to create a Web Story, you can use the Google Web Stories. That’s what’s called, the Google Web Stories Public plugin for WordPress. Slickstream also has a Web Stories tool that they’re rolling out, which is also very slick.

Andrew Wilder (00:44:31):
What’s happening right now is you publish some Web Stories, and assuming you do a decent job and you make some actually good content in that website-

Casey Markee (00:44:38):
That’s very important

Andrew Wilder (00:44:39):
That’s very important. So you create a good Web Story and ignore my curmudgeon leanness about this. Then what happens is Google Discover may pick it up, and Google Discover is the feed in the Google app on phones. So anybody who’s got an Android phone, there’s the scroll below the Google Search box that basically is like recommended content. And so Google is basically testing, putting your Web Stories in there and that can generate a whole boatload of traffic. And that’s what really is driving this. You can see some of this in your Google Search Console, it’ll show, there should be a Discover Feed or Discover set of steps.

Andrew Wilder (00:45:14):
What we’re finding though is most of our clients are coming back saying, “I had a huge spike in traffic and then nothing.”

Casey Markee (00:45:21):
Very common.

Andrew Wilder (00:45:21):
Google tested out. I guess I’m saying that as be prepared for that, and like Casey said, set it up so you can use that spike in traffic to your advantage, whether that’s to get people to a post where there’s an opt in or something like that. So you’re not going to earn a lot of money from the Web Stories themselves, it’s like the secondary effect where you can get this traffic and then figure out what to do with it.

Casey Markee (00:45:44):
Right. And to that extreme, to that effect, let’s add a little bit onto that. Mediavine, again, they’re very quick to jump on the Web Stories bandwagon, they launched a plugin to allow you to monetize your Web Stories. If you’re with Mediavine, it’s pennies on the dollar, but it’s something. A lot of people are frustrated, they’ll do one Web Story, it’ll do well. They’ll do another Web Story, it won’t get picked up or it won’t do well, and they’re confused. Well, I will tell you guys that a lot of the Web Stories I’ve been seeing lately are complete an utter garbage. And when we talk about Web Stories, we really have to really think about this isn’t land rush, there is a lot of competition.

Casey Markee (00:46:18):
If you’re publishing a Web Story that has four frames, that’s probably not going to do it. If you’re publishing a Web Story where even forgot to put the name of your site on your cover image, that’s not going to do it. If you’re publishing a Web Story where it’s literally just a link, one photo, and then here’s the link to the recipe., and then maybe you’ve got another final slide where it’s just a link to your site, that’s not going to do it. And a couple other things to be aware of is that, you really want to be careful on the speed of the frames.

Casey Markee (00:46:44):
Not kidding, had a blogger the other day come and she says, “I’ve done three of these Web Stories and none of them have taken off.” When I looked at him, she was way too fast, way too fast. It was like the frames were going, boom, boom, boom, boom. All we did was slow the frames down and boom, story got indexed within the next couple of hours, and she was very pleased with what she was generating from that. I know Tammy and others have asked, why do some Web Stories take off others don’t? I think that, again, it’s a bottom line quality issue. It’s also the fact that not every Web Story that you’re going to write is going to be perfect or is going to connect with users.

Casey Markee (00:47:18):
And it is what it is, I would just say that you should try to use these Web Stories when they’re appropriate. I believe that Web Stories are a great example of what’s called just-in-time content. Valentine’s day is coming up, if I was you and I had Valentine’s Day content, I would be pushing out Web Stories around Valentine’s Day like I didn’t have anything else to do. And then I would understand that the content is going to die relatively quickly, but that’s the whole point, it’s a just in-time content.

Andrew Wilder (00:47:45):
I think it’s also helpful to think about Web Stories in two ways right now. One is as an advertisement for your blog we were just talking about, where you’re trying to get into the Discover Feed and entice somebody to, you’re going to do like a preview basically of your recipe or your post, and you’re enticing somebody to click through to the full post. And in something like that, you want to make it a really good teaser where you have this most drool worthy photos and some calls to action, like click here for the full recipe, stuff like that. Another way we’re seeing Web Stories used is actually more like an interactive video.

Andrew Wilder (00:48:15):
Pinch of Yum is doing a great job with this, and I’m going to send a link here of an example. If you go to her image squash salad with kale recipe, if you scroll down, it takes a second to load, but there’s a lead photo and a couple of paragraphs, and then she’s embedded a Web Story in the blog post. And it’s not an advertisement to go to the post, she’s using it like how-to video. So you’ve got like 10 different panes and each pane is a different step in the video. So she’s using that as an interactive way to walk you through the video, which is a lot easier to use than a video. So I will definitely give it back.

