25 | Dr. Marie Haynes: SEO, E-A-T, and Google Rater Guidelines

Today I (@globaljeff) talk to Dr. Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes ), she is completely obsessed about Google Penalties and algorithm changes…Penguin, Panda, Unnatural Links, QRG, and diagnosing the reason for a site’s traffic drop.

About Marie Haynes

@Marie_Haynes
https://www.mariehaynes.com/
Newsletter & Podcast: Search News You Can Use

Show Links & Mentions

Wix SEO Competition Link: https://www.wixseolovers.com/
@methode
@CyrusShepard
Medic update client: https://www.amio2.com/
YouTube for Estimator360: http://bit.ly/2OQioOw
CBD client: https://www.pinkzebranutra.com/
Natural supplement client: https://vitahustle.com/
Consolidating Brands (Byer Company, Byer Co) into Jeff Byer Inc at https://www.byer.co
Jeff Byer Authorship Page: https://www.byer.co/about-jeff-byer

Transcript

Speaker 1: 00:07 [Inaudible]

Jeff Byer: 00:07 Go to digital rage, the podcast about all things Internet and the people that make it great. My name is Jeff buyer and today we talked to Marie Haynes. Marie Haines is an SEO expert and her, her complete bio is completely obsessed about Google penalties and algorithm changes. Penguin and panda, unilateral links, quality rater guidelines, and diagnosing the reason for a site’s traffic drops.

Jeff Byer: 00:38 She has made a career of this. She owns Marie Haines consulting and she has a stockpile of sites waiting to be evaluated. So that’s how you know she’s good is because she is in demand and having trouble keeping up with that demand, which is, which is great for her. So today we talk about e a t and YMYL, authorship and disavowed links. A lot of things that were mentioned recently this week on her Twitter feed. And so we’re trying to keep it very contextual and current because now that these episodes are being recorded, basically week before today is Thursday, August 15th. So these episodes are being recorded closer to the publish date so that we can provide more updated accurate information. So before we get into the interview, just wanted to bring up a couple of things coming up.

Jeff Byer: 01:38 Going on at Jeff Byer Inc, we have been working slowly to consolidate the brands. So Byer Company or Byer Co is going to be phased out. And the only reason for that is that we weren’t able to actually incorporate under that name. We took the assumption that if we were going to get a DBA to operate as Byer Co or Byer Company that we could basically officially do business as. But when we filed for the corporate name change, it got denied because it’s too close to other companies buyers and company as a law firm. So definitely don’t want to mess with that. So we’re going back to Jeff Byer Inc and in this consolidation, I am also consolidating my personal blog & personal brands. So jeffbyer.com is now forwarding to byer.co, jbyer.com, which was the old Jeff Byer Inc website is now forwarding to byer.co

Jeff Byer: 02:51 Byer.co is going to be the hub for everything Jeff Byer because I am my company and there’s no reason have separate buckets for all of this content. So it’s going to all be consolidated and we’re going to put the new blog there. And speaking of the new blog this has been a hot topic lately and I’ve been in production with this quietly, but I’ll go ahead and bring it out in the open. I am building a wordpress backed the fastest wordpress backed blog that I can possibly create. So there was just a post about this on mas and I wanted to put in my 2 cents is that I’ve been mentioning this on the podcast since episode one of my headless wordpress and then my decoupled wordpress. So now what I’m doing is basically experimenting with different ways of just using the wordpress backend as a CMS and an API and API access point.

Jeff Byer: 03:53 That way the whole front end can be just driven off of the API. I created a CDN on, on the, on AWS so that AWS bucket is holding all of the assets and is, has the, the https, it also has the, the CDN and so everything on the wordpress backend is uploading to the CDN. And then all I’m accessing, all I’m using wordpress for is an API end point. So basically all the, all the wordpress installation has to do is spit out a Jason file with the content and everything else is going to be optimized as fast as possible. So still still a work in progress right now has got the rudimentary data and I haven’t done all of the, the, the, you know, gone too far into the SEO and the, the Schema structured snippets and, and that part of it, but that’s all coming soon.

Jeff Byer: 04:58 And basically you can treat it like you’re building a static site and I’m building it using a Gatsby so that it renders a completely static side at the end. So all of that combined is going to, should make, I’m not gonna say it yet, but should make for one of the, one of the fastest, if not the fastest wordpress based blog that that anybody’s ever built. So more on that later, once I get it closer to production. The other thing that’s going on right now is we’re heavy into the youtube SEO side of things. We just launched our, our the video for estimator three 60 and put up 30 videos into their youtube channel and their channel’s been around for awhile, but now we’re optimizing for it and we’re, we’re sending out, so the last two solid days of, of our SEO work estimated three 60, was specifically to drive traffic to their youtube channel.

Jeff Byer: 06:02 So we encourage you to, to go subscribe to their youtube channel. That’s going to be one of their main sources of content moving forward. And they have some huge announcements coming up soon. Feature enhancements one enhancement that that’s hopefully going to launch this week is a full quickbooks integration. And later on is going to be, if you know what these types of softwares are, that’s an estimating software for construction residential, home builders and remodelers. So the estimating and project management portion is, is what the main product is. But having the quickbooks integration is something that they were working hard to get and partnered with quickbooks to get that done. And they are also making a native ios and android app so that the experience is smoother on mobile. And they’re also doing what’s called a, it’s called takeoff software. And take off a digital takeoff software is basically allowing customers to just kind of put in dimensions in it.

Jeff Byer: 07:09 And it creates a, it’s a specific type of, of estimating construction estimating software that’s a much more technology focused and, and does a lot automatically. So those two things are huge and they’re coming up for them. And so after we’re done pushing the youtube channel subscriptions and a youtube channel views, then we’re gonna move into back to the content strategy and signups. And we’re going to re-instate free trials cause ever since we took free trials out the engagement has, has declined. So we’re going to reinstate that and and get them some more subscribers. So that’s it on my end. Other than that, Marie haynes.com Marie Haines is, is one of the best people to talk to if your site has been penalized for anything on Google. If you lost ranking suddenly and don’t have any explanation why or if you just want her team to do a site review and tell you what they found a shirt, her expertise is combing through and recognizing changes and following the quality rater guidelines, quality rater guidelines or what Google’s uses to send algorithm change signals back to Google.

