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Joining David Bain to discuss whether or not the Google API leak should change the way you do SEO is Aleyda Solis, Joy Hawkins, Liv Day and Dixon Jones.

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David Bain 

Should the Google API leak change the way you do SEO?

Hello, and welcome to the July 2024 edition of the Majestic SEO Panel, where we’ll be discussing what was uncovered from the Google API leak. What metrics were unveiled as being more important than previously considered? And should this change the way that you do SEO?

I am David Bain and joining me today are four wonderful SEO investigators. So let’s meet them. Let’s start off with Dixon.

Dixon Jones

I am Dixon Jones. I’m the CEO of InLinks, which is a SaaS software for SEO and I used to be, back in the day, the Marketing Director at Majestic and I still wave the flag and sing Majestic’s praises when I can.

David Bain

Great to have you on, Dixon. Also with us today is Joy.

Joy Hawkins

Hi guys, I’m Joy Hawkins, the owner of Sterling Sky and we’re a local SEO marketing agency based in the US and Canada.

David Bain

Thanks so much for coming on, Joy, and also with us is Aleyda.

Aleyda Solis

Hello, thank you very much for having me today. I’m an SEO consultant. I have my own SEO consultancy called Orainti. I also have SEOFOMO which is an SEO newsletter and now a job or two. And I am looking forward to sharing with all of you today.

David Bain

We’re looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much for joining us, Aleyda. Also with us is Liv.

Liv Day

Thank you. So hi, everyone, my name is Liv Day. I’m a SEO Lead at Digital Loft. So we’re an SEO and Digital PR agency in the UK.

David Bain 

Thank you so much for joining us, Liv.

So let’s get going with Dixon. So Dixon, I’m just gonna ask you the simple question: what’s happened?

Dixon Jones

So what happened, a guy whose name I can’t quite remember now found a leak, which was theoretically in a public domain that he then shared with Mike King and with Rand. And so Rand and Mike then pretty much revealed that, that all this data was out there, after going through it with I would say a fine tooth comb, mostly they spent a good weekend going through and picking out bits and pieces and stuff. It was a major coup, it was very similar to a Yandex leak a few years ago in the last week, because it’s got a huge number of API calls that anybody inside Google can make, to inform any algorithm that they might want to build within Google. And it’s there in the public domain to be scrutinized by the likes of you and me.

David Bain

Absolutely, and many SEOs have done so, some more than others, of course. Aleyda, should we go with you know? So what would you say is a snapshot of what was uncovered?

Aleyda Solis

So by the way, the person who initially discovered it was Erfan Azimi and coincidentally, also that it took my attention that it was a week after I believe that this was initially disclosed. Dan Petrovic from Australia, also published that he had also more or less at the same time discovered the document, but he actually got in touch with Google to let them know that he had access to it, etc., rather than disclose it.

So it’s interesting how this all came to happen. With all honesty, as an overview, I believe that this allow us to complete the puzzle, let’s say of many areas of potential features, factors that we have been, let’s say, analyzing for quite a good time that could potentially be ranking factors, could potentially be taking into account, Google many, many times didn’t confirm, in some of the cases even denied. But we all assume that we saw the data that we had, and it could only be reasonable that Google could take certain factors or elements into consideration, then the DOJ data was disclosed at the end of last year. So a lot of elements like that, the NAV boost as a feature there was also disclosed in quite a few slides.

So we all started to understand. There’s actually Google documentation making a big reference to user engagement that is taken into account through Chrome, which has been consistently denied by Google and things like that. So I believe that this leak ended up like completing the puzzle or not necessary completely, because pretty sure that there’s much more, but like giving a better view of what we can understand. And I love in particular, one thing that I was mentioning before starting that is that I believe that most of us who have been already doing SEO for a while, knew that we couldn’t take for granted and we should always take with a grain of salt whatever Google information and documentation is disclosed, because we understand that because of the role, they cannot disclose everything to be easily manipulated. But I love that this happens. It teaches, I believe, a lot of new commerce in SEO. Many who learn SEO with online courses, and who have seen that Google has been doing an extraordinary job in the latest year documenting a lot of their features and releases, etc. So this new generation of SEOs are more used to taking everything that Google says as it is rather than double checking, testing, validating for themselves or questioning things. So I love that this happens, because it teaches us the importance of keeping a healthy and skeptical mindset, in SEO always be proactive. And also at the end of the day, to understand that even there are certain things that are not confirmed to be ranking factors, but are reasonably aligned to what we know that the user likes and appreciate and can only be reasonable that Google endorses or prioritizes to provide the best experience while minimizing the bad outcomes. Well, it’s there.

