My Five #439

A Google-heavy My Five this week. Riding the SEO rollercoaster and announcements from Search Console and Google News. But also a very cool dog.

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Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.

This week’s My Five is by Joe.

1. The Google Rollercoaster

If you have been involved with SEO for long enough, you will remember the days of the Google Dance.

Everyone was obsessed with rankings and the SEO community would be sent into a flat spin every time Google updated its algorithm and unleashed a storm of SERPs volatility. Some of those storms were very wild indeed and fortunes were made or lost almost overnight as the coveted top spots were shaken up. It was a rollercoaster ride.

The truth is that things are much more stable these days. Yes, there can be some dramatic movement but it is *usually* fairly predictable and most sudden drops are the result of some very unethical practices, so you are just getting what you deserve. Google does get things wrong and it can be excruciatingly painful, but you are normally safe if you focus on your users rather than obsessing about search engine rankings.

All that said, we could be in for an interesting ride over the next couple of months as Google has announced two core algorithm updates:

Only time will tell how impactful these updates will prove to be, but I sort of sense that they may be more of a shake up than normal. I will watch with interest but the usual advice about not descending into blind panic if you see drops in visibility may be truer for the current update, as that could be reversed in July. The same is, of course, true for the reverse – don’t start counting your chickens if you are seeing massive gains this week…

2. Diagnosing a drop in traffic

Following on from the above, what should you do if you experience a drop in traffic?

I really enjoyed reading https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2021/04/20/diagnosing-a-traffic-drop-just-breathe/ this week. It is a really good read and definitely worth five minutes of your time as it gives you a blueprint for a methodical approach to identifying where the problems may lie.

My only criticism of the article is that it does not consider non-digital reasons for changes in digital performance. This is especially timely as I noticed that things felt a little quieter (in digital activity across a number of sites) than normal in recent days. I believe that this is simply a reflection of the fact that the sun has finally made an appearance and people have, quite rightly, headed outside to enjoy it whilst it lasts.

If you have seen a drop in your web traffic over the past week, by all means run through the checks outlined in the Search Engine Watch post but do not panic as I would expect normal service to resume when the rubbish weather that has plagued so much of 2021 returns…

3. Google Search Console improves (again)

I wrote about improvements to Google Search Console back in April.

This week saw the announcement of further enhancements, which is great to see. The big addition is that you now have the option of matching and not matching regex filters. In other words, you now have negative matching options. This is good news as you could only previously filter on positive filters.

Regex can appear a little daunting but the announcement linked to above includes a mini guide on how to use regex to filter data and breaks it down into easily digestible chunks, so is worth reading.

4. How does Google News work?

Apologies for a Google-heavy MyFive this week but the search behemoth has been on a roll, with lots to talk about.

Included in this week’s news was a new post trying to be more transparent about Google News. Google has made great strides, over the years, in sharing more information about how it evaluates content and this is another example of the organisation explaining more about how site and article level factors are used to assess the quality of a particular news piece.

In an era of ‘fake news’ and differing policies around the world, it is interesting to see a little insight into the challenges that Google faces. e.g. some regions have very little press freedom and controversial news pieces may not actually cite the journalist’s name in order to protect them. Whilst not attributing content to an author may usually suggest a low quality article, Google will recognise possible cultural reasons why this may not actually be normal practice and therefore tweak its assessment for the article.

It is not a secret guide that explains how to rank well on Google News, but I applaud any steps at improving transparency and you should definitely be aware of the criteria that Google uses at both site and article level.

5. Complaining about the heat?

The British ability to complain about the weather never ceases to amaze me. Whilst enjoying a dog walk in the balmy evening sunshine this week, I commented on the glorious weather to a fellow dog walker who returned fire with a very miserable rejection of the fact that it was too hot.

You just can’t win.

Actually, you can – this dog is most definitely winning at life:

https://twitter.com/TheWorldOfFunny/status/1400546298772787202

Have a great weekend!

 

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