29 | Lily Ray – Link Attribution, EAT, Google Survey, Green Fish Wallpaper

29 | Lily Ray – Link Attribution, EAT, Google Survey, Green Fish Wallpaper

Today Jeff Byer (@globaljeff) talks with Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc) about the Google link attribution announcement and its Twitter backlash, EAT, PubCon, Music, and green fish wallpaper.

About Lily Ray

Twitter @lilyraynyc
Director of SEO at Path Interactive 
Personal Site lilyray.nyc

Show Links & Mentions

Quality Rater Guidelines – Updates
https://moz.com/blog/new-google-survey-results
https://moz.com/blog/nofollow-sponsored-ugc
searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf
https://www.pubcon.com/las-vegas-2019

green fish wallpaper

Tools

https://sitebulb.com/
https://www.botify.com/
https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/
https://www.searchmetrics.com/
https://www.conductor.com/
https://getstat.com/
https://moz.com/
https://www.semrush.com/
https://ahrefs.com/
https://www.sistrix.com/

Transcript

Jeff Byer: 00:08 Welcome to Digital Rage. The podcast about all things internet and the people who make it great. My Name Is Jeff Byer. Today we talk to Lily Ray, she is the director of SEO at Path Interactive and we talk about link attribution, FAQ schema, quality rater guideline updates, Google survey results, PUBCON, and my prediction for what the Google search engine result pages are going to look like in the future.

Jeff Byer: 00:33 And one surprise topic that nobody ever thought was going to come out of this podcast. Green Fish wallpaper. And to find out what’s what’s up with green fish wallpaper. You will have to listen to the podcast. So here is our interview with Lily Ray

Jeff Byer: 00:53 I’m based in Los Angeles. You’re in your office?

Lily Ray: 01:02 Yeah, New York. I’m from the bay area though. Good friends in la.

Jeff Byer: 01:14 Well if you ever need a place, nice to hang out or just want to stop by and say hi right now.

Lily Ray: 01:20 You play guitars? I take it.

Jeff Byer: 01:21 Yeah, I’ve been in and out of bands since I was 12 years old and uh,

Lily Ray: 01:27 yeah, me to actually, but drums, drums.

Jeff Byer: 01:32 Drummers are very hard to find.

Lily Ray: 01:34 I know. It’s so weird? It’s just an ex such a big instrument. I think that’s the issue. Yeah.

Jeff Byer: 01:39 Well I mean when we were trying out drummers, our original drummer left and we are trying out drummers. Um, they’re just so loud and most of them couldn’t keep tying, you know, because you have a drum set doesn’t mean you’re a drummer. You know, just, we always had a hard time finding one with the right fit, cause we’re kind of a mellow like acoustic band and, right. Yeah.

Lily Ray: 02:03 Right. it’s tricky. Drum drummers always want to be allowed.

Jeff Byer: 02:08 Yeah. We had one that, that uh, in rehearsal he was fine. Everything went great. And then when we got live it just took over the whole thing. We stopped playing and he kept playing. He didn’t even realize we stopped playing.

Lily Ray: 02:20 Wow. That’s kind of embarrassing.

Jeff Byer: 02:25 Are you ready to get started?

Lily Ray: 02:27 Yeah, let’s do it.

Jeff Byer: 02:28 Okay. So, uh, today we’re talking to lily ray. She says on Twitter, she’s an SEO by day and DJ by night. How are you today?

Lily Ray: 02:39 Doing well, thanks for having me.

Jeff Byer: 02:41 So, um, I wanted to start with, uh, how your trip was. I saw you were in Berlin.

Lily Ray: 02:48 Yes, I went to London, Berlin and Barcelona. Um, so my husband and I go to Europe pretty much once a year, Berlin pretty much once a year for the past four years. Um, but this time we brought my step son who’s 10. That was really awesome cause you kinda got to see everything through the lens of a 10 year old, which is a different experience, but super fun.

Jeff Byer: 03:08 Yeah. Very cool. That’s always fun. We’ve got a two year old at home and uh, excited to start taking him around the world right now. Yeah. With the diapers. Yeah, still a little, little sketchy.

Lily Ray: 03:19 Yeah, it takes awhile.

Jeff Byer: 03:21 So, um, one of the big topics on Twitter go and you know, switching into SEO now is the, uh, link attribution and, uh, all the uproar there, which to me didn’t seem like a big deal, but, uh, what’s your take on it?

Lily Ray: 03:39 Um, I agree. And for the most part it’s not that big of a deal. Um, I think there’s a couple things in there that we have to pay attention to. So, um, I’m kind of excited about the whole update in the sense that no follow, it doesn’t have to mean like a hard no follow anymore. Um, cause I think it started to get to a point where it was almost a little bit unfair, uh, you know, doing like trying to get back links and trying to get publicity and visibility for our, for our clients and knowing that the links were no follows. So it was like, well, you know, from the SEO standpoint, this technically doesn’t have any value in terms of the link itself, but it might have all this peripheral value in terms of visibility and social shares and things like that. Um, so it’s nice to know that that might not be the hard truth anymore.

