Thursday, May 30, 2024

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup—March 2024

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Reddit will have its content used for more results than ever before and will likely enjoy some traffic growth thanks to increased visibility. Reddit is also receiving access to Google’s Vertex AI platform and plans to use that access to improve search on its own platform.

March is going to be a huge month for SEO. Changes are coming for search results and AI and the community has picked up some exciting new tricks following the last round of updates. This roundup will help you catch up.

My big three stories of the month are featured first. The set includes a big case study into the sites winning & losing Google updates and a dive into a content deal between Google and Reddit. Then, you’ll read one of my favorite think pieces of the month, “How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours.”

After that, you’ll find more SEO stories from the last month that I think are too good to miss. You’ll learn about recent signs of an incoming rank update, a deep investigation into forum & discussion sites, big changes in featured snippets, and more.

Winning & Losing Big Google Updates: 50-Site Case Study Tag: Case Study

https://zyppy.com/seo/google-update-case-study/

Cyrus Shepard brings you this look at the on-page factors most associated with big gains or declines during the last series of Google updates. Releases from Google appeared to suggest that “removing unhelpful content” was the most important step of recovery, but website owners found that advice spotty at best.

on-page-website-study-google

By looking deeper at the winners and losers, Cyrus hoped to get a clearer picture of what was driving traffic changes. The sites that he chose for this case study were mostly all content sites. He collected 2,500 data points regarding UX and on-page elements.

This data created some fascinating correlations. Some elements were strongly associated with improvement during a Google update.

Here are some examples of the page elements that were most likely to bring good attention—

Some elements were highly associated with traffic drops when updates landed. These omens of doom included features like—

Make sure you check out the complete case study for more data about favored and unfavored factors. For now, you’ll want to learn about a huge deal that Google recently made with Reddit to show more of that site’s content than ever before.

Google Announces Deal To Show More Reddit Content Tag: News

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-announces-deal-to-show-more-reddit-content/509132/

Roger Montti brings you this look at a huge content deal that Google signed with Reddit. The deal is expected to increase visibility for Reddit discussions on search engines and other Google products.

google show more reddit contentgoogle show more reddit content

For their part in the deal, Google will gain access to a much wider range of Reddit content it can use to improve how language models understand human conversation and writing styles. Besides being vast, the information offered by Reddit is already structured in a way that can ease machine understanding.

Reddit will have its content used for more results than ever before and will likely enjoy some traffic growth thanks to increased visibility. Reddit is also receiving access to Google’s Vertex AI platform and plans to use that access to improve search on its own platform.

SEOs have expressed concern over the deal. Some are worried that Reddit will now be able to muscle out longstanding and high-quality sites for thousands of keywords. Some have argued this will cause searchers to be presented with more spam as reddit deals with its own spam problems in these answers.

The true consequences for SEO remain to be seen as the deal has just been signed. Watch future roundups for more analysis and research on this issue. For now, check out a plea from an independent site that is feeling choked out by this and similar moves from Google.

How Google Is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours Tag: Opinion/Discussion

https://housefresh.com/david-vs-digital-goliaths/

Gisele Navarro and Danny Ashton of the site Housefresh, bring you this in-depth explanation of how Google’s moves in the product review niche are killing sites and leaving consumers with worse reviews from top publishers.

In an early example, the authors show how the same publishers (see the article for a helpful graphic and complete list) show up at the top of search results with a startling regularity. Huge general “content” sites like Buzzfeed, Forbes, and Better Homes & Gardens have dominated results for highly specific long-tail terms.

Helpful-contentHelpful-content

The authors point out that nearly all top publishing sites have articles dealing with “the best air purifiers for pet hair” and the “best sheets for hot sleepers.”

Despite dominating for these terms, these sites produce content far below the quality of most competitive review sites.

Huge publishers don’t seem to be subject to the same rules and often rank highly for reviews without providing evidence of firsthand testing. The authors showed several examples of top-ranking review content that simply includes words like “testing” and “lab” but didn’t provide any verifying details.

The problems didn’t stop there. There was rampant evidence of spam from major results, which is harder to detect because it is being provided under the names of 150-year-old publishing mastheads.

The authors note that the recent updates do not address this problem. Even the big Product Review Update of 2021 did not appear to leave a dent in the power of large publishers.

publishers-dont-want-to-testpublishers-dont-want-to-test

The write-up closes on a bleak note. Unless something is done, there is little point in pursuing reviews as an independent enthusiast willing to do the research. Users are going to be left with far worse expertise as a result.

How Google will react to frustration from these and other site owners remains to be seen. However, there is evidence that changes are coming soon for search. SEOs have spotted the signs of a coming ranking update.

Early Signs: Google Search Ranking Update on March 28 & 29th Tag: News

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-search-ranking-update-feb-28-29-36977.html

Barry Schwartz brings you this look at the signs of a ranking update that showed up near the end of February.

