I Don’t Trust Google To Extract Data From Javascript, But…

April 22nd, 2016

Check out the “342 matches” snippet attached to the MadisonApartmentLiving.com result for “madison wi apartments“:


That “342 matches” is only visible on the MadisonApartmentLiving home page when javascript is turned on:

Madison WI Aparments

So not only is Google seeing content in JS, it considers a number + “matches” relevant enough to put it in the SERP snippet.

We always tell clients not to rely on Google to see your content that requires JS, and we still will, but GOOG is getting pretty good at this kind of thing.


→ 5 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Robots.txt 503 = SEO Death: A Tragedy In 4 Acts

April 20th, 2016

Another stellar entry in the long-running SEO Death series:

Robots 503 2

Robots 503 1

Robots 503 2.5

Robots 503 3

Thanks to Julie Kosbab, our Director of Enterprise SEO, for her continual inspiration…

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Posted by Andrew Shotland

Your Move “Speaker” Ryan…

April 13th, 2016

So Paul Ryan has said he has no interest in running for President regardless of what happens in Cleveland, but Google’s Knowledge Graph seems to have other ideas:

Who is speaker of the house

To be fair Boehner is still considered “a” Speaker of the House but who is speaker of the house right now?

WHo is speaker of the house right now

Like I said, don’t trust Google to structure your data.

h/t to Lenny Pham

Comments Off on Your Move “Speaker” Ryan…Tags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

The Google Search Console Complaint Department

April 12th, 2016

Google Search Console

Hey it’s a free tool (thanks guys!) and certainly better than nothing, but #IHaveADream

    The name, while arguably more descriptive, cannot escape its history as “Google Webmaster Tools”. Maybe in a few years we will all stop trying to say “Google Search Console” while actually saying “Webmaster Tools”. Maybe.
    How about a filter for Dupe Titles/Meta Descriptions to remove URLs with canonical tags, pagination tags, hreflang, etc. Regex filters would be great here.
    How about a lot more granularity in downloading specific links, links from specific domains, etc. (see AHrefs, Majestic, etc.)? And a very clear step-by-step process for fixing Penguin issues from within GSC would be nice.
    Has anyone ever actually gotten a result for a URL that wasn’t in the navigation?
    Great tool. Suspect data. Regex filters would make it a lot better. And for us Local SEO types, how about integrating GMB Insights data? Maybe differentiating Local Pack/Maps positions v. regular old organic?
    I’d like to remove this section from all of our site audits: “Ignore the Hreflang errors in GSC. We have never seen a case where it’s accurate.”
    Export the code Gbot fetched so we can easily search it or make it so we can easily search it in GSC
    It would be great if we could see which URLs in a XML sitemap are indexed so we could figure out why the others are not. An “Is It Indexed” tool would be great not just for URLs but for content on those URLs.
    Explain how this data is different from Average Page Load Time in Google Analytics. I am tired of doing this for you. And how about breaking this out by page or page type? Same thing with Pages Crawled Per Day.

I am sure there are more, but that’s what I’ve got this morning. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

→ 10 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

The Future of Local SERPs

April 10th, 2016

Per my previous post, Are You Doing Local Answers SEO?, we have noticed these types of results are becoming more common for queries that have local intent:

Replace Furnace SERPUniversity of IIlinois Apartments Pic

Click to enlarge these sorry screenshots

This is in line with the increasing presence of Knowledge Graph results over the past year. We believe that Google is starting to view many local queries as “questions” (as opposed to “searches”) and it is trying to provide answers whenever possible. Over time, we see SERPs for local category queries moving towards becoming comprehensive landing pages for everything one would want to know to find and hire a local service pro, find something to buy at a retail location, etc. Mike Blumenthal recently asked Is The Future of Local Search Packless? We would go a step further and posit that the future of local search may in fact be “resultless”. In other words, Google will be able to aggregate all of the data from various relevant web pages and display it on a single SERP in a coherent manner that quickly helps the searcher find what they need.

In the “replace furnace” example, imagine a SERP that contained the following:

  • A list of top-rated furnaces and prices aggregated from multiple sites that rate and review furnaces
  • A list of top-rated local HVAC providers with their average ratings & reviews from multiple sites and their average price for replacing a furnace. A “Contact Now”, “Get a Quote” or “Book Appointment” button would appear next to each.
  • Popular videos about how to replace a furnace
  • Articles about how to choose a HVAC contractor, replacing furnaces, etc.
  • Information about permits required by your city to do HVAC work

In many ways Google’s SERPs already provide this data, but it’s typically displayed as the standard list of links. These Knowledge Graph results show that Google is moving rapidly towards displaying much more customized SERPs. As Googlers often say, they are trying to get searchers the best answers to their queries as fast as possible.

In this new SERP=Answers paradigm, we believe publishers will need to focus on:

  • Insuring Google understands its content. Using schema mark-up and standard SEO best practices will likely help.
  • Baking structure into everything you publish. Schema may not be enough. For example, the content on the HomeAdvisor URL that ranks for “replace furnace” is highly structured – the content is broken down into “chunks” that target various queries, the data on the furnaces is displayed in a well-organized table, anchor links help differentiate the different sections, etc. At some point Google will be smart enough to understand this stuff without structure, but at the moment it appears it needs a lot of structure to get it right.
  • Improving user engagement with its content. Google will likely constantly test new content from competitors to see how it performs v. yours.
  • Prioritizing content that best answers the question is critical. As you can see from the “University of Illinois apartments” query screenshot above, Google is showing irrelevant calendar data in the Answer Box. We believe this is because on the ranking URL the closest structured data to the text that matches the query is a calendar in the “Contact” pop up from the first listing – See my post on SEL for more on this. This MyApartmentMap.com URL also generates a similar result with listings content in the grid because they display a basic table with relevant content near the text that matches the query. We think this is a signal that the standard Local Directory SERP list of business listings (e.g. DUI Attorneys in Pleasanton, CA) needs to be rethought. It needs to become a highly structured collection of the most important information a consumer needs to make a decision.

In other words, your typical Local Directory SERP is going to have to be better than what Google can cobble together by looking at you and all of your competitors’ sites. We have long wondered why Google ever shows links to undifferentiated Local Directory SERPs in its results. Once it nails the formula for creating a great Local Answers SERP, it’s hard to see how any Local Directory site without a great set of answers itself is going to get ranked.

→ 9 CommentsTags: Google · Local Data · Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland