Each week the Croud SEO team collate the latest news from relevant sources around the web so you don’t have to. Read through the top SEO news stories for this week below and follow us on Twitter or sign up to our newsletter.
How Google’s recent changes affect higher education websites
SEL looks at how the changes to Google’s algorithm over the past five years has affected higher education websites; most have reported losing traffic, likely due to aggregate degree guides or list sites. The article then looks at how education sites can make improvements.
The future of online search
A report from Yext analysed what content sources are more trusted and highlighted the risks brands take when ignoring third-party platforms. The study found that brand sites are more trusted for information, however, when information is wrong on local sites or directories the brand is seen as to blame, potentially impacting the brand’s reputation – this makes it important to make sure brand citations are up to date and consistent across the web. Search engines, however, were more trusted when it comes to discovering a brand for the first time.
Content accuracy is not a ranking factor
Google’s Danny Sullivan has stated that their systems cannot verify the accuracy of content, but rather uses topic relevance and authority to rank content – content accuracy can help improve user experience, however. Content popularity was also stated to not be a ranking factor.
Evolving “nofollow” – new ways to identify the nature of links
Google has announced that it is introducing two new link attributes alongside “nofollow” to indicate the nature of links. This includes rel=”sponsored” to identify advertisements, sponsorships and other compensation agreements, and rel=”ugc” to indicate user-generated content e.g. comments and forum posts. All three types of attributes (including nofollow) will now be treated as “hints” about which to consider or exclude within Search, though in general, they’re likely to still be treated as nofollow had been in the past. This comes into effect on March 1 2020.
Saying goodbye to the old Search Console
Google has now shut down the old Search Console and switched over completely to the new version. Some reports haven’t been ported over to the new version but will still be accessible under the “legacy tools and reports” option.
Change log: Google updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines
Google has updated it’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, with SEL releasing a side by side comparison of the changes against the old version. This includes updates to the Your Money or Your Life pages by broadening the content it may relate to, adding information on whether users can distinguish content added by users or by the author, the reputation of the website or creator, updates to the example of low quality , high quality and highest quality pages sections, pages that potentially spread hate have had their criteria expanded, rating on your phone issues section has been updated, the fully meets, slightly meets and fails to meet example sections have also been refreshed and the criteria for using the upsetting-offensive flag has been broadened out.
Lessons I have learned from adding FAQ schema: A test of 1,000 keywords
SEL released a post on an FAQ schema test to help counter the shrinking CTR on Google. The results of the test showed that FAQ snippets increased CTR by 51% in three months compared to those without.
Google search ranking algorithm update on September 4th & 5th?
There is chatter in the SEO community regarding a potential update causing fluctuations in the SERPs across 4th and 5th September – the usual tools noted changes on the associated dates and some webmasters reported ranking changes. Worth bearing in mind for any reporting across that date range.