Welcome to the September 2022 edition of State of Search.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the fallout from the ‘Helpful Content’ Google Search algorithm update.
Next, we’ll review an important case study demonstrating red herrings in SEO.
Finally, we’ll shine a light on how much money internet affiliate markers are really making.
Let’s dive into it.
Last month’s biggest news item, the ‘Helpful Content’ search algorithm update, has now been completed.
Many SEOs touted this update to have as big of an impact on search as Penguin and Panda did back in the early-to-mid 2010s.
However, a recent poll conducted by Aledya Solis noted that only 20% of voters noticed any rankings changes after the update was completed.
Key takeaway: It’s still too early to know the true fallout of the helpful content update.
However, it seems the impact has been significantly less than what was anticipated.
SEOs tend to fall into hot flushes of Penguin and Panda PTSD when Google announces major algorithm updates.
That’s why it’s important to not get caught up in the pandemonium and make brash decisions until more evidence-based data becomes available.
Google’s Helpful Content Update Introduces A New Site-wide Ranking Signal Targeting “Search engine-first Content”, and It’s Always Running
One key takeaway from the ‘Helpful Content’ algorithm update is the new sitewide ranking signal that targets ‘unhelpful content’.
Long story short – Google is targeting websites that have content created for search engines and not for people.
For example, a product view website that aggregates reviews from other websites with zero unique insight.
Key takeaway: Google is intentionally vague in explaining how and what its ranking signals do. They do this to prevent SEOs from exploiting search and gaining an unfair advantage.
The key thing to note here is Google is rewarding sites that it considers to have unique and insightful content.
What’s important to note is this sitewide signal is always running.
So if Google deems most of your website’s content as ‘unhelpful’, then all of your webpages will struggle to rank.
How can you know if your content is unique enough? Use Copyscape’s plagiarism checker.
What about quality? How do you know if your content is of good enough quality? Use Surfer SEO’s content editor and auditing tool.
Yes, it really is that simple.
One of every SEOs favourite tools, Screaming Frog, recieved a major update this month.
Version 17 introduces an ‘issues’ tab, automatically highlighting website errors, issues and opportunities.
The links tab has also been updated, allowing you to filter your results based on more targeted link conditions.
Key takeaway: When it comes to doing audits, Screaming Frog is the go-to tool for many SEOs.
Its Achilles heel has been its Windows XP-era interface which can be hard to understand.
The new issues tab makes it easier to quickly understand what’s going wrong and how to fix it.
In this case study, Kevin Indig analyses why Wish, Zulily and TheRealReal all lost traffic at the same time.
At face value, the loss in traffic seems to be due to each site forcing users to log in before they can access content.
However, after further analysis, the reason in the traffic drop could be due to any one or a combination of the following:
- Each site removed a large number of pages that were ranking in search around the same time, causing a drop in traffic
- Wish sells erotic products which could send negative signals to Google
- Wish has internal search result pages that rank in Google Search. These pages have been losing search visibility over time. Additionally, Google’s Guidelines explicitly state to avoid ranking internal search result pages.
- All three pages have had their brand search decline. This may be due to a loss of brand trust due to the large number of counterfeit goods that are sold on these platforms.
- Other websites with the same business model that did not force log-ins also had a drop in traffic
Key takeaway: If I could choose one word to explain SEO, that word would be ‘misunderstood’.
Kevin Indig’s article is a great example of how a seemly obvious reason why traffic dropped may have been the completely wrong conclusion.
Even with the points gained from further analysis, it is still not clear what is the actual cause of the traffic drop.
That’s why it’s important not to make conclusions too quickly when analysing search traffic. It is a complicated game that can be influenced by many hundred factors at any given time.
On the flip side, you can waste days going down the rabbit hole of data analysis only to arrive at where you began.
A recent survey of over 2,000 marketers helped shine a light on how much affiliate marketers actually make.
More than half of affiliate marketers make less than $10k USD a year. Only around 17% of affiliate marketers make over six figures per year.
That’s pretty bad.
On a more positive note, affiliate marketing is set to grow by $15.7 billion by 2024.
Key takeaway: Affiliate marketing is often paraded around as the ultimate form of passive income.
Just set up a blog, write some content and watch the dollars roll in. How hard could that be!?
It is a lot harder than it seems. Especially if you want to make any meaningful income from it.
So yes, don’t quit your day job to go into affiliate marketing full-time just yet.
Instead, use it as one of many potential revenue streams that you can build into your business.
So there you have it – that’s the State of Search for September 2022.
Has your website been affected by the helpful content algorithm update?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.