Lily Ray: 04:24 Um, but the part that was a little bit frustrating and I think why a lot of people kind of took issue with Google’s update was just that it wasn’t very specific. Um, didn’t say exactly what this means for certain types of links. Um, it didn’t say, you know, we’re going to start giving you SEO value from links from Forbes or with a pdf or anything like that. We just were kind of left up in the air, like figuring out what that means on our own. Um, and then things like the UGC and sponsored attributes are really cool just in the sense that it’s like more granularity. But a lot of people were saying like, why would people take the time and effort to build this into their websites if we don’t really know what the benefit is going to be. So I think Google, um, we’ll probably continue to update us on how these things will be used. Um, but anytime you introduce something into the SEO community without a lot of specificity, you can expect people to kind of have a million questions.

Jeff Byer: 05:16 Well that’s the Google way. You know, they’re purposely vague because they’re not going to give you a peek under the hood. They’re just going to tell you what’s coming. Um, right. My take on this whole thing is that they’ve been, they know what’s behind a no follow link and they’ve known all along and they’ve been using that data whether, whether it publicly or not. So sure the, the no follow link to me was still passing something if it was reputation or something. So it wasn’t, it wasn’t a follow link. It wasn’t a direct site, but it was, it was still a signal Google was using

Lily Ray: 05:50 for sure. I agree with you. I mean I think, um, I remember when no follow do follow started to become a really big topic in the SEO Industry and it was right around the penguin days. Um, and you know, people got really obsessed with like do follow links, which I’ve always hated that word cause right off the bat it was like, but if you know the New York Times or Forbes or whatever, it is going to be a no followed link. And that’s the reason we’re not going to try to get it. That’s ridiculous. Like we still want to be mentioned in those publications. Um, and then obviously when you do get mentioned in those types of publications, there’s a million new links that come out of it or social shares or just visibility. And I’ve always found that to be very beneficial. So I’ve personally never focused on it that much. Um, but it’s nice to hear that Google might be maybe not taking it as literally as it used to to be. And in terms of like passing page rank. So I think it’s exciting overall, just a little bit ambiguous.

Jeff Byer: 06:42 Yeah. And, and what, uh, what Gary each was saying is that, you know, you don’t have to proactively do anything. We’re just telling you that these are available. And if you wanted it to update your practices going forward, you could, but for, you know, like wordpress, their commenting system or are the discus system, it’d be super easy for them to just put the, the rel and gcs into any link that’s in there. I mean, it’s, yeah, it’s,

Lily Ray: 07:08 I think wordpress actually said pretty quickly after that whole discussion happened that they’re going to do it and then I read something today that they’re already incorporating it into their next release. So you’re right. It’s totally easy.

Jeff Byer: 07:19 Yeah. So, um, I don’t, I mean there’s a lot of people picking on, on, uh, the Google team just for, for vagueness and, and, you know, lack of clarity. But in the overall scheme of things, this is very minor in the, in the, the SEO Realm. So. Yup. Agreed. Um, so the next topic I had was, oh, uh, I was gonna mention, uh, Danny Sullivan just tweeted, one of the more concise explanations of link attribution said, uh, uh, some publishers may have simply gone full no-follow without seeming to give much thought about why. Right. And now we can see and use those links in most cases. As I said, it’s not going to change anything. So

Lily Ray: 08:15 yeah, I mean I think that that kind of was my initial reaction when I saw the update because if you think about the way that like page rank is supposed to flow throughout the Internet and it’s supposed to reward people for being cited and certain reputable publications. And if you have a handful of publishers that are just cutting that off with no follow, it’s not an accurate representation of like the link graph. Right? We’re missing these really important publishers and their lengths and who they’re citing and talking about. So I’m glad in the sense that that might be changing a little bit. Um, and I think that’s only one facet of kind of what happened with this whole update, but that’s one aspect of it that though I’m pretty excited about, you know, a lot of our clients have links from those publications, so that’ll be nice to potentially see some benefit from that.

Jeff Byer: 09:01 Yeah. And, uh, Marie Haines retweeted Danny Sullivan’s comment, just said, um, this is the, the main reason for the no-follow changes is many authoritative sites. Uh, we’ll use a blanket no follow, which in the old system made it so that Google would ignore these authoritative mentions at other than entity recognition. And you know, like I, I said they’ve been using it, they just been saying they haven’t.

Lily Ray: 09:27 Yeah. Yeah. And then there’s the other flip side of it, which is this is what actually I took a little bit of issue with and I started to kind of tweet it, Google with some questions because you know, they’ve said for many years not to use no follow on your internal links to like sculpt page rank or whatever. And that’s pretty, you know, that’s the general consensus. But there are some Google documents that say that you can use no follow if you have things like faceted URL or like large ecommerce sites with facets and things like that. Um, and I asked that to Google like question person and they confirmed that the no follow was one use case for that. Um, and then this document, this document kind of Said, oh, we’ve never suggested doing that. That’s not a great way of handling it. So for those of us that handle big commerce websites, I think a lot of people are actually using no-follow to control things like faceted URLs, not exclusively, but that’s one of the tools that we have. Um, so this document kind of contradicted that and said like, that’s not really a good tool that you should be using for this purposes. So that part frustrated me a little bit because it was like, which one is it? Yeah, yeah. And so I hope they come out with some, some new updates and clarification around that in the next few months.