And so I believe that all of these outcomes and signals pretty much confirm and align to and like with the question that you asked at the beginning of our today’s session, David: should this change the way that we do SEO? If you were doing SEO right, It shouldn’t, it could potentially help you to prioritize further some tests to help you gain resources to prioritize certain types of initiatives. But if you were doing product first SEO, it shouldn’t change massively or the focus of what you were already doing. Because a lot of the things just show the importance of having a recognizable brand in our sector. How important is user engagement, authority, overall quality over quantity of links, the descriptive anchor text and so on and so on.

David Bain 

So many potential follow on questions from what you’re sharing there, Aleyda. You mentioned, Nav boost there. So that obviously incorporates user clicks. And that has been a hypothesis of many SEOs for years.

I remember years ago talking to Rand about this, and he was talking about how when he sends out an email newsletter, it was a Moz email newsletter at the time, and how that correlated towards improved rankings as soon as the emails went out, and people started clicking. Of course, he also was famous for giving talks on asking people live at conferences to click on certain results, and demonstrate ranking improvements because of that as well. So as you say, this helps to complete the puzzle. This is a piece towards demonstrating what is actually a part of the algorithm.

Joy, what are your thoughts on this?

Joy Hawkins 

I have so many thoughts. Okay, so I love the fact that I was able to interview Rand, we interviewed him on our YouTube channel along with Mike King, and he actually did one of these demonstrations live. So at the end of the webinar, he asked people to search in Seattle for a Vietnamese restaurant and click on a specific restaurant that ranked like page two in the local pack results. And so what I did is I set up a tracker to track this restaurant’s ranking long term because I want to know how long this boost lasted, they did get a boost for sure. He sent me screenshots showing the next day that they’re ranking and they weren’t there before and other people are confirming the same things. But my kind of counter to that is obviously there are lots of agencies and SEO companies out there that will do click through rate manipulation. They will literally go and click on their clients and they’ll pay other people to go click on their clients so that those sites increase in ranking, and it does work. We’ve actually seen this and tracked it. And it does work. But my question is for how long, right? So if you have that as your approach and your strategy, does it actually stick? Or does it eventually fade out? Because obviously, you are not going to keep that up forever.

So I’ve been tracking this restaurant, they are just now starting to dip, two weeks later. I plan on publishing all this. I’m just wanting to wait like a month or two because I want to see the long term impact for all those clicks that we inflated and got them. Will it stick long term? And so far, I think the answer is no. So I do not think that CTR manipulation should be your go to if you’re looking for SEO strategies. And on the flip side, I think what it’s telling brands is that you need to invest in other strategies to increase your brand awareness, because that actually sticks long term. And an example of that would be I interviewed a plumber named Roger Wakefield, who’s a local plumber in Dallas. And he decided to get big into YouTube. And all of a sudden, when he started getting big into YouTube, his Google rankings went up. He wasn’t doing any SEO, but he started noticing his business ranking for ‘plumber Dallas’, and it never was before. And so we kind of looked at it and explored that a little bit when I interviewed him, but essentially, that the increase in his brand, the increase in people searching for him, because they were trying to find him on YouTube had a direct impact on his Google rankings. And I think that’s an actionable thing that businesses can do that will be sustainable long term.

David Bain

Interesting. I mean, it certainly depends on the quality of the result, the relevance of the result as to whether or not the improved rankings are going to stick over the long term. I mean, certainly years ago, I used to gain, if you want to call it that, YouTube rankings by driving cheap paid traffic to those videos to begin with. And I got a lot of these videos to stick for highly competitive keywords. But that’s because hopefully, the content was decent. And it stayed on the videos for a while after that. There’s no point in manipulating results, which aren’t highly relevant for the terms that your traffic, you’re generating, certainly.

Should we go to Liv? What’s your, what’s your opening thoughts?

Liv Day 

I just have so many thoughts based on what Joy said, that’s so interesting. I think it’s really key what’s come out of this documentation. And the fact that I’ve always been a big, big believer that SEO shouldn’t just operate in a silo, you shouldn’t just have SEO as your sole strategy, you need to be working on brand building. And that needs to form at least some part of your SEO strategy. UX needs to come into part of your SEO strategy as well.

