This Week In SEO
The Language of Search, Emojis, Local SEO, Penalty Recovery, and Authority

This week’s quick SEO tip will make sure your site never takes a ranking hit because it’s offline (without you knowing about it).

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Emoji… the next wave of SERP spam?

Barry Schwartz noticed that Expedia was using emoji in their title tags.

expedia emoji in SERPs

While this won’t help with rankings, it *could* help with click-through rates (especially if no other SERPs that show up along-side them use the emoji).

Cyrus Shepard wonders how far one could go with these emoji, and came up with this (purely as a test):

emoji spamming cyrus shepard

That Google allows these [emoji snippets] at all is amazing for several reasons:

When marketers started abusing rich snippet review stars, Google cracked down by demoting abusing sites and even set up a reporting mechanism to catch offenders.

There have been several reported instances of Google getting strict with review stars and rich snippet markup.

We’ve heard that Google will penalize sites that use stars in rich snippets to try and stand out in the SERPs (and possibly take clicks away from ads?), but emoji meta data is new enough that there are no consequences for using them (yet) — except for this:

travis jamison twitter

How People Structure Search Terms

I consider this one to be very important.

Understanding the language your audience uses to search for niche-relevant keywords is a solid SEO win. Paying special attention to whether Google is ranking informational vs. sales-y content, or targeting buying keywords are just as important. In this article, Search Engine Land summarizes a KILLER post from Blue Nile Research on the psychology of a “searcher.”

At the very least, go read the SE Land article, but seriously, take a half hour and read the original research. If you’re into search engine optimization at all (and if you’re reading this post, that’s a great big hint that you might be), this is the kind of information that’s going to make a difference in your SEO efforts.


A new research study by Blue Nile Research explored the psychology of a searcher uncovering that searchers use question formats in their query 27% of the time and are split 50/50 in searching in short form (less than 4 words) versus long form (4 words or more).

The research found that 27% of searchers phrased their query in the form of a question. Question formats included ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘what’, and ‘which’ as opposed to a ‘statement query’.


Realistic Google Recovery Expectations

Now THIS is how you write an SEO post. Alan Bleiweiss, an SEO audit specialist, lays some reality on your road to Google penalty recovery.


When a site has any single major “quality” problem, if ranking losses came from that solely or primarily, if that one issue can be addressed, then once Google has been able to identify the change across the site, the next time Google runs the algorithm involved, it is possible to see a return to previous high rankings and visibility.

Where this can be a problem is if it’s a Panda related issue, that means needing to wait for the next Panda update to take place after Google has recrawled and reindexed the site once those changes had been made. As of the date of this post, Panda has not been refreshed since October of last year.

Yeah. Look, the bottom line here is don’t get penalized in the first place. It’s early May, 2015, and we all know exactly what will earn your site a Panda penalty.

That said, here’s handy picture that’ll help if you end up getting yourself penalized:

how to deal with a google penalty

What NOT to do re: Local SEO

Local SEO is crazy, but Neil Patel has you covered. In this post he talks about the “pigeon” (local SEO) algorithm update, and has some juicy tips for you. Here are the best ones:

  • If you’re in a larger city (with neighborhoods), don’t focus your online marketing efforts and search terms exclusively on your city name, but rather on your neighborhood name.
  • Seek to be listed in the directories that are ranking the highest. Often, these are right underneath the local packs.
  • When Pigeon occurred, many of the 7-packs dropped to 3-packs. The three remaining listings were presumed to be ranked based on traditional (rather than local) SEO factors.


If local SEO is your thing, definitely check this one out.

Building Signals of Trust and Authority

Barry Adams writes about a topic near and dear to my heart: building authority. He touches on the importance of good, in-depth, LONG content:


He also writes at length about social shares. YES, they are important, but are you killing your user’s experience by cluttering your page with social share buttons that clutter/distract from your content and cause your page to take a longer time to load?

I agree with many UX designers that social share buttons can be clunky, ugly, and intrusive. But UX has a very different set of goals and objectives than SEO (no matter how loudly some people shout that ‘UX is the new SEO’, that doesn’t make it true).

Sometimes you have to be intrusive and ‘in your face’ to get the right result. In the context of SEO, the right result is to acquire links to aid your website’s rankings. Social sharing is an intrinsic part of achieving that result, and that means you need social sharing buttons on your site.

As the article says, it’s a balance between UX and SEO. Not a black-and-white rule that says do or do not use social sharing, but about testing different options and using the one that achieves a harmony between the two.

What buttons/plugin do you use (if any) for your site’s social sharing strategy?

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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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