We all know Google never rests. Google is constantly evolving and adapting to present the best information possible for its customers (searchers). These changes are a byproduct of analyzing mountains of data and user behavior. 

Now the question becomes, Google just rolled out a new update, will this affect my ranking positively, negatively or not at all?

Chris Bonney & Zach Wilson take a deep Google-dive to help you determine whether or not you should or should not react to changes that affect the signals and algorithm.

Here are hosts:

Zach Wilson
Chris Bonney

Transcript

Chris Bonney:

Hey everybody, and welcome to episode three of Web Marketing Insights here at Gulo Solutions. I’m Chris Bonney here with one of the founders of Gulo, Zach Wilson doing our podcast thing again. Today’s podcast is about Google and the changes that they make and should we chase them down and try to remedy everything we see wrong once an update comes or do we keep things, you know, the same and hold the line. So that’s what we want to talk about today. Zach, I think this is a great topic. A couple of things that are going on right now. Just sort of on the side is that we know Google never rests and they are just recently made a change to the results page to emulate a little more what the mobile experience looks like with their icons, favicons and all those kinds of things. Do you have anything before we jump into the main topic today? Do you have anything you want to say about that or do you have any thoughts about that or what should we as marketers be concerned about? Because this is happening? Anything in particular or is it just cosmetic?

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, I think sadly the overarching goal is they’re trying to blend paid section a little bit better with organic. I think that’s unfortunately the [chuckles] underlying evilness of this. I been trying to process it visually and reading people’s responses and it’s interesting because generally speaking I would say people like it. I like it visually. However, I think because it’s a drastic change, there is some visual processing that Google customers, searchers are going to have to go through before they can process, Oh! I’m looking at an ad, versus like the little ad icon versus, something organic and that’s going to take a little bit of time for users. And my theory is that Google, there’s probably gonna be a bit of a spike in their paid click-throughs because of this change and over time that will probably flatten out and stabilize.

But yeah, I like it. Like I said, I don’t know if you remember this or not but there was a trend Google and Chrome, and it’s sort of still there, an Apple, they were trying to abstract away from URLs, just showing your primary domain and I don’t know, as a sort of truest and technology person, I just thought this is generally a terrible idea, terrible movement altogether. So, them bringing, keeping the URL in the SERP, number one and, and even more importantly, which is interesting, it’s now above the title, right? So, it used to be title, URL and the title or the URL was pretty secondary. And even for me, I didn’t always look at the URL, but now they’ve brought it up and I’m noticing myself, look at that, actually read this from top-down in the URL. I was probably thinking about that the other day, favicon, URL, title which I’m not sure what the thinking is behind that, but for me, I like it. That’s good. What about you?

Chris Bonney:

Yeah. No, I agree with you. I think it’s always interesting to see. I mean, they don’t do anything without thinking it through or having research to back it. And sometimes people love things, sometimes they don’t or they have their own reasons for it. But yeah, I’m with you. I will see where it goes from here. I’m sure it’s not the last thing they’ll ever change. But I think it’s just interesting, just in general, it’s just becoming more and more about mobile, right? Where they seem to be leading things through on mobile and then seeing how that relates to desktop. So, they really do seem to have a mobile first, you know, with amp and everything else. I mean, it’s very much a mobile first mentality there, which I think is, and again, probably pretty smart. So that’s sort of my 2 cents on it.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, I was just going to say, so just segue how does this relate to not making changes?

Chris Bonney:

Yeah. Its changing whether you like it or not!

Zach Wilson:

What are we not going to chase after in light of this? Probably not much, but I would say make sure from a SERP perspective, make sure the favicons are represented and aligned with the brand that could be a big faux pas right now, that’s for sure.

Chris Bonney:

And they don’t say AD on them. So, if your company’s name is A something D something, be careful!

Zach Wilson:

Yeah! Yeah. Yeah. That’s funny. That’s a good one. I like that.

Chris Bonney:

So yeah, some of the impetus and some of the inspiration for today’s podcast came from, we recently spoke at the American Marketing Association and talk to over the course of the night. What do we talk to? Maybe 50, 60, 70 people probably. And we’ve talked specifically about SEO and CRO, but mostly SEO and I thought a couple interesting takeaways there were one: we were talking to a lot of marketers that’s who everybody there was. And when you ask them to raise their hand to say, who is actively participating on their website and cognizant of and modifying for search engine optimization you would think every hand in the house would go up, but it didn’t. So I mean, I think that tells us something about still in 2020 the state of marketing.

