This Week In SEO 99
E-A-T is Not an Algorithm, Ecommerce SEO, & More
E-A-T is Not a Search Algorithm
It’s almost the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, so I’ll start by saying how thankful I am for this post, which is kind of the culmination of a lot of I’m-just-guessing-but-take-this-as-gospel SEO advice-giving lately.
When the August 1st update hit, many people had never seen anything like it. Even battle-hardened SEOs were kind of shocked at what they were seeing. Like anyone would when the metaphorical rug is yanked out from under them, people whose sites got smashed down in the SERPs looked to whatever confident voice they could find and held on for dear life.
The problem with proclaiming why a Google algo update happened and how to fix it, as this post shows, is that it takes a long time to sort through the data–or even a long time to collect the data.
It can be hard to do nothing when your traffic is down 75% over night, but it’s even worse to make a bunch of changes to your site before you understand why you lost that traffic in the first place.
I have seen a lot of “experts” talking about how E-A-T was being more heavily weighted with this new update, but E-A-T is not part of an algorithm:
The problem is those guidelines and E-A-T are not algorithm signals. Don’t believe me? Believe Ben Gomes, long-time search quality engineer and new head of search at Google.
“You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, told CNBC. “They don’t tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do.”
So I am triggered when I hear someone say they “turned up the weight of expertise” in a recent algorithm update. Even if the premise were true, you have to connect that to how the algorithm would reflect that change. How would Google make changes algorithmically to reflect higher expertise?
Google doesn’t have three big knobs in a dark office protected by biometric scanners that allows them to change E-A-T at will.
So what did change with these recent big updates?
To put it as succinctly as possible: Google’s algorithms reassessing search intent.
There’s no way I can sum up this post in a few paragraphs. This post is what I mean when I say “good SEO sleuthing takes time,” (ok I’ve actually never said the word “sleuthing”). It takes hours and hours to sort through the SERPs and the new rankings–that’s why there’s no “state of the algorithm update” post right when it happens–or at least, there shouldn’t be.
If you read only one post when you’re trippin on tryptophan this Thursday, make it this one.
Ecommerce SEO Opportunities
If you have an ecommerce business, you know Amazon is the 800 billion pound gorilla staring you down from the SERPs.
This guest post from Kevin Indig (super smart dude that everyone should be following) is quality.
It’s an extremely deep dive on what Amazon is doing to win at SEO, and how some businesses are competing with them in certain areas. If you’ve got an ecommerce business that relies on organic traffic, this one is a must read.
Amazon is good at collecting the most important questions about a product on its product pages, almost like Google. But it’s definitely not the king of direct answers and featured snippets*. According to SEMrush, the big A has about 36,000 featured snippets, which in relation isn’t that much (0.27% of their keywords).
That’s an opportunity! Most online retailers haven’t yet figured out how to efficiently rank in featured snippets.
But Houzz has. The company that’s worth 4 billion USD*, rolled out customer service content throughout all of their category pages. What makes the content so valuable is that the questions are highly targeted at specific problems.
Actually, there’s a ton of different kinds of businesses that could benefit from really understanding the points being made in this post–from SaaS companies to anyone just going hard on content.
A Different Kind of International SEO
So, a Facebook group had a contest to rank a new site for “Rhinoplasty Plano.”
The runner up (2nd spot) was a site entirely in Latin.
Yes, Latin, the dead language spoken by the Romans and, one assumes, inspiration for Pig Latin.
So how the hell did someone rank a site entirely in Latin when Google is so smart and has invested in neural networks to have their algorithms reward relevant sites and etc. etc. etc.?
Position two is held by a site written almost entirely in Latin, Rhinoplastyplano.co. It mocks everything Google says about authority and quality content. Google ranking a site written in Latin is analogous to the wheels falling off a car.
Basically, they did all the things you’re supposed to do to a local site: map on the website, schema mark-up, optimized the page, etc. Just… with Latin content.
They say their intent wasn’t to shame Google or anything but… it’s pretty bad optics for Google to keep talking about how much content matters and build a quality site with good content, it’s all that matters, and then a site in Latin hits the top spot…
Pretty entertaining story. Check out both URLs above for the full take.
How Zapier and Their “Invisible” Product are Winning at SEO
Speaking of SaaS SEO…
Here, I’ll let you in on a little secret. One of the best ways to both learn SEO and understand what works to rank as site in Google is… to… look at what Google is ranking for a given keyword and then reverse engineer that.
Ryan Berg is here to lend you a hand with reverse engineering what Zapier is doing to crush it.
Rather than trying to pitch users on the value of integrating tools, Zapier realized early on that people were already looking for specific integrations. To capture this existing intent, Zapier decided to make the app partners in their integration ecosystem the stars of their marketing and piggyback on their success.
They did this by creating three tiers of landing pages for every app in their ecosystem:
- A landing page for the app itself.
- A separate landing page for every app to app integration e.g. a page all about connecting Gmail with Trello.
- Separate landing pages for every single app to app triggered workflow or “zap” that exists between each app.
Whether someone is looking for general info on an app, how to integrate two apps together, or a specific app to app use case or scenario Zapier has a landing page ready to capture that intent.
We’ve talked before about the importance of understanding user intent when it comes to writing content for a specific keyword, but this is some next level tactical stuff in really understanding–and satisfying user intent.
Search Clicks > Search Volume
Siege Media, content SEO geniuses, have put together a video on why you shouldn’t just focus on searches per month, but rather, focus on search clicks (a metric that’s easy to see using Ahrefs.
Really good stuff.