How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?
Posted by Dr-PeteIn 2018, Google reported an incredible 3,234 improvements to search. That's more than 8 times the number of updates they reported in 2009 — less than a decade ago — and an average of almost 9 per day. How have algorithm updates evolved over the past decade, and how can we possibly keep tabs on all of them? Should we even try?
To kick this off, here's a list of every confirmed count we have (sources at end of post):
2018 – 3,234 "improvements"2017 – 2,453 "changes"2016 – 1,653 "improvements"2013 – 890 "improvements"2012 – 665 "launches"2011 – 538 "launches"2010 – 516 "changes"2009 – 350–400 "changes"
Unfortunately, we don't have confirmed data for 2014-2015 (if you know differently, please let me know in the comments).
A brief history of update counts
Our first peek into this data came in spring of 2010, when Google's Matt Cutts revealed that "on average, [Google] tends to roll out 350–400 things per year." It wasn't an exact number, but given that SEOs at the time (and to this day) were tracking at most dozens of algorithm changes, the idea of roughly one change per day was eye-opening.
In fall of 2011, Eric Schmidt was called to testify before Congress, and revealed our first precise update count and an even more shocking scope of testing and changes:
"To give you a sense of the scale of the changes that Google considers, in 2010 we conducted 13,311 precision evaluations to see whether proposed algorithm changes improved the quality of its search results, 8,157 side-by-side experiments where it presented two sets of search results to a panel of human testers and had the evaluators rank which set of results was better, and 2,800 click evaluations to see how a small sample of real-life Google users responded to the change. Ultimately, the process resulted in 516 changes that were determined to be useful to users based on the data and, therefore, were made to Google's algorithm."
Later, Google would reveal similar data in an online feature called "How Search Works." Unfortunately, some of the earlier years are only available via the Internet Archive, but here's a screenshot from 2012:

Note that Google uses "launches" and "improvements" somewhat interchangeably. This diagram provided a fascinating peek into Google's process, and also revealed a startling jump from 13,...
SEO & Progressive Web Apps: Looking to the Future
Posted by tombennetPractitioners of SEO have always been mistrustful of JavaScript.
This is partly based on experience; the ability of search engines to discover, crawl, and accurately index content which is heavily reliant on JavaScript has historically been poor. But it’s also habitual, born of a general wariness towards JavaScript in all its forms that isn’t based on understanding or experience. This manifests itself as dependence on traditional SEO techniques that have not been relevant for years, and a conviction that to be good at technical SEO does not require an understanding of modern web development.
As Mike King wrote in his post The Technical SEO Renaissance, these attitudes are contributing to “an ever-growing technical knowledge gap within SEO as a marketing field, making it difficult for many SEOs to solve our new problems”. They also put SEO practitioners at risk of being left behind, since too many of us refuse to explore – let alone embrace – technologies such as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), modern JavaScript frameworks, and other such advancements which are increasingly being seen as the future of the web.
In this article, I’ll be taking a fresh look at PWAs. As well as exploring implications for both SEO and usability, I’ll be showcasing some modern frameworks and build tools which you may not have heard of, and suggesting ways in which we need to adapt if we’re to put ourselves at the technological forefront of the web.
1. Recap: PWAs, SPAs, and service workers
Progressive Web Apps are essentially websites which provide a user experience akin to that of a native app. Features like push notifications enable easy re-engagement with your audience, while users can add their favorite sites to their home screen without the complication of app stores. PWAs can continue to function offline or on low-quality networks, and they allow a top-level, full-screen experience on mobile devices which is closer to that offered by native iOS and Android apps.
Best of all, PWAs do this while retaining - and even enhancing - the fundamentally open and accessible nature of the web. As suggested by the name they are progressive and responsive, designed to function for every user regardless of their choice of browser or device. They can also be kept up-to-date automatically and — as we shall see — are discoverable and linkable like traditional websites. Finally...
Visualizing Speed Metrics to Improve SEO, UX, & Revenue - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by sam.marsdenWe know how important page speed is to Google, but why is that, exactly? With increasing benefits to SEO, UX, and customer loyalty that inevitably translates to revenue, there are more reasons than ever to both focus on site speed and become adept at communicating its value to devs and stakeholders. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Sam Marsden takes us point-by-point through how Google understands speed metrics, the best ways to access and visualize that data, and why it all matters.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription
Hi, Moz fans, and welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. My name is Sam Marsden, and I work as an SEO at web crawling platform DeepCrawl. Today we're going to be talking about how Google understands speed and also how we can visualize some of the performance metrics that they provide to benefit things like SEO, to improve user experience, and to ultimately generate more revenue from your site.
Google & speed
Let's start by taking a look at how Google actually understands speed. We all know that a faster site generally results in a better user experience. But Google hasn't actually directly been incorporating that into their algorithms until recently. It wasn't until the mobile speed update, back in July, that Google really started looking at speed. Now it's likely only a secondary ranking signal now, because relevance is always going to be much more important than how quickly the page actually loads.