Jeff Byer: 08:46 So these were not Google employees. They’re independent third parties that use these guidelines to, to rate websites. And so these are these standards for the quality raters are basically the standards that you should be judging your own site with. And so Marie Haines offers that service to people who who either aren’t ranking, have plateaued or got penalized. She’ll find out she using her expertise, she’ll find out what happened to the site, why it’s being affected and how, if and how you can fix it. So great information and that’s why she’s so popular and so busy. So great conversation with her. Let’s get right into it. If you have any questions, please email me Jeff at [inaudible] dot co and other than that, go to digital or h. Dot. F M for the show notes. And here we go with three

Speaker 1: 09:52 [Inaudible].

Jeff Byer: 09:52 Today we’re talking with Marie Haynes. I am going to read her bio directly from Twitter, Twitter completely obsessed about Google penalties and algorithm changes, penguin panda, unnatural links, quality rater guidelines, and diagnosing the reason for a site’s traffic drop. So is that still all accurate?

Marie Haynes: 10:13 That’s me. Yeah, that’s what I don’t, I sound like a fun person at a party.

Marie Haynes: 10:18 A lot of people have been saying that on Twitter lately. You like, yes, these are the type of people I would talk to at a party. I would exactly. So thank you for coming on and your name comes up a lot in past episodes. And what the first thing that I want to talk about is something that I mentioned with Cindy Krum last week was that it’s the one year anniversary of the medic update as of August 1st. So I’ve, I have one particular client that it got particularly penalized on, on that first week of August last year. And I s I, you asked on your podcast for people to submit anybody that you were doing research and you said, anybody who got hit by the site, please, please send us the site so we can take a look. And so I sent you the site and and your response was, we’re overwhelmed with requests. I’m so sorry. No, no, it’s okay. Trust me. It’s a great problem to have. So how was, how was your first week of August? Last year?

Marie Haynes: 11:25 Yeah. So August 1st. I mean, we know now that it was a massive, massive update. And actually when that update happened, I was visiting with a client and so I was meeting with the client’s marketing team and they were one of the sites that saw this massive increase. So it was a really great day for me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget being actually with my clients while they were seeing the fruits of our, you know, we’ve been working for months to, to help recover this site. But yeah, it was, it was really big. And you know, we called it medic because it affected a lot of medical sites, but a lot of sites that w the site you sent me was that medical [inaudible].

Jeff Byer: 12:00 I can’t remember. So it was a manufacturer that makes things that can be considered medical, but no, it’s a very scientific they make oxygen analyzers.

Marie Haynes: 12:11 Okay. Yeah. And we saw a lot of sites that were in that sort of vein as well where you know, they sold any sort of medical equipment like glucometers or you know, things like that. Those sites were affected as well. And, and I really think this was Google’s first really strong attempt at trying to figure out which medical sites and sites selling medical equipment and, and similar sites were displaying elements of trust that Google could trust and that people could trust. But it affected other, you know, e-commerce, a lot of ecommerce sites. We even saw financial sites that had nothing to do with medicine that were hit with this update. But it was really big. And I really think, you know, all of the core updates we’ve seen since then, or sort of refinements or improvements to what Google can do in assessing this trust.

Jeff Byer: 13:00 Yeah. And now it seems like from then on is when we saw the increase in what we would consider major updates. And so now, even on your podcast this week, you said, you know, we’re no longer going to treat these as, you know, algorithm changes because it is happening on a daily basis. It seems now

Marie Haynes: 13:19 Exactly for years I have been reporting on every little blip, you know, if, if I, if it seems like there was an update that Google didn’t announce, if there’s a lot of chatter about updates, you know, we try to figure out what is happening. And you know, for the last, well probably since August 1st maybe even before then, it seems like there’s either a major update now that Google confirms, which is fantastic that they’re, you know, they’re starting to do this or there is some type of a tweak and we seem like we’re saying the same thing every time. It looks like Google is trying to assess trust, trying to assess this whole idea of eat a little bit better. And then the changes that we’re seeing are connected to those types of things. And so, you know, every week, even twice a week now, sometimes we, we’re seeing these little blips that seem to be tweaks and so we’re not going to be reporting on every single blip anymore. But still looking at it, you know, still looking to see can we see patterns of what Google’s trying to do.

Jeff Byer: 14:17 And what are the, what are the reports that you look at to, to distinguish if somethings, you know, major, minor you know, global or are site specific?

Marie Haynes: 14:29 Most of what we’re looking at is our database of clients from a current clients and even past clients. Because I’ve been doing site reviews primarily with sites that have been hit by algorithm updates since 2012. And so we have hundreds of sites that we can analyze. We still have access to analytics for those. And so we’ll look at you know, just to see if we can see patterns. We have some set up to, to determine you know, was there a particular date on which a bunch of sites saw significant changes that go outside of seasonality. And if that’s the case, can we draw some ties? Can we say, oh, yes, it seems to be mostly medical sites or sometimes what’ll happen is we’ll see it’s been a while though, since we’ve seen this. There’ll be an update and we’ll see, ah, you know, the sites, the majority of the sites that saw significant changes, we flagged them as having link issues and things like that. And so sometimes we can see yeah, it looks like Google’s working on this one particular area. But recently, you know, my, my conclusion in every single update that I’ve analyzed, and I don’t claim that, you know, no, at 100%, but seems to be that some element of trust has been refined by Google.