I think there’s so much that’s come out of this documentation leak around engagement signals, around what you’ve just described, Joy, about having those extra brand awareness signals that can give that all important boost to your ranking. So I think it’s really exciting, that we’ve now got sort of a bit more concrete evidence to be able to say, actually, just your on page SEO is not enough, you’ve got to be looking at your social media, you’ve got to be looking at how SEO is interacting with every other channel that you’ve got. And I think that’s a really exciting thing that’s come out of the league for sure.

David Bain

So there’s no quick set of tips that you could offer people based upon what’s been found to a certain degree that almost makes SEO more challenging, because it demonstrates that it has to be part of that overarching marketing strategy?

Liv Day

Unfortunately, as always, you always want to be able to say that there’s some quick wins, there’s definitely things that’s definitely actionable tips. I think one of the biggest things that I’ve been recommending to people since this leak is titled tag testing, click through rate testing, things like that, and seeing for yourself the impact that these engagement signals, that these click signals, which we know that Google is using very heavily, what impact that is going to have. So that’s been my number one sort of actionable thing. But there are plenty of other aspects and other recommendations that are going to take time such as brand building, wider EEAT recommendations. There’s so much that’s come out with this leak about site authority, what Google measures a site authority, what exactly that means, and how exactly a brand can build that and how it can benefit SEO as well.

David Bain

You mentioned site authority there. Shall we talk a little bit about that? Obviously, it’s one of the metrics that were uncovered as part of this API leak. Aleyda, shall we go back to you, do you have any thoughts on site authority?

Aleyda Solis

Yes, indeed, I believe that it was really interesting to see how it was included in quite a few areas of the documentation, not only the mention of site authority, but the overall importance that Google puts into the overall recognition of the website brands and authoritativeness. So I believe that there was a certain area in especially I believe it was in Mike’s initial analysis, or one of the webinars, the rules that take into account not only that this website might have millions of backlinks. But if there are no navigational searches, if there are no searches for the brand, that actually shows that the website has a real authoritativeness and recognizable authority in the sector. Well, it might be something actually negative and also certain areas talking about the motion related features, too. So for me, it was interesting to see how our authority in general is something isolated or generic? Well, as you mentioned, many of us had this hypothesis that existed or metrics of tools, etc.

I found it really interesting and useful, it makes sense how Google puts it into context to really understand if there’s a real authority or not. When put into context with other criteria. And I believe that this shows how certain type of manipulations even if you end up like doing link building (as a bug, let’s say it doesn’t necessarily work or won’t work as well, there’s no real authority for the brand behind and searches about the brand and correlated with what Joy mentioned before. Indeed, it doesn’t surprise me that a small player will see an increase in the rankings if they are building and consistently been building the brand or navigational searches, because of all the content that they put out there is also something that shows the importance, I believe of how a lot of websites out there unfortunately, dismiss branded rankings and searches and only focus on branded, very transactional type of search, queries and searches overall, it shows the importance of targeting the overall customer journey and user journey and how important it is, even if you are very commercially focused business and website. Even on e-commerce right now you cannot try or think to get away by just optimizing your PDPs, your product pages or your PLPs.

And that said, how it pays off to create the top of the funnel content that will be the one that your users will engage with will spontaneously many times refer to, link to, share and establish your authority in your field. In particular, I think that it shows the important data that SEO cannot work on a very non-branded transactional focus mindset and how it is important that it cannot work on a silo either. And that we should measure more the brand component of our work too and focus more on that.

David Bain 

And, Joy, you start talking about the brand as well. You also mentioned that you’ve seen a lot of rankings not be retained when click through rate has been manipulated. But if you get your brand work done well. And you’ve got a great backlink profile, your site is structured nicely, it’s a relevant experience for users. Is there not an opportunity to perhaps manipulate click through rate to give you a quicker set of rankings and still retain those rankings if you’ve got that brand play right?