Andrew Wilder (00:48:45):
You don’t have to like play and pause, you can step back. So you’ve got these bookmarks, and each review is separate in there, and she’s got captions on there. I think to me, this is much more interesting because you’re using this or she’s using this in a way that actually enhances the visitor’s experience. And so I think there’s some benefit in that.

Ashley Segura (00:49:08):
Oh, go ahead, Andrew.

Andrew Wilder (00:49:10):
I just saw Sylvia’s question about embedding stories in the blog post slowing down your site. There is definitely concerns with speed and bandwidth, so I do want to mention that actually. The Google Web Stories plugin right now at least, forces you to upload any videos to your own media library and serve it from your site. So that can start using a lot of bandwidth if you get a huge spike in traffic. I asked them to make it possible to do third-party hosting, so it will be a bunch of better if like Mediavine could be hosting the videos, for example. So you do want to be careful that it doesn’t slow things down or do use too much bandwidth, but if you embed it in a post, that should load asynchronously and then everything else should load, and that should pop into place afterwards.

Andrew Wilder (00:49:51):
You want to make sure you don’t get a cumulative layout shift or a layout shift from it, but it is something to pay attention to right now.

Ashley Segura (00:50:00):
And at the end of the day, all of this information is for publishers. And at the end of the day, what publishers do best is create content. Andrew, as we’re in Q1, we’re about to wrap up the first month of Q1, what content priorities should publishers really focus on when we know May is coming with a big update, with the big update that happened in December, getting back to basics with content, where should the focus be in Q1?

Andrew Wilder (00:50:27):
I think my advice wouldn’t be the same as it is every year, think about what’s coming up seasonally, start looking at that content and republishing, sprucing it up, maybe creating Web Stories for that content, Casey was just talking about Valentine’s Day, who knows what the heck is going to happen with the Super Bowl this year, and how that’s going to land with… But Super Bowl recipes are always huge, or Cinco de Mayo recipe is, and all that stuff. So as always, you want to be thinking about what’s coming up and republishing. If you’re someone who’s just starting out, you’re writing new content for that.

Andrew Wilder (00:51:00):
If you’re someone who’s got five or 600 posts already, you probably already got the content, you don’t necessarily need to add more content, you’re probably better off repurposing and sprucing things up. In terms of the stuff that’s coming up, oh, let’s see. Your question was really about content, because I’m thinking technical stuff right now.

Ashley Segura (00:51:20):
You’re the technical mindset always.

Andrew Wilder (00:51:24):
Always. That’s why I stopped writing my food blog. Make sure your content is good. The bottom line of SEO is make sure your content is good and your technical stuff is done correctly. You do those things and you’re in good shape. Web Stories are just content, recipes are content, give people what they want. And I think one of the things that’s a really good exercise, and I’ve said this before is, look at your site on your mobile phone. We all work on our desktops when we’re creating this content, I’m working on three screens right now, and when I pick up a phone and look at a blog and it’s overrun with ads and I can’t even read the content, there’s a problem. I think it’s good to do just a quick reality check. The stuff doesn’t have to be-

Casey Markee (00:52:11):
Let’s talk about that really quick because we’ve had a couple of questions on aggressive ad practices. When you hear colleagues like my colleague, Glenn Gabe, over at IQ Interactive and other places, Marie Haynes, Marie Haynes Consulting, who they, along with myself have access to literally hundreds of sites in various niches, and whenever we are talking about ad aggressive practices, we’re talking about things that are not the norm, you have auto-playing video ads that follow you down the screen. Now, most of you on call are with Mediavine and AdThrive. I’m not kidding, they have rogue ads all the time.

Casey Markee (00:52:44):
I can’t tell you how many times I’m on the call and I see an auto-playing ad with sound. That’s a no, no. So we always want to be vigilant about that, you should be testing your content regularly. Now, I will tell you that some of the other ad networks are much worse, no reason to throw anyone under the bus, but you know who they are if I haven’t said Mediavine and AdThrive, and they’re very bad about lot of this being very aggressive. You should not be running any above the fold leaderboard ads at all, period. You shouldn’t run them with V-Media, you shouldn’t run them with AdThrive, you shouldn’t run them with anyone.