Jeff Byer: 15:40 Yeah. And that’s, you know, it’s a huge thing now. And a lot of my clients are, are B2B and so they don’t have a person responsible for the content on their site. And a lot of it is, is, you know, scientific facts, but it’s not general knowledge. So it’s very, I’m having a difficult time trying to perform a, some sort of an eat audit on the business itself. All I can, all I could do is that the business has age and experience and that’s as much as as far as I’ve been able to get because even the marketing people in the company have privacy issues and they don’t want a person to be responsible for the content

Marie Haynes: 16:24 For sure. And I think some of what Google is doing now are things that as an SEO, it’s very challenging or maybe even impossible for me to fix some of those problems. So August 1st a lot of the sites that we saw that got hit by this update had severe reputation issues. You know, if you look at their review profile online, you could see that pretty much everywhere people were complaining that I didn’t get a refund or I felt like I got scammed or you know, they sold me this supplement and it was just a piece of junk. And so that’s something that as an SEO, I can’t fix the fact that your business has reputation issues, you know, I can help, I can advise you to maybe let’s try to get some good reviews. But if there’s a fundamental problem with the business and people not trusting the business, that’s a hard thing as an SEO to fix. So I think that our roles are sort of changing as SEO.

Jeff Byer: 17:19 Yeah. And you brought up that in the quality rater guidelines that they use better business bureau ratings as a, a, a factor, not a factor, but an example of how you can how a, a quality rater would be able to judge a business I guess effect or the Authority?

Marie Haynes: 17:41 Yeah. Well, when I first wrote about this, it stirred up some controversy because of course Google is not going to have a line in their algorithms that say if the BBB rating is low, then quality equals low. Because I mean, we can think of all sorts of problems that could arise from that. And BBB is not in every location. You know, there’s no BBB in the U K and so, you know, that wouldn’t make sense for an algorithm to apply just for American sites. And and so I think to understand what’s happening here is to understand how the quality Raiders work. So when we talk about these quality Raiders, they’re not Google employees. They’re contracted out by Google. There’s potentially tens of thousands. I’ve heard different numbers on how many people there could be. And these people are basically feeding information back to Google’s engineers.

Marie Haynes: 18:33 And so if the quality Raiders look at a site and see that it’s potentially not high quality, then Google’s engineers try to tweak the algorithms to make changes so that that doesn’t happen anymore. So the quality raters are told, look at sources like the BBB and they’re given an example. There’s an example in the Raiders guidelines that talks about a, it’s some site that’s selling kids playground equipment and it has an f rating in the BBB. And the Raiders are told that this is a sign of potential reputation issues. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Google’s algorithms are doing the exact same thing. They’re training the Raiders to do what a human being would do to, to assess whether a business has reputation issues, but Google’s algorithms probably use a huge number of factors. There’s a patent that Google has that talks about how they can analyze the text from reviews online from blog posts online from anything online, basically to determine whether the overall sentiment for a business is positive or negative.

Marie Haynes: 19:38 And you know, those types of things we have to pay attention to. So if your BBB rating is an f, that usually means there’s a problem with the business. You know, and if you, we’ve, we’ve seen businesses that I think probably have gotten into some legal discussions with the BBB and, and you know, somehow gotten their, their rating. All of a sudden it went from f to a one day or it their profile change and that has an improved their rankings because it’s not that, you know, it’s not that letter that is being a concern. Right. It’s the actual issues with [inaudible].

Jeff Byer: 20:11 Yeah. And so, you know, I have a theory working that’s, that’s kind of based on all of this is the BBB and Capterra and some other platforms, they’re paid a pay to play. And I think that goes against Google’s guidelines, but the sites are still getting high reputation. High ranks over the actual companies themselves that they’re, that they’re collecting. So I think like companies like, like Kevin’s company g too, it’s not paid a play. It’s very much audience driven and I think are going to take over and slowly the Cap Tara’s in and paid review sites are going to hopefully fall off.

Marie Haynes: 20:55 Yeah. And I think one important thing to note is that so when you say BBB is paid a play, you have to pay to get accredited on BBB, but you don’t have to pay to actually have a rating. You know, every business has a rating. And again, I don’t think there’s, I don’t think Google’s algorithms say, ah, this is an accredited BBB business, so therefore we must trust it. I don’t think there’s, I don’t think you need to, but, but then other people have said, well, look, if I want to respond to my reviews, if I want to, you know, fix issues, I need to pay the BBB to do that. Yeah. So, you know, I, I, there’s definitely some controversy there. But I think we were getting too hung up on like not saying you’re getting hung up on this, but I’ve seen it from the industry that you know, we’re focused on let’s get these words on this page changed as opposed to why are all these people saying that our business is awful? You know, how can we fix that? How can we go after that? And that’s really the key thing, which is not an easy thing to say, well, just do this and you’ll, you’ll rank better. You, you know, that type of thing.

Jeff Byer: 21:58 Yeah. And so the real question here is not the platform and it’s not anything. It’s just if you have no reviews or good reviews, they kind of are the same thing. But bad reviews could affect

Marie Haynes: 22:14 Yes and no. There’s a section in the quality raters guidelines that actually talks about how for some businesses they expect to see a large number of reviews and actually having a lack of reputation online could be seen as a sign of low quality. So you know, if all of your competitors, so what we do when we’re reviewing a site that’s seen drops in conjunction with an algorithm update, what we’ll do is we’ll look at you know, who’s ranking for your main keywords now, who actually succeeded in these latest round of updates that Google has done. And then where are they getting reviews? And we’ll often see that, you know, your competitors have hundreds of reviews and maybe you’ve got 10 online. Well, of course, you know that that can be a signal to Google that more people are talking about your competitors. So, you know, I don’t think we all need to go out and get thousands of reviews. Again, I think it needs to, you need to look at when an actual human being would think if they were doing research on your company, if they’re trying to determine whether you’re trustworthy, whether you’re actually a legitimate company. So sometimes having a lack of reviews online could be a negative as well.

