DAVID BAIN: Is disavow still important and what will OK Google mean for SEO? All that and more in This Week in Organic, Episode Number 51.
Broadcasting live on the Authoritas Facebook page, you’re watching This Week in Organic, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign up to watch the next show live at www.thisweekinorganic.com.
Hello and welcome, I’m David Bain, Content Marketing Director for Authoritas.com and each week I’ll be joined by some knowledgeable, opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. And as for you in the live audience, get involved. So there’s a chat on the Facebook page and there’s also of course the hashtag TWiO on Twitter. I’ll try to include any comments as part of the live show. But let’s find out more about today’s guests, where they’re from and what’s caught their attention this week. So, starting off with the gentleman on the screen here, Damon.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Hi, I’m Damon Gochneaur. I’m with Aspiro Agency. We’ve based out of Dallas, Texas and I’m super excited to talk about OK Google this week.
DAVID BAIN: OK Google, okay, Damon. Thank you so much for joining us. And also with us, moving my screen along here, is Justin.
JUSTIN KERLEY: Hi, I’m Justin Kerley, I’m with Top Floor. We’re a marketing agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I’m excited to talk about AMP versus App linking.
DAVID BAIN: AMP versus App, okay. Which one wins? And another chap with us today is Martijn.
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Hi, I’m Martijn from The Next Web. I am the Marketing Director, we’re based out of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the same as Justin, I’m mostly interested to talk about AMP, today.
DAVID BAIN: AMP today and hopefully AMP tomorrow as well. Thank you, Martijn. And another chap with us today is Kristjan.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: Hi, guys, hello from Oslo. I’m actually liking all of these topics, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be an exciting hour or so.
DAVID BAIN: Good stuff. Well hopefully we’ll have a bit of a debate about them as well and hopefully we’ll have some disagreement about the right way to actually use them as well. A bit of a discussion going on, so we’ll see what happens. But in the meantime, we’ll say hello to Stephen.
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: Great, hello everyone. My name is Stephen van Vessum and I’m with Content King. Content King is a content monitoring application and we’re based out of Brno in the Czech Republic, but right now I’m close to Amsterdam and I am specifically interested in discussing the Google Penguin update.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Okay. That happened seven days ago of course, but it takes a few days before we know exactly how it’s impacted things. So if anyone has got an opinion about maybe a client or themselves that they’ve seen a definite change, they reckon because of Penguin, that would be great to hear in terms of reporting to the live audience. And last, but not least, with us today is Tim.
TIM MORRIS: Hi. Yeah, I’m Tim Morris from Bozboz. I’m their Technical Analyst and we’re a full service web design and marketing company. I’m most interested in the Penguin 4 changes and what that means when they say that they’re going to be real-time and whether there’s going to be an impact on tracking there.
DAVID BAIN: Superb, okay. Well thank you so much for joining us, Tim. I know your colleague was going to join us and you jumped in at the last minute and we appreciate you being here, so that’s wonderful. So I was wondering if Damon had jumped out there, but he’s come back in there, and so…we thought you were leaving us very quickly there, Damon.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Not at all, not at all. Glad to be here.
DAVID BAIN: Great, okay. So topic number one is just before last week’s show, Google announced the Google Penguin 4 update, so now that the dust has settled, has Penguin helped you or hindered you? Shall we go straight to Damon on this one? What are your thoughts on this one, Damon?
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: We haven’t seen anything come through yet, so I haven’t seen any massive fluctuations for our clients. But I did have clients’ experience earlier, so I kind of feel like if you’d done your due diligence for some of the earlier updates, you shouldn’t have any major surprises here.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. I think it was Steven that mentioned the topic was of particular interest to you. That was right, wasn’t it Stephen?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: Yeah, correct.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, so in terms of reaction or change that you may have seen in a client’s rankings, have you anything to report back with regard to Penguin 4?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: Well that’s the interesting thing. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but it’s mainly fluctuations, so I see a lot of rankings going up and down, but it’s hard to pinpoint. So that was one of the reasons that I really wanted to discuss it today. I was hoping some of the other guys had some info on it as well. Personally it hasn’t hurt me or my clients, but I haven’t benefited from it either. It’s mainly fluctuations at this point.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. We had a fairly strong discussion about it last week, because it just happened about two hours before last week’s show, and most people were saying that they felt fairly positive about it and that the fact that it was baked into Google’s algorithm now and there wouldn’t be any significant wait now before future updates, they thought it was fairly positive about if there was an issue with their clients’ sites, then obviously they wouldn’t have to wait so long to recover from that. Does everyone generally feel fairly positive about Penguin?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: Yeah, yeah. I do.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: The thing that I’m kind of excited about is the more granular level, right. So we’re starting to see page level and not just domain level. So if you did you have somebody like, for instance, build a bunch of negative back links that you weren’t expecting, or didn’t expect to see coming, when you find them maybe it only affects that page and doesn’t take down the entire site and if it’s in real-time, that once you get those links in a disavow file and kind of taken care of, that you should see those with more immediacy and not have to wait two or three months for the next update to roll through.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. That almost brings us on to the next topic, because I mean Penguin and disavow is quite closely related and there was quite an interesting tweet by, actually it was a Facebook comment, by Gary Illyes saying that, essentially, disavow isn’t as important now as it used to be for Penguin, so does this reduce the importance of disavow in general, do you think Damon?