Joy Hawkins

I think it depends on how you do it. I think the ones that I’ve tested like we had a client that hired somebody and they did this contest where basically you get entered to win an iPhone or something and you had to go to Google, you had to type in something, you had to click on his page. He was on page two, and then entered a form and they would enter into this contest. So a lot of people did it. It absolutely worked. He went up really fast. Within, I’d say about a week he was on the first page, not first position, but like he went up a significant amount. And it stayed there as long as the contest went on. But then the contest ended, a month later he went right back to where he was. So it’s like are you really going to run these contests for every page on your site, for every keyword? And do you really think this is going to work long term? No. I do think that it’s a really strong argument for doing more paid search. People always say: why is my SEO working better when I’m doing paid search? And they put on their tinfoil hats, and they think that Google’s giving them some type of ranking boost, when in reality, I think it’s just driving up searches for your brand and natural things for your brand that in that stuff is helping your SEO work better, as well.

David Bain 

Brilliant. Dixon, you’ve collated a resource, haven’t you that discusses what you found?

Dixon Jones

Actually, it doesn’t do much discussion. It’s just all of the API’s or all the calls that you can make, I’ve just put them all into a table that is easily searchable. And, it’s kind of useful to use. So if you can just go to dixonjones.com and just click on ‘under his work’, which is kind of the only place I could put it on my menu anyway, you can just get to it. It takes a few seconds to load because I’m sorry, I’m a really bad programmer. But once it is loaded, it’s great, because you can look for any kind of word, and it will show you all of the API calls, and you can easily go and see them. And I think that it’s useful to at least give yourself a first pass of how important everything is. For example, site authority as you mentioned, David, it’s not absolutely something that I used to go around saying more domain authority. No, they don’t have a sitewide metric. Clearly they do. However, out of something like 14,000 API calls in this document, site authority is mentioned in three of them. That’s the kind of level, if you then go and have a look at how many times the word ‘keyword’, for example, is mentioned, that’s mentioned 27 times. ‘Topic’ is mentioned 219 times. And the reason I go for this is because I’m all into this kind of idea of entities. And the word ‘entity’, even in the singular, is mentioned 1014 times.

So for me, obviously none of this gives you the detail of how much they care about any one of these because any one of the programmers has got to choose any one of these things and do different algorithms all over the place. But to me, it demonstrates just how far Google has gone down. Entities are mentioned over 1000 times, and it shows just how much Google has started to think about their world in terms of entities and how important that is, and SEOs have completely ignored it. And it’s time to stop too. So there’s all sorts of keywords SEOs use, can plug them in there and say, well, what’s the phraseology the Google’s using? How much are they kind of embedded in their psyche? I hope that if there is a change to how SEOs think, I hope that they start thinking in terms of things not strings, but that’s my bit. did I go off topic?

David Bain

Feel free to share that document in the private chat and I can share it to all the socials or feel free to share it in the chat. Aleyda, you also produced a document as well. Do you want me to share that publicly?

Aleyda Solis 

Yes, of course. I included Dixon’s resource too among others. And there’s even a GPT out there that you can ask directly about the feature that you want to understand further etc., to get an answer. So there are lots of different resources there. Something interesting actually related also to what you were mentioning before Dixon, regarding the importance of certain things that we already knew that we should take into account but because and I have to say right, and you’re doing it well with your tool, unfortunately, and this is one of the things that we have just realized that a lot of the tools are not necessarily giving us the metrics and the information that we need or highlight them as, as they should to be able to do a really good work. For example, the user engagement. It’s interesting to see that, for example, Similarweb, they actually show the no clicks percentage for a certain type of query. So it shows what is the type of engagement that the user is having in SERPs. If it’s really a worthy term or query or topics that will tend to generate a good click through rate or not, things like that. So there are not that many tools. And for example, in your case, InLinks, regarding thinking on entities and that type of additional steps that are not the usual metrics or information that general tools will tend to provide. And also, how many of these related or connected metrics are also not necessarily standardized. So, for example, related to Nav Boost, we can agree that some of the elements here that should be taken into account is good design, intuitive navigation, web design that facilitates browsability, engage the user better, to avoid an intrusive experience, and allowing them to continue using the website and find what they came to find in the first place.

This is something that I can understand how it can be a little bit more difficult to measure by tools, and to provide specific data for. But should be stuff based on the like, it’s obvious that the UX people cannot come and say: Oh, this is not at all part of SEO, you shouldn’t mess yourself into this, or you shouldn’t have a say into this, or why do you care about this? If it doesn’t have to do with content relevance, or link popularity and stuff like that. It shows the importance of good UX into all of this, and how we should clearly align with them, especially particularly talking about the user engagement, also about the format of the content to connect with the intent of the user. A lot of videos, for example, content, formats or images, that might not necessarily be the first thought of to produce because it requires a higher investment. But we will be the ones that will satisfy the user better, that will generate more engagement and allow us to, at the end of the day, convert better and and fulfill the user journey. I believe that we can connect the dots in a way that goes beyond the traditional metrics that we have been thinking and getting from most of the tools out there right now when doing SEO.

