TopHatRank Publisher SEO SEO Resources For Bloggers Recap SEO For Publishers Episode #8; SEO Myths Debunked

Recap SEO For Publishers Episode #8; SEO Myths Debunked Recap, Q&A, + All the Resources

Have you ever heard something said about SEO that ended up not being true? You’re not alone, and unfortunately false SEO information happens way too often. Luckily, our expert panel is here to bust those SEO myths and clarify what’s true and what’s not when it comes to SEO.

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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 info@tophatrank.com!

Question 1

What do you think of the Soledad theme for food blog?

Long-term, you will struggle. It’s relatively slow, not accessible-friendly, and we tend to run into a lot of issues with CLS. I recommend you move to the Feast themes on Genesis. You’ll just do better.

Casey

Question 2

Is it bad to link to the same site at least once in every post? Or is it bad to overlink to the same site?

I would first ask “why” are you linking to the same site in every post? That doesn’t seem very natural or a great user-first approach. Link when it makes sens to the users AND when it’s appropriate. And most importantly, when it positively impacts the user.

Casey

Question 3

If we use a recipe card (Create) with recipe schema for a post, is it okay to also use an FAQ block (either the gutenberg FAQ block or the Yoast FAQ block), is that okay for SEO?

Nothing wrong with this at all. You’re good. In fact, I have plenty of clients who prefer “Create” for How-To posts and “WP Recipe Maker” for Recipes also. Using both is just fine. As is using the Yoast FAQ block with either recipe plugin.

Casey

Question 4

What’s the density you recommend for keywords (or any words) in SEO quake?

Don’t get hung up on this too much. But if you are “over” 2-3% that’s probably too much. Maybe 1-2% at the most. But the answer here is “it depends” on the query.

Casey

Question 5

Does it help SEO to add list of ingredients needed in recipe outside the recipe card?

It does not. In fact, if all you are doing is listing the ingredients in the post itself and providing NO EXPERTISE in explaining them or providing more detail for the user, I would stop that practice immediately. If you want to explain some of the ingredients in the post, awesome. But just listing them is what the recipe card is for.

Casey

Question 6

I thought in the last webinar it was mentioned not to add tags anymore. I saw someone today say we should? True or false?

We don’t recommend adding tags if you’re not already using them.

All

Question 7

Is deleting thin content better than noindexing them?

Usually, yes. The ONLY reason we would NOINDEX something is because it’s generating traffic from a non-organic channel, you want to keep the info and or photos to use somewhere else (like personally or to share out in emails or groups, etc), or because you may want to republish with more information at some point in the future.

Casey

Question 8

We know all sponsored links should be nofollow. Does this mean that link also has to be marked nofollow anytime it’s linked in another post?

No. You never NOFOLLOW links to your own content. Within a sponsored post, you only NOFOLLOW the links to the sponsor, their social accounts, or other external links that would not happen “but for” the sponsored post. But we don’t NOFOLLOW links to our own content, even in a sponsored post.

Casey

Question 9

is Keysearch better than SEMRush?

For just KW research? Yes, without hesitation.

Casey

Question 10

Is there a minimum post title name? Yoast doesn’t like if a post title is even 3 words long. Should I pad the title with the word “recipe”, e.g. chocolate fudge cake or chocolate fudge cake recipe? Will using “recipe” rank higher for a specific keyword?

Ignore Yoast. That’s terrible advice. Stop worrying about getting to “Green” and focus on writing a title that connects with your users or that “sells the user” on your post or recipe. Go into Googel and look at your target query. What is Google ranking already for this query? Look at the Titles of those posts being served specifically, adjust accordingly.

Casey

Question 11

Is it ok to link to the same post twice in a post…once near the top, but also in recommended posts?

Is it ok to link to the same post twice in a post…once near the top, but also in recommended posts?

Casey

Question 12

What are the top 3 best themes for food blog?

Feast, GeneratePress, maybe Trellis…this is a “depends” question. How much can you spend to customize the theme to your specifications?

Casey

Question 13

Will a blog fail new requirements in May with a “small” pop up to sign in that doesn’t take up the entire screen?

Nothing changes in “May” with regard to intrusive interstitial requirements. It’s just wrapped along with other metrics into a larger Page Experience calculation. So if the pop-up if fine now, it will be fine then. But per Google, MOST pop-ups should not active on the first-click from Google, ever. It would have to be very small or a “strip” to ensure you are not going to trigger issues. We recommend “exit-only” when at all possible. Better safe than sorry!

Casey

Question 14

What’s the best recipe card for SEO?

With regard to bottom-line features and support, we recommend WP Recipe Maker.

Casey

Question 15

If multiple recipes on my site use same phrase such as “sauté onions over medium high heat until soft” is that duplicate content?

No, that is shared content since it’s on your own site. The surrounding copy changes the intent of shared phrases.

Casey

Question 16

Is it ok if your permalink is set up to have site name/recipe/post?

That’s not a problem. And I would definitely not worry about changing that just to remove “recipe.” There would be no SEO value in you doing that. It’s fine.

Casey

Question 17

Is it ok to repeat the exact same language, for example on storage, within mulitple posts? What about more specialized information such as how to poach chicken?

It may be better to have a “post” totally geared around that. Then, you link to that post from other places as needed. That’s better for users and build authority for that post specifically.

Casey

Question 18

Regarding duplicate content, if I have multiple recipes that use the same pie crust, for example, is it better to make that pie crust a separate recipe and link to it? As a user, I think I’d prefer to have every piece of the recipe in one page, rather than clicking back and forth, but I’m not sure what’s better for SEO.

Yes, separate recipe and link to it. This will build-up the authority of the pie crust on its own. And with regard to UX, it’s not a big trade-off at all.

Casey

Question 19

What do you think about putting th jump to table of contents in the notes of the recipe card?

I definitely don’t recomend that. It’s not user-friendly and it will inflate the DOM Nodes in your recipe card and look terrible. If you have to use a TOC for your recipe card you need to rethink all the info you are putting in there. That’s excessive.

Casey

Question 20

What if it’s a paragraph in one of your own posts that you share again in another post on your own blog. Like a cooking tip that applies to two recipes.

What if it’s a paragraph in one of your own posts that you share again in another post on your own blog. Like a cooking tip that applies to two recipes.

Casey

Question 21

For dublicate content…I started a new camping site and I’m currently working on a recipe round up post on this new site. I saw that top google results to the main search term had recipes written out with recipe cards and some without recipe cards (but gives the recipe). For recipes that I don’t rank well on or never will, can I write this full recipe on my new site on this round up post?

Per Google, you CAN mix ItemList and Recipe schema. So you could get with this, but you do need to check the intent of the search. If Google is returning results competitively doing this then so be it. And again, duplicate content is only a concern if you have MOST of the content duplicated. If it’s just the card for example and the surrounding content of the duplicated card is mostly unique, you tend to be fine.

Casey

Question 22

Regarding roundups and dofollow links – I read yesterday someone said John Mueller said ALL links should be nofollow- and someone else said it doesn’t matter. True or false?

I can guarantee you that John Mueller never said “all links in a round-up should be NOFOLLOW.’ Maybe you misunderstood. The ONLY links that should be NOFOLLOW are links with a sponsored or advertorial perspective. Unless someone is paying you to be in their round-up, you don’t need to NOFOLLOW the links. You’re just fine.

Casey

Question 23

True or false? When users write a comment and mention covid 19 or epidemic, these are strikes against you by google?

False. Google does not filter out that content algorithmically. What COULD be happening is that on the “ad side” is that filters may be active and advertisers may not want their ads to show on pages mentioning these terms. And that “could” possibly lower the RPM on the pages but this is a completely ad-side issue, not an organic issue. And even then, I doubt it’s a big deal.

Casey

Question 24

Do ‘Google Web Stories’ help with overall SEO/ranking of that post?

They do not. They are not ranking factors. They can drive traffic which is always great, but that’s it.

Casey

Question 25

How far ahead of a holiday or season should you post a recipe for Google to rank that post?

Not anymore, but just because you published it doesn’t mean it will rank. Make sure to give it some time and avoid posting week of.

Casey

Question 26

So, no images in recipe card?

Personally, we find it’s not necessary and there is certainly no SEO benefit to doing this. But you should always survey your audience. Do they want to see photos in the recipe card? If so, go for it!

Casey

Question 27

Video in recipe post or recipe card?

You can use short codes to have the video appear anywhere on the page. Some people like the video in the card, above the card, or higher in the post. Usually, the best option is to monetize the videos with your ad company, then use their code to load the video in the post. But the answer is “it depends.”

Casey

Question 28

Do the slickstream and?grow.me recommendations impact seo…particularly if the suggestions are not very good?

That’s more of a UX issue, not an “SEO-issue.” If the recommendations are not relevant than I would certainly rethink the suggestions. But from a speed or SEO issue, the impact is minimal if any.

