Is Google Search showing fewer sitelinks

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Is Google Search showing fewer sitelinks

Is Google Search showing fewer sitelinks

Google Search seems to be showing fewer sitelinks in the search results. Google would show as many as six sitelinks per search result snippet, now Google seems to be showing a maximum of four sitelinks and often just two sitelinks.

What are sitelinks. Sitelinks are links from the same domain that are clustered together under a web result. Google Search said it “analyzes the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for” in the search results.

What changed. Google seems to have changed to a vertical format for large sitelinks and is only showing up to 4 sitelinks. Even the example from Google’s very own help documentation shows six sitelinks.

Screenshots. Here are screenshots showing how a search for [tesla] is showing four sitelinks:

A year or so ago, the same search displayed six sitelinks:

My site has always showed at least four sitelinks, now I see it showing only two:

If you search for rustybrick with a space, [rusty brick], Google does show four:

Why we care. Fewer sitelinks may lead to less of a chance to get clicked on from the Google Search results. That may lead to less site traffic from Google search and ultimately lead to less revenue.

We have emailed Google to confirm this was changed and to learn more about why it has changed.

Hat tip to this Reddit thread for spotting this.

The post Is Google Search showing fewer sitelinks appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Best Free Website Builders

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Best Free Website Builders

Best Free Website Builders

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Looking to create a professional website without buying a new service? 

There are a few good free website builders out there. Yes, I’m talking about zero-cost tools that don’t require any coding or design knowledge to get started.

These options are perfect for individuals and small businesses that need to establish a solid online reputation. You’ll get a sleek site that’s easy to navigate without having to spend a dime of web design.

These are not teasers or trials. Build a site. Keep it for as long as you like.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the best free website builders on the market today. After reviews of the top products, you’ll find a short buyers guide to help you find the best fit for your brand and goals.

#1 – Wix Review — The Best For Ecommerce Sites

If you’re looking for one of the best free website builder that does everything a real-life store manager would do and then some, Wix makes that a reality.  

The thought of building an online store can be paralyzing. But once you create a Wix ecommerce site, you have access to perks like real-time tax calculations and adding several payment channels that you wouldn’t have with a builder geared toward content or portfolios. 

As a product seller, Wix helps you create beautifully designed storefronts with a selection of over 800 pre-built themes and templates ready to personalize at the click of a mouse. 

One of the reasons Wix is so popular is that it’s remarkably easy to use–even if you have never built a website before. Everything is clicks (not code), so once you find a template you like, finetuning your site to perfection takes no time at all.

What’s even easier is how they lay the important groundwork for you. I’m talking about security and reliability here.

A Wix site meets the highest standards of data security as soon as you build one. From TLS 1.3 encryption for SSL-certification to DCI PSS-compliant payment gateways, your site and its shoppers are always protected from bad actors or breaches.

And their infrastructure is rock-solid. You’ll never have to worry about unexpected site downtime with their array of reliable servers spread across multiple data centers (which also help to serve up your site speedily to any visitor anywhere). They even make sure that routine maintenance doesn’t result in your web store being unavailable.

There’s no doubt ecommerce businesses are in good hands with Wix. It is a builder that goes out of its way to advertise themselves as such, instead of being a jack-of-all-trades.

Still, as with every site builder, there can be some drawbacks. For example, if you ever want to move your site to another provider, you can’t do that with Wix’s builder because of how it’s configured. You’ll have to completely recreate it on a new platform.

Some of their ecommerce features designed to drive sales are:

Sales and customer behavior analyticsDisplaying prices in international currenciesEasily creating subscriptions and discount coupons for customersIntegration with all social channels for greater visibilityAutomated email marketing and abandoned cart recovery

To get started with Wix, visit their site and sign up.

#2 – Weebly Review — The Best For General Sites

Let’s face it. You might not need a free site builder with all the bells and whistles. And that’s okay. That’s why Weebly exists. It’s the best site builder for general sites that need to do their job well.