Casey Markee (00:53:15):
You should also not be running any of the leaderboard, any skyscraper ads on your sidebar that pushes below the fold, your actual about me photo and indexable content. You shouldn’t be running any ads that pop in between your title and the first indexable content on the page on desktop. And that includes mobile as well. And honestly, you shouldn’t start dialing, mark the affiliate links, especially if you’re stuffing your recipe cards, not only with affiliate links, but affiliate product links, those Amazon affiliate product links are so slow, it’s like watching me run a mile, no one wants to do that.

Casey Markee (00:53:49):
You don’t want to do that, you want to remove those product links, those Amazon product links specifically. You’re never going to make enough from your ad cart to justify the terrible in the toilet metrics you’re going to put up on the page speed tools. And I was talking to a blogger today, she just onboarded for a full audit in June and same issue, completely great ads are just completely stuffed with all these Amazon product ads or these, I’m not even sure it’s Amazon product ads, I think there’s just a way for you to put in actual product ads from Mediavine, not a fan of those at all. Less is more with ads.

Casey Markee (00:54:26):
I want you to monetize. I’d rather triple your traffic and have you run less ads and make twice as much money. That’s my bottom line, that’s why I think the audits have been so successful. That’s always been my approach.

Ashley Segura (00:54:38):
And that makes sense. All We are about to head to Q&A, there’s tons of questions in there. So thank you everybody for putting your questions in there. If you have a question that you want to ask the panelists and haven’t yet, head on over to the Q&A box and definitely drop it in there. We’re not going to be able to hit all of them, but after the panelist review all the questions and they do address every single one, and then we publish them in the recap. So you do get your question answered whether or not it’s here or later on the blog posts. Casey, Andrew, I have one last question for both of you. Casey, if you want to go first.

Ashley Segura (00:55:10):
Wrapping things up with all of these updates, the new content types, the optimization, the user experience, what are three things, if a publisher was only going to focus on three things, what would you recommend they focus on this first quarter fixing?

Casey Markee (00:55:25):
I would immediately go into your Google Analytics and I would make a list of everything that was doing extremely well in the first quarter of 2020. And I would look at that content right now and see if there’s anything that we can update and republish based upon all the lessons you’ve learned, hopefully from this webinar and all the previous SEO For Publisher webinars, and let’s re-feature that content. Now, previously, you’ve heard me many times recommend the talk about the difference between updated and republishing content. Well, if you’re making substantial changes, I’m always all about republishing content.

Casey Markee (00:56:00):
We clone the post, we make a ton of changes, we update the modified and the last publish date, boom, we hit Google, we hit RSS feed, we hit the homepage with all that new content at the same time. Now, unfortunately, we’ve had a ton of issues with Revisionize and Revision Manager TMC. Here’s the thing, Yoast just introduced a new plugin called the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin. I’ve recommended it for the last two weeks, I got three emails, testimonies from bloggers who are telling me that it works very well. So I can tell you that that is something that you might want to look into. It’s called the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin.

Casey Markee (00:56:37):
It does everything that these previous plugins did, but it clearly is maintained. And that plugin will allow us to clone a post, to make all the changes, recombine the clone post with the original post at the same URL and have that go live at a date of your choosing. And that’s what we want to do. Oh, I’m sorry, I only took one. We’ve got the re-publish the content in analytics, number two, I would be focusing specifically on those core web vitals, can we get that stuff improved. Seek out help. Many of you might be on blog support plans, and I can tell you that Andrew loves to receive your emails about core web vitals. He tells me that it sues him like a baby at night. It’s like a warm hug to receive all these emails about core web vitals.

Casey Markee (00:57:23):
Maybe you’re signed up with Grayson Bell over at iMark Interactive. He has done a lot of resource. He’s actually been able to make some very good gains on clients that I’ve sent over. Maybe you’re with Charles Smith over at WPOpt, contact him, show him, “Here’s all my errors that I’m getting on my search console, we need really need to fix this stuff.” See what he can do for you, but seek out help. If you’re confused by it, seek out help. Contact us for recommendations, but we need to get these core web vitals taken care of before May.

Casey Markee (00:57:51):
And then number three, is I really want you to just passionately look at your site on a mobile device, on a desktop device. Look at it, have your relatives look at it. Are they complaining about the ads? Are they complaining about the lower or less optimized user viewing experience on their screens? What can we do to improve our overall experience? Focus on that, UX is a big deal and improving UX is going to lead to a lot of other benefits down the road.

Ashley Segura (00:58:20):
Amazing. You touched on content optimization and user experience.