Casey

Question 29

If you have a video recipe — should I add (+ Video) in the blog post title. Does that help with SEO?

It does not.

Casey

Question 30

Regarding SEO, should your recipe card author be your name or your blog name?

We usually recommend to tie the Post Byline and the Recipe Card byline to the individual author if possible. Make it easier for Google see the tangential EAT connections between you and your site name as the same.

Casey

Question 31

If all your outbound links are nofollow (e.g. just affiliate links), is that bad for SEO?

Absolutely! There is no value to doing this and it’s not recommend by Google. You link out when it makes sense to users. Basically, what you are saying is that you don’t TRUST anything you are linking too. It’s strange and not going to provide you any benefit with Google, none.

Casey

Question 32

But if a link is nofollowed on the original post, we should not dofollow the link in another post, should we??

Is the link a sponsored link OR with a sponsor you have worked for? If so, then you should NOFOLLOW it sitewide. Again, the only time you NOFOLLOW a link is if it’s sponsored or advertorial in nature. Otherwise, follow the link every time.

Casey

Question 33

Aren’t you supposed to no follow sponsored link? Does that mean that entire page won’t rank as a result?

That’s not how it works. NOFOLLOWING “links” on the page won’t affect whether the entire page ranks or not. But EVERY link that is sponsored or advertorial in nature must be NOFOLLOW.

Casey

Question 34

Are there a minimum number of internal links that should be in each post?

No, there is not. Regardless of what you may hear in a course or elswhere. You should link when it makes sense for users.

Casey

Question 35

I am a course creator. Should I no-index the pages that are behind a paywall?

If they are behind a Paywall Google, and users, can’t see the links and content anyway. So no.

Casey

Question 36

Is it true that all your content should be just 2-3 clicks from the homepage?

That’s an old rule but it’s not a BAD rule. Flatter architecture does help you. We talk about this in detail during “SEO for Publishers #4 – Information Architecture” — look that up here:
https://tophatrank.com/blog/seo-for-publishers-episode-4-information-architecture/

Casey

Question 37

How many cornerstone posts should you have? Is there a percentage based on total blog posts? How do you pick which posts to mark as cornerstone posts?

There is not. A “cornerstone post” is nothing more than a post you tag so that Yoast can ‘remind you’ to link to it more regularly. You could have two of these, you could have 15 of these. Post you pick are usually those that complement other posts. Like a “dressing” or a “frosting” that you tend to link to over-and-over from other main dishes. Or, it could be a resource like a “how to debone a chicken” or “clean cast iron pans” that you also tend to link to as a utility resource from other posts.

Casey

Question 38

Is it ok to use your first name only (with blog name) as the author in the recipe card? Or should you use first and last name?

First name is fine. That’s very common. Some people don’t like to share their entire name. It’s really “up to you.

Casey

Question 39

I’d like to know your thoughts on how a newer blogger outranks a blog with a high DA. Things I’ve heard is to “write more” content that the competitors …or is there no way to outrank a higher da other than amazing keyword research. If everyone is using the same SEO tactics how does someone who is new ever gain the traction older blogs have already done.

Domain Authority is not a ranking factor. It’s a comparison-metric, that’s it. You want to outrank bigger sites? Focus on you having the best content from a UX-perspective. You load faster. You have no schema errors. You provide a more highly internal linked piece of content. Your content is better. And you do a better job promoting that content. And respectfully, just because “everyone is using similar SEO tactics” doesn’t mean they do them right or even correctly. I can show 10 people how to put together a recipe post via a consult and all 10 do it a different way. Focus on being USEFUL and dialing-in your KW optimization. That’s how you’ll garner shor-term and long-term traffic and rankings.

Casey

Question 40

Is a plugin like NitroPack helpful if you already have image optimization and w3 total cache?

W3 Total Cache can be a great tool, but it’s also rather complicated to configure fully. Nitropack will likely do more advanced on-page optimization, but it also has its own challenges.. Ultimately all these tools are just that — regardless of which you use, you need to make sure they’re configured fully and working correctly. Testing is key!

Andrew

Question 41

SEMrush versus Keyword Search? What’s the difference and is one better than the other?

SEMrush is a “tool suite” that has the ability to do KW research. Keysearch (I assume this is what you really meant) is a tool devoting EXCUSIVELY to just keyword research. SEM Rush doesn’t have a Google API, it uses “clickstream data” to populate it’s data. Keysearch does have an API, so it’s data tends to be a little more accurate. It’s not a “guess” based on 3rd party metrics. Keysearch is 1/3rd the cost, easier-to-use, and extremely effective for bloggers big and small. If your goal is to work smarter not harder, Keysearch is the better option in most cases.

Question 42

I accidentally (many years ago) have a permalink that makes no sense because I used hypens and WordPress apparently doesn’t see them. Instead of my keyword being “bruschetta”, it’s “bruschettaill”. Should I fix it and change the permalink and slug, and do a redirect, or just leave it alone?

No. There is no value in changing URLs per Googel and best practice. All you would do by redirecting the URL is wipe out all historical and social signals on the URL. There is no SEO value in doing this, at all.

Question 43

Would you disavow links from gambling sites with mostly chinese characters and when translated show sup a gambling?

No. Per Google, they do a great job finding and ignorning these links for you. As we discussed LIVE, unless you built-in toxic links yourself or you have an actual Google Links Penalty via Search Console, you should not be touching a Disavow File.

Question 44

T or F: google will not re-crawl a page unless the modified date in the sitemap has changed

False. Google will do whatever it wants to. It can crawl a page externally by means of a new social share ping or through a “new link” it discovers. But if we HAVE to touch a high-ranking post ourselves, using a tool like Limit Modified Date which prevents your blog from updating the Last Modified Date schema on the page an in your sitemap is a way to “insulute yourself” a little bit from unnecessary crawls by Google. So if you have to touch a high-ranking post to make a change, this “could” help Google NOT recrawl that page needlessly.

Resources & Links

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

  1. Nerdpress – WordPress support for small businesses.
  2. Feast Plugin – Guideline for page headings.
  3. SEO Quake – SEO browser extension.
  4. Keysearch Content Assistant Tool – Tool that helps writers break down the type of content Google is looking for within the top page results.
  5. Copyscape – Online plagarism detection tool.
  6. Googles Take on Comments – Article on how Google reacts to comment sections
  7. Syndicated Content – Article on how syndicated content may outrank the original source.

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 >>

Transcript

Ashley Segura:
And we are officially broadcasting.

Casey Markee:
The webinar is live, gosh.

Ashley Segura:
Hello, hello everybody.

Casey Markee:
How many people are still in lockdown? Let us know in the comments. [crosstalk 00:00:14]. Yeah, how many people, or not? That’s good, that’s a good point.

Andrew Wilder:
Casey, I’m on emotional lockdown right now.

Casey Markee:
You know what, that’s okay. My wife is a prisoner, she tells me all the time, so probably very similar. It’s all good. She’s actually going to be running a half marathon, she signed up for the Yosemite half marathon, I think it’s Yosemite half marathon, she’s going out there with a gaggle of women, little group from the CrossFit box and other locals here from Ramona, they’re going to go up, and she just decided on a lark, “You know what? I’m going up anyway, I might as well run this half marathon,” and it was so funny, because she’s in good shape, but she’s not a runner.

Casey Markee:
But she downloaded an app last night, that kind of like, for me it would be like a couch to 100 meters, but it was like a couch to half marathon kind of app, and she put the date that she has to be ready for, and it popped up a message that says, “Whoa filly, that’s a very small time frame for you to get in all this, are you sure you want to do this?” It was hilarious.

Ashley Segura:
What’s the time frame, how long does she have?

Casey Markee:
Oh, it’s like first week of May.

Ashley Segura:
Oh wow, that’s quick.

Casey Markee:
First week of May. So it’s close, it’s very close, yeah.

Ashley Segura:
Yeah, so it’s very quick.

Casey Markee:
[crosstalk 00:01:39] Brunswick, Georgia.

Andrew Wilder:
From-

Ashley Segura:
Got Netherlands, Australia.

Casey Markee:
Brunswick. Oh, for anyone in Canada on the call yet … [inaudible 00:01:46] half-marathons are fun. Amy, we’re not going to be friends, period. Okay? No. They even used to have the Rock and Roll Marathon here in San Diego, of course we can’t have it now, but we will eventually have it again. And the good thing about the Rock and Roll Marathon is that there was a band every mile, and you got to see a band every mile, which was cool, and nice and entertaining.

Casey Markee:
My idea of a race is the Beer Mile, where you run a lap, drink a beer, you run another lap, drink a beer. That’s, to me-

Arsen Rabinovich:
I would probably throw up on lap two.

