Whenever I can I combine two of my favorite things to do: Travelling and attending conferences. This month the perfect opportunity came along again and so I packed my bags and took a trip to Israel where I was looking forward to delicious food and the largest search marketing event in the country – SMX Israel. I already enjoyed the event very much the previous year so I knew I would not be disappointed.
Q&A with Google’s Manual Actions Team
The event started out with the Q&A keynote moderated by Barry Schwartz, organizer of SMX Israel and CEO of Rusty Brick, and Juan Felipe Rincón as speaker, Lead of the Webmaster Outreach Team for Google in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Here are some of the questions answered:
Q: Should old content be removed?
A: If it is not useful for humans, yes. When aking decisions take serch engines out of the equation. Think about what is good for the user.
Q: Are old crappy links still bad?
A: Yes, time doesn’t really matter. Links don’t gain or lose value over time.
Q: Why do you sometimes show old messages in Google Search Console?
A: There might have been a change of ownership, so the messages might be useful.
Q: How do you know if a site was hit by negative SEO?
A: In most cases it is probably something else and there is an easier explanation for what is going on. Negative SEO is actually rather unlikely to happen. If you are worried about it you can use the disavow tool.
Q: When a penalty is removed it still takes a very long time to rank again. Is there still a filter in place?
A: No. When the penalty is removed the manual action is gone. But you will probably not rank in the same position again because some of the signals (which were bad) are gone.
Q: What do you do when you need a link, such as an affiliate link. Or if there are other links you can’t remove.
A: Usually that’s what „nofollow“ is for. If removal is not possible use the disavow tool.
Q: What are the resources for a manual action?
A: User reports (Sorry, no more details). Part is reviewing things flagged by the algo. This is not really precise, but reflect how things work.
Q: What link research tools do you recommend?
A: There are several ones.But it is actually not that hard to know if a link is a bad one. Simply make sure it is an honest recommendation.
Q: Is there a way to speed up the reconsideration request process?
A: No, you’ll get on the list. There is no way to speed it up.
Google Search Console: Deep Dive
Another very interesting session was Google Search Console: Deep Dive by Michael Fink, Product Manager of Google Search Console. During his talk he announced one ranking change that was launched that day concerning app install interstitialy which would have a negative impact on mobile rankings. He also stressed the importance of always showing your content first. He then went on to show how Google Search Console can be used for app optimization.
Next, he presented some ideas Google is currently working on or at least considering. He pitched the concept of Google Search Console brand acounts which I absolutely loved. Imagine having everything in one brand property: different domain versions, apps, social media profiles. Also for international sites. If you have ever dealt with several property owners for different domain variants or even worse not being able to find the owner you know the struggle is real. I really hope Google will pursue the idea of brande accounts. Some other features the team is considering are:
- One year of data in Search Analytics
- More accurate error reports
- Live server monitoring
- Alerts on ranking drops
- Search Console app
Since there are only limited resources the attendees were asked to vote on the most desired feature. Brand accounts, year of data and more accurate reports seemed to be the most wanted. We shall see which feature will make it to Google Search Console next.
Internal Competition: Your biggest competitor can be yourself
Another great talk was given by Kalman Labovitz, Senor Strategic Web Consultant at RankAbove, as part of the Advanced SEO Techniques panel. He described the challenges of websites that have more than one page that can be ranked for one keyword. A possible solution to this are the following steps:
- Do Research
Use Google site: – queries „site:example.com keyword“
Ask yourself which page you want to rank for a certain keyword
- Take action
Use a spreadsheet and fill in keywords, search volume and target url
- Decide when to consolidate content
Doe the content make sense on the page?
Does it match he goal of the page?
Are spcific intent pages needed? purchase, sign up, etc.)
Group URLs together by 301 redirect or remove/block to search engines
So what are the benefits of taking action as described above? You will have a more focused website wth increased social power due to more social signals for specific urls. If you optimize your content and if there isn’t an thin content there will most likely also be a Panda benefit.
Tip for pages with a lot of content: Use hash URLs (example.com/red-shirts#button-down) for different sections and easy navigation and also keep content in the HTML code.
Closing Keynote: Google’s Gary Illyes on Search Quality
After a full day of brilliant sessions the conference closed with another keynote by Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google speaking about different generations of web users and how to address their specific needs.
During his talk he introduced the concept of contextual voice search wich looks really amazing. He then went on to address questions from the audience. Here are some of his answers:
Q: Does RankBrain change rankings?
A: Yes, it is a ranking factor.
Q: Slow responsive website vs. (faster) mobile site? Regarding mobile optimization.
A: Responsive is still prefered. Responsive websites don’t have to be slow. Also for mobile rankings Google looks at desktop page speed.
Q: How deep are infinite scroll pages crawled?
A: Maybe 1 to 2 pages. Use seperate URLs for all pages as well as rel=“canonical“ to point to the view all page.
Q: If I translate my websie to different languages for a better user experience will my main language website get a ranking boost?
A: No. But it will help the other languages.
Q: When can we expect the next Penguin update?
A: This year.
Q: Is organic search really seperate from paid search?
A: Yes, the two teams work absolutely seperately.
So this is it for this year’s recap. It was a pleasure being part of such a brilliant event. Thanks to Barry Schwartz, the beautiful Inbal Hotel and all the sponsors (Majestic, RankRanger, SimilarWeb, Analytics Ninja and ZEFO) for making it happen. I am already looking forward to SMX Israel 2016.
Also if you fancy another recap in German, here is a nice one by Maja Benz, Head of SEO at rankingCheck, Cologne: Recap SMX Israel 2015.
And here are my two recaps from last year. One in German: SMX Israel 2014 Recap – Auch im nächsten Jahr wieder eine Reise wert! as well as one in English: SMX ISRAEL 2014 RECAP – AN OUTLOOK ON SEARCH IN 2014. (Yes, I do like writing. :))
Just in case you need any further convincing to attend SMX Israel next year, here are some more or less blurry and more or less random pictures of the conference, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.