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: I don’t necessarily think it removes like…it always interesting to see what Gary and John say and then to see what we actually find to be the case. So I don’t know that disavow files, I think it’s still important, I think that the disavow file isn’t your only means to communicate anymore. I think that because it’s real-time, that those changes are driven, but if you do go and actually get links removed and you outreach and those things happen, you don’t have to ‘report’ that now or you don’t have to keep that communication open. They see that in real-time. So to some degree I can see him saying it’s less, but at the end of the day, if I go in and disavow, then they know for sure there’s no…I’m not waiting for anybody, I can feel safe and secure in that place.
JUSTIN KERLEY: I echo a lot of that and if it’s true that the disavow file isn’t as important as before, it’s great in that, you know, I don’t like looking back, I don’t like having to try to fix the errors of the past. I like to move forward with my clients. How do we replace the value of what you may have lost from these and unless you focus a little bit more on that, so focusing more on the future, focusing on what’s going to impact things today, as opposed to looking back into the past and saying, ‘Okay, what did we screw up on in the past?’ But like Damon said, I’m probably not going to stop doing it. It probably deprioritises it, it’s just something on a list. As I’ve moved forward and worked on building more quality links and earning them organically, I’ll probably then at that point go back and take a look at this profile.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: Can I jump in?
DAVID BAIN: Go for it.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: It looks like I’m the old dog in the group here, and being so old I remember the time before Google, actually, which probably means that a couple of you weren’t even born.
DAVID BAIN: I remember Alta Vista.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: But what I wanted to say is that this Google debate has always been quite interesting, because you have to read a little bit into what is being said and why it’s being said. Sometimes Google is saying stuff just to test what happens. I have had so many after conference talks with guys where they open up a little bit more and we start to talk about these different things and it would take Penguin and Panda and going back to Florida, whatever these updates are called, it is often also PR related. It has to do with the way that they are trying to steer things in the right direction and this is now what comes first, the chicken or the egg. You have organic search, you have paid search and where does Google make money? And how are they are steering website owners towards what? Of course the agenda is quality and of course we should be building websites and I think if I quote a good friend of mine, Shari Thurow. We were talking about this, I think about 2004, something like that she said to me, ‘Kristjan, I don’t think that any of the websites I’m working on will ever have problems with Google, because in the end, if you make proper websites with nice architecture and you have good content on the websites, then you’ve kind of won the war. Those that are doing shitty websites with shitty content will lose that war. Google will catch up with them in the end.’ So I always put question marks with these algorithmical updates, because as long as you have quality and you’re working with quality, you should be fine.
DAVID BAIN: So do you think the primary purpose of the Penguin 4 PR announcement was to scare spammers?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: Being an old affiliate doc myself, I used to make a decent amount of money by owning a lot of hotel websites and doing stuff around that. This was kind of the mother of all things, this was the Holy Grail, in a way. You had to make sure that you were ticking all the boxes. In the beginning it as quite easy, because Google was relatively transparent, even if they thought they weren’t and then they started to talk more. You have these different guys, what was his name, that came first? He became the Google guy, I’ve lost his name, before Gary Illyes, before him.
DAVID BAIN: Mike Katz?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: Mike Katz, exactly and then you had Adam Lasnik and now you have Gary Illyes and there have been a couple of these guys, kind of these Google spokesmen. And you have to think about the agenda behind it also. I saw an interesting talk by Google just a couple of days ago where they were talking about mobile optimisation and that’s actually something which I should care more about if I have a proper website. Optimising the website towards mobile, if I’m selling something, I get more money out of it. So all these algorithms, yes, you should think about them, but if you actually have a good foundation, if you hire the right people to do your websites and you are doing stuff that is not against common sense, let’s just call it that, you should be fine.
DAVID BAIN: Well there’s a lot of topics that we’re discussing today that integrate with each other. You mentioned mobile there, Kristjan, and one of the topics that we’re discussing is whether AMP is more important to a certain degree than optimising your App now. Do you think that John Mueller’s recent confirmation that AMP pages outrank App crawlable pages or crawlable sections, do you think that that will have some businesses actually thinking about the long-term value of their own Apps?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: Absolutely. There’s a lot of interesting things happening and from the point of view of where we are moving now and you see all these social media, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and then you have search – Google, Baidu, Bing and so on and all these guys are trying to kind of find the true DNA of where we’re going and if you actually think about at what stage we are now, we are roughly, what, ten/fifteen years into the marketing in reality, and we are, what, five years into mobile marketing or mobile in our reality, give or take. And what I’m saying is, is that it’s still such a young industry and in a way we are all miniature Gutenbergs, we are inventing the industry also. It’s not only Google and Facebook. It’s not only Twitter and Snapchat, it’s us here, us guys here talking together that are actually inventing this industry. So the way that we speak versus then the channels, versus then our employees, versus then how we mass it together, is quite important,. So if I look at mobile specifically, of course we should be taking it seriously, of course we should be optimising towards mobile and actually I think a strategy from an internet marketing point of view, or from a digital marketing point of view, there needs to be accountability so high up in the ladder within companies, that there is also room for optimising mobile, for example, because it impacts the bottom line for businesses. So it’s important that we have it in mind that this is getting to be so, so important and it’s only going to be more important.