Casey Markee:
… [crosstalk 00:02:23] should be good, that’s good. Or the donut 5K.

Ashley Segura:
If it was kombucha, Arsen would be in.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right, right.

Casey Markee:
Yeah, Megan knows me so well. If there’s bacon, or candy corn … Lisa from Minneapolis-

Ashley Segura:
Yeah, at the finish line.

Casey Markee:
Brooke, Brooke says she’s not living in Canada, but my daughter and I are Canadian. So Brooke, ask your daughter about this incredible conspiracy involving butter in Canada that’s going on right now, because I just read it today. Apparently they’ve added an increased amount of palm oils, and now everyone is up in arms. And I’m not even talking about residents, I’m talking food bloggers and restaurants saying that they can taste, our butter is harder. There’s literally whole articles about how the butter is now harder in Canada based upon some change [crosstalk 00:03:05]-

Arsen Rabinovich:
You have like a Google alert set up for anything that’s bacon or butter or grease [crosstalk 00:03:10]-

Casey Markee:
I’ve said too much, okay? Some people have Google alerts for their name, I have Google alerts for bacon, butter, [inaudible 00:03:17] fat, things like that. I just saw today, it was really cool, popped up, and like, “Wow, that is really interesting, that butter is not spreading as well as it used to.” I mean, that’s an important issue, obviously.

Ashley Segura:
It’s not due to freezing temperatures or anything like that?

Casey Markee:
That’s what I thought, but as I was reading the article they said, no, these people are letting their butter come to room temperature and they’re noticing that it’s just not the same. So there you go.

Andrew Wilder:
But isn’t room temperature in Canada like 60 degrees?

Casey Markee:
Buttergate. Good job, Sandra. It’s going to be good.

Ashley Segura:
Awesome. Well, as everyone continues to roll in, we’re going to go ahead and get started on our eight episode of SEO Publishers. Today we’re going to be debunking SEO myths, thank goodness, with experts Casey Markee, Arsen Rabinovich, and Andrew Wilder. So thank you everybody for tuning in. As always, we’re going to have Q&A at the end, so please feel free to drop any and all questions in the Q&A section. You do not have to wait until the end. As you think of a question, or if we’re on a specific myth and you want us to dive in a little bit more, head on over to the Q&A, we’ll either talk about it right then and there, or we’ll do it at the end.

Ashley Segura:
We also always publish a replay of the episode, along with any Q&As, whether or not they were answered, next week. So all of you who joined are going to get emailed a link to the replay next week, as well as last month’s episode.

Ashley Segura:
So today’s episode is going to be a little bit unique. Since we’re going to be debunking SEO myths, we’re going to do this as kind of like a true or false statement and let the experts let us know whether this very common SEO myth is actually true, or it’s a myth. So Andrew, kick us off, please. True or false: is adding keywords into headings overkill, or can it lead to overoptimization issues via the core update [inaudible 00:05:16]?

Andrew Wilder:
True-ish.

Ashley Segura:
I think that works.

Andrew Wilder:
So yeah, it depends. [crosstalk 00:05:26].

Casey Markee:
Every time you hear the word it depends today, folks, take a drink. You are welcome.

Arsen Rabinovich:
[crosstalk 00:05:32] are keeping count.

Andrew Wilder:
We’re going to play true, false, or it depends, right? So it’s okay to add some keywords into your headings, but you don’t want to overdo it, that’s the most important thing. There were a lot of sites that got hit last year, two years ago? I’ve lost track of all time.

Arsen Rabinovich:
November 2019.

Andrew Wilder:
Wow, okay. November of two years go, because they were overoptimizing. So if you have, let’s say, nine or 10 headings in your post, and every single one of them has some variation of your keyword, you’re overoptimizing. So that can be, lead to a penalty. Like with most things, if it works naturally, and it would make sense if you were just reading it out loud to a fellow actual human being, then it’s probably okay.

Ashley Segura:
This is a little bit separate from the true or false, but is there any tool or anything that you can like run a heading through to see if it’s over-optimized, or is the best way to really just kind of say it out loud and make sure it’s natural.

Andrew Wilder:
I would just read through it, but I think Casey has a browser extension he likes to use, the name escapes me.

Casey Markee:
SEOquick.

Andrew Wilder:
SEOquick, thank you.

Casey Markee:
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:06:40] past it over here again. Really easy to use, it just pulls all your headings off the page. Good way to see the breakdown right there, you’ll know just visually looking at it, if I can see my keyword in every heading, probably not the best.

Andrew Wilder:
And that also gives you a list of the actual hierarch of H1, H2, H3, right?

Casey Markee:
Correct, yeah.

Andrew Wilder:
So you can see if you’re nesting them properly, because you want to make sure you’re going in a logical order with those.

Ashley Segura:
Nice, perfect, okay. So first, true-ish/it depends. Arsen, you’re up next. True or false: you can’t rank for more than one keyword per blog post.

Arsen Rabinovich:
False. Definitely false. You should be ranking for more than on keyword per blog post. If you’re only ranking one keyword for a blog post, you didn’t do a really good job on that blog post. The point is that you will have a primary keyword, because that’s the topic. So if you’re writing about potato soup, Gary, if you’re writing about potato soup, you’re obviously covering the topic of potato soup, and then you’ll have things like questions in your article that somebody might be asking, like which temperature to cook the potato soup, or how do you store the potato soup? So all of these are variations of keywords that will be ranking for, so absolutely false.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. Casey, true or false: you should only be putting content under one category. One piece of content cannot go into multiple different kind of categories.

Casey Markee:
Yeah, absolutely false. Not remotely, no hedging, no it depends. I get it, a lot of people argue that you want to have really clear topical silos, you want to only put one recipe or post in one category, but frankly it’s just not great for users, and it’s really not going to provide you some kind of magical benefit long-term.

Casey Markee:
The belief is that if you don’t perfectly silo these category pages, you’ll have some kind of intensive content cannibalization or topical dilution, and in our experience, and I know that Arsen’s going to say the same thing, we just don’t see it a ton.

Casey Markee:
On the contrary, you should catalyze your categories whenever it makes sense for users. So if you want to put it on more than one category, that’s fine. Using some quick examples, if we had something like fried chicken, we might have that post in a chicken category, an entrees category, a paleo category, main dishes. If we were using pumpkin pie, we might have it in desserts, pies, Thanksgiving, keto. Totally okay. The bottom line goal is to fill out the category pages with quality information, and you do that by making sure that we have nice, clear, above-the-fold archive headlines, that we have nice on page H1s, that we have archive introductory text, that we have custom page titles and descriptions that we’re linking to these category pages.

Casey Markee:
But no, if someone is advising you that, “Oh my gosh, no, you’re screwing up things here by only having … You need to have your one recipe,” or whatever, “in one category,” no. Very poor advice.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Yeah, I’d like to add to that. So definitely do not use just one category. You want to use categories that are relevant to the topic that you’re covering. And a lot of blogs are set up to have multiple categories, everything from preparation method to primary ingredient to type of meal, and so on and so forth. As long as they’re relevant, as long as they make sense, use those categories.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Don’t go crazy. Don’t treat your categories like tags, don’t create useless categories. Try to look at your categories as what is the top level term or the broader term that this particular post or topic can qualify into? So don’t just look at your categories from a standpoint of, “I’m going to organize this logically, because this is a soup I’m going to put it in soup.” Look at it from a standpoint of, “Is this a top level query? Does this category support this query?” If somebody searches for a broader version of this topic, like somebody searches for different types of potato soup, your potato soup category page should rank.

Arsen Rabinovich:
It’s also a discovery mechanism, so the more opportunity you give your content to be discovered, the better your content will perform.

Casey Markee:
Again, I know we’ve got a lot of questions to cover, but I also want to specify that the only time that you really are going to run into duplicate content issues with categories is if you’ve made a mistake setting up your permalinks. So if you’ve gone in previously and you’ve accidentally put category name in your permalinks, and you start adding a post to different categories, you’re generating multiple versions of that URL. One of them will say your site, bread, post, recipe post. Your site, Thanksgiving, recipe post. We don’t want that to happen, so make sure that you check that. That’s just a simple auditing best practice, we want to make sure that we don’t have categories as a parameter in your permalinks. That way, you don’t have to worry when you put the same post in multiple categories, which, again, just fine.

Ashley Segura:
Okay, perfect. Arsen, is it true that including a target keyword in anchor text has no SEO benefit?

Arsen Rabinovich:
It depends. I’m guilty, I’m adding another one. We’re on our fourth one.

Ashley Segura:
Do another check mark.

Arsen Rabinovich:
It depends. Right, so let’s talk about what the anchor text is. Anchor text tells the user, or gives the user a hint of what they should expect when they click on this link, right? It’s the description of where the person is going to land once they click the link. For SEO purposes, it’s a double-edged sword, right? So you do want to contextualize, for Google, that this link takes you to a page that talks about XYZ, so you want to make sure that that is in there.

