This Week In SEO 72
Mobile First, Optimized Content, WP Themes, & More!


Mobile First Index Has Arrived


Google has started to implement their mobile-first index.

Just to be clear about this, the mobile-first index is NOT a separate index. There’s still only just one index.

So what’s the big difference?

Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.

Here’s how to know if you’re site is good to go, or if you’re about to (or already have) dropped a bunch of spots:

If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.

If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.


Optimize Your Content

Good content can do so much for your SEO efforts.

  • lend your website much needed authority
  • give your website topical relevance
  • help defend against penalties

Having solid content will seriously impact your ranking efforts.

But how do you go from “we wrote 8 blog posts” to “organic traffic is up +300%“?

Optimize that sh*t, son!


15% of queries globally display featured snippets. There are 3 types of Google Answer Box results: Paragraphs (63% of all displayed featured snippets on Google search results), Lists (19%) and Tables (16% – according to the data gathered by STAT).

This is a pretty in-depth blog post, and a great resource to help you optimize your content, rank better, and get more traffic.


Google Hates Your WordPress Theme

You think your website looks nice, but do you really need a giant parallax image of three people smiling at a computer?

Themeforest wants to sell you a slick video-slider theme that does one of everything, but what do your customers want?

And we know that, for the most part, Googlebot wants what the people want.

[…a particular theme] referenced 23 JavaScript libraries and 20 CSS stylesheets! Kind of nuts. The scariest part is that there are 500+ sales of the theme floating around out there. Most likely a lot of frustrated webmasters.

This really isn’t an isolated situation either. There are 100’s if not 1000’s of these themes out there. They look pretty, they have oodles of “features” but when Google comes to visit, it’s not a good thing. As an SEO, one of our biggest jobs is working with misconfigured websites, old frameworks, and broken themes.

I always like to reference “that last 10%” — your site is optimized, your content is working overtime, and your links are on point, what do you do next? What are the uncommon tasks that will push your site up that last little bit to #1.

Having a (good) developer go through your ‘out of the box’ WP theme and optimize that thing for a better user (and Spider) experience.



How Hummingbird Works

A super-optimized (for social sharing), in-depth post by Neil Patel(‘s ghost writer).

Hummingbird doesn’t get a lot of mentions in the day-to-day SEO blog circuit. Everybody is all Panda this and Penguin that.

But Hummingbird was a big deal–and still appears to be.

Here’s the list of eight takeaways from the study (most of which we’ve been talking about here, for forever). Check out the post to see the data behind the summary, and some of the individual content analyzed.

However, if you want to skip those weird ads


Here’s the list:

  1. Select, refine and state your site’s topic using a clear purpose statement, above-the-fold content and specific navigation elements. (Don’t be content with fuzzy or broad statements.)
  2. Create long form content. (Avoid short content.)
  3. Create in-depth content. (Avoid generic content.)
  4. Summarize the purpose and intent of the site with specificity and directness. (Don’t hide your purpose or make it vague.)
  5. Create content that appeals to readers (Don’t create content for search engines.)
  6. Create focused content. (Don’t try to provide comprehensive content on every sub niche in your niche.)
  7. Create a lot of content. (Don’t be happy with a few blog posts or evergreen pages.)
  8. Create content that is entirely relevant to your area of expertise. (Don’t write about off-topic subjects.)


Me, writing that last post:


Google and Facebook Squeezing Out Partners

And now, for something cynical.

I love Aaron Wall’s SEO posts and commentary. I’ve said that before, and it’s still very true.

In this post, Aaron talks about Google spending resources researching which symbols “alarmed users the most” to push their agenda of HTTPS and AMP (which, as the article points out, “is being used as the foundation of effective phishing campaigns).

Remember how mobilegeddon was going to be the biggest thing ever? Well I never updated our site layout here & we still outrank a company which raised & spent 10s of millions of dollars for core industry terms like [seo tools].

There’s a lot of quotable paragraphs in this article, but I will instead encourage you to go read the article and dive deeper into the example.

I hear a lot of people quoting Google on how to build links, or parroting something they heard in the Moz community about doing X or Y will cause a penalty.

Consistently, the best way to understand what works in the ranking of a site is to go and look at the SERPs. You’ll see:

Pages with insane keyword density ranking 1st.
Sites propped up with black hat or super spammy links.
Articles of 50 words outranking “epic content” all day long.

Do as Google says, not as they rank.

The article goes on to be critical of AMP, Google’s ad partners, Facebook’s edgerank, mobile first index, and more.

My point (which different a bit from the article itself) is to encourage you to do your own research on what does and does not work, before you go and lose a bunch of money listening to SEO Experts who come by their expertise by reacting with fear to what Google says, and not with calm and clear-headed observation with what is actual working.

Good stuff–definitely give this article a read.

And PS — if you’re down with that, but too busy running your business, let us take the link building off your hands and…


Check out our RankBOSS link building service.


Rapid-Fire SEO Insights

Search Engine Land:

Google’s recent local update (Possum) changed 64% of local SERPs


Google to shut down Map Maker, it’s crowdsourced map-making tool.

Also, this:

TWS73: Fake News, AMP, Advanced Content Strategies, & More
TWS71: Structured Data, Mobile SEO, & More

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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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