Many third-party tools detected volatility around this time, with some of the same patterns that have marked the arrival of updates in the past. You can see the full news report for the tools and graphs of the data they collected.

google march 28-29 updategoogle march 28-29 update

As Barry points out, Google has not confirmed an update in more than 16 weeks now. Several unannounced updates are believed to have arrived in that time, including one that took place the weekend of Feb 24-25th.

Barry recorded a significant amount of chatter from SEOs talking about major changes. Some recorded losses as high as 40% of traffic, while others reported smaller—but still lingering—traffic losses.

The lack of communication is somewhat odd because Google announced the possibility of a major update all the way back in November. While Google is rarely precise about schedules, the long wait does seem to suggest some behind-the-scenes indecision.

The early shocks recorded here may well be the first evidence of the coming update. When it arrives, you can expect to find it high up in an upcoming roundup. Next, you’ll get a deeper dive into discussion forums to expand on what you learned from one of our top pieces.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results Tag: Research

https://detailed.com/forum-serps/

Glen Allsopp brings you this look at the emerging major SEO player: Discussion & Forum Sites. Now that Google is increasingly giving prominence to these sites (ranking for more than 7.7 thousand of 10,000 product review phrases), Glen set out to understand them.

discussions-forumsdiscussions-forums

He started by seeking to answer questions like these—

Throughout his research, he seeks to answer them all.

The tests involved using product review terms like “best electric toothbrush” and “fastest external SSD” and monitoring the appearance of discussion forums in the top rankings. This kind of monitoring produced some impressive insights.

For one, he discovered very little diversity with these results. Reddit is far and away the largest “forum” on the internet. Not only did Reddit show up more than 97% of the time for these keywords, it often appeared more than once!

Reddit keywordsReddit keywords

Reddit wasn’t the only discussion site for product review terms to be double-billed. Quora was also able to show up multiple times for thousands of terms. As he points out—

“Reddit and Quora were listed 18,095 times. Every other domain appeared 4,989 times in total. In other words, these two domains have more than 3X the presence of every other site combined.”

Glen argues that Google’s Product reviews are now among the worst he’s ever seen. In many examples, he shows that Google appears to over-promote Reddit even when the results are going to spam comments.

Check out the guide for a detailed look at the state of forum and discussion sites and how they dominate searches even when they aren’t delivering the best experience. Next, there’s some more research about how Google may be undermining results in a different way.

How One Google Featured Snippet Is Killing Commercial List-Based Content Tag: Research

https://searchengineland.com/how-one-google-featured-snippet-is-killing-commercial-list-based-content-437995

Lazarina Stoy brings you this look at how Google may be killing commercial list-based content with its “from sources across the web” features. First, Lazarina traces the history of this feature. It arrived around 2022 and replaced several important list-based content summary features.

Googles-attempts-are-summarizing-and-organizing-listpngGoogles-attempts-are-summarizing-and-organizing-listpng
This feature is very likely to appear for searches with commercial intent. For example, Lazarina notes how it often appears for terms that begin with—

The results for these terms were traditionally fought over by sites that used programmatic content. Lazarina is quick to point out that she isn’t talking about spam but the valuable programmatic content provided by hotel or flight services that serve many locations or destinations.

Lazarina argues that the content being generated by Google in this new feature has roughly the same intent as programmatic content (database-driven content structured via a reusable template before being presented to the user, in her words) and is winning over site-generated content for that reason.





She goes into more detail on how this practice is worse for both users and publishers. She argues that it leads to a breakdown in accuracy, authoritativeness, and overall quality in relation to search intent.

Check out her complete deep-dive for more information on how fast this feature is taking over other kinds of results and what Google’s intent may be in letting this situation develop.

In the final piece of the month, you’ll look at a great case study for anyone in B2B or related SEO. You’ll find out how one team achieved nearly 200% growth.

B2B Services SEO Case Study: 198% Growth in Traffic Tag: Case Study

https://surferseo.com/blog/b2b-services-seo-case-study/

Matthew Woodward brings you this look at how he helped a business client triple organic visitors over six months. His team produced these results from three areas: content optimization, link building, and technical updates.

B2B Services SEO Case StudyB2B Services SEO Case Study

He provides a lot of detail about how his team improved each area. For example, Matthew explains how he attacked his client’s content problems with a multi-pronged strategy targeting keywords and successfully creating linkable content.

His explanations of his link-building and technical updates are also detailed. They cover how the team used organization-structured data as part of a strategy to attract more attention, increase CTR, and drive more traffic.

Funny-SEO-contentFunny-SEO-content

The results of the study were that clicks improved 3x in 6 months. Check out the entire study for more information on how the team took action.

That’s all for now. Check back next month to learn more about SEO, AI, Google’s moves, and all the forces driving the industry.

Matt-Author-ImgMatt-Author-Img

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.

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