But the interesting thing with this update was that Google has actually confirmed some of the details about how they understand speed. We know that it's a mix of lab and field data. They're bringing in lab data from Lighthouse, from the Chrome dev tools and mixing that with data from anonymized Chrome users. So this is available in the Chrome User Experience Report, otherwise known as CrUX.
CrUX metrics
Now this is a publicly available database, and it includes five different metrics. You've got first paint, which is when anything loads on the page. You've then got first contentful paint, which is when some text or an image loads. Then you've DOM content loaded, which is, as the name suggests, once the DOM is loaded. You've also got onload, which is when any additional scripts have loaded. That's kind of like the full page load. The fifth and...
Best Practices for Creating SEO-Friendly Title Tags
Along with relevant on-page content, your title tag is the most important element of your on-page SEO. Learn how to keep your title tags trim and topical.
Although meta tags do not hold the same sway over SEO that they once did, the title tag remains one of the most important factors in communicating to search engines just what your page is about. Your title tag is the headline to your on-page content’s feature story.
So how do you craft a title tag that draws traffic and competes for enviable keyword rankings?
Get to the Point
Don’t just get to the point quickly; get there immediately. Sure, visitors will not see a page’s title tag while they are visiting your site, but the title tag will still show in search results as the blue link that points to your landing page.

You have precious little real estate to work with. To make things even more complicated, you are not limited by word count but by pixels.
Any text that exceeds this limitation will be replaced by an ellipsis and searchers will not be able to see the content. It is unlikely that anything beyond this point will influence Google heavily, but there will still be situations were a well-crafted tag will slightly exceed Google’s pixel constraints. When this happens, just be sure that the visible text makes sense to the viewer and that the ellipsis does not disrupt the tag too much. In certain situations, the ellipsis could even be seen as a click-through encouragement.
Don’t Force Your Branding
Your site should not have any difficulty ranking for its own brand. Including your brand name or URL in the title will, more often than not, simply be a waste of pixel space. However, if you create your own products and your brand has significant search volume on its own, it may be worth including so that you clearly distinguish your own online store from other vendors that may be selling your products.

Prioritize Your Keywords
Choose a primary keyword phrase for the beginning of your title tag. You will likely be able to work in more than one, but do not get caught in keyword-obsessive mentality. Just remember:

These are likely not the only keywords that you will rank for.
These may not even be your most profitable keywords.
You have plenty of space to work with other keywords in your description tag and on-page text.
Your goal should be to communicate the relevance of your page, not just to...
An SEO’s Guide to Writing Structured Data (JSON-LD)
Posted by briangormanhThe vocabulary is the ultimate collab.
Thanks to a mutual handshake between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex, we have a library of fields we can use to highlight and more aptly define the information on web pages. By utilizing structured data, we provide search engines with more confidence (i.e. a better understanding of page content), as Alexis Sanders explains in this wonderful podcast. Doing so can have a number of positive effects, including eye-catching SERP displays and improved rankings.
If you’re an SEO, how confident are you in auditing or creating structured data markup using the vocabulary? If you just shifted in your seat uncomfortably, then this is the guide for you. In it, I aim to demystify some of the syntax of JSON-LD as well as share useful tips on creating structured data for web pages.

Understanding the syntax of JSON-LD
While there’s a couple of different ways you can mark up on-page content, this guide will focus on the format Google prefers; JSON-LD. Additionally, we won’t get into all of its complexities, but rather, those instances most commonly encountered by and useful to SEOs.
Curly braces
The first thing you’ll notice after the opening <script> tag is an open curly brace. And, just before the closing </script> tag, a closed curly brace.