DAVID BAIN: I love your point that we’re inventing the industry as well, and it’s not just about the massive players, like Google and like Facebook, and a lot of marketers are perhaps guilty of following algorithms or trying to chase ways to actually rank in Google without thinking about what they do as a business, and I guess proper more conventional marketing. Shall we bring Steven in on this? Steven, what are your thoughts on this? I know we’re changing topics a bit, but what are your thoughts on the conversation so far?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: I think regarding Google Penguin, one little addition, what I read is that they’re devaluing the ranks, rather than demoting the pages. So if you’re talking about the disavow tool, yes it still carries value, but it’s used in a different manner. So I think that’s an important concept to grasp. Furthermore, when you’re talking about manual penalties, I think the disavow tool is still very, very relevant, not just Google’s disavow tool, but Bing has one as well.
DAVID BAIN: So do you think the disavow tool is still important for algorithmic penalties, just not so much Penguin?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: What do you mean, exactly? Can you give me an example?
DAVID BAIN: Yes, sure. I mean just in terms of any changes in Google’s algorithm, apart from Penguin, is that likely to be impacted by pages and domains that you’ve got in your disavow file? Or is Google not going to be really looking at that as part of this algorithm. Is it mainly going to be manual action where the disavow is going to be important now in the future?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: I think Google would use the disavow tool to learn more about what are good links, what are bad links. If you want to be sure that potentially bad links can harm you, I would say okay, go ahead, use the disavow tool for it. But I think with the recent changes we’ve seen, from a conceptual point of view if we believe Google, it shouldn’t have to be necessary to disavow those links, because the algorithm will pick up that it’s bad links, it will be devalued. But then I guess we’ll have to trust Google on figuring out what are the good links, what are the bad links. They are pretty good at it, but it’s definitely not fool proof, whereas there’s a whole black hat market out there.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: What is a good link and what is a bad link? Can you define it for me? Let’s say if I am a manufacturer of stainless steel furniture for animal doctors, a very niche product, versus I am J.C. Penney, massive product, or Macy’s, a massive company, and the quality of the links… also your guy from the Netherlands… I’m from Iceland, we are a population of 300,000 people. How is Google going to qualify the links based upon, for example, my language which is relatively complex and then you mass it all together. Yahoo used to be relatively transparent on it, they had what was called concept of reaching. If you had local links, local language with the CCTLD and local hosting and so on, then that was quite clear, when you look at the country specific ranking. And then what Google did… if you think about what happened before Panda, Google is trying to maintain responsibility of finding out what is good and what is bad. They flip it. They say, ‘Hey guys, it’s no longer our responsibility, it’s actually your responsibility. So we find something is wrong with you and you have to monitor it, because you might get penalised.’ Imagine the power, the way, the shift in the dialogue from having them responsible and every other link builder in India and Russia, wherever they were located just had Fun link building, versus than they flip it, so that the website owner, it becomes his responsibility. Let’s then think differently. Let’s say I have competition and I want to kill that competition. If I just hire some Russian link builders and make 300,000 links from shitty porn websites and pills websites and low caching websites then the website is dead. The consequences of this are actually quite important to think about. It’s not as simple as black and white, there’s a good link and there’s a bad link.
DAVID BAIN: So does disavow make negative SEO easier?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: That would be my point in this. If you think about what stands behind the line, it’s that Google is basically saying, yeah, you can fuck your friend up or your enemy up, put it that way, by hiring some shitty link builders to add low links to it.
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: Is that still the case, really?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: I’m asking.
TIM MORRIS: Yeah, I feel like it’s removing the possibility of negative SEO, because now it’s devalued. That to me infers that there aren’t any good or bad links, there are just very low value links and a spectrum all the way up to very powerful links and whereas before you could give people bad link profiles through that kind of link farming work, now that can’t be done, which is a great thing. Because now each link has its own value. So I think negative SEO should have been wiped out by this, hopefully, I think that was their aim
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Well I think it removes a potential immediate rankings fluctuation from bunch of new links, but I don’t think that negates, if you don’t go in and disavow and try to manually clean those up yourself, then they’re going to see a bunch of shitty links that have been built over a short period of time, so even if you didn’t get a positive benefit, it could still come with a manual penalty. Am I not correct there?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: Are any of you engineers or programmers? Basically if you think about it from a mathematical point of view, it’s either on or off, it’s zero and one. So Panda cannot exist without manual interference. There has to be somebody also who is qualifying what is happening. So they [unclear – 0:21:21.4] some information and actually you know that probably yourself that they are hiring students to work as a secondary job to qualify what comes out of it. And then we are at the mercy of a nineteen year old schoolboy who is just graduating next year and is just trying to make enough money to drink beer next weekend. And also all these small business owners, how are they supposed to know what link is what? So if you think about it, it is a bit bonkers.