Casey Markee (00:58:24):
I know. It’s all coming up in my book.

Ashley Segura (00:58:27):
Andrew, can you follow us up with three more?

Andrew Wilder (00:58:29):
No. I’ll just work with what Casey said. We’re good.

Ashley Segura (00:58:31):
What Casey said, times two.

Casey Markee (00:58:32):
And I meant to say ghetto, ghetto.

Andrew Wilder (00:58:36):
Instead of three specific things, I do have a couple of little details that I have in my notes that I just want to run through to make sure we’ve touched on them actually. First, talk to your ad network about core web vitals. So that’s one of the things you need to do. If you’re with Mediavine, they recommend using the PSA’s, the Public Service Announcements. You don’t even have to talk to them, just log into your Mediavine dashboard and turn on the PSA’s that you like. They have like eight or different topics, so you don’t have to support all of the things. You can pick just one. And what those do is serve non-paying ads or Public Service Announcements only if there isn’t another paying ad to serve.

Andrew Wilder (00:59:14):
So they won’t hurt your revenue, basically, you’ll get a Public Service Announcement instead of a blank space. And what that does is it gives you an ad in that spot instead of collapsing it, which helps with your cumulative layout shift, and doing some good for the world. So for those of you in Mediavine, opt into their PSA’s. I don’t think AdThrive has that yet.

Casey Markee (00:59:31):
I don’t think so.

Andrew Wilder (00:59:32):
Yeah. They do have some tweaks they can make to the styling though to help solve the CLS issues. So if you were with AdThrive, reach out to them directly and be like, “Hey guys, fix my CLS.” And they may blame some other things, but at least make sure that on the ads, they’re doing what they need to do. One other thing where we see a lot of layout shift issues is with web fonts. This is like Google fonts where you load your site and it shows one font and then flashes in with your fancy font.

Andrew Wilder (01:00:00):
Well, if the pre-load font that’s displayed first doesn’t match the size of the web font, like the spacing’s different or the characters are different, you can get a shift, especially if something wraps to another line, if something’s wider and it goes to two lines and then jumps up. And you can sometimes see this in the Google PageSpeed Insights film strip, where it shows screenshots. WebPageTest actually has easier to see tool on that. But this might be the year to kill your web fonts and just use safe fonts. There’s a technique now called a system font stack, which basically uses the native fonts for whatever browser somebody is on.

Andrew Wilder (01:00:35):
So if you’re on Windows, it’ll use the Windows friendly fonts, if you’re on Mac, it’ll use Mac friendly fonts. It’s not like one of those three fonts anymore. Nice thing is the font’s already loaded, so it’s much faster and it actually looks a little bit more natural to the user because it’s the same font as all the other stuff in the app or in the device. So it looks a little more native. Switching the system font stacks is not necessarily a trivial project because you may need to redesign a bunch of stuff in your styling. I know for those of you using Trellis or looking to use Trellis, that’s actually their default now, we pushed for that, which is great.

Andrew Wilder (01:01:14):
Also, two other things that just came out this week from WP Recipe Maker, which I think are really neat, you can now have it show the recipes carbon footprint, and there’s an don’t go to sleep mode you can turn on. Not all devices support it, so it’s still a little experimental, but I think that’s a really neat feature for someone who’s cooking a recipe on their phone or their tablet to have a toggle in the recipe card that says, keep my device awake, so it doesn’t constantly keep shutting off while your hands are greasy and you’re tapping it. I think that’s a neat little feature, that make sense.

Ashley Segura (01:01:43):
That is amazing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got flour all over my phone because it goes asleep and I have to turn it on and enter in my passcode.

Andrew Wilder (01:01:52):
And that’s kind of stuff I think that really endears visitors. When you’re thinking of their experience like that and you’re thinking ahead and making your site easier to use, they’re going to want to come back and use your site again. I think that was my extra little thing.

Casey Markee (01:02:07):
And again, very fantastic points. And again, I know CLS is going to be troublesome for a lot of you on the call, I know that WP Rocket is trying to help you with that. They did introduce a new feature where you can go in and enable, it’s a checkbox to enable image dimensions. Basically, it allows the plugin to do some of the heavy lifting behind the scenes and specify image dimensions for you to stop some of the shifting from happening. Now, Andrew will know better than me, but I’m not sure that I spend super effective in any way that I’ve tested it, but certainly is a setting you can play around with.