It’s perfect for information businesses, non-profits, small portfolios, mission statements, or landing pages. This is because they make it easy to bring your site together with a no-nonsense dashboard and with options like built-in image editors and professional design options that let you create video backgrounds.

As a general site, you don’t want to deal with the technical stuff like SSL certification, encryption, and often costly third-party domain shopping. Weebly integrates takes care of all that for you right on their platform. 

One of their best features as a site builder is that you have the option to fully customize their HTML and CSS if you choose to do so. While it might not be something you need right away, it’s nice to know you have that capability as a future option.

Weebly is built for site design with a more structured approach. If you’re looking for a builder with a bit more design flexibility and freedom, this might be a downside. 

Their best site builder features include:

Easy-to-use dashboardDrag-and-drop site builderAdditional integrations like payments and product search with upgradeIntegrated analytics that kills the need for additional plugin installationMobile app to manage your site from your phone 

You can sign up with Weebly here.

#3 – WordPress Review — The Best For Blogging And Content Creation

If I had to introduce WordPress to you, I’d say that it’s the top contender for blogging and content creation. 

Thankfully they provide a free site builder to get you started (in addition to paid options). 

For years, bloggers and companies like Disney, Dropbox, Spotify, and NBC have leveraged’s powerful site-building features to build audiences, expand their brand, and drive sales worldwide.

If you’re looking to blog, share your knowledge with the world, or create loads of content around your business, you’ll want to start with their free site builder. It’s designed to be straightforward and easy to use without any confusing and unnecessary features. This way, you can get started creating and publishing your content in record time.

To help you if you get stuck, they provide free webinars that walk you through creating your site step by step. 

Their free site builder’s biggest downside is that you might grow out of its limited blogging toolbox. But if you want paid access to fully customize your site in the future, WordPress makes it easy to upgrade without the technical hassle. 

Some of the WordPress site builder’s best content creation features include: 

Optimized for search engine results24/7 live chat and supportFree subdomain that you can upgrade later to a custom domainFree hosting without having to use a third partyLarge selection of free themes to choose from and customize designed for sharing and creating content

Sign up with WordPress and start building your website for free. 

#4 – Site123 Review — The Best For Quick And Easy Landing Pages

Easy and quick are the two best words to describe Site123. With its no-brainer features, it’s the best site builder for simple sites that don’t need many internal pages. 

In other words, it’s great for landing pages. 

Your business might not need a blog, robust ecommerce features, or top-notch design capabilities, but it’s still in need of a place online it can call home. 

Site123 helps you check that off your list by being the most no-nonsense site builder possible. You can avoid frustration and a big learning curve with Site123’s optimally designed web building process, especially if it’s your first time building a site. 

Their best landing page buildeing features include:

Free speedy hostingBuilt-in media gallery with free professional icons and videoCompatible with third-party pluginsBeautiful pre-made landing page templates so you don’t start from scratch500 MB of storage

You can start creating your online presence with Site123 here. 

What I Looked at to Find the Best Free Website Builder

What is your site’s end goal? That’s the first and most important question you want to ask yourself when choosing a site builder.

Do you want to start a blog to share your extensive knowledge and thought leadership with the world?

Do you have a graphic design portfolio you want to show off to gain more freelance clients? Are you a non-profit that needs to display annual achievements and your mission statement? 

When creating your site with a free website builder, your end goal will determine what capabilities you need.

Once you have your site’s end goal in mind, here are additional criteria to narrow down your choices.

Design Capabilities

If you’re a freelancer, a designer, or a photographer wanting to create an online portfolio, consider the design capabilities of each builder. 

Customization: How deep do their personalization and customization features go?Templates: Do they provide eye-catching site templates you can use, so you don’t have to start from scratch?Media storage: Does your site builder give you a lot of image storage space? Depending on how big your site will be, this is a key question if you want to keep things free. 

When thinking about how to present your portfolio or brand, this is the site builder criteria you most want to pay attention to. 

Learning Curve

How fast do you need your website built? This determines how much time you’re willing to spend learning the ins and outs of your website builder. 