Arsen Rabinovich:
But because of people like me and other SEOs who have abused how Google treats anchor text, Google has figured out that we’ve been using that to manipulate the algorithm, so they’ve put less weight on the anchor text and the value of what that passes, the contextualization that it passes to the page that you’re linking to.

Arsen Rabinovich:
So you definitely, definitely I’m not going to say that it doesn’t bring any value if you add a keyword, it definitely does, and we’ve tested this and it works. You just shouldn’t overdo it, you shouldn’t oversaturate. Because once you oversaturate, to Google, especially with certain algorithms like Penguin, it will seem like you’re trying to overoptimize. So the same kind of strategy approach should be taken with your headings to also your anchor text.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Now, there is also a big difference between anchor text for external links, or incoming links from other sites, and then there’s internal links. So you can get pretty creative with internal linking, and you shouldn’t be afraid of overoptimizing the internal linking anchor text, and it also should be, again, it should be used for the user. Contextualize, tell the user where they’re going. Don’t just stuff keywords in there. Everything is good in moderation, but it definitely does help SEO to have keyword, so we call this exact match or partial match on the anchor text.

Ashley Segura:
Perfect. And just let everybody know over on Twitter, we are, every question or every myth, we’re debunking whether it’s true or false. So if you’re forgetting if the second one was true or false, you can head over to Twitter, the link is there, and you’ll get to see if it’s true, false, or it depends.

Ashley Segura:
Next one, Andrew. Really, really popular one, so many people enter this as they registered, is word count a ranking factor or not?

Andrew Wilder:
No. Word count is not-

Ashley Segura:
Perfect.

Andrew Wilder:
Yeah, false. [inaudible 00:14:36] factor.

Casey Markee:
Move on, nothing else to say. Good to go.

Andrew Wilder:
No, John Wheeler has definitively said this, Casey was kind enough to send me a link on reddit, where he literally says, and I quote, “Word count is not a ranking factor, save yourself the trouble.” So does that mean word count doesn’t matter? Not necessarily, but it is not a ranking factor. Once again, you want to be doing what’s right for your reader, so longer is better if you need more words to explain or answer the question; shorter is better if you can be more efficient.

Andrew Wilder:
The intent of the search query is important. If somebody’s searching for something, and you have this really long thing because you’re trying to cover all the basis, but that’s too much, that might backfire on you, and vice versa. Some queries don’t require a big in-depth answer. So if you can get the searcher the answer they want in an efficient way, I think that’s the way to think about it.

Casey Markee:
Right, and I would just add very quickly to that is that this is not something that you should ever worry about with regards to whether it’s true or false. I mean, Google has said like four times, word count is not something that you should lose much sleep over, you always want to write to the query. Some queries can be answered very quickly, some queries take longer to do. And one of the things that you want to do, is I know many of you on the call are using Keysearch. Congratulations, very smart of you. If you’re using Keysearch, you should be using a tool called the content assistant tutorial, the content assistant, which is built into Keysearch, and that’s going to allow you to actually see what’s ranking in Google for that query and actually show you the word count, the breakdown for that query, so you can get an idea. If you know that the average ranking on the top 10 or 15 results is 570 words, then you writing 1300 words is not going to help you.

Andrew Wilder:
Right.

Casey Markee:
It might hurt you. So what we want to do is we want to make sure that you’re understanding the intent, [inaudible 00:16:29] actually showing in a search result for that word count, and then you can adjust accordingly. But yeah, you’re good to go, guys. Don’t worry, don’t get too hung up on word count-

Arsen Rabinovich:
And then also-

Casey Markee:
… or believe that you need to write to a word cont.

Arsen Rabinovich:
And then also, the whole … Casey touched on intent. Keep in mind that not all queries require scholarly articles that are thousands of words long to answer the question or to satisfy its intent. And I’ve talked about this before, if I’m looking for a perfect temperature to grill my steak, I’m going to get that piece of information, I’m going to be out, right? I don’t need to read through 500 words or 600 or 700 words about how you discovered this recipe on your self-discovery journey in Costa Rica, I just nee the temperature. So approach it from a standpoint of what’s ranking, always check what’s ranking in Google, what Google is selecting as the type of content piece to satisfy that query and its intent, and then you’ll have your answer, whether you should be writing a long post or you should be writing a short post, or should be a list post or whatever.

Ashley Segura:
And I think when it comes to word count too, what people think about is long-form content, and that’s when the word counts can matter. But we did have a couple questions about word count minimum. I know it’s not really a true or false, but is there a, at least 100 words should be on a page? Is there some kind of minimum that publishers should have per post, or even on just regular page, or does that not even matter?

Casey Markee:
We can tell you exactly what Google has said, which is that there isn’t one. That they have never published a minimum word count, ever. It’s not in their guidelines, it’s not in a seminar-

Arsen Rabinovich:
Anywhere.

Casey Markee:
… a webinar, anywhere that I’ve ever said, it’s just, sometimes you can have, maybe it’s a short. Like I always use the example, if you go to Google and type is it Christmas, the top result is a site, isitchristmas.com. And if you go to that site, it’s a one-word answer. No. Because that’s perfectly fulfills the user intent of that query. So again, it just depends upon the query, it depends upon what you’re doing with regards to that content. This is why that tool that I shared here from Keysearch is going to be so helpful for a lot of you, because it’ll take the guesswork out of. If you’re trying to target a recipe, if you’re trying to target a query, and you see that the average word count that’s being returned on the first couple pages is this, maybe we need to try to focus on getting near there, or maybe a little bit more, to make sure that we’re hitting the focal point, so to speak.

Ashley Segura:
Gotcha. And Casey, we all know hat content is king and technically queen, but is it true that it’s the only thing that you should really focus on when it comes to improving your ranking?

Casey Markee:
Not remotely true, that’s definitely a myth. Content used to be king, I would say in many cases it’s more the servant these days. Because what is more important than content is how you’re presenting the content: does it load fast, is there barriers in place preventing the user from interacting with the content? When we’re talking about … When that quote came out to be, and I know a lot of you probably were not even born when that happened, but it was in 1996, for those of you young people on the call, that when Bill Gates said this initially, that was in the good old days when we only had three ways to check content. We had to ask our mom, we had to go to the library, or I had to pull down my copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s what we were looking for when we were looking at content those kind of days.

Casey Markee:
So understand that things have changed a lot since then. Instead, what we’re focusing on is we want to focus on context, we want to focus on social media, we want to focus on our audience to drive the signals, and we want to make sure that technically, our content is presented in a way that is as attractive to the user as possible. It loads fast, it’s not covered by ads or intrusive interstitials, that’s a big one. And we just want to make sure that it’s a high quality experience for users.

Ashley Segura:
Which ultimately is always the thing to do, is provide a high quality experience for users. Arsen, is it true that duplicate content is okay as long as you cite the original content source?

Arsen Rabinovich:
False. Duplicate content is not okay. Well, okay. So duplicate content is, there’s two types of duplicate content. So there’s external duplicate content, so like, let’s say Casey publishes a post, and then I decide that I’m going to copy it word for word and publish it on my wite, right? When that happens, search engines can be a little bit confused, because they’re not going to want to rank both of our posts to satisfy that query as a result. Very rarely you’ll see the same exact piece of content rank for a query unless Google has a hard time finding other documents on the web to satisfy that search. So search engines will get a little bit confused about which one of our posts should be included in an index, and then they have to rely on secondary signals to figure that out, and that’s where authority, expertise, trust, links, and all of that comes in.

Arsen Rabinovich:
So you definitely want to control and be aware of who’s republishing your content, because let’s say my site is much more authoritative than Casey’s, and I take his content and I publish it, most likely I will rank higher than Casey with that piece of content, even though he was the first one to publish it. But, at the same time, Google is becoming much better understanding where things are and how they are. So duplicate content can still mess you up pretty bad, especially if it’s cross-domain, and we’ve had clients come to us with these issues, and we’ve had to basically send down takedown notices and all of that stuff to get a handle on it. And it gets out of control.

Arsen Rabinovich:
So I would say that false, that you should definitely be aware of duplicate … Now, duplicate content on your own site, within your domain, is a different story, right? So-

Casey Markee:
Sure, shared content, yeah.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right, right. That’s a different story. I wouldn’t be too concerned about that, I would be more concerned about cross-domain duplication.

Casey Markee:
We had a question here, Ashley, and I know let’s get Arsen’s opinion on that. Someone, I think Christian says what about pieces of the content, like if you change 50% of the content and republish it?

