2021 is Almost Here!
We're almost rid of 2020 and all the crap that this year has brought to us globally. Let's start off this last Wave issue in 2020 with a couple of funny video ads on Ryan Reynolds' YouTube channel that seems to be made for Match.com:
Now that you've had a laugh, back to affiliate websites. This Wave turned out to have more of a focus on Search Intent and Content as a result of the Google core update. But that's good because they're also the most important for the success of any site.
It's a good way to get back to the core of what affiliate websites are all about. Giving users what they want.
Search intent and content can sometimes be ignored by flashier things like link building, page speed, site architecture, and anything else that people say will help them rank higher. How do I know?
Because people have said to me "my content is great, but I'm not ranking because I don't have backlinks." I call bullsh*t.
Plenty of sites and individual articles rank without any backlinks, fast page speeds, the perfect site structure, etc. I used to spend so much time finding the perfect domain name, optimizing sites for 90+ pagespeed scores, backlink outreach, and whatever else I thought would be the key to ranking higher.
When I finally refocused and put all that energy into the content and making sure I'm answering what people want to know, my sites got more traffic and revenue. In my eyes, optimized content for search intent will always have the biggest impact for any site.
When I thought my content was optimized, that's when I would spend time on the other stuff to help achieve higher rankings and drive more traffic. But what's optimized content if everyone thinks their own content is great and optimized?
"Great content" is subjective, while "Optimized content" is objective. Google's search engine is run by 1's and 0's. The SERPs will show you what's "optimized" and how content will get to Page 1.
That's why I use content optimizers like Frase and SurferSEO. I used to manually check the SERPs and see what each ranking article wrote about, the header structure, outline, word count, etc. That's labor-intensive, so these tools make the process faster.
I can save some energy from the manual checks and put it towards making more content. Or just spend less time working and more time with the family.
The tools aren't Free, but Frase has a free trial that includes up to 5 documents. SurferSEO has a 7-day trial for $1. Try both and see what you like better from a UI and UX perspective. They both do the same thing by analyzing the top search results and outputting data to use in optimizing content.
That's it for me for 2020! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
See you next year!
Google's December 2020 Broad Core Algorithm Update: Analysis, Observations, Tremors and Reversals, and More Key Points for Site Owners [Part 1 of 2]
This a good overview of Google core updates in general and how to prevent these core updates from negatively affecting your sites, from Glenn Gabe, one of the top SEOs out there.
He discusses some of what he saw from the December update, but I didn't see any silver bullet either. He does get into various industries though, so that might be helpful if you're in or thinking about getting into one of those niches: Alternative Medicine, Home Remedy, e-commerce, Online Games/Lyrics/Coupons/Sites with similar content to other sites, and News sites.
This is a good read as reinforcement for most of what you might've heard in the past like Content is King, E-A-T, technical site improvements, etc.
There's a good checklist of things to look at to make your site look good for Google and users.
This is only Part 1, which is a broad overview. Part 2 is incoming and will give 4 case studies. I'll bring that to you when it's out.
Search Intent and Content are King
Even though there aren't any clear-cut conclusions from the December core update, this article has made one of the better arguments that I can get behind. This dives deeper than the Glenn Gabe article above as this talks specifically about search intent and content.
Some of these observations are based on the Quality Raters Guidelines, the past core updates, and sound SEO advice.
The biggest takeaway for me is to ask whether your sites and articles are matching searcher's intent, while establishing authority and trust with visitors.
I've been a proponent that search intent and content are still the best drivers to ranking higher.
Backlinks driving domain authority helps in the short-term, but content is still king for long-term stability. They'll be short-lived if your content isn't good and giving visitors what they want.
Google: We Do Not Prioritize Crawling, Indexing Or Ranking By Platform
Google's John Mueller said on Twitter that Google Search does not prioritize crawling, indexing, or ranking by platform used. So if you use WordPress, Wix, Movable Type or something completely custom - Google won't really directly care.
The original person who asked the question was saying a brand new Wix site was indexing on Day 1 and thought that "older more reputable sites got faster indexing versus brand new sites."
This is interesting because Wix is technically an older more reputable site already, so it makes sense. If you were to post an article on Medium.com, it's the same thing. Your articles would probably index faster than on your own WordPress site - not that you'd want to do that with Medium.
I used to think I was being slick by posting on Medium.com after I posted on my own site. I thought I'd get backlinks from Medium and that'd help my rankings. Boy did I not know what I didn't know - canonicals, cannibalization, etc. That was one reason the site became a mess and it just lingers there to this day, waiting for me to see if I can help it somehow.
Past 8 major Google algorithm updates
Here's a great look at the past 8 major Google algorithm updates for those who don't know them all. I know how confusing it can get when people talk about a specific update and I don't know what the udpate was all about.
Get some insight into how Google has changed its algorithm over the years. From Panda to Penguin to Medic to Bert and others.
It's good to know what they did and why they did things. The knowledge is super helpful as you continue to build your affiliate websites for the long-term.
Tools and Resources
'Request Indexing' is BACK!
Straight from Google Search Central's Twitter account!
We're glad to announce that 'Request Indexing' is back to the Google Search Console URL Inspection - just in time for the new year!
Read more about how to use this feature in our Help Center https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9012289#request_indexing
- If you have large numbers of URLs, you should submit a sitemap instead of requesting indexing via Search Console.
- Requesting indexing does not guarantee inclusion to the Google index - our systems prioritize the fast inclusion of high quality, useful content.
Top SEOs on Search Intent: Tips and Big Data Case Study
Search intent is one of the biggest ranking factors. If you can't give visitors what they're searching for, they're going to leave your site. Well, that's if Google puts your site high enough in the SERPs to get seen first.
This is why I put so much emphasis in content optimization with Frase. SurferSEO and Page Optimizer Pro are similar in function.
In this blog article by SurferSEO's Michael Suski, he talks to 12 of the top SEOs in the industry for their thoughts on Search Intent. Here're the key takeaways from the article:
- Search intent is a critical ranking factor recognized by top SEOs all over the world. They actively base their strategies on search intent.
- The SEOs’ methods of investigating search intent are not all the same, but most are based on an analysis of actual search results.
- In a year, our 37k-keyword sample’s search intent changed around 12% (this is the average drawn from results gathered between four time stamps, including three major algorithm updates).
- Nearly half of the post-BERT changes were reverted to the original within less than a year.
- After the December 2020 Core Update, 24% of the keywords that were changed during either the May or the BERT update got reverted to the intent from before BERT.
- 23% of shopping intent keywords turned into informational or commercial.
Affiliate Disclosure Examples & Best Practices in 2020
In 2009, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) introduced its guidelines on affiliate disclosure to ensure that consumers were made fully aware of any financial relationship between a website and the products or services they might recommend via endorsements or testimonials.
Be sure to include affiliate disclosures on your affiliate sites. Nothing worse than getting an email from Amazon or anyone else regarding an affiliate disclosure.
I remember hesitations early on when building sites about the disclosures. I thought that visitors wouldn't click on any links because I said I'm an affiliate. But at this point, most people are used to seeing these disclosures all over the place.
If you include affiliate links on other promotional channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., be sure to also have a disclaimer. Whether it's a full disclaimer or use a #ads hashtag, just have one.
The article gives more tips and examples of disclosure examples on various platforms.