DAVID BAIN: And thinking about it from a different perspective, if it was possible for a couple of thousand webmasters to get together and all disavow the same website at the same time, would that negatively affect just as building low quality, spammy links to sites as well?
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Well I think it could definitely have an impact there, because of course with a thousand different sites it could definitely work that these kind of companies could make sure that they lose their exposure like within an industry or in a certain niche. I think this definitely could work like for a certain industry, if you would all disavow, let’s say, the majority of like crappy links within a certain industry, let’s say soccer balls, then, yes, I guess that’s going to have an impact on how these links are valued within that industry. Like in general, for a very big industry, let’s say, like publishing, I doubt this is going to have an impact.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: But what about like a conglomerate like Hearst Media that owns like thousands of magazines and websites and individual products that are all on different things, because they acquire them over time. So I’ll put my Mr Robot jacket on, what if the Head of SEO over there goes, ‘You know what, I’m just going to take out all our competition in all these different niches by disavowing all these links from these sites for all the different properties we own.’
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Yeah, but I still think what you’re going to see there is that they have something in common. So they’re probably on the same C blocks or the same IP addresses or belong to the same companies in some way. This is a very specific example. Of course, we’re not going to find out on this call how this is going to work out for Google, but I think it’s going to be a hard thing to do, yeah.
TIM MORRIS: You can’t always guess what happens behind the scenes at Google, but I imagine if you did a large disavow on that scale, then they would see that and you get lots of these Google search consoles being taken off line and you wouldn’t get access to your websites anymore. So people would be punished for that kind of behaviour. One would imagine, obviously, that’s just guess work, but that’s an abuse of the system and it would be shut down.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: This is actually quite interesting, because in the beginning I said that if you make your website properly, nothing will happen. But then I asked the question what is a good link and a bad link and we went into a debate about the opportunities that those with malicious intent can have, versus those that actually are just doing their honest living. And that’s what I’m saying, you’re inventing an industry here. Everything that we do, everything we say, everything we leave behind and if I look at myself, I have a degree in electronics, but I’m working with global companies on marketing. I wrote the first book, and only book still, about global search engine marketing. Which is interesting, because I have a degree in electronics. So this just tells you the opportunities that we have, us here at this table here, to influence the industry that we are in by actually putting our voice in there and actually talking about and scrutinising things and not taking everything that Facebook says, Google says, at face value. We have to look at it from their agenda also, because they have an agenda, we have an agenda, our clients have an agenda and somewhere in the middle is the truth.
DAVID BAIN: But do you think it’s actually possible for enough SEOs to get together and significantly impact what Google sees, either by disavow or by linking, to actually influence and possibly change Google’s way of doing things?
JUSTIN KERLEY: I think we already saw that with authorship. When I saw that in my industry where people were claiming they were the author of their home page and their about page and kind of almost gamed that system where it kind of got away from the intent, which was if I’m posting articles, I’m posting blog posts, I’m developing my brand, I’m developing my authority with this, people were just like well if I put an author tag on this, it’s going to show up in rankings, my face is going to be on it, people are going to click on that more because it’s going to stand out from the rest of the links. So I absolutely agree that this industry in general, the things that we do, the way that we interpret how the things that Google and Bing and Facebook and what these companies are saying, the actions that we’re taking in order to take advantage of those is absolutely having an effect on what they’re doing and how they modify those changes to cut out the people that have taken advantage of it.
DAVID BAIN: So, do you think, Justin, that disavow will still exist in some form in five or ten years’ time? Because it’s obviously a fast changing industry and that’s a long time into the future?
JUSTIN KERLEY: Five to ten years, I’d say not. I’d imagine at some point they’re going to sunset it to a point where they’ve got an algorithm update yet to be released that, whether it’s through machine learning, whether it’s through some major change in their core algorithm years down the road, it’s probably not going to be… you used to be able to report directly to Google, I think this is a webmaster that’s taking advantage of a system and you can’t do that anymore. So I would say they sunset support for these things fairly regularly, so if we look five or ten years down the road, I don’t think disavow is in any of our vocabulary.
DAVID BAIN: So, Tim, you had a bit of a murmur there with the mention of machine learning, how’s machine learning impacting algorithms at the moment and in the future?
TIM MORRIS: Well I think we’re going into the realm of futurology here, so I don’t know what’s going to happen that far down the line, but I think I would agree that it will start to fall out of our vocabulary. I was watching last week’s just before we came on and somebody brought up the concept of reavowing. I thought that perhaps that would probably be something that would pop more into our vocabulary now and people might be trying to start testing the removal of things from their disavow file. Maybe somebody like Moz or somebody will do some big, grand experiment like they do from time to time and we would see what the actual impact of the disavow file will be. So I don’t know. I think before it goes out, completely burns out, we’re going to hear a bit more about disavow in the near future.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, that was Paul Madden. He gave a speech on Brighton SEO about that and I hadn’t heard that word before that, but he talked about how many link profiles within a disavow file are just wrong and contain domain names like the BBC and other domain names that shouldn’t be in there at all. How are people actually finding in general the quality of disavow files and how other SEOs are actually dealing with that?
