Monday Morning Recap (January 31st – February 6th)

Majority Rules: Over Half Polled Did Not Feel the Effects of Google’s Mobile Interstitials Penalty

To date, approximately half of the websites out there haven’t yet felt the effects of Google’s Mobile Interstitials Penalty.

Google announced in 2016 that it would begin to devalue pages that have intrusive pop-ups which are also referred to as interstitials. They stated that this would begin on January 10, 2017. They further stated that any pages with the intrusive interstitials wouldn’t be ranking highly due to the pop-ups making their content virtually inaccessible to users.

We’ll, the 10th of January has come and gone. Google stayed true to their word and implemented their new protocol.

According to their update, on January 10, 2017, they begin to stop ranking such pages. Users who wished to include interstitial pop-ups on their pages wouldn’t be ranking as well as the other pages. Just as they said, this is just a start. This new signal is one of the hundreds that Google calculates to rank the pages. So a page may rank highly for other reasons, but not for this reason.

Has your website been affected by Google’s roll out of the interstitial penalty for mobile sites? If so, we’ve got insight on some recent surveys.

Per a survey that was sent out on Search Engine Journal’s Twitter, over half state that they haven’t noticed the effects of Google’s mobile penalty and the rest aren’t yet sure of how or if they are affected. Only a mere 6 percent feel that they’ve been affected.

Obviously, the extent of the new penalty isn’t yet widespread. There is still a large percentage that isn’t sure of how the changes will affect them and their websites. This might be partially due to Google having to do more crawls of the web before the impact is fully seen.

Highlighting the Organic Search Winners & Losers In 2016 and What We Can Learn From Them

We can learn a lot from the winners and the losers of the organic search in 2016.

Three years in a row, Searchmetrics published the annual Winners and the Losers Report. This shows how some sites fared in the organic searches on Google over the year 2016.

The analysis of Searchmetrics is focused on how the SEO is for each website. It’s an indicator of Searchmetrics that measures how the websites perform in organic searches.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the same as the organic search engines ranking, it sets it up to show an overview of how frequently the website shows up in the search engine results according to the volume and the position of the keywords and where they rank. This is as per the FAQ of Searchmetrics.

According to this metric, Searchmetrics analyzed the changes in the websites over the course of the year. They then sorted out the top 100 winners and the top 100 losers per the changes in visibility.

The results are of course limited to Google.com and are applicable to the websites that are in the United States. They’re fascinating as an insight of how trends and the algorithm changes worked throughout the course of the year.

How then did they fare in 2016? What was the secret to success? How did the losers fare and what was their downfall?

The Winners: Social Media & Shopping

When it comes to the biggest winners, only ten percent of the sites were social media. These also included Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook in the top ten when it came to absolute gain. Pinterest took the lead to the shock of many. It came in second for visibility and there was no great shock that the winner was … Google itself. With a gain of 80 percent, they took the lead.

Pinterest has already been covered as the platform that allows for a more visual search. This went far in taking the lead and keeping the users there by connecting the pins to their interests. It wasn’t a huge shock that a site that relies on visibility would take the lead. Searchmetrics attributes this success of SEO visibility to the deep learning that continues to generate results and tell users that they’ve connected them.

As Apple, Google, Pinterest (and Searchmetrics) focused on learning more about their users. They followed them and helped them to find more by generating loyalty and stickies that would help keep them connected to more that they were interested in.

Not all of the sites have these resources or technology and they can’t focus on deep learning. Thus, they aren’t giving their users the benefits that Pinterest and the other sites are giving to them. If you want to improve a site, you’re going to have to learn these methods and techniques and help connect users to the valuable information that they’re seeking.

While shopping is another hugely significant category that did well, it was only a fifth of the sites that others were. It gave a relatively steady rise in the search rankings but nothing compared to Pinterest.

When it comes to successful e-commerce sites, eBay and target took the lead followed by retailmenot.com and lastly, Walmart. Theblackfriday.com and blackfriday.com both followed closely and showed huge gains which show how, when used correctly, the SEO can take over and lead the user to the page if used wisely.

The Ups And Downs Of Media

Publishing and media were by and far the largest category in winners for 2016. They cornered nearly 2/5ths of the sites that gained the SEO visibility in the category. A large number of the media sites were lost due to the BuzzFeed and Time as they appeared in the losers category. Quite the discrepancy.

Searchmetrics analysis pointed to the “Google News-Wave” update of 2015 as one possible cause. The “News-Wave” update, as dubbed by Searchmetrics, was a strange update to Google’s core algorithm which caused a lot of the media, magazines and news websites to rise in search visibility.

It’s possible that this surge in visibility has now been set up by some of the other adjustments, forcing the publishers to slink back down in the rankings, or that the algorithm change showed more volatility on average for the media publishers in search.

The graph that Searchmetrics plotted above showed the SEOs vulnerable visibility of theatlantic.com for 2016. It showcased a large drop in the visibility around April of that year.

To further complicate the data, Google’s Panda algorithm updated and changed how the pages ranked. This may have dropped some of the sites to the depths of despair.

Of course, not all of the publishers were losers. Many of the winners in publishing were such sites as the New York Times and of course, The Huffington Post. LA Times came in next and that rounded things out nicely with GameSpot, Rolling Stone, LiveScience and lastly, Women’s Health Mag.

The largest news titles may have greatly benefitted from the flurry of the political events that were predominant in the year 2016. Smaller publications would focus on interesting data that was more localized and thus gave them some visibility.

Some images via Rebecca Sentance of Search Engine Watch.

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