Hello everyone! Hope you like this new version of newsletter. Instead of reporting on everything that’s happening in SEO, I’ve covered the bits I found most interesting and important for the industry to know. It’s still a lot!
I’ve shared below about some of the changes I’m making to newsletter, including renaming the paid “Subscriber Content” to Marie’s thoughts. Because all of you are subscribers. My paid newsletter subscription and business have gone through a lot of changes over the years. I’ve explained more in Marie’s Thoughts. I’ll be publishing this episode publicly soon.
You’ll see newsletter continue to evolve over the next while as I figure out what is helpful to you, and doable for me. There are so many interesting things happening in Search, and especially in AI that I’m learning how and what to focus on.
Thank you for your patience as I figure this out!
In this week's episode, the news on Gemini from Dr. Hassabis' interview is the most fascinating to me.
Important news about Google
Here’s what I found most interesting about Google this week:
Changes to GSC + Merchant Center
Google announced changes to Search Console + Merchant Center. They talk about changes that can help you “increase clicks” and “improve rankings of products”, although the suggestions seem simple to me. One example was that you should add a return cost.
Still, I think that any site that deals with products should be learning as much as they can about Merchant Center. I write a lot on it, but don’t really know who is the expert on this topic. Here’s a challenge for someone who is reading this newsletter…learn about your experiences with Merchant Center and blog about them. The industry can use more people sharing insight here.
There is a new GBP reinstatement process. Ben Fisher’s The New Reinstatement Process for Suspended Google Business Profiles Improvements and Dangers looks like a must-read for all local SEO’s.
How Scaled Localization Drives High Authority PR Coverage
(Nicole DeLeon and the team at North Star Inbound sponsored this episode. Please do check them out, as they've had good success getting media coverage. I’m experimenting with monetizing newsletter - I need to figure out how to mark these links as sponsored/nofollowed from within Convertkit’s interface!)
Hey SNYCU fans!
Today, let's dive into the power of scaled localization for boosting your coverage in digital PR. Scaled localization is digital PR’s version of the “near me” keyword modifier.
You know how "dentist near me" is way more valuable than just "dentist Austin," right? Let me explain simple localization and its importance in digital PR. An Austin reporter cares more about a story that shows how national trends are impacting the Austin area than she does about one that doesn’t. She always needs to tie her stories back to the people in her community. So if you’re pitching something that doesn’t, there’s a very low chance she’ll cover it.
Scaled localization is when you create a story that has dozens of local angles so that it can be credibly pitched to hundreds of local reporters. Take this study on the top neighborhood complaints in America. Here, we analyzed a huge data set of 58,735 posts and 354,972 comments on the Nextdoor app in 50 of America’s biggest cities. Then, we looked at over 200 keywords representing common community issues.
This approach allowed us to produce multiple rankings tailored to cities across the US, grabbing the attention of reporters in various places.
Our media relations team could craft precise outreach campaigns with rich data for multiple cities and topics—again and again and again. 😄
The result? We earned 66 placements, with 33 of them boasting a Domain Authority of 80 or higher. Notable placements were the Miami Herald, The Baltimore Business Journal, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The San Antonio Current, and The Houston Chronicle. 🚀
August Core Update has finished
I’ve yet to thoroughly dig into this one yet. I’ve got a bunch of sites I monitor that are up nicely and will be sharing soon about some specifics - possibly in next week’s Marie’s Thoughts. Here’s what the community is seeing so far:
Some thoughts from Vlad Rappoport in our discussion on the core update at the Search Bar:
Why is everyone talking about Outlook India?
There are a lot of tweets about this website lately. Here’s my understanding of why.
OutLook India is a well known news publisher. Some SEO’s have figured out they can do something they’ve called, “parasite SEO”. What they’re doing is purchasing a sponsored post, and then placing affiliate links in that post. It’s not really SEO…they’re not building links to their own properties. Rather, the links are pointing directly to their affiliate partners, with their affiliate tracking link.
It turns out the links have been incorrectly marked as “sposored” instead of “sponsored”, although really this shouldn’t change much in terms of their SEO value as they are nofollowed. Now that I think about it though, I wonder if Google’s systems would treat the posts differently if they clearly contained sponsored links?