TIM MORRIS: I think it’s one of those almost blind tools that we have where we try and tell Google something and then they say that they’re doing something with that information. I think we would often find out that not much impact actually comes out of vis-à-vis.
DAVID BAIN: Is that because the quality of the information in there is so bad, so Google is perhaps actually retracting its focus from there? Because it can’t rely on the quality of the data?
TIM MORRIS: Yeah, I think it’s partially that and also partially Google probably knows a lot of the information that we would put in there anyway. Because when you’re forming a disavow file, you’re probably going to put in a lot of things that are obvious to Google are already bad on your site, so I don’t know. We’ll just see that there’s not much of an impact in them, that’s my prediction at least.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. And in terms of this general topic of Penguin and disavow, does anyone have any thoughts in terms of how Penguin is going to pan out? Is everyone fairly positive about the fact that Penguin is no longer a singular, manually implemented filter update and now it’s baked into the algorithm? Shall we just go through everyone quickly to get their thoughts on that maybe? Starting off with Damon.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s positive. I don’t see any perceived negative in my instances.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. And Justin?
JUSTIN KERLEY: I echo that. I think in general these algorithm updates are in the best interest. I mean how they actually pan out has been hit or miss, but I think the intention behind them is generally positive for web quality.
DAVID BAIN: And Martijn?
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: I don’t see any negative impacts for users. I think it’s a good update for at least an algorithm update now which brings a lot more value.
DAVID BAIN: Kristjan?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: 99.999% of people don’t care.
DAVID BAIN: Does that include you?
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: I care up to the point that if I find a website where it impacts, I’ll probably call Madden or Gary and talk to them. It’s interesting when you mention Paul, that he used to have a link building company, but now he’s being hired to take those links down again.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, he’s admitted that. He’s built loads of links.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: But I think it’s positive and I think the more guidance we get with regard to how to use these technologies the better. However, we should never just take that and work exactly like that. We always have to find this twist that we bring our flavour to our work and that can be terminology, it can be technology, it can be design, it can be different things that can impact if we need to use it. So it’s a positive thing, but we have to be aware of it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Okay. So a little bit of common sense needs to be applied to the thinking. And Steven, what are your general thoughts on how Penguin might evolve and whether we’ll feel positive of negative about it in a month’s time?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: I think from a conceptual point of view these are good changes. I think it will impact the degree to which negative SEO will work. So I’m fairly positive about this one. I can see the continuous nature of it, the algorithm will evolve and it will be applied directly and everyone is instantly impacted, be it negative or positive. So I think that’s good.
DAVID BAIN: And Tim, do you think that generally the websites that will be negatively impacted by this will be spammy type sites and the whole this is a positive thing that Google have done?
TIM MORRIS: Yeah, generally. And I think it’s definitely common sense. I think this is what they should have done from the beginning, perhaps the technology wasn’t there, but punishing on a link basis is exactly what they should be doing. The only worry I have at the moment is, I’ve been watching the MozCast for the past week, since it went live, and we had this little kind of lull before you could call it a storm, but it’s been very turbulent in the past few days, increasingly so. Rankings have been all over the place and anecdotally we haven’t really seen much change and everyone here seems to have echoed that sentiment. But MozCast seems to suggest that there is a bit of turbulence in the rankings and I’m concerned at whether the real-time nature of this update will mean that keyword ranking tracking is going to become very full of fluctuations and it’s going to become even more meaningless to be reporting on those. So that’s my only concern at the moment. Obviously it’s too early to tell.
KRISTJAN MAR HAUKSSON: I need to jump off guys. I’m really sorry. Thank you for having me.
DAVID BAIN: No problem, thank you for joining us. And that’s probably a good time to jump over to the next topic. That was obviously Penguin and disavow there, but topic number three is that John Mueller has said that Google now prefer AMP links over App links. So should every business have an AMP strategy? And should this news impact their App strategy? So, Damon – AMP, is that for everyone?
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Oh, man. At first, a couple of weeks ago, I said no, but I’m starting to think that it’s more like Schema where if you’re not using it, you’re missing out and you’ve leaving something on the table. So there’s some flavour, it doesn’t mean you maybe need to AMP the whole site, but your most important pieces of content, you heaviest traffic pages, you definitely want to make sure that those are easier to serve. Even for local companies, I’m finding places where we could think about implementing it, but I don’t deal with a lot of App companies, so I would be interested to see what some of the other gentlemen had to say. We don’t do a lot of deep linking or deep indexing on that side.
DAVID BAIN: And the challenge with AMP of course as well is that people can very easily flick between different AMP pages on different sites. So the user might not be experiencing and be exposed to your brand as much as well.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: I totally agree and to some degree, we’re giving them control by what they’re wanting or what Google decide, so next week they could decide to show less, in an effort to speed it up even more or not show certain elements or strip the way it served in a format, so that always adds a sense of…but I think it’s like everything else, you’ve got to be there. Because if you’re not, then your competition is.
DAVID BAIN: So is there not maybe then an argument to say what you should do is you should AMP certain things, maybe if you’re trying to rank for news stories, AMP that but not all the core pages on your site?