Arsen Rabinovich:
So back in the good old days, we used to be able to do this. We used to be able to take a piece of content and send it through like a keyword or a word spinner or paragraph, or even a sentence spinner, and create unique variations. Google is becoming much better at, again, contextualizing and understanding what the content is about. So content that covers the topic in a very similar way will still have a hard time ranking. So if somebody wrote a piece of content and you republish it, or you rewrite it and republish it, you might rank above them, you might rank, depending on how much of uniqueness you include in there. So it’s a weird question to say true or false, but you should always keep a handle on top of … Some of our larger clients we run Copyscape reports for very frequently to make sure that nobody else is trying to even capitalize on the content.

Ashley Segura:
And that was Copyscape you mentioned?

Arsen Rabinovich:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ashley Segura:
Okay, perfect. [crosstalk 00:23:48]-

Arsen Rabinovich:
There’s plenty of other tools, but we’re just comfortable with Copyscape.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. And Casey, is it true that only publishers who have a specific niche, or specialize in a unique topic can rank successfully as a publisher?

Casey Markee:
myth. Absolutely, I hear this a lot, like, “Oh my gosh, you’re not doing well because you haven’t niched down,” or, “If you’re going to really be successful long-term, you have to niche down.” Well, there is some truth to that, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. And I’ve literally, I mean, after you’ve done as many [inaudible 00:24:18] as I’ve done, you see all these examples in real life. A couple that spring to mind, big sites that many of you on the call know, many of you are familiar with Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker, when Michelle started her site years ago, she focused exclusively on desserts. And then she expanded away from desserts, and she now has hundreds of recipes covering dozens of different topics, and they all rank well.

Casey Markee:
That’s very common, where you might want to start initially with a smaller niche, but then you expand Out as you build authority both for yourself and your site. An even better example is a site like Spin with Pennies, I think many of you know Spin with Pennies, it’s very successful site. I’ve been working with them for years. They started in the money saving and budgeting niche. You would never know that looking at their site, it is literally 100% recipes now. And they did 14 plus million sessions from Google over the last month.

Casey Markee:
So that’s the kind of thing I really want you to understand, because this is very common. I hear this kind of bullshit advice from publishers and from other SEO courses and even from ad companies all the time, “Niche down, niche down, niche down.” It’s the quality of the content, it’s the quality and experience of the publisher, of you, of the distributor, of the content, that really goes hand in hand into doing well. Just like these bloggers did historically, you too can have that kind of similar success. It’s all about bottom line quality with the content you’re publishing. We have plenty of current clients who do do-it-yourself recipes, parenting advice. We’ve got some clients that do recipes, home improvement, some clients who just do home improvement and craft tutorials. There’s always multiple niches, and it’s really the bottom-line quality of each niche is where you should focus your attention.

Ashley Segura:
Got it, okay. And Andrew, is it true that ingredients and recipe instructions should only be included in the recipe card, and not the blog post itself?

Andrew Wilder:
It depends. But basically, yes. Don’t repeat yourself. If you’re just going to have a list of ingredients in a recipe card, and then just cut and past a whole block of ingredients in the blog post, like what’s the point? You’re not adding value there. So if you think you’re doing that to make your post longer, then maybe put something of value in there. And I know you have to make your post a certain length to have enough ad units to make your money, I get it. But maybe you can talk about the ingredients instead, or how to source them, or if there’s a particularly challenging ingredient to find, or something less common, or whatever, you can talk about the history of that ingredient, or you can give some more backstory and information that’s useful to the reader. But yeah, I don’t see any benefit at all to repeating yourself, and you might just annoy your readers, because they’re like, “Well, I just read that, and why is that there?” So yeah.

Ashley Segura:
Yeah. As a user, one of my favorite things in a recipe, instead of doing all the steps again, and then it’s in a recipe card, is I’ve seen a lot of food bloggers take different ingredients, “So if you don’t have this at home, you can try this,” and then they use that as a way to add more content instead of duplicating the instructions or the ingredients.

Andrew Wilder:
And that’s super helpful, because if you’re looking in your pantry to try to find something, if you get a thumbs up on an ingredient swap that has been tested by the blogger, then that’s super helpful, right? Yeah.

Ashley Segura:
Yep.

Andrew Wilder:
Absolutely.

Ashley Segura:
Yep, 100%. Arsen, are recipe ratings and comments ranking factors, or are they not?

Arsen Rabinovich:
No. They’re definitely not. False. Okay, halfway true and false.

Ashley Segura:
Are you not saying the magic words?

Arsen Rabinovich:
It depends, we’re up to six now. Okay, so ratings, not necessarily. Ratings, ratings give you that really awesome featured snippet … Not featured. Oh my God, I’m brain farting.

Casey Markee:
Rich snippet.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Rich snippet, here you go, rich snippet. Give you a rich snippet, which helps with clickthrough rates and all that good stuff, and that in turn kind of, whatever, maybe helps with SEO if you’re getting nice clickthrough rates, and we’ll use that long click model to see if people are finding your content useful and all that stuff. So I would say yes, as far as clickthrough rates, definitely.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Comments, comments are treated by Google as a part of the main area of your content, the main block of text. I’m going to copy past a thing from Google on SE Roundtable, where John Mueller talks about this. So basically, comments are looked at by Google as a part of the main body of the page of the article. Now, Google does according to them, does look at that content and evaluate it as UGC, user-generated content. So I would probably believe that it’s scored a little bit differently, and if your [inaudible 00:29:31] is properly coded, will not be a cause for dilution of topical focus if your comments go completely haywire and off-topic, right?

Arsen Rabinovich:
So I definitely believe that Google does evaluate comments, I don’t think saying that like, “Oh, I have 100 comments and this person has 20 comments, I should be ranking higher than them.” I don’t think that’s the factor, the number of comments, but Google does look at the comments. So I would believe that they do make some sort of determinations on the overall quality and relevance of your post based on the comments that they’re crawling through.

Ashley Segura:
Gotcha. So it may not be a direct ranking factor, but may have an influence.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right, right.

Ashley Segura:
Okay, that makes sense. Speaking of additional ranking factors, Casey. Are guided recipes ranking factors?

Casey Markee:
Myth, not remotely true. And this is going to be a good one. Guided recipes were launched in May 2020 as a way for recipe publishers to try to optimize better for Google Assistant at the time, Google Assistant was an app directory, and it was a way for Google to start piggybacking on the ability to show content specifically for what we call headless devices, or smart displays. Things like Google Nest, and other devices of that nature.

Casey Markee:
The issue is is that when Google, since Google has published their initial notice about guided recipes back in May of 2020, do you know how many other times they’ve referenced guided recipes since? Zero. They’ve launched no public statements, they’ve talked about no other ways that they plan to push out information on guided recipes, it just doesn’t exist. But here’s what we do know from what they have published. There are no carousels for guided recipes. There’s no way to monetize guided recipes traffic, and there’s really no way to know exactly how much guided recipes traffic you’re going to get. We can’t track that in Search Console, and we certainly can’t track it in Google Analytics.

Casey Markee:
And we know that, because if you go into Google Analytics, you have a big tab called behavior, and if you go under behavior, you can sort by technology, you can also sort by mobile, and that’s really where you can see all the devices that are accessing your site at the time. You’ll probably find more traffic from Opera or the Nintendo browser than you will from Google Assistant, and I couldn’t even find a notice in the sites that I looked at this week that would even show me that they were getting any reference with regard to Google Assistant traffic or whatever, guided recipes.

Casey Markee:
If you want to use guided recipes, fantastic. But don’t believe that it’s going to increase your bottom line traffic, understand that there is a lot involved in making these work fully, like including recipe photos in your recipe cards, if you want to be able to provide that on a headless browser. Make sure that you survey your audience, because when we’ve surveyed our audience, when we’ve run Crazy Egg or when we’ve had residents, bloggers actually do a blogger survey, where we’ve even conducted focus groups, people tell me all the time they hate process shots in recipe cards. Many of them unconsciously do not want to print out the recipe card because they think they’ll print out the pictures.

Casey Markee:
So whenever possible, that’s why I always recommend that we put the process shots in the recipe post and not the recipe card. Now, you can experiment with that. You always want to cater to the needs of your audience, so do not follow a blogger who’s telling you that you need to do this until you’ve surveyed your audience. Do not follow an ad company telling you, “Oh, you absolutely want to put photos in your recipe cards, because this’ll make it longer and we can stuff more ads.” That’s not a user-first approach. So that’s the kind of things I really need you to start thinking of intuitively here, ask these questions, but the bottom line is guided recipes is not now nor has it ever been a ranking factor. If you do not want to do guided recipes, it will not hurt you algorithmically. There are no carousels, there’s nothing that you’re missing out on.

Ashley Segura:
Okay, that makes sense. Arsen, is guest blogging a complete waste of time, and does it really result in any SEO boost, or is guest blogging worth the time?