David Bain

So we’ll get to Jeff’s question about author authority in just a couple of minutes, but I would like to go to Liv for a second. Liv, what did we learn about links and the way that links are perceived, and how they help us improve rankings?

Liv Day

So much. I published a whole analysis in the first week of what exactly the documentation link means for links. And for digital PR, I sent a very, very lengthy email to a lot of clients. I think it’s been really beneficial to SEOs and digital PRs, particularly from like that client communication perspective of exactly what links mean, why they matter, and what makes a good link, and what and how we measure the success of digital PR, which is something that has traditionally been very, very difficult to do. And I know a lot of agencies are moving away from just sort of link based KPIs and numbers of links are saying, we’re going to exclude nofollow links, for example. But we’ve learnt so much. I think one of the big, big things that we learned about links was the importance of relevance, which isn’t a massively new topic. If you’ve been doing good SEO, good digital PR for the last few years, nothing that’s coming from the leak has been massively groundbreaking, but I think it was really reassuring as an SEOs to see the importance of relevancy. There were attributes such as an anchor mismatch demotion.

So I think what we’ve sort of worked out is that Google may be completely ignoring links from content that is not relevant to yours. So it will be looking at the overall topic of the source of the link versus the topic. The niche of the target link, and if there is that mismatch, Google might be ignoring that link completely. Google pays attention to the country that your link is coming from. So maybe waiting, links heavier if it comes from the same country as yours. There’s so much about it. The anchor text you use, the context around the anchor text as well. Long gone are the days that we have to sort of use that exact match anchor text, Google will take into account sort of the wider context, there’s a lot around how natural language processing is used, and how that wider context can give more indication to the relevancy of a link. We also look at the different sources that we have. So Google has specific tags for high quality newsy sites, I think it called and also had specific trusted authorities. So it has trusted authorities around elections, trusted authorities around COVID. So we don’t know exactly what that means. But we can kind of hazard a guess that it means that Google is specifically marking like it does with seed sites. So those sites that are really, really important within an industry. What other really, really trusted sources are there. So it puts that emphasis on getting links from really, really high quality sources from sources that are deemed as authority and trusted, and also from content that is fresh and up to date.

So the leak also talks about Google’s three indexing tiers. Google will place links into three different indexing tiers, that will be the high, medium, or low quality indexing tier, and content that is fresh will automatically go into that high quality index tier. So I think that really highlights the importance of getting links regularly. So not just sort of doing digital PR, for example, is a one off strategy. So having a really consistent link building strategy, getting it from content that gets a lot of traffic, and getting it from those really authoritative, relevant sites as well. So it’s nothing particularly groundbreaking. I think it’s something that high quality digital PRs and link builders have been doing for a long, long time. But I think it’s really nice to reinforce and it started a lot of conversations with clients that we have internally about exactly how we measure successful link building, it’s no longer just sort of like casting your net out and trying to get as many links as possible from sites that might not get traffic, that might not be authoritative, that might not be as relevant to yours. It’s that really, really targeted link building, which is always great to see.

David Bain

Superb, thank you Liv.

Joy, could we get your thoughts on Jeff’s question? So it might not necessarily be included in the API leak, I wasn’t aware if it was included. So he’s talking about author authority, as opposed to site authority. And obviously, Google have done things in the past to try and track authorship and whether or not that author is an authoritative, relevant author within that particular field. So his question relates to is it okay, just to get articles produced by anyone? Or is it essential to get articles produced by known authorities within a field?

Joy Hawkins

Yeah, so this is one that I’ve struggled to find any actionable stuff from, we’ve done a lot of testing around this, author bios, things like that. We work in local SEO. So I’ve tried things like adding a doctor’s name to their business listing on Google, does that make a difference? So far, like everything we’ve tried in that aspect fell flat, it doesn’t really do anything to increase traffic or ranking. What I do think helps is if you do have a recognized person, for example, I get Rand Fishkin to write a blog for Sterling Sky, obviously, he’s well known in the SEO space, that article is going to get a lot of traffic whenever I share it, because everyone’s gonna be like: Ooh I know who Rand is, and they’ll want to read it. Also, you get the opportunity to rank for that person’s name, which has a lot of search volume. So there’s an SEO play there. But I haven’t really seen anything where it’s like adding more details about the author, or where they went to school or anything like that, having any type of impact. I think when it comes to author authority, it’s really like a link thing; are people talking about that person linking to that person linking to that site then. Those are the things that actually move the needle.