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: I’m working with a company right now and we literally looked at their top 50 blogger pages and we want to AMP and get everything in their blog, but the way that their site construction is, it’s not we can just insert a plug-in and call it a day. So there’s going to be a lot more technical development resources needed on their side. So in that scenario it’s like, ‘Okay, well let’s figure out the pages that we know we want to be served quickly and that we want in that conversation and let’s put our development resources towards those. And then at some point we can look for a more overarching full system kind of solution.’
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Justin, what are your thoughts on this one?
JUSTIN KERLEY: I think there are two sides to this coin. I mentioned earlier that the intention is there, so obviously mobile is important. I want a fast-loading website, I don’t want to wait five/ten seconds for something to load if I really want to read it. So from that side I see AMP is great and that I’m able to get to the articles quickly. I’m able to read what I want to read and like you said before, I can flip to another one and get some more information on it. But on the other side, the implementation of this has now hurt App companies, so if we think from a content marketing perspective, the goal is to build audience. So first it was get found on Google, get people to your site, email subscriptions etc. etc. And the move has really been towards Apps and I think Barry at Search Engine Land is a little upset about this and the brand that he’s built and the App that he’s been able to develop from it. Those links are now being deprioritised for AMP. So this is probably a play on an apartment scale to kind of keep that audience within Google properties, because as soon as you hit that back button, you’re back to the search results, and you’re still within a Google property, you’re able to do another search, you’re able to have more ads displayed to you and again that keeps users engaged with a Google property as opposed to a third party App. So I think this is a big play and I think a lot of the moves that they’ve made with maps is a change to get people to stay within Google and not rely as much on third party applications.
DAVID BAIN: Martijn is this about improving user experience or improving the revenue?
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Well I’d say it’s actually really for the user, because in the end what I could see as well is that you want, as the user, just to find your information as fast as possible and probably the experience for apps is already better that redirecting somebody to a desktop web page. So I think the user experience is only getting better because AMP pages tend to load incredibly fast. So in the end it’s going to improve user experience, I’d say, and so far I doubt that this is really a revenue thing for Google, because in the end they don’t benefit really from this from a revenue perspective because the App networks they’re supporting aren’t like AMP pages mostly for publishers. CPM rates are way lower than compared to normal mobile pages. So I doubt it is a revenue thing for them and they usually don’t look at anything from revenue perspective for search quality.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. That’s quite positive. And Steven, do you think it’s anything to do with perhaps not enough Apps in Android and Google Play being really utilised or are we perhaps seeing that Google are saying that no, the web is going to be an integral and probably the most important part of the future from their perspective, rather than Apps?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: I’m not sure. I’m not sure how much we should be thinking about they prioritise it over App indexing. I think it’s two separate concepts, so they are pushing hard on AMP and they’re saying, okay, we need to improve user experience and by decreasing load time we do that. I think that’s one move, and in the process Apps get pushed down. So I’m not sure if there is a direct relation between the two and whether Google has some master plan. As for the original question regarding should every company have an AMP strategy, I believe that every company that’s serious about digital marketing should ask themselves how can we benefit from AMP? And if a lot of their traffic is from mobile, then I think it’s a no-brainer to look into it. And if it’s too difficult to implement AMP, then just make sure that you strip the mobile pages and use CDNs, caching and what not to improve load time.
DAVID BAIN: Thank you, Steven. And, Tim, what are your thoughts? Do you think that in general AMP are a good thing for most pages, or do you need to be very strategic in terms of selecting what pages?
TIM MORRIS: I think it’s a good thing for most pages. I would prefer that if a site was going to deploy an AMP strategy, then they do it across the entire site, just so that any user on the site has that streamlined experience when they’re going from page to page. But I think there are certain sites, and we’ll see as time goes on, that have those kind of rich content functions that AMP might not support. I’m trying to think of things like housing websites, when you’re trying to do like an interactive map. It might not be supported by AMP so those sites will still prefer to have their Apps and they might not be able to get AMP. I don’t think it will affect them too much, they just have to make that decision to stick with their App, because Google have said already it’s not going to affect rankings, the App will still be there in the same ranking it was, it just won’t be an AMP site. So I think that’s good. I think perhaps, going back to the discussion of whether it was a revenue or a user-based decision for Google, potentially I do see a small revenue argument to be made there. Sure Apps can still have the Google network adds on them, but to me with 4G and that kind of thing spreading across lots of countries, people want richer content on their phones anyway, they’re not looking for a leaner web experience, necessarily. Whereas in the developing world, internet is starting to blossom all over the place, and it isn’t 4G, so potentially Google might just be looking there to get more websites on to leaner versions or have that leaner version being available so that they can get their advertising to the developing world through those websites. That’s maybe where I see a revenue angle for Google.
DAVID BAIN: I think the thing that annoys me slightly is the AMP logo in Google search results, because who apart from SEOs have a clue about what that actually stands for? Maybe that’s just me.
TIM MORRIS: Yeah, a mobile-friendly little banner that say’s it is mobile-friendly is far more appealing.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: You’re right and if you look globally, if you see a thunderbolt sign, it’s typically a danger or a warning, very rarely does that indicate like something positive is coming.
