Honestly, it’s been a struggle to keep up on this every week since as we've added more and more new clients. It’s been amazing to watch this little agency grow, but there’s also a lot of growing pains. I can’t do everything myself and still keep up. Luckily, we just hired an amazing new SEO Account Manager (and will be adding a new one soon, if you know anyone).
In the meantime, the SEO world has been its predictably weird, tumultuous self while I’ve been away. So let’s jump right on it.
BERT is here! Google launched a new search algorithm update that brings Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) into the mix. Designed to help Google better understand natural language, BERT impacts 1 in 10 queries, and is built to process the searcher intent behind complex, conversational queries. Google can’t understand language like humans (yet) but this is a big step toward applying Natural Language Processing into search at a global level. Basically, Google should now be able to understand difficult queries with greater nuance. Another reason to focus on content quality, and write for people not search engines!
Google launched Site Kit, a Wordpress plugin that lets you pull Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, AdSense, and Google Analytics into one dashboard. Cool AND great!
Google set a hard limit on geographic coverage on Google My Business, limiting owners to 20 service areas. If you need more coverage, you can try up-leveling areas, like entire cities instead of just postal codes.
New Speed reports have been released for Google Search Console. These reports help you diagnose issues with performance and give your pages grades from Slow to Fast. This is an awesome change to help fix and track one of the biggest issues I see facing many client sites—sluggish page performance.
Corporate Contact markup for Google knowledge panels is dead. To add contact info in knowledge panels, you now suggest a change directly (but only as a verified official representative).
Screaming Frog version 12.0 was recently released, offering integration into PageSpeed insights and a Database storage mode. I'm always happy to see updates from this ultra powerful tool.
Google won’t remove a page from search due to bad structured data.
Google does not use time on page as a ranking factor.
To avoid link building penalties (or just ignored links) remember that it’s not the number of links that cause an issue, but the type of links. Links on random sites, buying links, or sharing links with a link network causes problems. Not link volume.
Internal Pagerank sculpting doesn’t work. Don’t waste your time.