Arsen Rabinovich:
False. Well, that question was framed weirdly, you can’t-

Ashley Segura:
Yeah, it was more of a question, yeah.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right, right.

Ashley Segura:
Is it true it’s a waste of time?

Arsen Rabinovich:
It’s not a waste of time, if you’re doing it properly. So there’s a lot of misconceptions about guest blogging. So if you’re doing guest blogging the way it’s supposed to be done, when you’re a guest author on somebody’s site, and you have an author profile, and you have a byline in the article with the link to your author profile on that site, and link to your social media properties and all of that, that will definitely work, and it will help with expertise, authority, trust-

Casey Markee:
Again, if I have an author profile on amazingribs.com, or Bacon Me Crazy, and some of these other really awesome sites, and I’m talking about my love for bacon, hey, that might help me as an author. But yeah, it’s going to have limited pull otherwise.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right. So it’s going to help for you as an author, but you also … So Google does look at the links that are, so like, in the byline at the bottom of an article, so let’s say you publish an article and you have a byline, so there’s a link to your site or whatever. So that will pass, we believe, some authority. It’s not a part of the main article, it’s not within context of the article, it’s a link. It’s just like having a link from your Facebook page, or from your Twitter profile.

Arsen Rabinovich:
So I don’t think that it’s a waste of time in the grand scheme of things, but for it to be, “This is my link building strategy,” definitely I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket.

Ashley Segura:
Gotcha, okay. That makes sense. Andrew, is it true that bad HTML validation doesn’t hurt rankings, but it can impact structure data?

Andrew Wilder:
True.

Ashley Segura:
Finally a true one.

Andrew Wilder:
Yay. I’m going to throw a caveat in there, though. So basically the question is, if HTML validates, like you can run your HTML through a validator tool, and it’ll say, “Yes, this HTML is valid,” or, “No, it’s not.” But browsers are smarter than that, and they can handle invalid HTML to a point. So it depends on what the invalidity is.

Andrew Wilder:
If you have bad HTML that corrupts your page, and if users can’t see it and Google can’t crawl it, that’s going to hurt your rankings. But if the page has one little typo that doesn’t really impact anything realistically, but it doesn’t pass the validation, that won’t hurt your ranking factor.

Ashley Segura:
Okay, that makes sense. And Arsen, is having high quality [inaudible 00:36:31] links … Or, okay, let me rephrase that. Does having high quality [inaudible 00:36:36] links hurt your link juice?

Arsen Rabinovich:
Okay, so let’s talk about that really ugly word, link juice. There’s no such thing as link juice. It’s not a fluid, it’s not even a gas or a solid. So look, no, you don’t leak link juice just because you’re linking out. So if it makes sense, if you’re referencing, if you’re putting together a piece of content, and you need to reference or cite another blog, or a research paper, or whatever have you, whatever helps the user gain the knowledge that they’re looking for, whatever helps satisfy the primary and secondary intent of that query, of the reason why the person came to your site, if it’s a part of your document, and you’re saying, “I’m writing about topic XYZ. As a part of my explanation, I’m going to reference Wikipedia,” right, so that you can learn more about whatever I’m referencing.

Arsen Rabinovich:
That’s helpful to the user. Google is never going to ding you for that. Google’s never going to diminish the value of your page because you’re linking out. As a matter of fact, now we believe that it’s a reverse of that, now we want to include links, we want to link out to authoritative sites, and there’s some talks about is it too much, if we were doing it too much, like are we overdoing it? So definitely false, don’t be afraid to link out as longs as it makes sense, as long as you’re helping the user gain valuable information as it relates to the topic that you’re covering.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. Casey, is it true that Google doesn’t like syndicated content because it isn’t authentic content?

Casey Markee:
Myth. Not remotely true. John Mueller said back in 2019 that syndicated content can outrank regular content, I’ll paste over the citation here in a minute. But we’ve known this for a long time. A lot of bloggers, especially about 2017, 2018, would contact me for audits, and they would say, “Casey, I have my top recipes just started to fall,” or, “I can’t understand why this other site is outranking me.” Or, “They’ve republished their site,” this was a big deal with the Huffington Post previously, they don’t do it as much anymore.

Casey Markee:
But the Huffington Post, we’d have all these recipe contributors go to the Huffington Post, and they would republish their top recipes on the Huffington Post, and what do you think happened? The Huffington Post outranked them for their own recipes. And it wasn’t until when I kind of educated these bloggers that we never take our best content and reprint them on a site that’s so much stronger than us, because that’s a confusing signal to Google, and they can sometimes do exactly what they did in many cases, which was determine that the Huffington Post reprinted version was the original canonical, and we don’t want to do that.

Casey Markee:
So the thing is is that if you want to do syndicated content, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s authentic, it matters whether or not you’re doing it correctly. You can actually garner a lot of traffic from syndicated content, but you have to understand that there’s a trade-off. You’re doing it because you’re trying to garner increased visibility, social signals, or maybe some links back to your own content. Whenever possible for syndicated content, we should be using what’s called the canonical tag, which tells Google, “Hey, this is just a copy, come back here and find the original.”

Casey Markee:
Now, a lot of bloggers still struggle with this, because they’re either shy and they don’t want to require that this person use the canonical tag, or they’re just uneducated and they don’t know the canonical tag exists. So just something to be aware of, we want to make sure that the site that you’re syndicating content to is of value to your audience, but if it’s stronger than you are, understand that there are risks there. Go ahead and paste over these links for you.

Ashley Segura:
So as always, outweighing the value to the audience once again.

Casey Markee:
Yeah, always, definitely.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. Andrew, is it true that adding a Google web story will help rank a blog post?

Andrew Wilder:
Okay, so don’t know a definitive answer on this, so I’m going to take a guess and then let Casey and Arsen tell me if I’m right or wrong. No, it won’t help. Yes or no, is that right, guys?

Casey Markee:
We’re going to let you struggle on this one.

Arsen Rabinovich:
We’re going to let it simmer for a second.

Andrew Wilder:
Oh, so you don’t know either, is the answer, then. Okay, great.

Arsen Rabinovich:
It’s too early. I mean, it’s too early to say anything, right? Because what, it’s been only like, what, a handful of months, right?

Casey Markee:
If it’s my opinion, I would say absolutely not, because number one, these Google web stories can really decimate on-page metrics that cause the page to slow down, and so why would anything that we add to a page which would significantly decrease the bottom line usability of the page provide any sort of a long-term or even short-term ranking benefit? Now, I know that Google has recommended that they want us to embed these web stories, I think that it is incredibly terrible advice, and I don’t recommend it. If you want to link to your web story, fantastic, but I wouldn’t get into the habit of embedding them in posts.

Andrew Wilder:
I would add to that, though, unless it adds value to your reader, right? And that’s my answer for everything, I know. But that’s the key. Like, what Pinch of Yum is doing, she’s sort of embedding how to videos step by step, I think we talked about this last time, and you all know I hate web stories, but the way she’s doing it is really good. And so that’s actually like interactive process shots. So if you can build them in a way that actually adds value, that might not directly increase your ranking, but if you’re creating better content, you’re ranking’s going to go up, so there you go.

Casey Markee:
Yeah. Carey’s really good, we appreciate your commentary, Carey.

Ashley Segura:
Fantastic.

Arsen Rabinovich:
The best, the best.

Casey Markee:
The web stories and guided recipes can take a short walk off a long pier and be on their way, and get it. Tell us how you really feel, it’s all good.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Don’t hold anything back.

Ashley Segura:
Yeah, please, please. To save space. Casey, is it true that you should no follow internal links to your own content?

Casey Markee:
Absolutely not, that is a myth. That is definitely not what we want to do. We like to have link juice, as Arsen likes to call it in his quiet times alone, when it’s just him and his links.

Arsen Rabinovich:
[crosstalk 00:42:51] link juice, when you’re leaking link juice.

Casey Markee:
Because yeah, we don’t do that. It destroys the flow of page rank through our site. When we no follow a link, there’s no page rank going through that link, and it doesn’t go magically to other links on the page, that’s not how it works. You’ve lost it. So if you’re going to link internally, we should always be following those links.

Casey Markee:
This is also why if we have a lot of links on a page, and they’re going nowhere or they’re duplicated, then maybe we do some kind of a navigational audit, topical analysis to see if there’s any unnecessary dilution of signals going on in the site, this is something that a lot of SEOs and a lot of these fly by night audits that unfortunately I know many of you on the call have experienced, don’t touch, because they don’t know anything about it.

Casey Markee:
And so when we’re actually doing an analysis, or looking at an audit, we’re looking at the flow of page rank through the site, we’re looking at if there’s any topical confusion or dilution happening. If I’ve no indexed all my tag pages, but I’m linking to five to 10 tag pages on every page, that’s not good. I’m sending all that page rank-

Arsen Rabinovich:
It’s a confusing signal, right.

