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Google Product Reviews Volatility, Local Search Ranking Update, New Search Features, MUM & BERT Expands and Search Console News

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Google Product Reviews Volatility, Local Search Ranking Update, New Search Features, MUM & BERT Expands and Search Console News

This was a busy week and I drove out to visit Greg Finn and friends in Buffalo, I helped co-host the Marketing O’Clock show and record some vlogs for the channel – so check out Marketing O’Clock on YouTube and your favorite podcast player. We are finally seeing ranking volatility in the search results related to the product reviews update after not seeing much early on. Google also released a local search ranking update that supposedly corrected the Vicinity update from December. Google launched a new highly cited top stories label and improved the about this result with a come back later warning in search. Google said it now uses MUM for detecting personal crisis searchers and expanded BERT to handle the detection of unexpected shocking content. Google Data Studio can now bring in Google News and Google Discover data from Search Console. Google Search Console’s structured data error report is more descriptive now. Google is killing off the URL parameter tool on April 26th. Google launched trusted store badges for merchants that score well in the Google experience scorecard. Google’s visual stories are now ranking well for competitive keyword phrases. Google’s John Mueller said nofollow is not a dampening factor, which many SEOs for some reason do not believe. John Mueller also said do not keep redirected URLs in your sitemap for over 3 months. John Mueller of Google was giving advice on how to improve your DA, no this was not an April Fools joke. Google rolled out a new visual design format for some queries. Google continues to test the expanded tab search snippet feature. Google is also testing displaying the image previews on the right side of the image pack. Google is testing an audio feature for some knowledge panels. Bing has round category icons to explore more images. Bing also has this massive Wikipedia box at the top of its search results. Google AdSense anchor ads for AMP sites are now working for auto ads. And if you want to help sponsor those vlogs, go to patreon.com/barryschwartz. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Sponsored by BruceClay who has been doing search marketing optimization since 1996 and also has an amazing SEO training platform.

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Google Again Says Ignore Link Spam Especially To 404 Pages

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Google Robot Blindfolds

I am not sure how many times Google has said that you do not need to disavow spammy links, that you can ignore link spam attacks and that links pointing to pages that 404/410 are links that do not count – but John Mueller from Google said it again.

In a thread on X, John Mueller from Google wrote, “if the links are going to URLs that 404 on your site, they’re already dropped.” “They do nothing,” he added, “If there’s no indexable destination URL, there’s no link.”

John then added, “I’d generally ignore link-spam, and definitely ignore link-spam to 404s.”

Asking if it would hurt to disavow, after responding with the messages above, John wrote:

It will do absolutely nothing. I would take the time to rework a holistic & forward-looking strategy for the site overall instead of working on incremental tweaks (other tweaks might do something, but you probably need real change, not tweaks).

Earlier this year we had tons of SEOs notice spammy links to 404 error pages, John said ignore them. In 2021, Google said links to 404 pages do not count, Google also said that in 2012 and many other times.

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Plus, outside of links to 404 pages, Google has said to ignore spammy links, time and time again – even the toxic links – ignore them. The messaging around this changed in 2016 when Penguin 4.0 was released and Google began devaluing links over demoting them.

Here are those new posts in context:

And in general, Google says it ignores spammy links, so you should too (not new) but this post from John Mueller is:

And then also on Mastodon wrote about a similar situation, “Google has 2 decades of practice of ignoring spammy links. There’s no need to do anything for those links.”

Forum discussion at X.

Note: This was pre-written and scheduled to be posted today, I am currently offline for Passover.

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Google Needs Very Few Links To Rank Pages; Links Are Less Important

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Gary Illyes Serp Conf

Gary Illyes from Google spoke at the SERP Conf on Friday and he said what he said numerous times before, that Google values links a lot less today than it did in the past. He added that Google Search “needs very few links to rank pages.”

Gary reportedly said, “We need very few links to rank pages… Over the years we’ve made links less important.”

I am quoting Patrick Stox who is quoting what he heard Gary say on stage at the event. Here is Patrick’s post where Gary did a rare reply:

Gary said this a year ago, also in 2022 and other times as well. We previously covered that Google said links would likely become even less important in the future. And even Matt Cutts, the former Googler, said something similar about eight years ago and the truth is, links are weighted a lot less than it was eight years ago and that trend continues. A couple of years ago, Google said links are not the most important Google search ranking factor.

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Of course, many SEOs think Google lies about this.

Judith Lewis interviewed Gary Illyes at the SERP Conf this past Friday.

Forum discussion at X and image credit to @n_minkov.



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Google Core Update Flux, AdSense Ad Intent, California Link Tax & More

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Google Core Update Flux, AdSense Ad Intent, California Link Tax & More


For the original iTunes version, click here.

The Google March 2024 core update is still rolling out, almost 6 weeks now, and we saw two shifts of ranking volatility, both mid-week and the weekend before. Google’s Danny Sullivan went on the defensive on search quality and forum listings in the search results. Google’s site reputation abuse spam policy will be fought both algorithmically and through manual actions. Google responded to The Verge mocking its search rankings over best printer. Google Search Console has a new unused ownership tokens page. Some sites may see the Google Indexing API work for a limited time on unsupported content types. And having two sites won’t result in your sites search ranking decline. BingBot now fully supports Brotli compression and will test Zstd compression soon. Google Search is testing thumbs-up and down buttons for product carousels. Google is testing new sitelinks designs. Google Notes on Search may not go away in May. Google Maps no longer supports draft reviews. Google Maps released a bunch of new maps, directions, travel and EV features. Google Ads Demand Gen campaigns now support AI image generation. Google Ads is testing a similar product carousel. Google Ads reminds advertisers that ad customizers are going away. Google Ads is testing a new horizontal ad card format. Google AdSense has these new ad intent formats. Google AdSense publishers are reporting lower RPM earnings since mid-February. Google threatens to drop links to California news publishers amongst link tax bill. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

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Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed:

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Please do subscribe on YouTube or subscribe via iTunes or on your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to comment below with the right answer and good luck!

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