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Google: Improving 3rd Party Metrics Won’t Boost Rankings via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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In a Google podcast, Search off the Record, Googlers discussing spam digressed to discuss third party metrics and their impact on Google search rankings. They observed that improving the scores of third party metrics did not result in an improvement in search rankings and suggested expanding to a wider range of factors.

This part of the discussion involved Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, John Mueller and Duy Nguyen of Google’s Search Quality Team which focuses on catching spammy sites.

Third Party Domain Authority Metrics

Many tool and data companies provide metrics that help publishers compare their websites to other websites with a convenient metric that assigns a proprietary “authority” or “ranking” score to websites.

Some of these metrics use links and traffic (among other factors) to calculate an authority or ranking score.

The purpose of these metrics is to help publishers and SEOs do competitive analysis.

There are many publishers however who use these metrics as proof of site quality and will seek links from other sites with high 3rd party authority scores in order to improve their own authority scores.

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What Google makes clear is that they’ve never seen a correlation between improving those third party metrics and a positive impact in search rankings.

Third Party Metrics and Search Rankings

Google’s John Mueller began this section of the podcast by remarking that many publishers focus on factors that have zero impact on search rankings.

[00:24:35] John Mueller:

“I think it’s also, like you said, one of those things where you don’t even know if it will actually help your site.

And potentially, it’ll just harm your site and then you’re just digging a bigger hole for yourself rather than working on something positive for your website to improve things for the long run.”

[00:24:56] Duy Nguyen:

“Yeah, an example of that that we observed was web masters or else spammers tend to focus on improving one or two particular metrics that are external, that we absolutely do not use.

They, for some reason, think that if they put on a lot of time and money in improving such scores, it would perform really well on Google Search. I’ve never seen a case where that actually work well.

And I find it pretty sad… because if all that time and money were spent on building up the websites with better user experience, more functionality, writing better quality content, producing high quality images, they’d probably do a lot better on Search and obviously a lot more sustainable for the site, itself.”

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[00:25:43] John Mueller:

“Yeah. Okay, one area where I see where people, I don’t know, use that almost in a reasonable way is when it comes to monetizing their site, where they just want some externally visible metric to go to some advertising and say like, “Look, my site is actually pretty reasonably placed and if you spend some money with me, then I can get your message out to a broader audience.”

But it feels like… sometimes I see people in the forums just saying like, “I want to improve this metric.”

They don’t really want to focus on the site overall. They’re just like, “I just want to change this number from 7 to 25.

And I’m like, “Why?” It’s doesn’t change much.”

Don’t Focus on Just One Factor

Duy Nguyen next discusses the futility of focusing on one thing (like a third party metric) at the expense of focusing on the hundreds of actual ranking factors that have an impact on search performance.

Duy explains the benefits of focusing on a wide range of performance metrics.

Duy Nguyen: [00:26:33]

“Yeah, I love data, myself. I think the more data you have, the better you would be at your role, whatever that may be. As a site owner or an online marketer, I think it’s really great to have a bunch of metrics that you monitor and measure and try to improve as long as you don’t focus on one thing.

As a site owner, I used to look at bounce rate and time spent on pages all the time, for example, to know which content that are really hitting it off with my audience so I can
improve more.

Or for some reason I find that nobody really discover our Contact or Support pages. Why is that? Do we have a problem there?

If people need to contact us, maybe we should just put it somewhere else, rewrite better content.

So yeah, as long as you don’t focus on one single thing because we have hundreds and hundreds of ranking signals. Focusing on one thing doesn’t mean you will improve it across
the board and would rank your site better.”

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Search Rankings Depends on Hundreds of Signals

In order to improve search rankings it’s important to focus on a wide range of relevance and popularity signals.

Some publishers might focus on links but their content might lack authoritativeness.

Other publisher might focus on authoritative content but neglect to make the web pages user friendly.

Another publisher might do nearly everything right but neglect to adequately promote each article in order to encourage links.

Publishers might focus on building links but neglect to build an audience, relationships with readers, or relationships with influencers.

Sites that rank well for a limited time then bounce around between the first and second page of the search results sometimes are sites that are neglecting a certain part of site promotion, user experience, content quality or content relevance.

Sites that seem to be locked into the first position as if they owned it tend to be sites that address all aspects related to user experience, signals of popularity and topical focus.

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Citation

Tackling Web Spam, Search Quality, and More!

Searchenginejournal.com

NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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