David Bain

Everyone else have thoughts on that?

Dixon Jones 

I just did a little lookup on ‘author’ and certainly the author name is in there as a record so and another one is ‘creator’, description is creator or authors. And so that’s kind of looking at you, who is responsible for creating either an image or a piece of content. The author name variable looks like it’s taking on a blog or a micro blog or whatever it looks like it’s taking the user name and using that. So it’s certainly there’s less in there than I expected there to be about the author. I thought that when Google in the days of Google Plus and when they were getting us all to sign up to Google Plus and identifying ourselves and things. I thought they were going to be using that to really try and try and understand who it is that’s producing all this content. There doesn’t seem to be as much in there as I would have thought on that front. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t think it’s important. I think it absolutely is. I think that an author that publishes without a signal that they’ve got expertise in that field, I think everybody’s an expert at something. But nobody’s an expert at everything. And I think that as you go through life, I’m just approaching 60. So I’ve got this philosophical approach to the things now, you become an expert in certain things, and those are the things that you should try and tell the world, something that’ll add some information to the world. And I think that that still is important, regardless of the fact that I can’t easily see it in there on a 10 second search anyway.

Aleyda Solis

Just the fact that it is included in there, for me, is great to see. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the debates and the back and forth in SEO Twitter regarding no, author, the authorship, Google cannot take it into account – “It’s not a ranking factor”. And just dismissing it completely. The typical unfortunate take in SEO, we cannot prove that it is a ranking factor and isn’t confirmed by Google, we don’t care about it or whatever.

It’s obviously something that can become an advantage to have as Joy mentioned, all of the different angles that you can piggyback on having someone who has real expertise and authority and can generate branded searches to their names plus the recognition that Google knows and are able to identify entities and also embeddings so they have a little bit of more sophistication out there to understand the context and the meaning of information and that connected with the entity of a person of course it can play a role or it might not necessarily play it yet but it does seems that Google are at least taking the information, or grabbing the information. So I will say this is connected with the fact that engagement is important. I will say, focus on those very specifics. As you mentioned, Dixon, topics that actually matter to you that you have good authority on and hire not random people, ghostwriters to go through them but real experts in your fields that can cover it well and can showcase a wealth of experience in it too. So it just shows the experience how to provide the best potential experience to users and engage better with users and attract much more easily. Also there is more endorsement of users and the trust of users is something that you should focus on more and it shouldn’t be necessarily that hard if you already have a certain informational play at work.

David Bain 

So you can’t just hire random people and then put a great expert’s name to that content?

Aleyda Solis

Especially not if you feature an AI avatar.

David Bain 

What about SEO software? Is there any SEO software that moves quickly and incorporated some of these metrics in their reports?

Dixon Jones 

Maybe there is but I think that incorporating it straight in, yes, I’ve got a database so you can go and look it up but to then suddenly jump in and say I know this is a fact needs to go through Joy’s kind of like rigor before you can start to change your course as a SaaS maker. I think that reacting too quickly is a dangerous thing to do. Okay, we reacted really quickly when ChatGPT came out but reacting to this where it’s not very well defined I think you need to go a little slower. Otherwise you as a SaaS have to invest a lot of time in coming out with new features and stuff. And if you get it wrong, you become a laughingstock quite easily. So it’s better to go a little slower and allow Liv and Joy to iron out the kinks before you go and build something.