Chris Bonney:

Now, they weren’t all digital marketers in the room in fairness to them, but it just feels like as a marketer in general, SEO just should be, it’s something that you’re always thinking about or talking about or raising your hand for again, anecdotal information, but I did find that sort of interesting and for what that’s worth, but regardless of who raised their hand or didn’t, they were all very intrigued by some of the things that we’ve talked about. And I think the one thing that makes people a little uneasy about SEO is that it is always changing. They don’t know what’s in this black box. They don’t know how to address it. They don’t really know all the things they need to know to kind of get in the game or speak confidently about it. Maybe they didn’t want to raise their hand cause they thought they’d have to speak about it and didn’t know. But one of the things is, and that’s what we want to talk about today, we always hear about these Google updates and what as SEOs should we be doing to our content when that happens. So we have a couple of thoughts about that. You want to just give sort of the overview that you gave at AMA about this that said when this happens, here’s kind of our philosophy at least at Gulo.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. Well, I think the overarching ideas and philosophies that we have, in short, don’t chase Google updates. Don’t chase algorithm updates and what does that mean? One: which connects to another podcast we had about the search engine land’s periodic table of elements, and follow your core best practices number one. So that’s always going to be number one best practices, don’t try and scheme and don’t try and game. Number two: goals, right? What are your industry goals? What are your directives from the board or your leadership or whoever you have, what are those goals and what are you trying to achieve? And make sure that your organic search and your on-page are aligned with those goals.

Zach Wilson:

So that’s number two. And I think if you are trying to respond to certain things. For example, we just talked about the UI update, right? Like there’s a UI update. Everybody saw it come out slow where you were in the queue.

Chris Bonney:

Sure.

Zach Wilson:

But I think like, you know, what does it mean to respond to an update? Like the example that we both gave about the favicon. Oh, you know, my agency or my department where our favicon is missing or wrong or using the default or default WordPress theme or whatever your default theme, whatever.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah, Right!

Zach Wilson:

That’s there! That’s not responding. That’s not chasing that’s responding. Right?

Chris Bonney:

That’s right!

Zach Wilson:

Another great one was SSL, HTTPS this was a couple of years ago. There was a lot of theories about the changes and the priority of that. And again, it was like, you know, we had a lot of people that hadn’t actually flipped over to having their site default to HTTPS or you know, they had an HTTP and HTTPS. Again, this is a response, not a chase. So, what would be, what would be an example of chasing? I’m trying to think of an example of chasing something that’s happened recently.

I guess one more good example I actually just read, which came out yesterday, which was another example of, I guess this would be chasing versus responding, which was around structured data, there was a thread that someone said they got an alert from Google that said if you don’t include — it was a food blog, if you don’t include ingredients and calorie information in your structured data you risk not being index. So, the idea was, oh my gosh, how important is structured data? And people were theorizing that you know structured data is actually not even a signal or a factor in ranking. So, the idea is now that, okay there’s all this stuff in the ecosystem floating around. Again, tests versus theories, versus actual practices, but some people are like, well, I’m not going to add structured data. Terrible idea, terrible idea! You know Google uses, and would we just stop including structured data for our clients and for people as a core SEO best practice? Absolutely not. Because even if it’s not a signal or it doesn’t increase your ranking, it helps. It helps you have accurate data in terms of your SERP and how that data is represented and knowledge panels and ratings and locations, and GMB and product ranking product reviews and product counts and all of this stuff that goes into the underlying structure data. So yeah, that’s just another little anecdotal nugget in terms of chasing versus, responding.

Chris Bonney:

Well is it, is it fair to say too, I mean there’s two aspects of what we’re reacting to here, right? One is to say, oh my gosh, what did Google just do? Where did my ranking go? What can I do to replace it? It’s not to invalidate the fact that sometimes Google makes a change and it does affect your ranking pretty significantly, right? People are going out of business for this, right? So it’s not to say it’s not a valid thing to consider when it happens to you, especially in a bad way, but it probably is more of a signal that what you were doing before that was something that Google probably frowned upon in some way. And the update, what suppressed you a little bit. Now if you do bubble back up, then it means that you are on the right track any way and you just had to ride and ride the storm out.