Intuitive design: Some builders are pretty intuitive to learn, while others might have a larger learning curve.Ease of use: Do you want a drag and drop builder to make building and configuring your site easier? Or do you prefer writing in HTML and coding the site yourself?Tutorials and technical support: Do they have a robust support options where you can find answers or get a timely response from the company?

If you’re pressed for time and want something built fast, you might not want to pick a hefty builder with lots of capabilities to learn. A more straightforward drag-and-drop builder can get the job done faster and easier. 

Long-Term Options

As your business grows, your website will inevitably need to grow with it. Your site needs are going to change over time.

When choosing your site builder, it’s a good idea to look into what their paid features include and if they fit the bill in terms of what your site might need as it grows. 

These can be things like:

Additional hosting capacity: Once traffic to your site hits a certain threshold, you’ll likely need to purchase additional hosting to sustain your traffic growth. Additional plugins and design features: If there is ever a need for additional plugins and features, does the free builder provide that?Personalized support: Once you hit a wall creating your own site, do they have sufficient support to help you take things to the next level with CSS and HTML modifications?

Type of Website

What type of website do you need to build? As mentioned, determining your site’s end goal and working backward can help you answer that.

To give you a better idea, the internet is generally made up of five kinds of websites:

Blog: Are you going to continually publish content that informs, entertains, or inspires a particular audience?Portfolio: Are you showcasing your work to sell your services to potential clients?Ecommerce site: Are you selling products or services with an online storefront?Small business/organization site: Are you rounding out your brand with a public mission statement or publishing general public business information for the world to access?Online application: While this is technically a website with more complexity, it’s beyond a free builder’s scope since it would need serious developer chops to build well. 

For most businesses, the type of site you need is a pretty basic question. But an important one to answer.

For example, most site builders have blogging capabilities, but this shouldn’t be the only thing you base your decision on. Once you’ve figured out which type of website you need to build, then we can move on to learning about the different kinds of site builders on the market. 


You’ll notice that I didn’t cover every possible no-cost option out there. That’s intentional. These are the best free website builders. In my opinion, these are the only ones that are worth your time:

Wix – The best for ecommerce sitesWeebly – The best for general sitesWordPress – The best for blogging and content creationSite123– The best for quick and easy landing pages

This should point you in the right direction. You can start creating without having to spend a dime.

Should you need more than what the free options allow, take a look at my list of overall best website builders.

Seriously though, many people will be able to get by just fine with a free website builder.

Give one of my top picks a shot today and start building out your online presence.

What do you think is the best free website builder?

Automating Ourselves Out of Existence

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Automating Ourselves Out of Existence

Time has grown more scarce after having a child, so I rarely blog anymore. Though I thought it probably made sense to make at least a quarterly(ish) post so people know I still exist.

One of the big things I have been noticing over the past year or so is an increasing level of automation in ways that are not particularly brilliant. 😀

Just from this past week I’ve had 3 treat encounters on this front.

One marketplace closed my account after I made a bunch of big purchases, likely presuming the purchases were fraudulent based on the volume, new account & an IP address in an emerging market economy. I never asked for a refund or anything like that, but when I believe in something I usually push pretty hard, so I bought a lot. What was dumb about that is they took a person who would have been a whale client & a person they were repeatedly targeting with ads & turned them into a person who would not recommend them … after being a paying client who spent a lot and had zero specific customer interactions or requests … an all profit margin client who spent big and then they discarded. Dumb.

Similarly one ad network had my account automatically closed after I had not used it for a while. When I went to reactivate it the person in customer support told me it would be easier to just create a new account as reactivating it would take a half week or more. I said ok, went to set up a new account, and it was auto-banned and they did not disclose why. I asked feedback as to why and they said that they could not offer any but it was permanent and lifetime.