Jeff Byer: 10:38 Yeah. And that would help if, if you’re using that as, as a a, you know, you’re using it in the proper, uh, way that Google wants to know the structure and how your site should be crawled. And then they’re saying, well, we’re going to call it anyway. Yeah,

Lily Ray: 10:53 yeah, exactly. Exactly. Stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s tricky too. I like working at an agency where, you know, we have like 80 clients here at my agency. And so we have a lot of clients that ask a lot of questions and a lot of clients that are very curious and they want to learn SEO and they look to us to know the answers to pretty much all of these questions. And we do the best we can with reading, researching everyday, day and night, everything that’s happening. So if an article comes out from Google and it’s not super specific and then my client has a specific question for me, I have to say, I don’t exactly know, um, you know, you can read their article, but they haven’t made that clear. And it kind of feels like we lose points with our clients when that happens. Um, because we want to be seen as experts. A lot of times clients don’t want to hear, like, I don’t actually know, or like, you know, we weren’t able to figure that out. So it’s just, it puts us in an awkward situation. We’ll have the time when we don’t know the heart details.

Jeff Byer: 11:47 Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, you know, I’ve been in that situation as well and yeah, yeah. All you can say we’re going to work on it and get as much information as possible. But for now, okay, now it’s, that’s up in the air, you know. Um, I was telling Marie Haynes when she was on the podcast, uh, when my, my client site got hit by the medic update and nobody knew it was, you know, had anything to do with, uh, y n y l or anything like that. It was just all of a sudden I was ranking number one in all my key terms for two to three years and all of a sudden, boom, all at once. I was like, well, what happened? So, um, they are a B2B manufacturer and they do deal with, uh, medical devices. They’re there, they have a medical use for their device, but, uh, they don’t claim any medical claims. They just claim what their product can do and very scientific and specific terms. Um, there were, I think they got hit more than anything else is they are, uh, David among Goliath and the Goliath just jumped above them even though their pages were structured worse and had less content.

Lily Ray: 12:59 Hmm. Yup. I’m definitely seeing a lot of that. So, um, Maria and I are going to speak together and I guess it’s like two, three weeks now at pubcon about eat. Um, so she handles a lot of these types of issues and websites on a day to day basis. Um, I have a handful of clients that were hit as well, but I’ve been digging really deep into websites that were affected. And if there’s one big takeaway, it’s definitely like, as far as why I’m, why all topics go, there’s a lot of big sites that Google seems to be relying very heavily on for a lot of keywords. You know, showing those sites almost as like a, just to make sure that they’re not showing anything sketchy and just always bringing up, you know, the content from these trustworthy set of websites that they have. But, um, the downside of that, of that is that a lot of websites were kind of inadvertently affected by it.

Lily Ray: 13:47 So even if they’re also trustworthy companies, they’re just not able to rank as well because they’re not one of those seed medical websites that Google’s relying on. Yeah. So I kind of hope that they figure that out over time because there’s plenty of small to medium sized businesses out there with great content that just are not really able to eat as much on topics, which would be unfortunate if that’s the direction that this thing goes in because we want the, you know, we want people to be a place where a lot of people can get their, their thoughts and ideas out there and not just the big players.

Jeff Byer: 14:17 Yeah. And that brings up another point, uh, that we, that Maria Hanes has been talking about of course with you about as well, is that, um, if your site recommends a medical information that goes against a common accepted medical knowledge that you know, new ideas are automatically going to get, get, uh, bumped because they’re respecting what’s traditionally been known as, as, uh, as the, uh, the fact or the, the consensus.

Lily Ray: 14:51 Yeah, I mean, I’m definitely seeing that. I mean, this is a very controversial topic right now in the SEO community. Um, mostly because SEO is, are technical people and they can’t figure out exactly how Google might be doing this. Um, but I 100% agree with Marie. I’m seeing it across a lot of websites. Um, I’ve been auditing some sites where, you know, they’re a wordpress site with great technical SEO. They have great back links. That’s an author that’s sold a lot of books, but that Ha, that author happens to speak about natural medicine and they have pages on their website that are about why milk is bad for you or something like that. Um, and the page used to rank really well for like, you know, is milk good for you and maybe it used to be on the first page and now like completely disappeared.

Lily Ray: 15:34 Um, it’s Kinda hard to chop that up to like technical SEO issues when maybe other pages on the site are doing just fine, but it’s that one that disappeared from, you know, the top a hundred results. So I’m seeing a lot of that as well. Um, I don’t exactly know how Google is doing it. I’m not an engineer, but there seems to be something that they’re doing to try to maintain like scientific consensus that we used on the first few pages of results for these medical keywords. Um, and you know, there’s obvious political reasons why they might be doing that right now, but I do think they might’ve taken it a little bit too far. Um, and I also think that these algorithm updates that we’re seeing a few times a year, these big ones are causing huge fluctuations in the index. So I don’t know that they’re totally done rolling this out yet. Um, but it almost feels like they were a little bit panicked and had to make really big changes really fast. And now we’re kind of seeing them work through that, um, with subsequent updates.