Jeff Byer: 23:20 Yeah. If, if the industry standard is that people review.

Marie Haynes: 23:24 Exactly. Yeah. And then, I mean, there are websites that regularly get reviews and so it doesn’t, you know, the advice doesn’t apply across the board for sure.

Jeff Byer: 23:33 Yeah, exactly. So explain just for the audience and everything explained what e a t really means in a nutshell. Okay. So, yeah,

Marie Haynes: 23:43 It stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. And the first time we saw this phrase was in the quality Raiders guidelines, which we’ve explained as, you know, a document to help Google just Kinda do quality control and figure out, oh, we wanted our algorithms to do this and the Raiders are telling us that’s not happening. So what can we tweak, what code can we change? And so the second time we saw Google mentioned ea t was in a document that they put out called a guide to how Google fights this information. And they talked about how their, they actually say in this document their algorithms when they detect that a query is y m y l so your money or your life when they detected somebody asking a y m y l query, then they put more importance on e a t in their ranking algorithms that’s actually in their documentation.

Marie Haynes: 24:36 And then just recently on August 1st as well of 2019, though Google published a blog post that talked about, hey, if you’ve been affected by core updates you should be considering looking at this eat thing. And so that’s really in a nutshell, you want to have so expertise you can’t really fake. But if you’re, if you’ve been in business for one year and all of the people that are ranking really well have been in business for 50 plus years, it might be challenging just to say that you’re in authority over them. Authoritativeness is primarily based on links and mentions. So are other people that are considered experts in your area actually referencing your work. And if not, then you probably don’t have authoritativeness and trust. We’ve, we’ve talked about it a little bit. I think this whole idea of trust, you know, we could talk for the next four hours about trust. Again, I’m really fun at parties, right? Yeah. But yeah, so all of those components and then we really believe that if one of those is lacking, that can be seen as a sign of low trust and it can make it so that your entire site has issues ranking for important queries. And so it’s very important to pay attention to.

Jeff Byer: 25:46 Yeah. And so trust a, that moves into my next topic I wanted to talk about is authorship and how important having a verifiable personality is to the content that you’re putting out.

Marie Haynes: 25:59 Yeah. And in the vast majority, I mean, I think the majority of people who are listening to this it’s very important that you have authors that are seen as experts in their field. Especially if you have medical content, if I was just diagnosed with a serious medical condition and I’m trying to find information on it I probably want information that’s written by somebody who’s actually got real life experience in treating this disease, in knowing what the side effects of medications are going to be. Rather than a content writer who is very good at researching the condition. There are exceptions though, if your brand is authoritative enough, you know, so the Mayo Clinic for example, they don’t list individual authors on each of their posts. But they do have some posts that are fact checked by doctors and they have enough authority in their brand that you can trust. Oh, this was on the Mayo Clinic site. You know, it’s probably something I can trust. So it all comes down to, again, what would a real user would a real user be inspired to believe this information if they read it?

Jeff Byer: 27:03 Yeah. And so that’s what I’ve been getting into too with my clients. You know, in my construction clients, both of the owners are construction company owners. So that was kind of an easy win. One of them does have published papers and publications, so he’s going to start writing the blog posts, which is great. But for my my oxygen analyzer customer, they don’t have a personality. They don’t have anybody publicly that has done anything. They don’t really have any industry, the industries that they serve have these specialties but not specifically their manufacturing industry. So it’s been very tough and they’re losing out to huge brands that just happened to sell an oxygen analyzer.

Marie Haynes: 27:49 Yes. And that’s the thing. See The authority of that brand is probably strong enough. So for your particular client, I think there’s two options. You know, one is start working on an author that a, you want to get this person known as the expert. You know, so get them answering Herro requests, get them in the news saying, you know, this particular person from this website according to this person, this is what you need to do. That’s one option. And then the second option is to just really pump it out in terms of PR and get the brand known. Now if your you know, a small mom and pop store and you’re trying to be as well known as Walmart that’s probably not going to happen, right? And then you have to talk about, well, maybe we’re not going to rank for these high volume terms.

Marie Haynes: 28:38 You know, so it can be, it can be tricky because in the past, as SEOs, if we knew enough tricks and loopholes and knew where to get links and you know, we could make this small nope, I’m not saying your site is a nobody, but we could take a nobody site and make them actually rank above Amazon, Walmart, all of the big name players. And that’s getting harder and harder to do now, unless you truly, you know, unless somebody if I say that brand name and people go, Oh yeah, yeah, they’re the ones that you go to for this, then you’re, you’re getting there. Right. And if that’s not the case, then you know that that needs to be worked on. If you want to rank for those high money terms.

Jeff Byer: 29:15 Yeah. So they w they were known for a specific products. They shifted into another product, another type of product where another brand was that, that company. So they’re, you know, we’re, we’re combating with that. We’re doing pretty well, but it’s going to take a lot more than justa on page. We’re going to have to do some, you know, industry newsletters and, and things like that. Yeah. Yeah.

Marie Haynes: 29:39 And that’s why, that’s why link-building is right. I mean, I think we got spoiled for a few years where every link seemed to help and a, and we found all these ways to get links, but if you think of why Google counselings, it’s because their recommendations. So I think link building should be boiled down to where can we get people to recommend our products, our company, our authors. And that’s challenging. It’s really challenging to do that.

Jeff Byer: 30:03 Yeah. And so based on that same topic of links, we’re looking at youtube, what am I, one of my customers who’s trying to dominate youtube for their industry. And we were looking at, is there anything in the th the quality rater guidelines or just Google guidelines in general say that, you know, you can’t pay or incentivize anybody to link to you. But for youtube there’s, you know, there’s people overseas that are, that are making companies based on getting youtube video of what video views and updating the the video volume just because youtube respects that, or at least it seems to currently. So that’s all frowned upon. Correct?