A few months go by and I wondered what was up with that and I logged into my inactive account & set up a subaccount and it worked right away. Weird. But then even there they offer automated suggestions and feedback on improving your account performance and some of them were just not rooted in fact. Worse yet, if they set the default targeting options to overly broad it can cause account issues in a country like Vietnam to where if you click to approve (or even auto approve!) their automated suggestions you then get notifications about how you are violating some sort of ToS or guidelines … if they can run that logic *after* you activate *their* suggestions, why wouldn’t they instead run that logic earlier? How well do they think you will trust & believe in their automated optimization tips if after you follow them you get warning pop overs?

Another big bonus recently was a client was mentioned in a stray spam email. The email wasn’t from the client or me, but the fact that a random page on their site was mentioned in a stray spoofed email that got flagged as spam meant that when the ticket notification from the host sent wounded up in spam they never saw it and then the host simply took their site offline. Based on a single email sent from some other server.

Upon calling the host with a friendly WTF they explained to the customer that they had so many customers they have to automate everything. At the same time when it came time to restoring hosting that the client was paying for they suggested the client boot in secure mode, run Apache commands x and y, etc. … even though they knew the problem was not with the server, but an overmalicious automated response to a stray mention in a singular spam email sent by some third party.

When the host tried to explain that they “have to” automate everything because they have so many customers the customer quickly cut them off with “No, that is a business choice. You could charge different prices or choose to reach out to people who have spent tens of thousands on hosting and have not had any issues in years.”

Nothing in the world is fair. Nothing in the world is equal. But there are smart ways to run a business & dumb ways to run a business.

Businesses should treat their heavy spenders or customers with a long history of a clean account with more care than a newly opened account. I sort of get that one small marketplace presuming my purchases might have been a scam based on how many I did, how new my account was, and how small they were, but the hosting companies & ad networks that are worth 9 to 12 figures should generally do a bit better. Though in many ways the market cap is a sign the entity is insulated from market pressures & can automate away customer service hoping that their existing base is big enough to offset the customer support horror stories that undermine their brand.

It works.

At least for a while.

A parallel to the above is my Facebook ad account, which was closed about a half decade or so ago due to geographic mismatch. That got removed, but then sort of only half way. If I go to run ads it says that I can’t, but then if I go to request an account review to once again explain the geographic difference I can’t even get the form to submit unless I edit the HTML of the page on the fly to seed the correct data into the form field as by default it says I can not request a review since I have no ad account.

The flip side of the above is if that level of automation can torch existing paid accounts you have to expect the big data search & social companies are taking a rather skeptical view of new sites or players wanting to rank freely in their organic search results or social feeds. With that being the case, it helps to seed what you can to provide many signals that may remove some of the risks of getting set in the bad pile.

I have seen loads of people have their YouTube or Facebook or whatever such account get torched & only override the automated technocratic persona non grata policies by having followers in another channel who shared their dire situation so it could get flagged for human review and restoration. If that happens to established & widely followed players who have spent years investing into a platform the odds of it happening to most newer sites & players is quite high.

You can play it safe and never say anything interesting, ensuring you are well within the Overtone Window in all aspects of life. That though also almost certainly guarantees failure as it is hard to catch up or build momentum if your defining attribute is being a conformist.

Categories: internet

Press Release: Bounteous Wins Fifth Consecutive Crain’s Chicago Business Fast 50

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Press Release: Bounteous Wins Fifth Consecutive Crain’s Chicago Business Fast 50

CHICAGO, MAY 23, 2022 – Crain’s Chicago Business names Bounteous on the 2022 Fast 50 list, the publication’s annual ranking of the area’s continuously-growing companies whose upward sales trajectory stretches five years and longer

Google News new design being tested

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google News new design being tested

Google News new design being tested

Google is testing a new trail version of the Google News portal at It is a limited trail, I was only able to bring it up once in Safari private mode, but then I lost it. The new home page is more visual, brings the navigation menu from the left side to the top and overall cleans up the look of the home page.