Jeff Byer: 16:31 Yeah. And there’s definitely industries that are going to be affected like, uh, like, uh, you know, cannabis industry or the, you know, CBD especially. Um, but one of my CBD clients is, is, you know, their claims are all verified by, uh, medical doctors that have done clinical trials, but there’s just not that many of them and they’re not trusted, uh, or completely by the community. So, uh, they get hammered.

Lily Ray: 16:57 Exactly. And it’s, it was kind of interesting to see, like when the medic update happened and then a few months later, everybody, myself included, started figuring out like, oh, this has something to do with authorship and author bio’s and expertise. And so a lot of people went out there and added the author bio and, uh, you know, websites that were hit that don’t necessarily have great quality content. They’re still putting off her bio’s and they’re still putting, you know, we have experts writing these topics. But then when you actually read the Bio’s, it’s like a college student who loves writing about health or you know, something that’s like, Eh, I don’t know about that. Right. So, you know, I don’t personally think that author bio’s are a ranking signal in and of themselves, but I do think that it happens to be the case that the sites that are succeeding have very robust expert author bio’s because that’s how their websites were built, you know? So, yeah.

Jeff Byer: 17:50 And I think author by author Bio’s, if you know the base basic thing about author Bios is linked to where you are on trusted sources. So obviously wherever your author bio is, is the source in question, so link out to where you’ve been cited, where you’ve been sourced and you haven’t been cited or sourced, then you’re probably not in authority. Okay.

Lily Ray: 18:11 Totally agree with that. Yeah. I think that links play a much bigger role in this whole EIT discussion than maybe people realize. And Google’s actually said that pretty explicitly. They have, um, this document, I don’t know if you’ve read it, but it’s called how Google fixe just information and they actually talk about the fact that the way that they measure eat is through a lot of different signals, but one of the primary ones is through page rank. So they’re really looking at kind of how these author names or these experts are linked from one publication to the next. So that’s definitely a great point.

Jeff Byer: 18:42 Yeah. So a lot’s to last is still discuss there and your, that’s the primary topic of your, uh, pepcon talk.

Lily Ray: 18:51 Yeah, it’s uh, the panel is just called eat so well they have a free for all to talk about it. So I’m really excited about that.

Jeff Byer: 18:58 Very nice. That’ll be fun to listen to. Um, so what else did I have in, on my topics? I had a FAQ Schema, which I noticed you’re not using or you’re using for your personal side. I was just, I was looking at your SEO bio and you had the drop-downs on it. I was just kidding.

Lily Ray: 19:19 Yeah, I think a, any SEO will agree with me on the fact that our personal sites are not necessarily the best representation of our skills. Yeah. Um, I wish I had more time to work on that side, but yeah. So, um, that was like such a, I didn’t expect that thing to go as crazy as that, but basically, um, we were really ambitious when FAQ Schema got rolled out here at my agency and we wanted to test it with one of our clients that was really forward thinking and like to try new things. So we just kind of slapped it on one of our pages. I had a bunch of FAQ is on it. And um, yeah, we started to lose traffic really fast. It took us a second to realize what was happening is the rankings were the same. Um, but then we looked at the results on mobile devices and it was like the entire content of the website was in a syrup, right.

Lily Ray: 20:08 Or of the webpage was there. So, um, I was like, wow, I never even thought that that might happen. You know, cause there’s just been such a big push to use schema and there’s a lot of cynical SEOs that totally anticipate that Schema is going in this direction where like you can get these rich results or people stay on the search results and don’t actually click your site. So probably should’ve thought about that a little bit more. But anyway, we rolled it out and that happened. Um, but then that kind of ended up in this big discussion with other sts or we realized you could add links to the answers, which is pretty cool. So I added some links to the answers, tag them with UTMs and we’re definitely seeing people click on the links within the answers, but I don’t think that outweighs the decline in traffic that we see from having the FAQ Schema.

Lily Ray: 20:52 So, um, I still recommend using it. Um, because there’s been some other studies I think distill did a study recently and some others where if you’re using it on the right pages, you can actually expect a pretty big increase in click through rates. Um, and they did some tests there where they saw that to be the case. And actually, um, I keep pushing my team, like don’t be scared to use this stuff. Um, or use FAQ Schema and how to Schema and everything because just cause that wanting to sample it went kind of viral where it was like purely informational. There’s been a lot of people getting really creative with FAQ Schema on like product pages and organization pages and things like that where you can actually get like a double result. So you can get like star ratings and all your product attributes and FAQ Schema at the bottom. And if you look at those results, especially on mobile, it’s like the entire screen. So that definitely helps click through rate. And it’s something that I don’t know that we’re going to have this forever cause it’s almost like the biggest organic result I think I’ve ever seen. And I don’t know how much Google likes that. So yeah, for the time being music, I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I’ve been pushing it really hard for sure.