All of our structured data will live inside these two curly braces. As we build out our markup, we’re likely to see additional curly braces, and that’s where indentation really helps keep things from getting too confusing!
Quotation marks
The next thing you’ll notice is quotation marks. Every time we call a Schema type, or a property, or fill in a field, we’ll wrap the information in quotation marks.

Next up are colons (no giggling). Basically, every time we call a type or a property, we then need to use a colon to continue entering information. It’s a field separator.

Commas are used to set the expectation that another value (i.e. more information) is coming.

Notice that after the informational field for the “logo” property is filled, there is no comma. That is because there is no additional information to be stated.
When we’ve called a property that includes two or more entries, we can use an open bracket and a closed bracket as an enclosure.

See how we’ve included Go Fish Digital’s Facebook and Twitter...
MozCon 2019: Acceptance. Education. Donuts
Posted by PJ_HowlandWe’re digital marketers; we make our living in a constantly changing (and consistently misunderstood) industry. It’s easy to feel like even those who are closest to us don’t really get what we do. Take me, for example, I once mentioned algorithms to my grandmother, and ever since then, she’s been absolutely (and adamantly) sure that I work with clocks. Did she think I said analog?
But despite the dynamic nature of marketing, Moz has always been a solid rock at the center of the storm. It’s been here since the beginning, a place where all the marketing nerds and SEO geeks could hang our hats and feel understood.
And MozCon feels like the culmination of that culture of acceptance.
MozCon: Helping you build your best self
As I’ve chatted with the good folks at Moz about this year’s MozCon, it’s clear to me that they pay attention to data. Why do I say that? Because they’re doubling down on making this year their most actionable year ever. As a past attendee, I can say that hearing that MozCon’s biggest focus is a dedication to actionable tactics gets me excited.
The creative media surrounding MozCon have an under-the-sea theme going on. These nautical nods are setting us all up for the deep dive into digital marketing we’re sure to see this year. Since there’s a good chance that most of us marketers never made it to prom (just me? Okay then...), it’s kind of fun to get a second chance to experience oceanic decor in a congregate environment (What, you’ve never dreamed about being Marty McFly at his parent’s Enchantment Under the Sea dance? Was I the only one?)
The point is that the upcoming MozCon is poised to do what it does so well: Offer a delightful mix of predictability and variety, presented in a way that’s designed to improve us without reforming us. New players will share the stage with established thought leaders and strategists. Innovation will go hand in hand with cherished tradition.
After looking at the initial agenda, here are a few of the front runner speakers and sessions I’m excited for in particular.
Casie Gillette — Thanks for the Memories: Creating Content People Remember
Digital marketers like data, right?
[Cue nodding heads and incoherent mumblings]
While I certainly love data, I also struggle with data. Sometimes I rely on the data so much that I become hesitant to take risks. And if there’s one thing...
I Want To Rank Beyond My Location: A Guide to How This Works
Posted by MiriamEllisStaff at your agency get asked this question just about every day, and it’s a local SEO forum FAQ, too:
“I’m located in ‘x’, but how do I rank beyond that?”
In fact, this query is so popular, it deserves a good and thorough answer. I’ve written this article in the simplest terms possible so that you can instantly share it with even your least-technical clients.
We’ll break rankings down into five easy-to-grasp groups, and make sense out of how Google appears to bucket rankings for different types of users and queries. Your clients will come away with an understanding of what’s appropriate, what’s possible, and what’s typically impossible. It’s my hope that shooting this link over to all relevant clients will save your team a ton of time, and ensure that the brands you’re serving are standing on steady ground with some good education.
There’s nothing quite like education as a sturdy baseline for creating achievable goals, is there?
One hypothetical client’s story

We’ll illustrate our story by focusing in on a single fictitious business. La Tortilleria is a tortilla bakery located at 197 Fifth Avenue in San Rafael, Marin County, California, USA. San Rafael is a small city with a population of about 60,000. La Tortilleria vends directly to B2C customers, as well as distributing their handmade tortillas to a variety of B2B clients, like restaurants and grocery stores throughout Marin County.
La Tortilleria’s organic white corn tortillas are so delicious, the bakery recently got featured on a Food Network TV show. Then, they started getting calls from San Francisco, Sacramento, and even Los Angeles asking about their product. This business, which started out as a mom-and-pop shop, is now hoping to expand distribution beyond county borders.
When it comes to Google visibility, what is La Tortilleria eligible for, and is there some strategy they can employ to show up in many places for many kinds of searches? Let’s begin:
Group I: Hyperlocal rankings