What it looks like. Here is a screenshot of the top of the page that I was able to screen capture when I saw the test – you can click on it to enlarge it:

Here is the bottom portion of the page where you can see the “Fact check” section. Again, you can click on it to enlarge it:

When will you see it. Again, this is just a test, just a trial, Google is running to see if those in this test group like the new Google News design and if the responses they expect from the new design is positive or negative. Google is constantly testing new user interfaces across all their platforms, so this should come as no surprise.

Why we care. Whenever Google releases a new design or user interface in Google Search or Google News, that can impact ones visibility and clicks to their web site. So keep these user interface tests in mind when understanding any risks or rewards you might see in the future with Google News interface changes.

Again, this is just a test – it is hard to know if and when this new design will go live.

The post Google News new design being tested appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How privacy changes affect B2B paid search marketing

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How privacy changes affect B2B paid search marketing

How privacy changes affect B2B paid search marketing

Everyone’s talking about privacy. When Google announced the deprecation of third-party cookies in early 2020, privacy became a hot topic.

The loss of third-party cookies impacts all advertisers and is especially challenging for B2B marketers, who struggle to reach the right audience even with third-party cookies in play.

Let’s review how today’s privacy changes came about – and then look ahead to what it all means for marketers.

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How did we get here?

In the early days of the internet, it was the Wild West. No one cared about privacy.

As with anything new, consumers were enamored with going to a website, ordering whatever they wanted and having it show up at their door.

Sure, mail-order had been around for a long time. But it wasn’t exciting to fill out a form, write a check and send it in – only to wait 6-8 weeks for the order to arrive.

The internet changed buying habits forever.

It was possible to find and buy nearly anything online easily. Still, the internet also offered a treasure trove of user data that marketers could tap into for insights into buyer behavior.

Somewhere around the mid-2000s, retargeting was introduced.

I remember being at a search conference around 2005, watching a demo of a new technology that would dynamically serve ads based on users’ search activity and the websites they visited.

My mind was blown. Do you mean we can show different ads to different users based on things we know about them? Sign me up!

No one thought about privacy then either. We were so enamored with this new technology that we never gave privacy a thought.

Privacy becomes a thing

Fast forward to today.

Retargeting is everywhere. Everyone knows when they are being retargeted. And advertisers are often doing it poorly.

Every digital marketer can come up with a handful of bad retargeting they’ve experienced personally.

For me, a memorable one was just after I’d made an online reservation at a hotel for a business trip to Seattle. I was immediately bombarded with ads – from the same hotel I’d just booked, saying, “Book your trip to Seattle now!”

Come on.

I believe that lazy marketers are partly responsible for the privacy changes coming later this year. People are sick of poorly targeted ads that follow them incessantly.

How privacy affects B2B search marketing

B2B search marketing is challenging under any circumstances. Searchers don’t self-identify as B2B users when they perform a search.

And often, the keywords they use are the same keywords a consumer might use, even though each is looking for two different things.

Terms like “insurance,” “security” and even “design software” are vague. The searcher could be looking for services for themselves or their business.

That’s where third-party cookies came in.

Advertisers got excited when Google introduced audience targeting options like affinity and in-market audiences. Finally, a way to layer on audience signals based on search and browsing behavior!

However, audience targeting options are hopelessly consumer-focused. Here are Google’s current affinity segments:

See anything that looks remotely like B2B? Me neither.

In-market segments aren’t much better. Here’s one for Business Services:

The “Business Technology” category isn’t bad, but the others, such as “Business Printing & Document Services,” seem tailored to small businesses, not enterprises.

The death of third-party cookies

So what does all this have to do with privacy?

Targeting options like affinity audiences and in-market audiences are built from third-party cookies. Search engines use signals (e.g., which websites users visited) to compile the audiences.

Google has announced the deprecation of third-party cookies from Chrome within the next year.

In other words, most of these targeting options are going away soon.

First-party audiences to the rescue

First-party audiences are great for B2B. They remove many obstacles B2B advertisers face: consumer-focused targeting, or targeting that’s too broad for the business need.

But first-party audiences also pose challenges for B2B.