Jeff Byer: 21:57 Yeah. And if, if you’re a content strategy is informational and that information is, is being served within the serp itself, yeah, yeah. This stat of Click throughs is gone, but you’re being seen as the authority of giving the answer. The answer’s there. It’s just they didn’t click the get it. So, um, you know, I’ve, I understand ran Fishkins uh, you know, his concern about, uh, the, the reduction of clicks and right from a reporting aspect that yeah, you have to answer to your clients why we’re not getting clicks, but you’re, if you’re, if you’re really holistic in your content approach and you’re trying to provide information to your audience, then getting that audience through the Syrup or through the page shouldn’t matter because you’ve actually been the brand that provided the result.

Lily Ray: 22:50 [inaudible] provide the, yeah. Yeah, I agree with that. And I think, um, what’s been kind of interesting about these new schema types like FAQ and how to, um, they haven’t, it doesn’t seem like Google’s really cracking down on the content that much. Um, I’ve had one person reach out to me who was really kind of like advertorial and his content. Like I think he, but do you need a great SEO click here? And that was one of the FAQ questions and then it was his phone number and his linkedin profile and the answer and that that did get taken down by Google or that’s flagged it at least. But I haven’t seen many other examples of Google actually telling people that their FAQ Schema is violating their guidelines. Um, except for technical issues that might be like the scheme is not implemented correctly. Um, but from a content standpoint, I don’t think they’ve been cracking down on it too hard yet.

Lily Ray: 23:36 And we’ve gotten away with like putting, you know, the name of the company in the answers or putting a lot of links to our service pages and you even put like polluted links within that, within the actual formatting of the answer. Um, so I’ve seen some like insurance companies for example, where they might list like their five different insurance products using bullets within the answer with links to each of those pages. And that’s pretty unusual for Google to allow us to have an organic result that potentially includes links to like 30 pages on your website without them cracking down on it. So again, I would recommend that people play with this thing. Um, don’t abuse it too hard cause it, they might catch onto it and take it away from us. But for the time being, it’s a great way to get more clicks to a lot of patients.

Jeff Byer: 24:20 Yeah. And the links in the, in the FAQ is, are definitely something once that, once I saw that that was possible, I understood that, okay, this is why you would want to do it. AndW why, why somebody looking for clicks is going to want to do that because it puts another clickable URL into the, the search engine page, the search result page. For sure. For sure. Um, okay, so quality raider guideline changes a, you wrote a article about this. What major changes did you see?

Lily Ray: 24:49 Yeah, I’m mostly semantics. I think. Um, it kind of feels like almost like a lawyer or someone read through the guidelines and said like, oh, we need to change that wording a little bit. So like, particularly on the section around like what does it mean to be a website that promotes hate or violence. Um, they changed some of the wording there, which seemed almost like a political correctness thing, which is not that interesting. But, um, the part that I found most interesting was, uh, the Pulitzer prize thing or after you read in the article, but they used to have, they have like this whole section in the quality rater guidelines where they provide very specific examples of what it means to be high quality or to be an expert on different topics. So it says if you’re a news publication, a way that you can tell, but a news publication is trustworthy is because they’ve won 20 Pulitzer Prize awards.

Lily Ray: 25:40 And that would be all they said about it. And they actually did that like four or five times where it was like, well, they’re one five Pulitzer Prize or 10 Pulitzer Prize or whatever. And, um, you know, I’ve seen a lot of the backlash that people say whenever Google rolls out these types of guidelines. And a lot of people will say, you know, it’s not fair to use just the Pulitzer prize is the only place to look if you’re looking at whether the publication should be trusted or not. And that was kind of my thinking behind why they now went and made those sections of the guidelines much more robust. They included like five different names of awards that, a publication that when, if it’s, if it’s trustworthy and reputable. So I thought that was kind of interesting just from like a political standpoint. Obviously Google is under political scrutiny right now, so that kind of makes sense. Um,

Jeff Byer: 26:25 but I, I mean, that seems like that there they’re accommodating to not exactly their audience, their audience is a quality raider and the general public having access to it is just a, a perk as far as the way they see it and answering to the public on the way they tell their Raiders to rate that.

Lily Ray: 26:44 Yeah, I mean the, the publications they included are still very, very trustworthy publications. It just makes it seem like Google is encouraging a more like a broader analysis of what it means to be trustworthy. So that was my take on it. That might not be true at all, but I just thought that was pretty interesting. It was like seven instances of the Pulitzer Prize that got updated. Um, and then some other updates. Yeah, I think there’s been so many questions in the past year about like what is eat, what is why I’m [inaudible], how does it apply to my website? So it seems like a lot of what they did was just break out the definitions a little bit more and to be a little bit more specific and like rearrange things a little bit. So I think I’m news, for example, moved from like the sixth or fifth example of a wild wild website to the first.