Your supreme chance of ranking in Google’s local pack results is typically in the neighborhood surrounding your business. For example, with the right strategy, La Tortilleria could expect to rank very well in the above downtown area of San Rafael surrounding their bakery. When searchers are physically located in this area or using search language like “tortilleria near me,” Google can...
Can You Reverse A 301 Redirect?
Posted by Dr-PeteThe short answer is "yes." You can reverse a 301-redirect, even though it's technically permanent. The long answer, though, is that this change may not work the way you'd expect or hope, and it could even make your problems worse. Let's explore the long answer with four real-world scenarios ...
First: A note and a warning...
Before we dive into the scenarios, there are two things you need to know. This stuff all sounds easy in theory, but — in the real world — 301-redirects take time to process, and reversing them (or changing signals in any major way) often takes even more time. Be prepared for those delays, and prepare your stakeholders. You may see ranking flux during this time period. Most of the time, it will pass fairly quickly, but reversals tend to get messy.
This leads me to the warning – don't reverse a 301-redirect simply because something is taking too long or you're in a full-on panic. A midstream reversal can create mixed signals, delays things even more, and cause serious short-term ranking loss. If you're going to undo a 301-redirect, make sure you're undoing it for sound reasons or that the reasons for the original 301 no longer apply.

Scenario #1: Single-page, full reverse

Let's start with the easiest scenario. Page A 301-redirects to Page B (A→B) and you'd like to reverse that. I'm assuming here that Page B will be going away completely. Here are the basic steps:
Remove the 301-redirect from A→BAdd a 301-redirect from B→ARe-point internal links to Page ASubmit both pages to Google Search Console (GSC)Give Google time to re-cache Page B
It's that last step that trips most people up. You're going to be tempted to treat Page B as persona non grata and disavow its existence entirely (including removing it from XML sitemaps). Don't. The problem is that Google needs time to process the new signals, and it can't do that if you're hiding Page B, or worse yet, entirely blocking crawlers from it. Let Google crawl Page B and process the new signals. Leave it alone for a while.

Scenario #2: Single-page, keep both
What if you've redirected A→B, and you want to reverse the redirect, but you want Page B to live on? You can't 301 redirect B→A or Page B will be gone for everyone (search engines and visitors). This can be further split into two sub-scenarios, depending on whether you want Page B...
Creating Quality Content in 2019 (For Search Engines and People)
Posted by jchamp86Think back to the last question you typed into Google. Did you find a blog post on the search engine result page that attracted your attention? Did you find the content on the page helpful? Did the page offer a relevant next step to continue learning and engaging with your brand?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then the author who wrote this piece of content did their job very well: They created a piece of content that fulfilled your intent. In 2019, that’s what search engines like Google care about — solving for their searcher’s intent. 
Read on to learn how to solve for searcher intent to create successful, quality content that makes people (and Google) happy.
Effective content comes with a blueprint
Before we dive in, you may be asking yourself: “How do I solve for searcher intent?”
You can start by creating an experience for website visitors that tells a practical story. That story should educate and inspire them to make a transformation and put their interests and needs above your bottom line. Yes, you want to inform your visitors, but doing that alone is not enough. To really help them transform, you need to make their experience a meaningful one, and that means you need to help them apply what they’re learning. When done correctly this builds trust, and if someone trusts you they’re more likely to do business with you when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. This is effective content.
Luckily, all effective content like this has a blueprint. You may not easily see it, but it’s there, and it’s meant to help you, the reader, through your journey to making a well-informed, confident decision— whatever that decision may be.
When getting started with creating blog content, you want readers to easily comprehend what it is you’re trying to tell them. If your content is too complicated and unengaging, then chances are readers will abandon it and go elsewhere. There are thousands of blog posts being published every minute, so it’s safe to say you’re not the only resource out there competing for attention.
Let’s review 10 tips that will help you start drafting a successful blueprint for your next blog post.
1. Choose a topic to write about
At a high level, write educational content.
I’m not saying you can’t write about your business when it makes sense, but in order to attract someone to your blog, you need to...

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May 26 2019