Andrew Wilder (01:02:42):
And ultimately, with the layout shifts, you have to know what’s shifting right before you fix it. It’s actually moving as the page loads. WebPageTest is probably the best tool. When you run a test on, you can set filmstrip view and you can actually create a video from it, and you can have a playback in slow motion. It’s actually painfully slow, but you literally watch your page load very slowly, like 10 speed. And you see things pop in and you can see when things shift. And as you go, “Oh, okay, this is what shifted. Now, how do I fix it?”

Andrew Wilder (01:03:15):
And that may be an easy fix, it may be a hard fix, but at least you know what you’re trying to fix.

Casey Markee (01:03:18):
Exactly. Very good point.

Ashley Segura (01:03:21):
Interesting. Very interesting. We have 25 questions, we’re definitely not going to be able to get to all of them because we are officially over time, but I want to squeeze in just a couple of quick questions about Web Stories, because there are so many of them. And don’t forget, there’s going to be a recap, this is all going to go onto a blog post, all these questions will eventually get answered. A question from anonymous attendee, the default length for each Web Story slide is seven seconds, is it a good idea to make it shorter? What would you guys recommend, is seven seconds the safest?

Casey Markee (01:03:50):
No, I think seven seconds is a little long. As a matter of fact, we lowered it, I cut it in half and that’s why one of the story, I was talking to Andrew about it today, I cut it down to three on one, and it literally got picked up very quickly. Again, it could’ve just been that story, but depending upon all the information you’re including on the slide, seven seconds is a long time. So no. I didn’t know that that was the default, I didn’t think that was the default, maybe that’s recently, but it shouldn’t be, that’s way too long. Way too long.

Ashley Segura (01:04:20):
Okay. And then another question about Web Stories from Ginny is, what is the best way to make Web Stories? Are you guys aware of any tools that put them together, is there canvas templates for them?

Casey Markee (01:04:34):
There are plenty here, Andrew might know them, you can get mixed stories, which is another plugin, you can use, again, the Google Web Stories format fair. It seems like every time we visit, Andrew, they’ve updated the plugin. So I suspect that if you just hold on, they’re going to add more and new templates to that specifically.

Andrew Wilder (01:04:56):
I think logistically, the Google Web Stories plugin, at least in theory, is really good because you build it all in your dashboard and it’s all there. But I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about the usability of the interface to create the actual stories. For those of you using Slickstream, I definitely recommend talking to Kingston and Carl and checking out their Slickstream builder. I think you can take Jumpropes and convert them, maybe. I haven’t actually built a Web Story because I’m not publishing food content right now. So I’d have to check with my team with Carrie and Ben and see what their favorite tools are these days.

Andrew Wilder (01:05:29):
But ultimately, I think it’s less about the tool you use and more that you’re creating good content. So you may need to try a few tools to see which you like personally to build in and which is easy and intuitive for you, just like any other content creation.

Ashley Segura (01:05:43):
And the final question to wrap everything up, is it worthwhile to unpublish a just-in-time Web Story and then re-publish it next year?

Casey Markee (01:05:55):
That’s a good question, and I would say no. And the reason I would say no is that when we unpublish something, we are creating a 404 to something that’s already indexed, especially if it’s done this for a long time, that could be a low quality signal to Google. I would just leave it and we’ll come back to it, maybe we can re-feature it in the future, you could refresh the site map on that. You could go ahead and provide some new links to it, get it to pop back again for consideration. But no, I don’t think it’s a little bit too soon to worry about no indexing these Web Stories or definitely unpublishing them.

Casey Markee (01:06:29):
I don’t think we should ever unpublish anything. That’s just a temporary 404, which long term could hurt bottom line quality on that specific page.

Ashley Segura (01:06:39):
Perfect. All right. Well, Casey, Andrew, thank you so much for everything that you shared today. This was absolutely amazing. Attendees, I know we went over a lot of stuff, but don’t worry, you will have the replay. We’ll be sending out an email next week with all of this information for you guys to read the rest of the questions and answers as well as re-watch this as you need to. Next month, we’re going to be having the next episode on February 24th, so you’ll also get an email, everyone who registered will get an email with those details.

Ashley Segura (01:07:08):
But thank you both panelists and everyone who joined us today from all over the world. Thank you so much for joining, and take care everyone.

Casey Markee (01:07:16):
Bye, everyone. Bye.

Andrew Wilder (01:07:16):
Thanks, everyone. Bye-bye.

About The Panelists

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 Twitter >>

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 Twitter >>

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 while under home quarantine.

Casey on Twitter >>

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