Marie Haynes: 30:53 Well, sure. I mean, Youtube Algorithms are not our area of expertise, but but I think they’re very similar and I think they, they draw some things from regular Google search, but I mean, I think if something just doesn’t feel right, then it’s probably not a good idea to do it. But with that said, when money’s involved, you know, I can say, well, it doesn’t feel right for me to pay for an extra 10,000 views on my a youtube videos, but if that’s gonna make me money, maybe some people are going to do it. So I think in marketing, what Google wants to do is make it so that the things that they’re counting only count if they’re legitimate. And I think, I mean youtube had some changes over the years with how they value view count and what qualifies as an actual view as opposed to, you know, they’re getting better at figuring out bots and click farms and, and things like that. But I think there’s more priority in search as opposed to youtube. But I could be wrong.

Jeff Byer: 31:56 Yeah. And it just, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, I was looking at it saying, okay, this doesn’t feel right. It’s probably not right. And it, even if it does happen to work, I, I don’t feel good doing it for my customer. And I [inaudible]

Marie Haynes: 32:10 I was thinking of I was in a court case a few years ago as an expert witness for an SEO related thing and the attorneys dug up blog posts from like years ago and blog comments on the Moz blog and said like, this is different than what you think now. And, and so I think, you know, when I’m doing something online, I don’t want people to be able to go back years from now and say, Oh yeah, yeah, but she was a spammer then, you know. And so I want to be able to look at, I do, and this sounds kind of Cliche, but would I be comfortable showing this to the web spam team at Google? You know, would I be proud to show them, hey, we got these great links. Most SEOs would be like, no, no, no, we don’t, we don’t want Google to actually pay attention to where I’m getting links.

Marie Haynes: 32:54 Not most, but some SEOs. And I think if, you know all of our marketing practices, if we can say, yeah, I would very comfortably stand in front of Google’s web spam team and say, I’m doing this, this and this, then you can feel like you’re on the right road. And I know, you know, that’s challenging and there are some, some tricks and loopholes that still can get you further ahead. But Google’s working to close those loopholes. So you know, taking the high road should be our priority if we want to succeed long term.

Jeff Byer: 33:21 Yeah. And I have, I still have one of my own personal brands that we did every trick in the book back in the day. We, we originally built the site in 2000 2002 and then rebuilt it in 2004. Using a ton of automated ways to to gain the keywords that we’re looking for. And obviously buying links was one of those, one of those tactics back in the day. And so the, the site is still doing well, even though it’s not mobile friendly, it’s super slow, completely outdated. You know, it’s something that’s on my list to do, which

Marie Haynes: 33:58 Yes, I have one, I have a big long list like that too. Right. And the thing was that those tactics, it’s not like they were illegal or even immoral in most cases. You know, it was like, okay, well it worked. And so I don’t have a problem with us trying to do things like that provided that our customers are aware of the risks. And that’s where I see issues, you know, because we see people come to us that have been penalized for unnatural Lincoln and the business owners really didn’t know that anything was wrong, you know? And so if I think those listeners who are trying to push the boundaries a little bit and as long as your customers and your clients are aware of that and aware that your site could get penalized, you know, I think that’s, it could be. Okay. But yeah, I mean, authenticity really should be our, our goals.

Jeff Byer: 34:47 Okay. And so it’s, yeah, based on that and, and you know, it follows right through with eat. Is that anything that can happen naturally in the wild is, is the best thing. And it’s also for our company, the best signals to use as if you’re doing things right or wrong. [inaudible] Yeah, that’s, that’s a good summary. Yep. So, yeah, so the our job as SEOs now are coaching our clients into the right direction and not usually the, not the tricks anymore. They just, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So a couple of topics that I found on your Twitter feed that that were fun that I wanted to mention. So re avowing links. It turns out that, you know was it was it John Mew that said, you know, it should be fine, that it wouldn’t effect. And then you mentioned I believe it was an experiment by Glenn Gabe where the ratings [inaudible].

Marie Haynes: 35:46 Yeah, it was cyber shepherd. Cyrus shepherd. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I mean, if you disavow link, what’s supposed to happen is the moment you upload your disavow file, as from that point on, as Google crawls the web. So let’s say I disavowed domain colon example.com. The next time Google crawls the web and goes to example.com and finds a link pointing to my site, they’ll say, oh, okay, well we don’t want to count any signals from this link, whether they’re good signals, whether they’re bad signals, we’ve instructed Google, we don’t want to count the signals that pass through this link. And so what we often see is people disavow based on fear, based on metrics, that there’s a lot of tools that will tell you to disavow links based on metrics that are incorrect. And you know, I tried for a couple of years to build a tool to tell me which links did this about.

Marie Haynes: 36:35 And I find I just can’t do it unless I’m manually looking at every single link. So let’s say you’ve disavowed by accident. I had one client that disavowed every single link to their site because they used a tool that relied on toolbar page rank, which had gone away. And so every single a link came back as a tool bar, page rank zero, I think it was. And so, so let’s say you’ve made a mistake, then you can download your disavow file from Google and remove the lines that you’ve no longer want disavowed and then re upload it to Google and what according to Google, what should happen is that the next time they crawl that page, so now they go back to example.com and they say, oh, okay, well we’ll start counting these link signals whether they’re positive or negative signals towards your site.

Marie Haynes: 37:24 The problem is that we haven’t seen a lot of evidence that that actually happens. And when the disavow tool first came out, SEO started talking about using it to experiment. And Matt Cutts, who was with Google at the time, he said you know, we’ve actually got something built into the tool where there’s a leg feature so that if you reeval a link in that process that I talked about that you know, maybe we won’t start counting it again till months down the road. Or maybe this is what Matt said, maybe we’ll count it again, but with less value. Now, Gary Ish has said something completely opposite to that, you know, he said, no, no, it should start counting right away. So we don’t know. So what I say is be very careful with your use of the disavow tool. Yes, it’s possible that if you disavow Lincoln error, you can reeval it, but it’s also possible something’s wrong on Google side and that re-evaluate links just don’t count for as much as they used to or don’t count at all. So we, I think we still need some more evidence you know, and maybe there’s some tests that we could do here, but it’s a, it’s a tricky subject for sure.