Casey Markee:
… to posts that I have no indexed or no followed, and we don’t want to do that. We just remove those links completely from the page, so we can recover that page rank and have it flow back to other posts on other links on the page that have value to our users and to our site as a whole.

Arsen Rabinovich:
In the past, this used to be a thing that you would do like back, back in the day, and Casey remembers this, this was a part of a crawl budget optimization strategy, where you were like, “Oh, I don’t want Google to crawl through these pages, I’m going to use a no index.” What it does in turn is it creates what I believe is a confusing signal for Google. Why are you no indexing a discoverability path to pieces of content on your site, right? No following or no indexing … Sorry, no follow, no follow on those pages is kind of confusing for Google, because Google’s going to look at it like, what’s the point of this? You shouldn’t care about crawl budget optimization at this point. None of you have sites that are like gazillions of pages deep, you’re not Huffington Post or Forbes where you have to worry about crawl budget optimization. Google will crawl through the pages and pick up everything that it needs, it’s not going to give up on you. So definitely, this is a tactic that’s old and outdated and should not be used anymore.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. Andrew, is it true that server location makes a difference as to what results are displayed in the search?

Andrew Wilder:
False. Google doesn’t care where your server is. One caveat to that, though, is server distance to the visitor makes a difference on speed. So if you’ve got a server in Chicago, and your visitor is in Sydney, Australia, it’s going to add some time for all that data to go back and forth. So you do want to be cognitive and careful of server location, and really, ideally, set your server up closest to the center of where most of your users are. So for most of you, that’s probably US, and then use a content distribution network to make it faster for everywhere else. But Google’s not going to change the content or change your ranking based on your server location.

Andrew Wilder:
Where you are also will affect your search results, though. So it does flip around the other way. If you’re in Canada searching for potato soup, versus being in, I don’t know, Sherman Oaks, next door to Arsen, searching for potato soup, then you may get a slightly different search result based on the weather, or whatever other people in that area of the world are searching for. So they will tailor it to you based on your geography.

Ashley Segura:
The sunny weather of Sherman Oaks.

Andrew Wilder:
Right.

Ashley Segura:
Yeah. Speaking of, Arsen-

Andrew Wilder:
Maybe cold potato soup recipes for Arsen.

Ashley Segura:
Yes, yes.

Arsen Rabinovich:
I love potato soup.

Ashley Segura:
Okay, will having an XML sitemap boost your search rankings? That really threw me off there.

Arsen Rabinovich:
No, false. A sitemap is not a ranking factor. It helps Google discover pages on your website, but Google will most likely discover these pages whether you like it or not. So it’s not necessarily a ranking factor, having a sitemap is not going to help you rank. Having a sitemap helps Google discover pages that it might, maybe have a hard time discovering, so you might have a page that you’re not linking to, so Google can’t find a path to it, but you have it in your sitemap and Google will discover it.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Now, not linking to a specific page might make it seem like it’s an orphan page, and that page might have a hard time ranking on its own, so just having it in your sitemap obviously will not help it rank, so the answer is false, it’s not true.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. And we have one, two, three more. I know there’s a ton of questions over in the Q&A, so if you haven’t put in your question, definitely go ahead and do it now. As always, if we don’t get to the questions, which is a lot, we probably won’t get to all of them, we do go through and answer every single one individually, and publish them in the recap, so if you have a burning question that you want to ask these guys, definitely get it over into the Q&A. But for now, I’d say this was probably the second most commonly asked one when people submitted questions, and Casey, this one goes to you. Are social media signals a ranking factor?

Casey Markee:
Myth. Not remotely true, and the reason that social media signals are not ranking factors is they’re too muddy and they’re too easy to manipulate, and this has been the case for years. I could literally go out right now to fiverr.com and buy 100,000 pins to go anywhere I want, or I could buy 10,000 Facebook shares, or I could purchase 14,000 retweets. Because of that, there’s no way to really monitor authenticity of those signals. Social signals are a way for you to kind of allow the easier dissemination of your content, and they show some examples of social proof, in other words social proof, if something is popular, and we see a lot of social signals on that, there’s an actual psychological condition, we’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is being shared a lot, I am going to share that as well,” okay? But that’s it. There is no ranking benefit at all for social signals and you should run far, far away from SEO or SEO course that says otherwise.

Ashley Segura:
So 1000 shares on Instagram does not matter.

Casey Markee:
No.

Ashley Segura:
Bummer. Arsen, you should use the disavow file only if you have a penalty by Google, true or false?

Arsen Rabinovich:
Partially true.

Ashley Segura:
Do tell.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Yeah, so if you’ve been penalized by Google, depending on what you’ve been penalized for, if it is links, then obviously you should clean up, first make an attempt, a few attempts at cleaning up whatever crappy links you’ve built, and then submit a disavow file and a reconsideration request. You shouldn’t be using a disavow file for all Google penalties. So that’s the first part of that.

Arsen Rabinovich:
The second part of that, you should not be using the disavow file at all unless you really need to use it. It should not be used as a prophylactic, it should not be like, “Oh, I found some bad links, and I’m going to throw them in my disavow file.” It should also not be used because you got an email from Semrush, SEMrush, like they like to be called now.

Casey Markee:
Hey, hey, it’s now SEMrush, okay?

Ashley Segura:
SEMrush.

Arsen Rabinovich:
SEMrush, always.

Casey Markee:
It’s always going to be SEMrush to us, always.

Ashley Segura:
Always.

Arsen Rabinovich:
And I’m not a fan of the verbiage they use, the word that they use, toxic, right? Toxic is a very bad way of explaining that, and for somebody who is not as knowledgeable in SEO, that’s a very strict word that will cause a lot of confusion and panic, right? If you’ve been affected by an update, and you’ve checked all the boxes, you’ve had an audit with me or with Casey and we arrived at the fact that, hey, your links are really at the cause of this, only at this point you would use the disavow file submission, and that file should be put together by somebody who knows what they’re doing, because this is something that’s super dangerous. You might accidentally disavow, on a domain level or a page level, something that you really are depending on for certain rankings, something that’s a good signal for you.

Arsen Rabinovich:
So I don’t recommend using a disavow file. We’ve stopped recommending disavow files for a few years now as a part of our audits, unless we do the forensics and we arrive at the fact that, yeah, we did a deep dive into your links, we didn’t just use a tool to tell us that there’s a toxic link. We actually just today looked at a toxic link report, and I saw, these sites are relevant. These sites are relevant. SEMrush, algorithmically, said that they are toxic. But that’s because like, they might not have an https on it, but it’s not toxic, right? It’s a relevant site, it has relevant content, and it’s linking to you because it makes sense. So stay away from using disavow files, you will most likely hurt yourself than help yourself with a disavow file. Casey has stuff to say on this too.

Casey Markee:
Yeah, let me unmute myself, thank you very much. The disavow file is something that we get a lot of questions about, and again, when someone signs up for an audit, I know there’s several month delay, and sometimes I’ll just receive notification, “So and so has updated their disavow file,” and I will just immediately shoot off an email saying, “Why are you doing a disavow file?” And they’ll say, “Well, because I’m using SEMrush, told me I had toxic links.”

Casey Markee:
We just don’t recommend that. If you have toxic links, Google’s doing a very good job of determining and ignoring those links at their end. Per Google, the only two times you should ever be using a disavow file are, number one, you built those bad links yourself and you know they’re bad. You paid for them, they’re not related to you, they’re spammy, something along those lines. The second reason would be if you have an actual manual links penalty. If those two requirements do not fit with your current situation, you should be deleting that disavow file and never touching it again. That’s honestly what you want to do, and that’s what Google wants you to do, and that’s directly from John Mueller.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right. Somebody was talking about, a while back, like, you’re essentially, a disavow file is like going in with a scalpel instead of going in with a machete, right? You want to be very specific about what you want to disavow. Do you want to disavow this entire domain, do you want to disavow just this one page on the domain? You need to know what you’re doing, and you need to really be able to understand all the inner workings of what this link is and why this link is there and all of that. Just because it has like, it slowly loads, or their security, their https certificate expired and they just forgot to renew it for two days. That’s not a toxic link.

Ashley Segura:
Okay, perfect. The very last true or false is a little bit different. It’s actually fiction or bacon, and this is for Casey. Someone wrote that Casey recommends Yoast Duplicate Post over Revision Manager TMC. Is that fiction, or is that bacon?

Casey Markee:
Meh, I would say it depends. Is that my first time today? [crosstalk 00:54:32] am I in the group?

Arsen Rabinovich:
Twice, twice.

Casey Markee:
Am I in the group? Twice?

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right.