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Or lightning fast.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: But you and I know that, but in my area, if I see thunderbolt signs, that means like there’s power or danger of electricity or that means that there could be, if you’re in an area where we have a lot of thunderstorms, there’s a high lightning frequency. It doesn’t mean like fast. If we say fast, we say fast.
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Actually just when you mentioned it, I thought about Facebook Instant Articles [unclear – 0:44:39.0]
DAVID BAIN: Slightly cutting off there a bit.
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: I was saying the Facebook Instant Articles logo is about the same, when you click that one. It’s also a lightning.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. I’m not sure if they’ve done any user research. You would think they would have done, but who knows. Well let’s move on to topic number four, the last topic, which is that you can now activate Google Maps using the voice command Okay Google and this leads to commands such as ‘Find restaurants’ or ‘What’s the closest hotel?’ or ‘When’s my next meeting?’ So what, if anything, might this mean for SEO? Shall we start off the other way around this time with Tim. What are your thoughts on this one?
TIM MORRIS: I think it’s going to make getting your listings on Google Business more up-to-date more important, definitely. You should do that anyway. I think it’s Google just trying to push these things to be best practice. But what I’d like to see following this up, if voice searches are becoming as popular as people claim they are going to become, that Google gives a bit more insight on them. If you go to your Google Business page now and you look at the insights there, the only section that really mentions voice search is car driving instructions, directions to get to wherever your business listing is. The actual insights above for just the impressions you’ve had on your listing don’t distinguish between voice and non-voice. So if we are to be putting all this importance on voice search, then us as SEOs need feedback from Google. So that’s what I want to see from them.
DAVID BAIN: Great point. Mr Google, if you’re listening, that’s what we’d like to see in the analytics next. Steven, what are your thoughts on this one?
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: I think Tim makes a very good point. We should be getting feedback from Google on how this is being used. As for the move towards using voice search when in Maps, I think it’s becoming even more important that search engines are able to understand our websites correctly and fully. And we should do everything and anything we can do to support that. So thinking in terms of www.schema.org and so on, I think we should be using all of the math that’s available to help search engines understand, especially if you’re really depending on listings in Google Maps. But having said that, I’m curious to know what kind of learnings they’re going to be using from voice search and maps and apply it to web voice search. I can imagine they will share the learnings and the knowledge and so on.
DAVID BAIN: Yes. I think as you both pointed out there, there hasn’t been many public studies or that much data available on the type of voice searches that people are making and how that differentiates from how people are likely to search, I guess, using a keyboard. And because of that I guess it’s difficult for an SEO to know what to focus on or if it’s important to focus on different searches, because this style of searching is changing. Martijn, what are your thoughts on this one?
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Well first and foremost, I really hope this was billed as a safety feature to not use your phone really during driving or whatever, because that’s really dangerous, but I think what we’re mostly going to see is more, even a bigger surge towards more local searches, because of course like when you’re driving somewhere you just want to know more what’s in the area that you’re currently in. So I think mostly for local businesses, it’s going to have a huge impact, or it can have a huge impact, because I don’t think this is really going to be a major shift in local SEO or anything else.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, and Justin, Steven mentioned Schema, so are things like Schema and ensuring that your local listings are completely optimised the kind of things that people need to be doing to optimise for these kind of voice searches?
JUSTIN KERLEY: Yeah, if you’ve got a physical store front and that’s where you get your revenue, absolutely, it’s a no-brainer, you need to stop what you’re doing today and get this stuff updated. For a lot of the companies that I work with, they don’t necessarily rely on foot traffic, but it’s definitely still something that I work on them with, because again if I’m driving and I’m having a meeting at that place, I want to be able to find it, I want to be able to find the right address, I want to find the quickest directions there. I’m already starting to see some impact, not on clients that I’m working with, but for example a couple of months ago I was looking for a gym and I just happened to notice, because I’m in SEO, that the title tag for the page was ‘find gyms near me’ so clearly this was an effort to try to capitalise on that voice search and capitalise on the way that people search for those. They are not looking for ‘find local gyms’ they say find gyms near you, which a lot of companies are doing, because that makes more sense. It’s telling the user that’s on the site to find something near you, whereas this was clearly trying to put themselves in the user’s shoes and say what is the phrasing that the user is going to do when they do a search? But maybe I’m alone in this, and maybe there’s a study on it, but what I find is that when I’m doing voice search, I still search as though I’m typing on a keyboard, I don’t use full and coherent sentences. Maybe I’m old school, I don’t know if it is, and then I find that there’s also less confusion. If I’m talking to Siri and I say a full and coherent sentence, there’s just that much more of a chance that she screws it up, so I just use keywords. I say, ‘Find restaurants’ and leave it at that. I don’t want to say, ‘Find me a Thai food restaurant within two miles’ because there are so many different ways that that could be misinterpreted. So I think as generations grow up with this technology, voice search and voice commands are going to be huge. I mean Amazon has obviously made a huge investment into this. Google is making more investments into this as far as home products are concerned. So voice is going to be the future of search, so I’m anxious to see how this impacts things as well.