Lily Ray: 27:34 So I don’t know if that means anything, but if it does, it kind of means that news might be the single primary place that they’re looking at in terms of assessing like eat. And why I’m, why l um, and then yeah, they just, they got a little bit more specific. So, um, I think it was maybe Marie Haines who kind of suggested that a website is y m y l if it’s e-commerce because it accepts credit cards. I don’t know where that whole like narrative came from, but I think it might’ve been her. Um, but they made that pretty explicit in the guidelines this time. So they said like, if you are any ecommerce website, your wild whale. So that was interesting to see.

Jeff Byer: 28:09 Does it change your strategy at all? Uh, especially the news being a, the number one priority, uh, as far as the bullets in the why and why l is of, I mean, of course editorial mentions are, are always a great perk. But has your priority shifted as far as your strategy?

Lily Ray: 28:29 Yeah, not for all our clients. Um, and I keep kind of telling my team and a lot of people that I associate with, with this stuff, it’s like, this doesn’t always matter for every website. You know, there’s, there’s some websites that have been doing just fine with all these algorithm updates. They haven’t been affected and they’re doing everything pretty much right from the get go. So this isn’t like a panic mode for all of our clients. Uh, but that being said, there’s definitely some clients that we have and some sites that I work on that this is a big concern and this is a big issue for them. So, um, for any sites that might be like only showing one side of the story or being a little bit too salesy and why I’m, why all content, um, I’ve been working with those clients to kind of say like, you guys are pushing your product a little bit too hard here. Um, or you kind of only showing one side of the story on a really controversial topic. And that’s a tough conversation to have for a lot of companies because that might be their entire business model is like, well, I sell natural medicine products and that’s what I believe. Then, you know, that’s what I’ve been doing for years. Right? But, um, you know, maybe there’s other keywords that they can rank for, but if they want to rank for these very high volume, generic medical types of keywords, yeah, we have to change our, our strategy.

Jeff Byer: 29:41 And so where does, uh, the past year of, of SEO and you know, and updates and, and everything that we’ve been getting from Google, where does that put somebody starting a brand new website? How more, how much more difficult is it to rank as a new website?

Lily Ray: 30:02 Yeah. Um, I like to remind people that I think healthline, which is the biggest player in the medical space right now, it’s like a seven year old company. Um, someone kind of corrected me and said, yeah, but they acquired this other company, ended up, you know, merger or whatever. So that obviously helps them. But there are other examples of websites that are relatively new that are doing things really well from an SEO standpoint. And just from a marketing standpoint and a business standpoint, they have a good reputation. A lot of the newer like tech startups and things like that. Um, if you get your SEO in order from the get go and people really like your brand and you produce great content out of the gate, I think it’s entirely possible to rank. Now if you’re, um, a medical website that’s going to be a little bit harder.

Lily Ray: 30:49 Um, news is actually kind of different because, um, you know, there’s Google News, which is separate algorithm and separate database of websites. So we actually just recently had an exciting example with the client where they had been declined from Google news over and over for many years. And what we did was we created one category on their website and created a separate self folder for that where it was taking just news, nothing controversial, nothing that could be denied by Google and they got approved instantly. That was pretty exciting. So there’s ways to get around it. I would just say like, be realistic with your expectations. Um, try to find the exact niche that you’re going after because you’re not gonna rank for those really high volume competitive keywords anytime soon, especially if they’re y m y l but there’s, you know, we have plenty of websites here that are relatively new companies that we’ve been able to help with them a year or two. So,

Jeff Byer: 31:43 yeah. And I think, uh, I think the, the show notes page on this post, uh, I’m going to try and get it to rank for a green fish wallpaper. I think, uh, I think we got it.

Lily Ray: 31:53 No, this, this room is so extreme. Whenever I’m in here, it’s like blinded by green fish.

Jeff Byer: 31:59 So, um, I’ve, I had a ton more of stuff. Um, um, I, I don’t know how much time you have. I wanted to be real.

Lily Ray: 32:06 I’m just hanging out here. It’s Thursday evening in New York, so, yeah.

Jeff Byer: 32:10 Okay, sure. Yeah. Okay. Uh, so quickly, um, your Google survey results were very interesting. Is that, uh, yeah, it taught me that young people aren’t looking at any of my search results at all. Um, the, uh, the, the organic search result behavior versus, you know, compared to age was, was kind of shocking.

Lily Ray: 32:36 Yeah. Yeah. That was, you found it shocking. Yes.

Jeff Byer: 32:40 That the, that the, the youngest section of your respondents were, we’re just not, we’re basically, if it wasn’t top one or two, they ignored it.

Lily Ray: 32:53 That didn’t surprise me. It’s upsetting, but it didn’t surprise me at all. I mean, if I think about like my 10 year old stepson and how he uses the Internet and we don’t have voice search devices in our house, so he’s not one of those kids that’s constantly talking to Alexa, but obviously there’s millions of those kids at this point. Yeah. Um, and you know, the Alexa devices and Google homes, they give one answer. So that’s kind of the, the new nature of searching, which is kind of terrifying.

Jeff Byer: 33:21 Yeah. So basically, yeah. And voice. Yes. But, uh, specifically in, in your, uh, survey was, was voice part of that question or was it only re organic?

