Good morning, a reversal of fortunes? 

Some SEOs have noticed rankings swinging back after what appears to have been a Google search update (or series of updates) last weekend. Google has simply said, “We do updates all the time.” If you’re seeing swings, you’re certainly not alone. Meanwhile, TechTarget said it was hit by Google algorithm changes in November. (Google said it made a series of smaller updates at the time.) The company reported a 25% drop in organic traffic from Google in November in its quarterly earnings statement Wednesday. Barry Schwartz spoke with them yesterday about what they’re seeing and testing. 

Well, that didn’t last long. Keyword stuffing alarms went off after GMB added advice to include relevant keywords in business descriptions. Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins says she quickly advised Google to remove the short-lived help page language (it was removed sometime early yesterday) that said keywords in descriptions can help improve local search visibility. Her testing has shown no correlation between GMB descriptions and rankings in the three-pack

In ads news, Google announced a big shakeup to its Google Partner program for agencies with requirement changes that will take effect starting in June. In short: the spend minimum is doubling; a lot more people at your agency might need to get Google Ads certifications; Google will use your manager account optimization score to evaluate performance. 

On that last point, I’m not sure how much of a change this really is. Yes, Google is using its own ML-generated recommendations, all of which may not actually be in the best interest of your clients. But Google already evaluates client accounts, and it seems likely the criteria it’s been looking at won’t be dramatically different come June. Using the optimization score might just be a more transparent way of doing things. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: [email protected] or @ginnymarvin.

Read on for your daily Pro Tip on using Python to analyze server logs for SEO and more.

Ginny Marvin,

Pro Tip

Leverage Python and Google Cloud to analyze server log data

You can easily scale your analyses of server logs to extract meaningful SEO insights from larger datasets with “just a pinch of Python and a hint of Google Cloud!” explains SEO/BI consultant Charly Wargnier. His article — a beginner-friendly introduction to log files and why they matter for SEO — demonstrates step-by-step on how to find these files and utilize the command-line to convert files to a compliant format for querying. Then how to build a data model that makes raw logs more legible.

Learn more »


Your 5 biggest Google Ads challenges & how to solve them

Paid search is more competitive than ever. Search marketers need to be proactive and learn how to get the best out of the right tools to stay on top of their PPC ‘A-game’ (A for automation). Adthena created this guide to address the top challenges and offer solutions that will help you get better results and make your life easier.

Read more »

Search Shorts

SEO explained (very quickly)

Google video on SEO. Google has posted a 3-minute video named SEO Explained, it goes through on page SEO, multimedia SEO, black hat SEO and how to use Search Console and more.

Shorter URLs. Google’s John Mueller says shorter URLs are not magical, they do not do anything special.  Check out his response about this on Twitter.

Estimated salary structured data. Google changed the name of Occupation structured data to Estimated salary structured data. It is just a name change, and no other changes were made, said Lizzi Harvey from Google.


Free search marketing training in San Jose

Become a Search Engine Land MVP, refer your friends, and you could win a cool MVP prize pack, including a Search Engine Land t-shirt, sweatshirt — even a FREE ticket to SMX! The contest ends tomorrow – what are you waiting for?

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What we're reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader

GNI Subscriptions Lab expands to Europe to help publishers grow revenue – Google Blog

Google Testing New Home Page Design – Search Engine Roundtable

The Impact of the Core Updates on Rank Volatility Overall – RankRanger

Top 5 Tips to Save Money on Google Ads – State of Digital

Utilising Audiences In Paid Search Campaigns – Koozai

Utilizing Organic Search to Expand PPC Coverage – PPC Hero

Webcast: The Art and Science of Text Ads – Microsoft Advertising

Why Informational Content Is Crucial for E-Commerce Sites – SuccessWorks

You can now vote for your favorite pokémon with Google – The Verge