DAVID BAIN: It’s a bit sad if we have to go back to optimising for terms like, ‘Find this near me’ it’s almost like SEO from ten years ago. What happened to semantics and Google understanding the context of things?
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: That was my question, too. Where did the semantic web go? What happened to Knowledge Graph? Does that mean I need to go through and Schema up all these stupid questions on my fact page knowing that people search for these terms? Because I thought Google would be smart enough to get that information and serve it up to them better. And I work with a lot of local businesses, so this is something that we’re talking about all the time, specifically for those that rely on foot traffic or people getting to them. And Uber just released a partnership with Yext today where you can catch an Uber to your location into Yext listings as a link, which is really cool, so it’s almost getting to that search zero, where they don’t even get a search result page, so that result zero that people have talked about, where they’re not even making it to your competitor’s website. You’re the person that’s within a mile and a half, you’re the only pizza place within three or four miles, then you should be…where now Google is going to pull in three or four other people, just to complete that list. Kind of interesting. And it really makes us force ourselves to finally maybe get back to the customer journey, like people have questions that we should be answering, but we still want to be marketers and give then an about us page and find locations near you. But Google is admitting like, no, no, no, people are searching this way and we need to serve that information this way. It’s that 80/20 rule. Justin, I think you’re part of the 20% like I am that are educated to how this all works, right, but the other 80% have no clue and they’re just like fumbling through the dark of how do I find a pizza place near me in Soho?
JUSTIN KERLEY: There are all those studies on do people recognise ads within SERPS, and something like 66% don’t recognise an ad, but then if you pull that same group, 47% of them say that that they hated ads. So if they knew what they were looking at, they wouldn’t be clicking on ‘I don’t want to be advertised to, I want to find what I want.’ Well that line is getting blurred and I think Google does do a fair amount of SERPS, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an entire team that looked at that lightning bolt logo like you brought up and said, ‘Hey this means fast. People are going to like it.’
DAVID BAIN: Well I reckon that just about takes us to the end of this week’s discussion, so probably just time for a single takeaway from everyone and some sharing of find out more details. So shall we start off with Damon?
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Yeah, my biggest takeaways are if you’re not using Schema then you should be, it affects so many different things, and then to build links that you would actually want to show your customers or show people. So if a link and relationship is something that you’re proud of and you would want, then build that link and if not, don’t build that link.
DAVID BAIN: Great. And where can people find you.
DAMON GOCHNEAUR: Online you can find us at www.aspiroagency.com. On Twitter you can find me @DamonGochneaur, better check the show notes for that one, because the last one’s a doozy.
DAVID BAIN: I’ll make sure there’s a link that that, thanks, Damon. And also with us today is Justin.
JUSTIN KERLEY: Yeah, my biggest takeaway is put yourself in the shoes of the user. Think about what they need and how they’re going to be searching for things and how you fit their solution. So whether that’s for mobile or that’s from link building or your map listing, there’s just a lot of things to consider and think about who you’re trying to get in front of and where they’re going to be. And you can Top Floor at www.topfloortech.com or you can find me on Twitter @KerleyJ and again check on the last name, it’s not with a C, it’s with a K. But David will have that all for you.
DAVID BAIN: Super, thanks, Justin. And Martijn was also with us today.
MARTIJN SCHEIJBELER: Yeah. I think my biggest takeaway is indeed that it’s really about getting the highest quality of stuff that you’re doing, because that’s really what’s going to bring the most value to the user and I think we’re all doing this for the user, in the end. You can find us on www.thenextweb.com hopefully for the latest technical news.
DAVID BAIN: Superb, okay. Thank you again. And Steven, thank you for joining us.
STEVEN VAN VESSUM: I think the most important takeaway I would say is that you really need to understand how the Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm update works. So think in terms of devaluing links instead of demoting pages and how that affects the disavow tool and negative SEO and the continuous nature of the Penguin update. It’s super interesting. Read up about it, it raises some questions for you. You can find me at www.becontentking.com. I won’t even mention my Twitter account because you’ll not be able to find me. You can Google me – Steven van Vessum – and that’ll work as well. Thank you very much.
DAVID BAIN: Thank you for joining us. Great takeaway. Thanks, Steven. And also with us today was Tim.
TIM MORRIS: Yeah. I think my takeaway is that if you haven’t got a Google Business listing yet and you’re in a dense metropolitan area, then you probably should consider getting one, because Google might be giving you more traffic if you do have one. And you can find Bozboz at www.bozboz.co.uk.
DAVID BAIN: OK Google, okay Tim. That was great, thank you for joining us. And I’m David Bain, Content Marketing Director here at Authoritas.com, the data science driven SEO and content marketing platform for agencies and enterprises. Now, if you’re watching this show or listening to the show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live. So head over to www.thisweekinorganic.com and be part of the live audience for the next show. And for those of you watching live, we also have an audio podcast of previous shows. So again, sign up to email updates at www.thisweekinorganic.com and you’ll receive the podcast links from there too. But until we meet again, have a fabulous weekend and thank you all for joining us. Adios, thanks guys, thanks everyone.