Chris Bonney:

But talk a little bit about, so the Google update happens. We don’t want to panic. That’s what we’re saying. Just see where things go and give it a little bit of time. But when do we want to make a change? Because if we’re not responding to the Google updates, then we’re tracking our analytics and we’re tracking our rankings over time. And can you just talk a little bit about that? Like what, okay. Let’s not chase, let’s not make a change because of the algorithm change, but how do we know when we get to our rankings and look at where we’re at? How do we know that we’ve stalled out? What if it starts going down a little bit and it had nothing to do with an update. Can you just talk a little bit about that? If we’re just setting aside the updates, when should somebody think about making a change twice a year, three times a year, once every five years. Just anecdotally what’s just a general rule of thumb?

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a great, that’s a great question. And typical SEO response it totally depends. But that being said, I would say you’ve got to look at a large swath of time, a large snapshot time. You know, depending on the volatility of your industry, that could be three months, it could be a year. For example, we did, you did a voice search blog post and a bunch of work on that. I would say that’s probably something in that we should keep an eye on in a shorter time span because that’s an emerging topic. It’s pretty new. It’s trending upward. Whereas, you know, if we’re talking about something I don’t know, like something in the medical research or some sort of virus or a best practice for medical, something that’s got some, like flu or something, right? Something that’s been in the ecosystem for a length of time. Right? That you’ve got to look a larger, much larger swath of time to make an assessment. What’s the assessment based on? To answer your question, it’s overall trend. If you’re looking at something and it’s like this, the trend is either flat or, you know, just a little bit up or a little bit down. Do we play with that? I probably wouldn’t. If you’re trending, if you’re looking at, you know, a year or two years and you’ve got a pretty obvious downward trend. It’s time to either apply a rewrite, reapply your keyword research something like that. So that’s, that’s how I would look at it.

Chris Bonney:

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I’m with you. And what are the last is, as we think about wrapping up here, just quickly, what are the last, what are the tenants that were saying about not chasing? Do we have the top three things to consider here that people can take away so they feel confident and comfortable knowing that they don’t need to, don’t need to chase!

Chris Bonney:

I think we talked about making sure, number one: we understand our goals. What you’re trying to achieve, correct? Number two: Google can be wrong, right? So we don’t want to overcompensate and give them, you know, just continue to chase that and just make sure we’re following the best SEO, best practices from the beginning. Like you said. It can be difficult to understand why things happen based on an update. But if we’re following the tried and true best practices of SEO, then we should be in pretty good shape. So with that. Okay. All right. So is there anything else you want to add to that or what do you think?

Zach Wilson:

No, I think in the Google can be wrong vein. Just so we do that justice from a topic perspective, I think the takeaway there is we always talk about this Google is constantly running tests constantly, right? And so, if you see these big jumps or you see from a ranking perspective from 99 to one or your appearance and local or knowledge panel or featured snippets or whatever, this is why we don’t want to chase. You’ve got to look just similar to your earlier question It’s like you’ve got to look at the staying power of those things. If you appeared in the knowledge panel for just a couple of days and you’re like, well, why did I get out? And you try and do some response. There were some tests that the knowledge panel team was running that you were part of and you popped in, they did some AB testing and you popped out and things have normalized. That test may come back if it’s a good test. And Google might’ve been right or, you know, there was an underlying hypothesis that they were testing and it was wrong. Right? So again, just, you know, going back to best practices stay on track, stay true to your goals and whatever you’re trying to accomplish. And overall you or your agency or your internal team. You do have to pay attention to this stuff. You do have to stop on, you do have to stay on top of it. And don’t chase Google updates.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah. Perfect. Okay, great. Well, we always enjoy talking with everybody about SEO. This is our third episode in our series though, will be more coming soon. Look forward to that. We’re going to have a group podcast coming up very soon. We’re going to be talking about digital marketing. We’ll talk about CRO, SRO, all the things that are part of our digital marketing toolkit and our toolbox. So look forward to having you guys join us again real soon. I’m Chris Bonney with Zach Wilson from Gulo and this is our Web Marketing Insights.

Thanks for joining us.

Hi everybody. Thanks for checking out the podcast today. Go to gulosolutions.com to learn more about us. Subscribe to our newsletter. Also, if you can hit subscribe on our channel here on YouTube that would be great as well.


Written by

Zachary Wilson

I enjoy reading & writing about the web and digital marketing. My day-to-day focuses on ensuring our clients have big wins. That begins with extraordinary website design and UX. The real exciting stuff is helping develop strategies to drive traffic (on-site page optimization) and help conversion rate optimization (getting new sales and / or customers). With all my “other” time, I enjoy exploring new adventures with my 3 daughters and wife.