Lily Ray: 33:33 No. Yeah. So that question was specifically around like when you conduct a search on your phone or on a desktop, you know, do you just look at the first page or do you look at only the first result or do you dig deeper into deeper pages? And yeah, the trend was basically that older people like to do more research. Um, and I think this partially just has to do with like older people obviously were here before search engines existed first of all. Um, but they kind of grew throughout the process of search engines changing over time. So Google is now an answer engine where it just shows answers on the front page, but it wasn’t always the case. So people develop behaviors where they’re actually looking deeper on the first page and they’re going to page two because they’re quite literally like researching through the search results.

Lily Ray: 34:16 And myself included, I’m not an older person as far as my is concerned, but I still have those behaviors from learning how to use like Yahoo and whatever original search engines we were using because I like to see different viewpoints. And that was the whole point of having at least, you know, 10 links to look at. Um, but I don’t know that the youngest searchers had that experience from their perspective. It’s like whatever’s the first one or two results is probably a good answer to my question. And you know, beyond that, whatever Google puts on into syrup is actually even quicker and better answer to the questions. So, um, it’s scary to think about that and I kind of hope that younger people become skeptical over time and start to realize like the featured stuff, it’s not always totally right. So I’m going to do a little bit more digging. Uh, but yeah, the trend is a little scary. Yeah.

Jeff Byer: 35:07 Um, and you know, just think about it as it my SEO experience or my developer experience that I, I am interested what’s on the, what completes the first page and what ends up on the second page. I mean, most of it is probably curiosity, but, uh, as, as you know, I have to have at some point done just a straight search of just information just for me without evaluating the Serp at all. And yeah, I would still scroll.

Lily Ray: 35:38 Yeah, for sure. I mean I think my, my husband’s funny cause he’s a little bit like cynical about using Google, especially with all this stuff that I bring him everyday, but he’s like, oh, I just like to click on page three and see what’s there and kind of go off of that. Or like any search. All right, now we’re all putting it, it’s like three, there’s trillions and trillions of documents to answer all these questions at this point and Google’s picking the top 10 but it’s like there’s so many other amazing options out there and we’re just a little lazy and don’t necessarily want to look at them. But you have these other people credit, you know, they’re ranking on page three. They probably have something really good to say as well.

Jeff Byer: 36:17 Yeah. And uh, you know, that’s been, that’s been the struggle for a lot of a lot of companies and why they need SEO help is that, you know, they think they are providing the best and could be just a simple technical issue that we discussed earlier that that could be keeping them out. So, yeah, for sure. Um, so the, uh, the results that you got based on a result that had a featured snippet or knowledge panel and uh, the uh, you know, the declining and click-throughs, um, that seems like, that seems like the middle, middle generations are, are pretty trustworthy of the information they see in a, in a a knowledge panel and yeah. Does that concern you at all?

Lily Ray: 37:06 I mean, yeah and it should concern all of us. Um, and I think that’s one of the reasons why Google is cracking down so hard on like Schema and you know, building out the knowledge graph and entities and things of that nature because they’re also the ones that are pushing this new kind of like answer first or entity first answer page on Google and that’s so they’re, you know, they have to correct themselves when things are wrong when they say like a horse has eight legs or six legs or whatever, that doesn’t look very good for them. So they’re really pushing webmasters to go out there and make sure that all their cmos super accurate and then kind of penalizing people when the scheme is not accurate, making sure people go and fix it and things like that. Um, but it’s, it’s scary. I think I conducted the survey back in April, um, were a little bit before that and um, I was somewhat pleased, but it wasn’t a higher number if I remember correctly.

Lily Ray: 38:02 It was maybe something like 20% of people looked at the knowledge panel and saw thought that their questions were answered, but then like 80% continued to browse and look for other answers. And then there was some contingency of people who just like completely ignored it, which was a little bit reassuring from my perspective. It’s like I’m an SEO and I want people to click on things. Yeah. But it’s alarming. I think like rand Fishkin, the fact that he goes on these speaking tours, talking about this stuff, he has a very good reason to do that. I’m happy he does cause a lot of SEOs, myself included, are too scared to talk that stuff. But, um, it’s, it’s definitely very important and we’ll see what happens with this whole investigation with the government. Cause I think they’re kind of looking at that stuff as well.

Jeff Byer: 38:44 Yeah. And, uh, I’ve talked about this with Barry Schwartz in the last episode last week and uh, you know, I’ve just said, Yo, are you a friend of Google and you know, cause he’s visiting Google facilities all the time and he says, you know what, I bad mouth them as much as anybody and I’ve only been penalized once. So

Lily Ray: 39:03 yeah, it’s a tricky situation to be in. Um, you know, Google, like John Mueller for example, he’s an amazing guys, very, very kind, very generous. Um, and I really respect how communicative he is with our industry and how much he shares with us. I think just yesterday he posted this really amazing tweet where he was like, if anybody at Brighton SEO is speaking and they have questions about the new link attributes, I’m happy to help you out. Like, that’s so super cool for Google to do that kind of stuff. Um, but then there’s this larger existential like, am I going to have a job in 10 years? You know, or small businesses going to get traffic in 10 years, like, what’s going to happen with that? So there’s, there’s two sides to it. Um, and I, I definitely see both sides. Yeah.