Aleyda Solis

I was mentioning before the software that we have nowadays  and the metrics that we tend to use, there’s a little bit like a gap out there of things that are shown to be taken into account. And very much more than that, we had a confirmation from Google, especially the ones related to user engagement, and so on. Thankfully, regarding some of the newer areas, let’s say or less common areas, there are more and more tools that have become more sophisticated. So Dixon’s own tools like InLinks. The way that you focus on generating content and optimizing for entities, etc, etc., and creating a knowledge graph for your website, things like that. So I believe that these are the types of features that are not necessarily that common. And thankfully, we have now a variety of additional areas, like the ones that take into consideration user engagement, for which the UX people tend to work a lot with and conversion people like the click through rate through the navigation, the bounce rate, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. These are not necessarily metrics that in SEO, we tend to work a lot with but see, nav boosts, and a lot of the motions, I really like to see all of this area of the motions that we’ll see will be generated from a bad user experience. Like the nav scoring the motion from a poor user navigational experience, these type of things, I believe that we should start incorporating more of those non necessarily purely SEO tools that are already used within the optimization efforts, overall of the website products, and take that also into account to develop a more holistic approach into how to optimize for search, the good search experience overall.

David Bain

So it’s almost encroaching on the last question, which is, should this change the way that SEO is done? And if so how?

So let’s finish off with our last question. And then just confirm to the listener who you are and where people can find you.

Let’s go to Dixon. So should this change the way that SEO is done? And if so, how?

Dixon Jones

So I think it depends where you start from as an SEO. I think that for most people, SEOs that are running marketing, and running their website as a business first and SEO as part of that marketing process, I don’t think there’s a huge amount they’re going to change very quickly. I think for an SEO that has gone around thinking I just need to get a page for every single keyword that I think everyone ever typed into Google, I think they probably need to pay some attention.

That’s it. Dixonjones.com is probably the best place to go because that’s where the database is, if you want to look at it.

David Bain

Great to have you, Dixon.

Joy, what are your thoughts on that question?

Joy Hawkins

I think the one takeaway that I would change is just the metrics that people use to evaluate links, I think are outdated. So the metrics I would look at is if you get a link from a page, check to see how much organic traffic that specific page gets on Google. Does that page rank anywhere? Is that page even indexed? I can’t tell you how many links I see people build that the pages that are linking to that particular business aren’t even in Google’s index. So I think those are the metrics that people should be looking at more than domain authority, or how many links go to that site.

David Bain

Wonderful. Where can people find you, Joy?

Joy Hawkins 

I’m most active on X, @JoyanneHawkins. I’m also on LinkedIn and sterlingsky.ca.

David Bain

Thank you, Joy.

Liv, what are your thoughts on whether or not this should change the way that SEO is done?

Liv Day

I think nothing is going to turn SEO completely on its head as long as you have been doing SEO and following best practices over the last few years, but I do think it’s really helpful to refocus. So I think I’ve said previously, the number one recommendation that I’ve been making that feels really, really actionable is titled tag testing for click through rate. So as much as we’ve talked about manipulation of clicks in SERPs, there’s plenty that you can do organically and really honing in on user intent is something that I’ve been talking about a lot lately, intent has been changing on SERPs. Really focusing on that click through rate. And then also just making sure that SEO isn’t operating in a silo, I think we’ve got more ammunition now to say, for me to go to a client and say: Actually, your website is horrible. I’ve worked with some horrible, really ugly websites, and they say: Oh, UX isn’t part of SEO. It really, really, really is.

David Bain

Lovely, and where can people find you Liv?

Liv Day

Find me everywhere. I’m on Twitter, It’s @oliviaday__ and then LinkedIn as well. I’m very active.

David Bain

Thank you so much for coming on.

Aleyda, you’ve talked about having a more holistic approach. Is that the way that you change the way that SEO was done because of this?

Aleyda Solis 

Well hopefully you don’t need to change because you were already doing it. But if not, because you need to get the buy-in and support for the areas or show that it actually matters. You need to give me a seat on the table in order to have to be part of those sorts of conversations and efforts. Yes, for sure. So hopefully, this should help to prioritize tests, to develop pilot projects, to also allow you to have a voice for certain types of conversations regarding user search experience in general rather than purely and treating SEO as in silo. So hopefully, that will be useful for it.

David Bain 

Thanks so much for coming on. Where can people find you, Aleyda?

Aleyda Solis 

They can find me on LinkedIn, Aleyda Solis, you can search for me there.

David Bain

I’ve been your host David Bain, you’ve been listening to the Majestic SEO Panel. If you want to join us next time, sign up at majestic.com/webinars, and of course, check out the other series that we produce at SEOin2024.com.

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Comments

  • Chuck

    As Liv Day said, not exactly a revolution, having backlinks on quality sites that rank. As long as webmasters are not punished for having non-spammy but worthless backlinks, I'm good with that.
    Chuck

    July 10, 2024 at 6:33 pm

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