Between April 9th-10th, Google’s webspam team issued numerous manual actions for “unnatural outbound links”. John Mueller later claimed these were directly related to the warning Google gave in March, requesting for all bloggers to disclose links from free product reviews by adding rel=”nofollow” to their external links.
Webmasters reported receiving the following manual action penalty message:
If your website has received this manual penalty, John Mueller has advised ‘cleaning up’ the links by applying rel=”nofollow” tags to all external links in free product reviews; and then submitting a reconsideration request so that the webspam team can double-check and consider removing the manual action.
Study reveals it takes 10 weeks on average to see ranking increase from a link
We were particularly interested in a fascinating study from Kristina Kledzik around measuring how long it takes for a gained link to beneficially influence rankings.
Every SEO has been faced with the question, “When will we see a return on our investment, and how much will we see?” We know that new links do not immediately affect rankings, and this makes it increasingly difficult to directly measure the influence of a gained link in the SERPs. The study analysed 200,000 indexed pages, which were receiving hundreds of new links each month through PR and link acquisition efforts. 76 links to pages with similar content were analysed for target keywords with 25-35% keyword difficulty rating.
The study revealed “It takes 10 weeks on average to see 1 rank jump”.
The study goes into further detail to demonstrate that new backlinks from high authority domains (Moz DA 50+) not only have a greater impact on rankings, but aslo see the impact in a much shorter timeframe.
SEO is an investment. This insightful piece of analysis provides meaningful data to support you when setting your client, or manager’s expectations.
Google is testing the News Carousel which solely displays AMP articles
Google has begun to test the News Carousel in the US English SERPs on mobile devices which solely displays AMP articles. These AMP articles are marked with a lightning bolt.
Larry Kim investigates whether CTR impacts SEO Rankings
Larry Kim wrote an article on how CTR may affect organic ranking position. He cited RankBrain – Google’s machine learning algorithm – as a possible factor in the results of the study. There were some fascinating conclusions. The average expected CTR was compared with the actual CTR for a given organic position.
The data suggested that, “the more your pages beat the expected organic CTR for a given position, the more likely you are to appear in prominent organic positions.
If your pages fall below the expected organic search CTR, then you’ll find your pages in lower organic positions on the SERP.”
Larry Kim suggests that RankBrain’s growing importance to Google’s algorithm means that CTR will become increasingly significant. RankBrain learns how to assign ratings to pages that may have insufficient link or historical page data, and are relevant to the user’s query.
The key takeaways were:
- Optimise pages with low “organic Quality Scores.”
- Combine your SEO keywords with emotional triggers to create irresistible headlines.
- Increase other user engagement rates.
- Use social media ads and remarketing to increase search volume and CTR.
How does Google analyse and evaluate the quality, value & rank-worthiness of your content
Rand Fishkin’s whiteboard Friday at the beginning of April, explained how Google may analyse and evaluate the quality, value & rank-worthiness of your content.
The focus was on how Google can analyse on-page signals. Rand suggested that Google uses 7 key signals:
- Keyword matches with synonyms, word uses and intent matching.
- Topic associations, related phrase matches and keyword co-occurrences.
- Content length, comprehensiveness, reading level, sentence and paragraph format.
- Brand name, site name and associations with topical authority to a particular subject. Website sections, tags and sub-folders can have topical authority for different subjects.
- Visuals and non-text content – Google can look at these features and associate them with a topic.
- Truthfulness, accuracy and validity of content. Google has seed websites which it uses to judge the accuracy of other content.
- Phrase and sentence structure evaluation. Google’s RankBrain is becoming increasingly intelligent at query interpretation.
Google makes 2 ad updates that will affect local search marketers
Google will now display advertisements in the Local Finder results. This is reached after clicking “More places” for a local three-pack in the main Google search results.
This means that any retailers, or service providers, that have not been featured in the three-pack in the Local Finder results have the opportunity to appear via an advertisement.
Google has announced that ads will display differently in Google Maps – this means that Google will only show ads that include location extensions in Maps and that regular text ads will not be feature. Google Maps is no longer a part of Search Partners.
Ginny Marvin on Search Engine Land suggested, “The emphasis on location extensions is in line with Google’s increasing reliance on structured data and feeds, as retailers participating in Google Shopping can attest.”
Rand Fishkin analyses the dangers, opportunities, risk and reward of linking internally and externally from your website
Rand Fishkin hosted a Whiteboard Friday on April 15th which focused on explaining best practices for linking. We found this provided a great deal of clarity on a murky subject in the SEO community. Here are the key insights:
- Linking externally is a positive signal to Google and can improve your perceived relevance and rankings.
- Linking out can drive traffic to and earn the notice of other site owners who would be more likely to link to your website.
- Do not do manipulative linking to low quality websites for non-editorial reasons – this can hurt your rankings.
- Strategic internal links can have a great impact on indexation and ranking.
- Internal links have the largest impact on websites that already have a strong domain authority.
- Internal links should drive traffic and continue the visitor’s journey. An example would be linking to a useful resources section.
It’s very interesting to see how important internal linking is, and how it’s becoming an greater topic of discussion in the SEO community. Rand mentioned that Moz are in the process of completing a number of studies which we look forward to reading.
At Semetrical, we have seen strong positive results from optimising the internal link structure for a number of our clients. We must stress however, it is always important to ensure the links are relevant to the user.
As always, we’d love to hear your opinion on any of the SEO news from this month.