Jeff Byer: 38:28 Yeah. and you know, disavowing in general you gotta be pretty spammed to, to have to need that type of, of assistance from Google.

Marie Haynes: 38:39 Well, it’s something that I said, no. Yeah, I mean, we’ll disavow spammy links. But since penguin 4.0 in 2016 Google, I really do believe that Google is pretty good at just ignoring, like if you get a bunch of comments, spam links or you know, adult anchored links pointing to your site, I think Google can determine like, hey, I’m not actually trying to rank for this term. It’s probably an attack. And, and I have whole theories on how I think it’s actually connected to eat. I think that if you’re getting a link from a site that has zero e a t they just don’t pass any signals through that link. That’s, that’s my suspicion. So the sites that we’re seeing benefits from disavowing are ones where you actively have made links that go against Google’s guidelines. So have you had a history of doing well then if you have a history of doing that kind of linking, then filing a disavow could potentially see improvements. Because John Mueller from Google said that there actually are algorithms outside of penguin that look at weather.

Jeff Byer: 39:43 We’re freezing. Okay. We’re still recording, so we’ll just trim that little part out. So basically you were saying if, if you have a history of dis of either buying links or doing anything, link building that goes against Google’s guidelines, that the disavow tool is perfect for correcting your previous mistakes.

Marie Haynes: 40:04 Exactly. And we have seen nice uplifts from disavowing in those situations, whereas if we’re just disavowing negative SEO attempts or spammy links, they don’t tend to have a positive benefit. You know, it’s rare that we do just a disavow with just spammy links. But we still should be considering it though, for sites with a history of making their own links for SEO.

Jeff Byer: 40:28 Are Those Google penguins behind you?

Marie Haynes: 40:31 Yeah, they may not be Google Penguin, but we have a little penguin thing going. I’ve got to, yeah. You can’t see in front of me. I’ve got art from my kids. It’s a panda actually. Not It might as well get into it. Right. Yeah.

Jeff Byer: 40:45 I love it. So the other topic that you, that you discussed on Twitter was rankings for health topics that go against general scientific consensus. So this, this is a very interesting one. What did you find there?

Marie Haynes: 41:04 So whenever there’s an algorithm update, we do look at what’s changed in Google’s quality raters guidelines because Google has told us that these guidelines actually represent where they want to go with their algorithms. And so the last change that happened which I think was may of this year, one of the things that we noticed was that Google added these things about scientific consensus that and actually some of that was already in there before, but there was more emphasis on health sites that contradict scientific consensus. And the example that was given in the quality raters guidelines is a little bit extreme, but they’re talking about sites that tout that carrots cure cancer. And what we’re seeing is that with the June 3rd update of 2019, there are a large number of medical sites that are in alternative medicine spaces that saw big drops.

Marie Haynes: 41:56 And it’s not that they’re completely contradicting science. It’s not like, Hey, carrots cure cancer. And by the way, we sell carrots. But it’s more it’s a version of that. You know, it’s people saying, hey, there’s the supplement. And all of the different ingredients. Here’s some research that shows that, hey, maybe this one particular herb has some tendency to help with arthritis. And, but yet there’s really nothing that shows that the product on its own helps with arthritis. And so if you’re selling natural medicine products that are based on a little bit sketchy claims it seems to be that Google is not wanting sites like that to rank and that can be a sign of low trust. And so what we were debating on Twitter was how would Google measure that? You know, how would Google determine what’s truth, how a new treatment could come out today that is fantastic for arthritis.

Marie Haynes: 42:50 And just because nobody’s written about it before doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. And so we started doing this little test because we were like, how could Google actually measure this? Because the algorithms are just algorithms, right? They’re not it’s not like a single person is sitting there going, this is good, this is bad. And so what we came up with this theory and we’re still unpacking it. I’m going to write a blog post on this that’ll be out in the next couple of weeks. So you get the preview to it. And, and what we’ve noticed is if you look at a particular page on say a a health website, let’s say you were ranking, you used to rank well for essential oils and you look at the page on essential oils, look at the title tag of that post and let’s say the post is saying lavender is going to cure whatever disease, you know.

Marie Haynes: 43:40 And then we put that phrase into Google and say, does lavender cure this disease site? Colon healthline.com, site site, colon, Mayo Clinic. These are all sites that we know, Google trusts, they give them good rankings, web MD, a even Wikipedia. And often what we’re finding is that a, us a snippet will come back that says there have been no studies shown that prove that this medication or this herb treats this condition. And I think Google could very easily use natural language processing to determine like, hey, this website is making claims. They’re making promises and our websites that we trust don’t agree with those promises. So if there’s enough of them on a website, we’re not going to trust them. And I think that’s a big component of what has happened with June 3rd not for every single site, but if you’re a medical site that was hit June 3rd, this is what we’re trying to solve is because there are some alternative medicine sites that actually are doing okay.

Marie Haynes: 44:37 And what seems to be the case is that they’re not making claims that go outside of science. Like there are some essential oils that have very good evidence that show that it works or helps in somewhat. So hopefully that makes sense. You know, I think, I think Google is really trying to get this truth out there. And I think there are maybe some sites that have got caught in the crossfire and we’ll see Google tweak things, you know, we’ll, we’ll see them probably relax a little bit on some of these areas and some of these sites that were hit hard, we’ll start to bounce back again. It’s a very interesting process to watch.