The biggest hurdle is creating the audiences in the first place.

To efficiently use first-party audiences, advertisers need some way to compile audience data, group users into cohorts and securely pass the data to advertising platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads. Usually, this is done through a data management platform (DMP)

Advertisers who use a DMP have a relatively easy time using first-party audiences in their PPC campaigns. The DMP can be used to upload audiences directly to search engine platforms.

Unfortunately, even among our enterprise clients, surprisingly few have a good DMP setup. This means most advertisers are not able to use first-party audiences effectively.

And even for advertisers who do have a suitable DMP, we often find that the first-party audiences are too small to target.

Unlike e-commerce, B2B is a smaller universe. There aren’t as many people researching enterprise business software as there are people buying shoes on a given day.

There are even fewer people from companies with more than 5,000 employees researching ERP software for the enterprise.

See where I’m going with this?

Audiences that are too small to target aren’t much help.

Or are they?

Search engines use audiences as a signal for targeting ads. Think of an audience as a way to tell Google and Bing who you’re trying to reach.

One way to amplify the signal of a small first-party audience is by using similar audiences (also called lookalike audiences).

Similar audiences are often 2-10 times bigger than first-party audiences. Here’s an example:

The first-party audience only has about 5,000 members – it’s large enough to target but won’t drive much traffic.

But the similar audience has anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 members for search and up to 1 million for display – a much larger reach.

Similar audiences are especially helpful for B2B, which tends to have a low audience match rate). We’ve seen strong performance from similar audiences for our B2B clients.

Let paid social help

Another way to create B2B audiences is to use paid social to inform paid search.

Paid social is usually used for upper-funnel activity – awareness and consideration. But we’ve used paid social to create audiences for paid search retargeting.

The great thing about paid social is that we know a lot about our target audience. We can target based on employer, job title, company size, education, skills and other factors that indicate the user is a good target for B2B.

Create a dedicated landing page for paid social traffic for your B2B audience targets and tag it for retargeting. Then target people who visited that page with Google Ads.

We’ve done this with YouTube videos too. People who watch a 30-60 minute keynote from a B2B conference make a great audience for follow-up with RLSA or display retargeting.

And don’t forget about LinkedIn targeting in Microsoft Ads. Being able to use LinkedIn profile attributes to target is a big differentiator for Microsoft Ads, and it’s especially useful for B2B advertisers.

Use micro-conversions as signals

Another way to create retargeting audiences is to use micro-conversions as signals for intent.

B2B has a long sales cycle – usually 12-18 months or longer. No one buys a six-figure business software system in a single visit with a credit card.

The process usually involves a lot of research, with multiple touchpoints along the way.

Users might follow these steps on the way to purchase:

Read an articleDownload a whitepaperRead an ebookRequest a demoSign up for a free trialContact salesPurchase

Each of these actions represents a micro-conversion.

You could create audiences for people who downloaded a whitepaper. You could even segment this further by creating audiences based on the type or product of the whitepaper they downloaded if you’re selling multiple products or targeting multiple audiences.

Retarget users who downloaded a whitepaper with an offer for a free demo or trial. Then retarget users who signed up for a demo or trial, asking them to contact sales.

If you sell to multiple business sizes, you can also start to segment by small business vs. large enterprise based on the content they consumed.

Using first-party data is an investment – of time and money

The days of simply picking an audience based on in-market traits or affinity groups are numbered. Lazy marketing is soon to be a thing of the past.

Now is the time to start building your first-party audiences and think about your buyer journey.

Get serious about creating micro-conversions and paid social audiences to reach your target.

The post How privacy changes affect B2B paid search marketing appeared first on Search Engine Land.