Because Outlook India is an authoritative site, it tends to rank well for many queries. Lily Ray pointed out that the /outlook-spotlight/ folder where these sponsored posts are purchased appears to have declined significantly in visibility in conjunction with the core update. Google may already have acted here...either manually or algorithmically.
My first prediction is that we’ll soon see a bunch of folks on Twitter selling lists of other sites Google has yet to discover that you can use for “Parasite SEO”. My second prediction is that enough noise has been made publicly about this situation that Google will have plenty of examples to show SpamBrain, with the goal of detecting this type of tactic as manipulation.
Bizarre issue with Google incorrectly canonicalizing links
This issue may have impacted many sites on the web. From what I understand so far, it looks like Google may have incorrectly canonicalized pages saying they were duplicates when really they were not. It’s a complicated issue.
For more on this issue:
Twitter’s thread system is making it difficult to link to this, so here are screenshots of Rafa’s summary:
Here is Rafa’s thorough article with more of his observations on this:
More SEO News & Info
Google published new info on how it handles multilingual searches. This update happened coincidental with the August core update - perhaps a part of it?
Fixing the new Core Web Vital, INP is unlikely to make a visible change in search rankings. (John Mueller on SER)
You can set a conversion value for your conversion right in GA4 in the same way you could in UA. (Brie Anderson on Twitter)
Here’s how to create a report with a chart showing organic visits to a URL in the past 30 days on GA4 (Dana DiTomaso on Youtube)
This tweet thread by Tony Hill is so good. He shares how he spruces up pages and improves rankings by adding information about trending topics. My thought: I really like this. He is doing two important things. First, if Google’s freshness system is involved in ranking results, he’s just improved his chances of ranking. Second, he’s adding information gain - writing information that goes beyond just covering the known facts on a topic. And he’s doing it in a way that users will be likely to find interesting because it’s a trending topic.
My new paid newsletter: Marie’s Thoughts
The more I learn about AI, the more I realize that our industry is about to go through significant change.
I’ve struggled to figure out what my role is as we go through this change. As most of you know, I no longer run an agency. I work on my own, wearing quite a few hats. Out of all them, the one I enjoy the most is writing this newsletter.
You'll notice some changes to newsletter, and they’re evolving as I learn what’s most helpful to you. I’m closing my consulting calendar for a bit to focus on this. Also, the paid “Subscriber Content” is now renamed to “Marie’s Thoughts”.
Much of it will be the same as it has been for the last few weeks. We've been digging into how Google’s systems are trained by quality rater feedback, how quality raters rate results as helpful or not helpful based on the guidance in the rater guidelines, and the importance of understanding the needs of the searcher and meeting those needs. Recently we've started to dig into the idea of providing information gain.
This week’s episode is a letter written to the SEO industry on how SGE powered by Gemini will completely change the game. I feel we are in for changes that are difficult to imagine. I don’t think any one of us can truly grasp what the industry is about to go through.
This first episode will be published publicly soon, so if you weren't already a paid subscriber, you'll still be able to see it. Or, you can join my evolving community, the Search Bar as Marie's thoughts are included there as well. If you’re already a paid member of my newsletter, this content replaces what we’ve been calling “Subscriber Content”. You don’t need to do anything to get the new newsletter.
If there is a particular part of newsletter that you enjoy and want to see more of, please do let me know by responding to this email!
Demis Hassabis talks about Gemini
I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Demis Hassabis, CEO and CoFounder of Google’s Deep Mind on Time. Here are some excerpts from the article
More AI Info
A bunch more tweets that I found interesting. (Oh boy, I hope this tweet embedding function works ok!)
Thanks to Nick LeRoy at SEOJobs for providing these. This section isn’t sponsored, I just think Nick is doing a great thing here with this service. He sends me jobs so I don’t need to gather them! This first one looks interesting.
Funny story. It was our anniversary this weekend. The doorbell rang and a man was there delivering beautiful flowers. It turns out he was at the wrong house and they were for the neighbour 😂. All good, we had a great anniversary regardless!
Hope you like this new format of newsletter and thanks again for bearing with me as I figure out the details.