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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

  1. THE NAME
    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.
  2. HTML IMPROVEMENTS
    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.
  3. LINKS TO YOUR SITE
    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.
  4. INTERNAL LINKS TOOL
    Has anyone ever actually gotten a result for a URL that wasn’t in the navigation?
  5. SEARCH ANALYTICS
    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?
  6. INTERNATIONAL TARGETING
    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.”
  7. GOOGLE DATA HIGHLIGHTER
    Puh-lease
  8. FETCH AS GOOGLEBOT
    Export the code Gbot fetched so we can easily search it or make it so we can easily search it in GSC
  9. SITEMAPS
    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.
  10. TIME SPENT DOWNLOADING A PAGE
    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

Are You Doing Local Answer SEO?

March 15th, 2016

My furnace died today. I went to Google and queried “replace furnace”.  Here’s what I got:
replace furnace
Click to Enlarge

If you are focused on just ranking #1 for “HVAC”, I am never going to get to your lead funnel. Well played HomeAdvisor. Well played.

→ 13 CommentsTags: Local Search
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Why Does Google Still Use DMOZ As a Source?

March 11th, 2016

Check out the description snippet in this query for Examiner.com, which is a fairly large news site that has been around for years:
Examiner DMOZ

Perhaps at some point, maybe a decade ago, Examiner.com was owned by The Journal Newspapers. It’s not now. Check out the citation for Examiner.com on this DMOZ page:

Examiner DMOZ Description

Look familiar?

Now check out this little grey Knowledge Graph whatever you call this thingy in this query for Goldbely:
Goldbely DMOZ

Now check out the citation for Golbely on this DMOZ URL from Feb 8, 2014:

Goldbely DMOZ Citation

A citation which was corrected over a year ago.

So again, I ask:

→ 8 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

New Version of NAP Hunter is live in the Chrome Store

March 10th, 2016

Hey everyone! A recent update to how Google display’s SERPs caused the export function in NAP Hunter to perform all wonky. A  new updated version is now in the Chrome store (and by now likely updated in your browser).

If you are experiencing any issues with NAP Hunter (or have a suggestion for a feature improvement) please shoot me an email here:

dan (at) localseoguide.com.

And if you are a NAP Hunter user, don’t hesitate to leave it a review in the Chrome Store :)

Comments Off on New Version of NAP Hunter is live in the Chrome StoreTags: SEO Tools
Posted by Dan Leibson