10 Best PPC Marketing Certifications (Free & Paid)

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Best PPC Marketing Certifications (Free & Paid)

PPC marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive attention to any growing brand. PPC can amplify your presence on the search engines, deliver new traffic, and enhance conversions, but only if you know how to use it correctly. A PPC marketing certification demonstrates an advertising professional’s ability to navigate the complexities of […]

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10 Best YouTube Keyword Tools (Free & Paid)

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Best YouTube Keyword Tools (Free & Paid)

To take advantage of YouTube’s massive traffic potential, you need to know what keywords people use in the YouTube search box and what kind of videos they like to watch. This is where YouTube keyword tools come in handy. In this post, I will review the 10 best YouTube keyword research tools and show you […]

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Google search results spam for ‘Bill Slawski obituary’ shows the dark side of SEO

Posted by on May 20, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google search results spam for ‘Bill Slawski obituary’ shows the dark side of SEO

Google search results spam for ‘Bill Slawski obituary’ shows the dark side of SEO

We reported yesterday the sad news that Bill Slawski has died.

It’s less than 24 hours later and no actual obituary has been published (either by a news site or funeral home). Yet, Google’s search results are littered with spammy results.

Look at what is ranking on a Google search right now for [bill slawski obituary]:

This is a horror, especially for anybody seeking trustworthy information on Slawski.

To me, this SERP looks like Google, before the Panda Update, for certain queries where content farms reigned. That’s the easiest way to describe it. 

A ton of low-quality websites have created thin content with the sole purpose of optimizing it to rank whenever someone searches for an obituary for Bill Slawski. And they are monetizing whatever traffic they get through display ads.

What’s worse – there are many of these types of sites. And these sites have one thing in common: the content reads like it was either automatically generated or written (poorly) by people whose first language is not English.

Let’s look at some of the sites so you can understand how gross this all is:

1. AReal News

The content is pure garbage. Look at this paragraph:

“He was hale and hearty until he suffered a broken leg which caused his death. Before his death, he suffered a Brian clot, due to which he was admitted to the hospital. This information was shared on Twitter. This did not affect his ability to think and write. He was only facing issues with waking properly. He was very much active on Twitter before his death.”

Aside from the obvious content problem, this site looks like it should be in clear violation of Google’s page layout algorithm (aka Top Heavy). Before you even get to the content, you get nothing but ads, ads, ads.

And searching for [obituary] reveals this isn’t a one-off. It’s a strategy:

2. OnTrend

Some of the garbage content:

“No doubt, he was surrounded by his wife and children when he took his last breath peacefully. The further insights of Bill’s partner are inaccessible at this time. We are keeping an eye on this topic.”

3. CowdyCactus

If this isn’t outright search spam, it’s certainly about as low-quality content as you can publish before reaching that threshold:

“Twitter mourns the lack of lifetime of web site positioning skilled Bill Slawski at age 61. However, his clarification for lack of life has remained secret. What occurred?“

In fact, when I turned my ad blocker off to take that screen capture, it was infested with so many ads and redirects to spam I could no longer even view the site. Hopefully, my computer didn’t get a virus.

4. CmaTrends

Before we look at this example, make sure you check out this site’s homepage title tag: “CmaTrends &laquo; We SELL Entertainment Periodt!”

And the opening of their “article”: 

“Bill Slawski, the author of Search Engine Land, died at the age of 61, #Bill #Slawski #author #Search #Engine #Land #died #age Welcome to O L A S M E D I A TV N E W S, This is what we have for you today:”

I could cite more examples, but you get the point. 

Google’s new information problem. The quality of this search result is bad. But it goes beyond just Slawski.

This is a known issue. For certain new search queries, often there isn’t enough content on the web for Google to rank. So you get a bunch of content that, otherwise, has no reason to have any visibility. 

Sometimes you also see this after a broad core algorithm update. Suddenly, Google starts surfacing iffy content from suspect sources – as if they hit a sort of reset button. Typically, Google eventually figures it out and more appropriate content returns to where it should be (though not always). 

The profits of death. Aside from the clearly bogus “news” sites, there are a couple of spammy obituary websites in there – and Both are also loaded up with display ads. Including Google ads.

Yet this is not a new problem. And it goes far beyond Slawski. In fact, some brands are even helping fund this low-quality content. 