Jeff Byer: 45:10 Yeah. And I’ve particularly are watching it because I have a a natural supplement client and I have a CBD client and both make scientifically proven claims, but it’s not in any publicly cited. We can’t cite a public respected resource. And so that’s where I’m, I’m hitting a wall is that the scientists who actually created this, these formulas are are well known in their contract for hire. So we can’t quote them because they don’t want their name tied to a specific product. But the claim, the claim is, is valid. So,

Marie Haynes: 45:49 Yup. And I think this is what I’m talking about where some decent sites are getting caught up and probably being seen as low quality when they’re not. So for example, a site selling CBD, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of research to show that CBD is very, very effective for some things. But let’s say this is a very hypothetical situation, but let’s say there’s a site selling CBD. And again, 90% of the information on the site is completely backed in science. And then there’s all this other information that says, you know, you could use CBD to cure all these other things based on anecdotal evidence and based on like this one little line and a research paper. And it looks like it’s scientifically backed. And then again, if I type into Google, does CBD cure this and healthline and web MD and all of those big players are saying, no, there’s no evidence to support it.

Marie Haynes: 46:41 That could be seen as a sign of distrust for the entire site. So even the, so, so I would say one of our theories that we’re working on right now is to have these health sites actually put all of this content that is potentially controversial on a different sub domain or on in a different folder. So that perhaps Google can recognize, you know, this is the section of the site that maybe we want to be careful in ranking. And then as more evidence comes out as it’s more mainstream, I think you’re going to see that with CBD that you know, mainstream science is going to come up to date with what a lot of other people are discovering. But until that happens, Google doesn’t know which parts they can trust and which parts they can’t. And so they’re going to air on the side of caution and not let you rank. That’s my opinion anyways, not let you rank if they think there’s that area of suspicion there.

Jeff Byer: 47:30 Yeah, it’s, it’s like a, you know, when you’ve, when I first started reading about it on Twitter, I was like, okay, now Google is going to sensor our health information. And I understand that it’s more that they’re not going to rank somebody for making outlandish claims or allowing the, the searcher to act on false information.

Marie Haynes: 47:52 Exactly. And I think, I mean, maybe I give Google too much credit. But I do think that they do have a goal of a, how do I, how do I put this? If I created Google and I could see that millions of people everyday were being misled because they were reading stuff on my search engine, I would have issue with that. You know? And so a lot of people are getting good benefits, you know, if I’m looking for alternative cures to arthritis and a, and somebody suggests CBD and it works for me, that’s fantastic. Right? But that suggestion is one of a thousand others and maybe somebody suggesting this supplement that is going to cost me hundreds of dollars. And the thing is pain conditions, they come and go a lot of the time. And so you know, there can be all of this anecdotal evidence to say, oh, the supplement works great. It worked great for me. But if there’s no science to back it, like how do I trust that? So I think, you know, Google’s again erring on the side of caution and saying like, we’re not sure whether we can trust the medical information on this site. And until they are sure there’s going to be challenging to rank for medical terms.

Jeff Byer: 48:56 Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s been tough and it still is tough and I’m trying to figure out ways of, of doing it and possibly a third party validation of the claims that we already had validated. Yep. Okay. Go [inaudible]

Marie Haynes: 49:11 Quality Raiders guidelines. They talk a lot about what are other experts saying about your website, about your articles. And so I think one interesting thing would be like, let’s say that there is a particular claim about CBD that your client is, is trying to get validated, is trying to get Google to realize, you know, like, ah, this is actually is a good thing and it’s gonna help people. One of the answers could be in finding ways to get the people recognized as experts in that industry to start quoting your stuff. And so some of it could be too and I don’t know what the regulations are in this area, but to start doing some studies even to do surveys you know, you can do a survey of of, of this company’s clients and, and just ask them questions about their pain level before and after using the CBD and you know, their thoughts on it and produce a very well-written article that’s not loaded with sketchy stuff, you know, stuff it’s not overly markety. And then if you can get the big names in the industry to say, you know, what, hey, this, this really well done study on CBD maybe demonstrates that this is helping some people, you know, things like that. So so getting your work or getting your company’s cleans by people who are already trusted as authorities by Google is a really good way to work towards that too.

Jeff Byer: 50:33 Yeah. I think that’s the way we’re going to go. So we’re over time. I want to be respectful of your time. Do you have time for one more? One more question for sure. Okay. So on Twitter, you’ve been talking, you’ve been commenting on a lot of people’s authorship pages. What should go into a good authorship page

Marie Haynes: 50:51 For sure. So

Jeff Byer: 50:54 First of all,

Marie Haynes: 50:56 It’s important to know that ea t I really believe that it’s mostly figured out by Google, by off-page signals. So it’s not like I can go on my website and say like, Hey, I’m the world’s greatest known kidney doctor. You know, when I’m not Google I don’t think is going to be tricked by that. I’m what John Mueller and a few other Google employees have said throughout different publications with Google is that things that we put on our website can help Google to connect the dots. And so an author page it’s there for two reasons. One is for Google, so Google can say, oh, this author who’s writing on this topic, on this website, it’s the same author who we recognize as an expert on these other websites. And so when I write a topic on SEO, Google can figure out that it’s the same Marie Haynes that maybe was you know, disco written on search engine round table or something like that.

Marie Haynes: 51:50 Right? and even Schema you can use same as Schema to help Google to connect those dots. And then the second reason for author Bio’s is for your readers. Again, if I’m reading a post and I’m trying to decide, I want to learn about this, you know, complicated financial thing, I’m trying to figure out something with my taxes, do I want to read that from somebody who is a good content writer who’s done their own taxes a couple of times? Or do I want to read it from, you know, an accountant who has seen every problem in the, in the, in the, in the books. And of course as readers so writing an author bio that can encourage my readers to go, okay, this person knows what they’re talking about and I trust this content. And now, but then that sort of goes into, you know, does Google use Google a user engagement signals? I think they do. I think they can figure out like, hey, people were looking for this information. They landed on your website, they spent a lot of time on your website and you know, they kept going through it and they engaged with it. That could be a sign of quality as well. So I’ve sort of babbled a bit there, but yeah, author profiles are important. But not as important as off page e a t signals.

