This Week In SEO 68
Penguin Recoveries, Local Pack Tests, and More!

This late edition of This Week in SEO is brought to you by Hurricane Matthew, and the disruption that caused. I guess you could call this one LAST week in SEO. 🙂

Stay tuned on Friday for This Week in SEO #69

Penguin 4.0 Recovery Case Studies


Mmmm, case studies. The sustenance of SEOs everywhere.

This case study is done by Marie Haynes, and focuses on sites that were previously Google-slapped (Penguin punched?) and have recently recovered.

Lots of examples like this:

Hit by Penguin: This site was suppressed by a manual action for unnatural links several years ago. While they have made some improvements since then, I have always felt that they were still somewhat suppressed and have told them that they likely would see some improvement when Penguin finally updated.

Why? Large number of keyword anchored paid links as well as directory submissions.

What was done to attempt recovery? We did a thorough link audit and disavow. Many links were removed. Ongoing link audit and disavow work was done.

Did the site get new links while suppressed? This site has been working with a good SEO company and has managed to gain a good number of new links and also to continually improve their on-site quality.

Basically, thorough link audits + some disavows + new, strong links = the recipe for recovery (apparently).


A Summary of Local Pack Tests


If there’s one thing Google does consistently, it’s test out SERP features to earn more money.

Can’t really blame them for that…

September saw a lot of tests being done to the local pack, all with SEO/Rank implications if any one of them sticks.

  • Distance filter
  • Light-blue links
  • Ads at the top
  • Filter by rating

For now, though, they’re just tests. If your site relies on Google Local for organic traffic, better keep your eyes peeled, so you can move quickly to take advantage of the new features.

As long as they don’t fill the mobile local pack with ads…


UTF-8 BOM: A Little Known Robots.txt Problem

First up, WTF is UTF-8 BOM?

BOM stands for byte order mark and it’s used to indicate the byte order for a text stream. It’s an invisible character that’s located at the start of a file

Cool. Why does it matter?

…when your robots.txt file contains the UTF-8 BOM, Google can choke on the file. And that means the first line (often user-agent), will be ignored. And when there’s no user-agent, all the other lines will return as errors (all of your directives). And when they are seen as errors, Google will ignore them.

By the way, this is some very advanced stuff, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this until you’re writing great content, optimizing on-site SEO, etc.

This post goes into how to fix this little problem.


I recommend checking this post out if you’re looking to address the leftover 20% of the 80/20.


Google Serving Ads in (mobile) Local Packs Now

Google Serving AdWords Local 4-Packs in Mobile Search Results


Well… this is a thing now.

Google doesn’t seem to show both the local ad 4-packs with regular Google AdWords ads. It selects either regular AdWords ads or the local pack ads to display for ads in the serps. Google WILL show regular AdWords at the bottom.


Just want to point out here, that all of those listings are ads, as indicated by the little green “ads” tag at the top. Props to Google for making it really clear that those are ads, and really prioritizing the user experie–



Yet Another Post About Content Syndication

I’ve mentioned content syndication for SEO wins before.

It’s good stuff! This post digs into where and how brands are syndicating their content. Everyone else is jumping off this syndication bridge, so you might as well…

Buffer syndicates old content from their blog. Typically, the content Buffer syndicates on Medium has also been syndicated on other publisher sites like Huffington Post, NextWeb, etc. An example: a piece that was published in April 2013 on Buffer was then repurposed on Huffington Post in January 2014, then finally posted to Medium in August 2016.

Increased traffic is the end goal of SEO anyway, right?

This is a solid, meaty article that gives you everything you need to push your content to work (more) for you.


Rapid-Fire SEO Insights

Business users on can now customize meta title/descriptions (only like, a decade or something after that was considered a useful feature?) 🙂

Google made their keyword planning tool less useful to SEOs (and SEO tools), so doing keyword research in this new era is a bit different than it used to be. Nick has put out a solid guide that should help you through it. This is not a post for the casual SEOer, this is a big guide that offers a ton of value.

Read it. Use it.

Dwell time = the amount of time a user spends on a site, originating from the search results and coming BACK to the search results.

Bounce rate = the percentage of single page visits on a site–less useful (and less important) to Google.

Lots of speculation on this post, but the main point is that dwell time is relevant to SEO.

You can improve dwell time by writing quality content, tying it to a relevant keyword, and not using click-bait.

TWS69: Separate Mobile Index, Apple Map Ranking Factors, & More
TWS67: Possum, Penguin & More

Learn How To Rank Your Site

Get our simple, straightforward guide on how to rank your site.

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.
dotted line pointing to the void

Smash your traffic records with quality SEO.

SEO emphasis line

If you’re tired of the empty promises… Tired of the mediocre results…
Tired of SEO companies taking you for a ride… Tired of reading the word tired…

Let Smash Digital help.

Scroll to Top