A Long Awaited Shift In SEO

It has been a while since I’ve written something about SEO and there is a good reason for it.

Recent update from Google late October 2019 would have made a few people in SEO - focused completely on link building — raise their eyebrows as they dropped in rankings.

Is link building dead?

Well no, but it doesn’t look like it does a great deal these days. A few websites I’ve been tracking that solely use PBN’s to rank their sites have dropped dramatically; from top 3 to page 2 or page 3. Also some of my affiliate sites I have spammed to death over the years actually died.

What does seem to work?

Technical SEO is always going to be around but since BERT has come out I have noticed my testing sites — with content and no link building — started gaining traffic. This is content positive update, not a devaluation on links.

Another thing I’ve noticed is structured data has really taken off and Google is starting to answer questions a lot more in search results, but in some areas it is becoming a joke: specifically in SEO.

The Popular FAQ Schema for SERPs

The most popular schema markup right now is the FAQ Schema which displays a list of questions in accordions, when clicked it displays the answer from that page.

One URL with FAQ markup is occupying space for 2 organic listings, reducing the number of organic queries on the first page.

The query in my industry everyone is fighting for is “SEO Sydney” which currently shows 3 URLs that have FAQ Schema implemented, reducing the organic results to 7 organic listings.

The SERP for “SEO Sydney” on 2nd December 2019 (https://imgur.com/dq5RVys)

If 5 URLs were to do FAQ markup in your industry, it will reduce the amount of queries on the first page to 5 organic listings. If you were in position 6 for a home page URL — which does not display FAQ markup in SERPs — and are gaining business from it, then you will suddenly feel a massive hit in traffic and revenue. Business owners will be forced to either engage with an SEO consultant like me or giving into using Adwords.

Why is this a problem?

Well it is looking clear to me that Google have developed a strategy to boost advertising revenue. Look at the SERP above, not only have organic listings been reduced to 7, it also shows 7 ads in total.

Google are pretty open about this on the how search works mission page.
Even further reading is the 2004 Founders IPO Letter.

What Does This Mean For SEO?

The top 10 positions will soon be reduced to the top 5 positions for competitive industries with high CPC value on keywords. There will most likely be 7–8 Ads running on the page and I’m sure Google Map Ads will take up a spot.

Is this a good thing?

Yes, I think it will force people to realise that content is bloody important and targeting your main keyword “plumbers sydney” is a dead strategy. Google is now focused on Natural Language Processing and understanding sentiment behind sentences.

What Is The Future?

To put it simply, IoT devices. More and more people are setting up smart homes and Google Assistant is damn popular and easy to setup.

If you’re sitting next to a Google Assistant, you’re not going to say “Hey Google, Plumbers Sydney” are you? You’re more likely to say “Hey Google, are there any plumbers near me?” which will pull a local search result based on your location. You might even go as far as saying “Hey Google, are there any emergency plumbers in Newtown?”

Moving into 2020 as an SEO my main strategies are becoming more focused on user intent and developing content that will not only help people looking for answer, but also puts your domain in a good position.



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