Marketing Brew published a report in November detailing how spammy sites rip off obituaries and actually end up being monetized by ads from major brands (e.g., Nike, Nordstrom, Zola, Burt’s Bees). Google told Marketing Brew it has:

“strict policies that explicitly prohibit Google–served ads from running on sites that use disruptive advertising formats, including pages with more ads than publisher content. We also prohibit ads from running alongside content that’s been copied from other sites. When we find pages or sites that violate these policies we take appropriate enforcement action.”

I’ve reached out to Google to comment on this story. I will update if/when I receive a response.

The post Google search results spam for ‘Bill Slawski obituary’ shows the dark side of SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Panic Buying Is The New Backlink

Posted by on May 20, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Panic Buying Is The New Backlink

Panic Buying Is The New Backlink

One of the benefits of society freaking out about a particular topic is that it can drive online behavior that affects SEO performance. For example, currently over the past few weeks, we have been experiencing a shortage of baby formula.

While the shortage is a hardship for parents, it has been a boon for websites that have baby formula in stock. Here is the Google click data for various baby formula product pages on their site comparing the past 28 days to the previous 28 days:

This data makes sense. People want baby formula. This site has it in stock. They get clicks. But the interesting part is what happened to the rankings for these pages:

As you can see several pages were not ranking at all for these queries at all, but most of them went from ranking virtually nowhere to ranking on page one/two for these queries. In fact, I am too lazy to pull together the data, but all of these were intermittently ranking on page 2 or 3 for various “baby formula” queries, which often shows up as average position = 0 is GSC, and then basically locked into place and started surging in mid-April, which I guess is when people started freaking out. Here’s an example of average position for one URL that is pretty common across all of these pages:
Here’s what I think happened:

This URL sometimes ranked on page 2+ for various queries. Google occasionally tested it out at the bottom of page 1, but clearly no one cared, so it kept dropping. I have a Hotline Bling analogy for what’s going on here, but I’ll leave it at that.
In mid-April, moms across the country clicked on Amazon or or whatever was showing up at the top of the SERPs for “baby formula” searches but these sites were now out of stock. So they pogo-sticked back to the SERPs, scrolled down and kept clicking.
As Google saw searchers en masse behaving this way, it started to demote those out of stock sites and push up those which were still in stock. But those sites quickly went out of stock, which caused more pogo-sticking, more scrolling and more clicking on URLs further down the SERP, and perhaps even on page two, causing Google to promote previously-low-ranked URLs higher up the SERPs.
As Google promoted the in-stock URLs, it also expanded the number of keywords the URL ranked for. The above page got impressions for only 11 keywords in March. In April, it ranked for 27 keywords. In May, it ranked for 141.

This is what I think happened to the particular URL above. You can see when it went out of stock, the rankings started to decline. I don’t have all the data, but I actually think it initially went out of stock for a week or so at the end of April, then had it back in stock for a week or so in May.

All these pages are currently out of stock and all of their rankings are now declining.

We saw a similar thing happen with a client site and “hand sanitizer” searches at the beginning of the pandemic. The same with “hair dye” and “hair clipper” searches about two months in, when everyone realized they needed a haircut.

Here’s TLDR:

This is yet another datapoint that suggests that CTR can be very influential to rankings, particularly when it happens on a set of related queries at scale across a wide geography (this is a national retailer site).
When panic buying happens like this, you likely have a short window to take advantage of it.  Implement a form on your PDPs for people to sign up for alerts about when an item is back in stock. You might be able to build a targeted list quickly in situations like these and you never know when the next collective freakout is going to happen.
Add a big statement about what you are doing about the shortage to these pages, or create a new page that links to them. Maybe even create an offer for related products (e.g. “Because we’re out of formula, we want to show parents we care, so 5% off on your next diapers order.”). Not only might you get some new customers, you are also likely to get a lot of backlinks, which should help SEO performance for the site in general.So remember, just because the whole world is in a panic, doesn’t mean the SEO team has to be.




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