Jeff Byer: 39:44 And I have a small prediction for the future of Google, which is, um, in the, in the, uh, distributing information realm, they’re gonna go the way of customization to where there won’t be a predictable serp because they’re going to allow the users to choose what features are available in their syrup. And so if they choose not to see a knowledge panel and want to do the, the deep diving on their own, they’ll have the option to, or if they don’t want to see results and they just want answers, they’ll be able to, to customize in that way too. This is just, you know,

Lily Ray: 40:26 yeah, I’ve never heard that before, but it’s cool. I like it. Um, and I like it because it means that there will still be SEO in the future. You know, if people choose to ignore eaters in a bitch or the knowledge panel or whatever the case may be, that means that there still has to be some things for them to click on after that. So, yeah.

Jeff Byer: 40:45 All right. So let’s wrap up. Um, what, uh, what tools do you use on a daily basis?

Lily Ray: 40:51 Oh, Geez. Um, a lot of them. So search console and analytics are the first two probably, um, have a few different crawlers. So my agency partners with Spotify, which I love, um, but I’ve also been using site bulb and screaming frog for three years now. Um, SIPO is relatively new, which I I really love. They have a nice crawl visualization. I haven’t seen it, but um, screaming frog has the same thing, but this one’s really just like pretty. Um, and it makes for really nice powerpoints if which I have to do all the time at my agency. So I love using that tool. Um, I’ve been pushing a Searchmetrics content tool lately. I don’t use it day to day, but it’s a really fantastic tool. You’re golden content. What it does is it scrapes like the top 30 or 60 results for whatever keyword you’re targeting. And it does some kind of language processing and it kind of tells you, all right, if you want to rank for this keyword, we recommend using all these semantically related keywords. We’ve seen them like six times on ranking pages or eight times or something like that. So, um, as you’re writing it kind of checks off.

Jeff Byer: 41:57 Yeah. You mentioned this tool with uh, with very short or not very, uh, with um, bill Slawsky when he was talking about the TF IDF of, cause we talked about that and we brought you up in that episode too. Is that, yeah. Cause uh, cause you mentioned Searchmetrics has this tool that may be using TF IDF just to give a broad spectrum of not only your main term frequency, but a, a whole bunch of alternative terms that are showing up with that main term.

Lily Ray: 42:30 Yeah. Yeah. And like the science behind it or the natural language processing methodology behind it is probably not nearly anywhere as sophisticated as what Google is doing, obviously. But that being said, it’s a very pretty tool. It’s very easy to use. It’s a nice thing to give your writers and kind of give them some guidance about all the different topics that they should hit on, on a page that is going to rank well on whatever topic. So I like that. Um, you know, we use conductor, where you start, we use Moz was SCM rush a traps. I’ve been loving Sistrix for, um, for analyzing like algorithm updates. I think that’s the best tool for that. They’re from Germany, I believe. And I don’t know how big their presence is in the u s but I recently got some districts, I’m absolutely loving it. So your sister x, and this is always a tricky question just because, you know, you go to conferences and everyone’s like, hey, why am I to 11 tall? And they all kind of do similar things. So I’m like, sorry, I already buy that one. Yeah, there’s a lot of them. Everyone’s doing great work and we have a lot of them here.

Jeff Byer: 43:34 And finally, uh, what do you have to promote and where can people follow you?

Lily Ray: 43:40 Yeah. So I would just promote my agency path interactive. We are an agency here in New York City. Um, and you can follow us on Twitter at pap interactive. One word or myself, lily, right. NYC. I’m pretty active on Twitter. Uh, and yeah, I’ll be speaking at pubcon with Maria and a couple of weeks and then SMX east here in New York with Glen Gabe. Um, and then also at onward, which is a conference here in New York by Yext. That will be in late October as well.

Jeff Byer: 44:08 All right, fantastic. Well, thank you very much for your time. This has been a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it and Nopa hope you’d be willing to come back on. Uh, once we have, uh, the dust settled and possibly after all these talks I’ll have a lot more. Uh, you’ll, you’ll be, uh, grabbing more

Jeff Byer: 44:26 out of me that I need to answer itself. Awesome. Thanks for having me. Alright, thank you very much. Look for show notes and information. Go to digital rage.fm. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at digital rage FM. And please give us a rate and review it. Sincerely appreciate it.

Host, Web Designer, SEO
About the Author
Jeff Byer has been designing identities and building websites since 1995. He is the CEO and co-founder of Print Fellas LLC, and the President at Byer Company, a division of Jeff Byer Inc, a web design company in Los Angeles. Jeff has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. He is a certified Project Manager by Franklin-Covey and has qualifications in Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, MySQL, SEO, Bing Ads, and Google Ads. Jeff Byer is a co-author on 5 US Patents related to content management systems he has created on the internet.

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