Jeff Byer: 52:59 Yeah. So providing links to everywhere you are off page, you know, media mentions, all that stuff is going to be just as beneficial. Basically just helping Google find the stuff if they haven’t connected the dots already,

Marie Haynes: 53:11 That’s what we recommend. Yet we had one client for, which has worked really well. They had done a rebrand and it had been like a year and Google, they could not recover their rankings. And we said, look, there’s nothing on your site that actually connects you with your previous brand. And so we did all of this stuff on the site to extol their eat and with the next update they shot up like amazingly for their rankings. It was incredible. So I think in that case we helped Google the connect the dots. So yeah, you should be doing all you can on your site and also off your site to improve eat.

Jeff Byer: 53:43 Yeah, I just combined, I used to have my personal all separated from my business and I decided that that was, you know, promoting too many things. It had too many buckets around. So all the buckets now lead to my, my site. And now my site has an about page, which is just me and [inaudible] Preston article. I don’t know if you looked at it and if you did any research on me, I was checking who is this guy? All right. And the last topic that I had if you have time is a wix SEO lovers. Dot.

Marie Haynes: 54:15 Ah, is that not the craziest thing that we’re doing that, so, yeah. So, I mean, a lot of people probably remember, I think it was two years ago, wix did a contest for who could rank number one for SEO hero. And it was a horrible thing because it was every site that got close to ranking was spammed to death. And and it was, it was just bad. And then wix came out with this new competition saying, so the whole idea is that there’s only two entries. There’s us, which they chose our team and then liquid interactive who is running the site, wix SEO haters. And so we’re running the SEO lovers site. And what we need to do is actually show good things about wix and FTO, which seems like a ridiculous thing because a lot of SEOs really don’t like wix.

Marie Haynes: 55:04 So I’ll tell you why we did it. It has been an incredible training tool for my team. So some of my team, I’ve never made a website, they’ve never started from scratch in helping rank websites. And we’re learning as a team, we’re learning really basic things about link-building, you know, about how can we get some links and, and we have a whole thing that’s gonna shift into action in the next few weeks where we’re going to be starting to get a really good links pointing to our website. And so if we win we get $25,000. And the winner is whoever ranks number one for the term wix or net one, number one, whoever ranks for Wix SEO whichever site is tired, wins $25,000. If we lose, we win $10,000. And so, you know, it’s a great learning experience for us. There are some limitations to wix for SEO and we’re going to talk about those on our website. And you know, but there’s, it’s not horrible. And right now at this time, I think we’re both ranking on page five. We’re a few positions higher. And so, so far our site that was created in Wix is able to compete. And we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.

Jeff Byer: 56:12 All right. And did you want to encourage people to, to link to yours? You’re right.

Marie Haynes: 56:17 I will. I just didn’t want to come out and ask for it. But Hey, if any if any of you want to, I mean, if this information has been helpful, then we would love a link to a, to our wicks SEO lovers.com site. Jeff, if you want to link to us from the podcast notes, that’d be awesome. You know, some of you are like, Whoa, she’s asking for links. That’s against Google’s guidelines. It’s not, it’s totally within Google’s guidelines for me to say, Hey, can you link to me? But if I start to incentivize it then that’s where things become a little bit gray. So if anybody on their own volition would like to thank us and, but really it should be more to recommend the content. There’s really good content on that site. Actually, my team’s writing we’ve written stuff about basic information on canonical links on when to use a no-follow. When do you use no index? This is all on the WIC site. So there’s good linkable content there.

Jeff Byer: 57:07 Very nice. All right. And now the time for Marie Haines to promote Ray Hanes [inaudible] how would you like people to reach you and interact with you and your content? [inaudible]

Marie Haynes: 57:20 Thank you. The best way to reach me is on Twitter. So I’m Marie underscore Haynes, h a. Y. N. E. S. If you want to reach out to my team and I, it’s help@mariehaynes.com. I have my team members go through the first round of emails, so you may not get me directly, but my team is incredible. And I would like to just mention our newsletter. You’ve, you’ve mentioned your podcast is a part of newsletter. So every week we do a newsletter that takes us many hours to complete. It’s usually about 5,000 words and it is everything you need to know that’s happened in SEO along with tips. We scour Twitter every week to say, oh, this person had this really great tip. And so we’ll put that in the newsletter. We do have a paid version as well as a free version. The free version has tons of stuff in it too, but the page is definitely worth it. So, and you’re holding me

Jeff Byer: 58:07 And you’re holding a, a sweepstakes competition right now, right?

Marie Haynes: 58:10 Oh, yes, we are. I shouldn’t look at you. You’re marketing for me. This is great. You know everything about us. So yeah, we do have a competition where we’re just trying to get some new subscribers. Our 100th episode is coming up. I think we’re at 96 right now. So in mid September, our 100th episode is coming up. And if you are not up subscriber to the newsletter and you become a free subscriber, you can win a one year subscription as a paid subscriber. If you buy a paid subscription, then you can potentially win a lifeline, a lifetime subscription. So yeah, we’re trying to do a little thing to kind of drum up some more subscribers.

Jeff Byer: 58:49 Very nice. Well, this was very informative. I’ve, I hope you can come back on and, and and help us out a little bit more with r e a t and, and updates. And you know, this is just a, it’s an ongoing thing cause it seems like every week your, your Twitter feed has a whole bunch of, of great actionable nuggets. And you know, I’ve built up a million questions and I had to narrow it down to, into these few. But thank you very much for, for all of your content. Everything you do, everything you share. And this has been an

Jeff Byer: 59:22 Excellent conversation.

Marie Haynes: Oh, thank you. I’ve enjoyed the conversation too.

For show notes and information. Go to digitalrage.fm Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @digitalragefm and please give us a written review we 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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