Casey Markee:
The reason I started recommending Yoast Duplicate Post, and I do recommend that plugin, is because I kept getting so many emails from people saying that Revision Manager was causing problems. Andrew knows what I’m talking about, it’s cloning posts, or the post would not publish, or whatever. And every time I would try to replicate it, I couldn’t, so I think it was just, maybe sometimes it was user error, sometimes it wasn’t. If you’re comfortable using Revision Manager TMC or Revisionize, and you’re not having any problems, keep using them. But if you’re looking for something else that is maintained and actually does work pretty well, then I would recommend the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin.

Casey Markee:
Please read the tutorial, okay? Go in, find out how the tool works, understand it’s very similar. The best thing that you want to do is you want to clone and republish, there’s a specific thing, clone and republish. That’s the link that you have to start hitting to make sure that we don’t necessarily just start duplicating posts needlessly.

Casey Markee:
And again, if you don’t like how it works, then you just delete the post, or you delete the plugin and you delete the duplicated post and you move on. All good.

Ashley Segura:
Perfect. Okay, we are officially opening up to Q&A. We don’t have a ton of time, but we’re going to try to get to as many as we possibly can. First one is from Abigail, and any panelist, please feel free to jump in and address this. Question is, if we use a recipe card create with recipe schema for a post, is it okay to also use an FAQ block? Either the Gutenberg FAQ block or the Yoast FAQ block. Is that okay for SEO purposes?

Casey Markee:
Yes. However, I want to make sure that I clarify that I would always prefer that you use the Yoast SEO FAQ block if you can. I find that the Gutenberg block just doesn’t look as good, and sometimes for some reason, it doesn’t validate. Now, there has been some confusion as to whether you can use FAQ in a recipe post. Let me clear up the confusion: you’re good. FAQ is built with itemless schema. You can use itemless schema with recipe schema, just like you can use aggregate ratings schema, just like you can use bread crumbs schema, just like you can use other schemas on the page.

Casey Markee:
The only time Google has really said, “Hey, you can’t use these two schemas together” are recipe and how-to. So understand that.

Ashley Segura:
Okay. Next question from Tammy, how far ahead of a holiday or season should you post your recipe for Google to rank that post? Is there a specific time frame?

Casey Markee:
It really depends on how long it’s taking Google to crawl your content. I mean, in most cases, and please have someone else jump in here, but we’ve had audits where content’s been indexed in minutes. Sometimes it’s day, sometimes it’s weeks. Do I think that you need to start publishing … Well, let’s use one of my favorite holidays, which is, of course, Cinco de Mayo, obviously. And do I need to start publishing my Cinco de Mayo content-

Arsen Rabinovich:
Was not expecting that to be your favorite holiday.

Casey Markee:
What’s that, no?

Arsen Rabinovich:
Cinco de Mayo, that just, like-

Andrew Wilder:
Yeah.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Yeah.

Casey Markee:
I want to keep you on your toes, keep you on your toes.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right, thank you.

Casey Markee:
Would I need to publish my Cinco de Mayo content now? No. I could publish that towards the … in April, and I’d be totally fine.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Cinco de Cuatro.

Casey Markee:
Yeah.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right.

Casey Markee:
Totally fine. But yeah, I know there used to be a thing where you had to start updating and republishing your seasonal content three, four months in advance. Not with the way Google is indexing and republishing. Not with the way that Google is indexing updates and reindexing content much, much faster now, you just don’t need to do that. So as soon as you can, but whatever.

Arsen Rabinovich:
We should also mention that just because you published it, doesn’t mean it’s going to rank, right? So if the question is how long in advance should I publish my post for it to give it a good chance to rank, you definitely want to give it some time, especially if [crosstalk 00:58:19]-

Casey Markee:
If it’s a completely new post.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right, completely new post, and you’re publishing for a very competitive holiday like Thanksgiving dinner, you definitely want to give enough time so you can build up some authority, get some links, and all of that stuff.

Andrew Wilder:
I think there’s also, thinking about your readers, again, would it make sense for you to publish a Cinco de Mayo recipe now, in February? No, right? So if you’re sending your posts out to your readers when you publish also, you got to think about that. So think about when they start planning for these meals, like Thanksgiving people are going to be planning probably much further in advance, and trying to score the best turkey they can two or three weeks early, versus some of these other ones where they’re going to be googling recipes the day of or the day before.

Casey Markee:
That’s an extremely good point. I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that how Pinterest used to work is that you literally had to publish content six months in advance to have a chance of that content and the pins doing well on Pinterest so far in advance. That’s changed now. We don’t want to do Pinterest-first on strategy, and I think that’s where a lot of bloggers get confused. “I want to try to optimize for Pinterest,” but they understand that by doing that and publishing all this content earlier, there’s a mismatch between the intent right now of the content when it goes live and your existing audience visiting your site. I don’t want to read a Thanksgiving post in August, and yet that’s what Pinterest would like you to do, is start updating content that early so that it has a better chance of doing well on Pinterest.

Ashley Segura:
I like Chelsea’s tip, publish now and then email out right before the holiday to keep it fresh for all of your readers and subscribers as well, that’s a great tip. All right, we have two more questions. Second last is from Judy, and this is an absolutely amazing question, and I would love to hear the answer from you guys as well. If multiple recipes on my site uses the same phrase, such as, “Sauteed onions over medium high heat,” is that duplicate content?

Arsen Rabinovich:
No.

Casey Markee:
No. I mean, it’s basically shared content, and that’s a little bit different. The thing is is that Google understands that not everything can be unique, but also, you have to understand that the surrounding copy changes the intent of shared phrases. I could literally repeat on one page, “Casey’s awesome and loves bacon” 20 times. It’s not duplicate, because it’s on one page, but I’m not going to rank much for anything other than “Casey’s awesome and loves bacon.”

Casey Markee:
It’s just like if I put one sentence for the onions on multiple other posts. I’ve surrounded that statement with hundreds of other words of unique content. So that’s why you should never really worry about these little bits of shared content. There’s a site called Siteliner, siteliner.com, I’ll have Ashley paste that over there for me, and it is basically just a forensic tool that will allow you to crawl your entire site and see shared content.

Casey Markee:
If you want to be concerned about shared content, make sure that you run that and then look at things like 75%, 80%, 90% shared content. That’s where you need to concerned. But when you see things like 5%, 10%, maybe even 20 or 25, not a big deal, okay? That’s just how the internet works.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Right. It’s all about that saturation, right? So as long as you don’t oversaturate, you’re good.

Ashley Segura:
Perfect, okay. And the final question, sorry that we didn’t get to all the questions, but don’t worry, once again, they will all be answered individually-

Casey Markee:
We’ll answer them all, yep.

Ashley Segura:
… by these experts, yep. So they’ll all be taken care of. Kelly, this is a great question, and good for clarification. “I thought in the last webinar it was mentioned not to add tags anymore. I saw somebody today say that we should. So-”

Casey Markee:
No.

Ashley Segura:
… “should we have tags,” or can we clarify that?

Casey Markee:
Maybe there was a misspoke, but we don’t recommend adding tags if you’re not already using tags. If you’re using tags, the very first thing you need to do is go into your search console and see if those tag pages are actually generating traffic. In most cases, they are not, and so-

Arsen Rabinovich:
They’re not.

Casey Markee:
… we tend to not recommend the use of tags, we would no index that. Once we’ve no indexed something, we tend to remove it from displaying on the site so we don’t waste link juice.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Had to just weave that in there, didn’t you?

Ashley Segura:
Oh, Arsen’s cringe face.

Casey Markee:
[inaudible 01:02:35] love it, I loved it, so yeah. So yeah, we’ll definitely clarify that, but we’re not [crosstalk 01:02:40]-

Arsen Rabinovich:
So I was the one who said it. So I was talking about multiple categories for each post, and I said that with tags, if you’re no indexing them, you can … as many as you want. That doesn’t make sense to optimize that.

Casey Markee:
All right.

Ashley Segura:
Well, that wraps up our eighth episode. I am pasting in a link for next month’s episode, which is going to be on St. Patrick’s Day, that makes me really excited.

Casey Markee:
Yes, we will all have-

Ashley Segura:
Going to be great.

Casey Markee:
… I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’re all going to have green beer.

Andrew Wilder:
I want to see everybody start publishing the green beer recipes right now.

Casey Markee:
Green beer recipes right now, we’re going to make our own green beer, whatever, and we need to make sure we’ll be able to have that recipe to pull up on the screen here.

Ashley Segura:
Yep, that’s definitely necessary. So it’s going to be March 17th at 12:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, we’re going to do a little bit earlier and see how that works for everyone. The link’s in there, please make sure you register and keep a lookout in your email next week for the recap blog post with this replay and all the Q&A as well as the transcript. Thank you, panelists, thank you attendees, thank you everybody, and have a great.

Casey Markee:
Thanks everyone, be safe out there.

Arsen Rabinovich:
Bye.

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