SEO Tips March 25th

Algorithm Updates & Coronavirus Impact

It is quite challenging to determine whether Google has pushed out any significant updates over the last week as almost every business in the world is affected in some way by COVID-19. 

Last week, a Twitter poll to ask what you are seeing in terms of impact on your clients’ businesses, or your own business. Last week, 48.7% of respondents said that they were seeing declines in organic traffic. 

Marie Haynes@Marie_Haynes

Let’s do this again. How has COVID-19 affected your site’s organic traffic (or your clients’ sites)? We’ll keep running this poll weekly as a way to track what is happening. Results will be published and discussed in newsletter.16%Improvements60%Declines15%Not much change9%Other/See results

The latest regarding Chrome’s plans to block mixed content 

Chrome 81 will start blocking insecure images. According to this article by Glenn Gabe, the more stable version of Chrome will be the final rollout of Chrome’s plan to block mixed content. However, its release was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not all bad as it now gives you extra time to fix any mixed content problems.

Glenn Gabe@glenngabe

In the current version of Chrome (v80), insecure audio & video are already being blocked if they can’t be auto-upgraded to https. And starting with Chrome 81, images will be too.

You can learn how Chrome is handling this, how to test your site, & more via my latest post. …Glenn Gabe@glenngabeIn Oct Chrome announced a gradual plan to blocked mixed content. My latest post covers the timeline, what’s being blocked now, & what’s coming w/Chrome 81 -> Chrome’s Blocking of Mixed Content – How To Test Your Site, View What Blocking Looks Like, & more …310:07 AM – Mar 23, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy

Google SERP Changes

Right side featured snippets have almost entirely been moved or removed

Many SEOs are suddenly reporting that the right-hand featured snippet has moved or disappeared from the SERPs. We’re starting to see that featured snippets are appearing in the first position on the left hand side of the results page. Users are seeing that there are still some, but not many featured snippets still appearing on the right side and some are suggesting that this is because Google is in the process of gradually moving FS over to the left side. We’ll see how the SERPs change in the coming weeks.

Brodie Clark@brodieseo

Yep, definitely a recent dip that started on March 11th. RR refers to these as the ‘Explore Panel’. Previously sat at 2-2.5% on desktop (according to this post by @MordyOberstein: …) but now at ~1%. Looks like G is close to finishing the removal process.

SEO Tips

For those of you experiencing issues indexing URLs with anchor fragments

Angular setups often utilize a hashbang, #! url structure for mobile pages. Google has made it clear for some time that they do not index the content of a urls after the #!, which means if you are using this url structure, a number of your pages will not get indexed once your site is moved to Mobile First Indexing and your site is being crawled solely by Google from a mobile crawler. 

cisco@Tazzalatte · Mar 19, 2020

@JohnMu Google just sent me a notification that can’t index URLs that include anchor fragments. My mobile site is created with URL hash-bang (#!/) prefix (Angular). Should I be worried and move from Angular asap? Thanks

 John @JohnMu

I assume this was in regards to mobile-first indexing? We’ve deprecated #! crawling for quite some time now, so you’d need to fix that before we switch the rest of the sites over in the fall, if you want that content to be indexed.15:45 AM – Mar 19, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy

Is your website running slower than usual lately? This may be why!

If your website has been running on the slow end lately, it may be because there are fewer people keeping things running at your hosting company. 



My site TTFB/initial server response is 10 seconds or more 1/3 of the time this week. Was thinking it might be due to several recent plugin updates. Then the host provider gave me this response and I was wondering if you have noticed the same:

Search Console Training: how to use the Index Coverage report to preview statuses and identify issues

This is a great introduction video from Google Daniel Waisberg about how to use Search Console to see how Google has crawled and indexed your site. 

Google Webmasters@googlewmc

Find out which of your pages have been crawled and indexed by Google.

In this episode of Search Console Training, @danielwaisberg shows you how to use the Index Coverage report to assess its status and identify issues.

John answers detailed questions about how Manual Actions are handled

Offering a brief glimpse into the secretive world of Google, John answered questions such as:

  • How long does Google spend on each reconsideration request?
    John says they’re all done manually and the length of time can depend on the issue. The team tries to move through them at a good pace but they want to look at the bigger picture to accurately assess things. 
  • Are there many different Manual Action review teams or just a single larger team based on the US?
    Google operates with multiple teams in multiple languages. 
  • Does a fast response to link MA means your reconsideration request will be suspicious?
    This is entirely a myth, says John.
  • Are there priority queues for reconsideration requests?
    “No. I don’t think so,” says John.
  • Does the webspam team ever voluntarily take second looks at a site?
    Generally no. However if the webspam team thinks that the website is going back and forth and is wasting the team’s time (ie. they likely haven’t appropriately handled the issue at hand), they can choose to wait a couple of months to let the site owner decide what they want to do.
  • Are follow ups and/or checkups ever scheduled?
    No, John says that once the item is fixed, it’s fixed and there is nothing that hangs around.

We encourage you to read the full answers from John as there is plenty more detail in his answers!

Local SEO – News from SterlingSky 

There was some bobbing and weaving in search results – but it’s not really reflected in the Local RankFlux score at BrightLocal. I suspect some of what we were seeing are just listings and results moving a bit due to closures and changes around the constant COVID-19 updates.

Rankflux 3.24.20

Google made a lot of changes to GMB this week in an attempt to help consumers find up-to-date information on businesses that are closing, or changing offerings due to COVID-19 mandates. Businesses have experienced a bit of frustration over slow or broken features as well.