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Why did Google rank this site? Well, now they’ll tell you; Friday's daily brief

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, and Google Ads’ new strike system has y’all feeling a lot of feelings.

And with good reason. I’ve seen a few tweets already from advertisers dealing with ridiculous ad violations. This can be especially hard to explain to clients who don’t get why a giant tech company like Google doesn’t have available or adequate support channels to figure out these issues, too. Imagine how hard it is for SMBs or those trying to figure it out themselves, too. 

This seems to be an issue on the local SEO side too, in my personal experience. I once had a client whose GMB got suspended. A small business owner, he DIY’d his listing and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. So he just created another one. When he finally got through to GMB support, the help person told him to delete the listing that was associated with his very profitable YouTube account. This is about the time he called me in a panic for emergency help.

I saw a job posting for a position at Google that ended with this almost-proverb: “Know the user. Know the magic. Connect the two.” Maybe Google’s too big to see the IRL, in-the-weeds perspectives of those of us who are in the thick of it every day. It seems like a perfect sentiment on the face of things, but the execution seems lacking overall.

Carolyn Lyden,
Director of Search Content

Google says your redirects only need to stay up for a year

For the sake of SEO and Google being able to trace your changing URLs, Gary Illyes told Twitter that any redirects should stay up for a minimum of one year. However, you may choose to keep them up longer for the sake of users (nothing is more annoying than clicking a link to a new site and getting a 404).

The “clock” for this one year of redirection starts when Google initially crawls and recognizes the redirect — not necessarily when your team implements the change. This could be another reason to keep it for longer than the year mentioned.

Why we care. This is the first time Google has officially confirmed that the signals passed through redirects last forever even after a redirect is moved, if the redirect is live for over a year. If you have stakeholders or clients that really want to remove redirects for whatever reason, it is safe to do so from an SEO perspective after that one-year mark (specific to Google Search).

Read more here.

Why did Google rank this result? They’ll tell you

Google is rolling out a new SERP feature that tells you why a result was ranked the way it was. This feature is an expansion to the about this result box that launched in February 2021.

Google Search can show the terms it matched on the web page and your query, including the terms that were related but not direct matches. Google also lists if links from other websites influenced the ranking, if the results had related images, if there were geographical reasons for the result ranking and more.

The company is now rolling this out in the U.S. for English results. We expect it to be visible in almost 100% of queries in the U.S. later this week. Google said it will expand this to more countries and languages overtime.

Why we care. Search marketers always wanted to know why Google ranked a specific site for a given query. Well, Google is now giving you pretty detailed clues into why. Of course, this is not detailed ranking weights and signals, but it does tell you if the words match or match closely, if people link to the site, if there are geo-specific reasons and more.

Read the list of factors we found here.

The SEO Periodic Table: Architecture success factors

Periodic Table of SEO

How your site is built helps search engines know what your pages are about. These elements include everything from the URLs you use and the page load speed to your security and crawlability.

The most critical element here is Crawl (Cr). If a search engine can’t crawl and index your pages, you’ve got no hope of appearing in the search results at all, let alone ranking well. Next comes Mobile (Mo) first, which represents optimizing your content so that mobile searchers can see everything that desktop users see on your site. Hand in hand with Mobile is Speed (Sp). Not only do page load delays frustrate users and decrease conversions, but Google has also made it clear that speed is a ranking factor.

More nuts-and-bolts architecture concerns include the proper handling of Duplicate (Dd) content by setting canonical URLs – this gets back to the above-mentioned algorithmic crackdown on sites simply copying other sites’ content without their permission. Additionally, using appropriate contextual keywords in your pages’ permalinks or URLs (Ur) sends a signal to the engines and users that the page contains the info they’re seeking. And, of course, a secure site — HTTPS (Ps) — is table stakes at this point.

This year we’ve also added two new elements to keep up to date with search engine changes like Core Web Vitals and the page experience update. Structure (St) is all about the information architecture of your site. We’ve also added Parity (Pr) which means that your site should offer the same user experience regardless of what device a searcher or website user is on.

Download the whole SEO Periodic Table

Social Shorts: Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok

Twitter is working on a dislike button. “Twitter writes that iOS users may see upvote and downvotes in several different styles (up and down arrows, a heart icon and a down arrow, and thumbs up and thumbs down icons) and that it’s testing the feature to ‘understand the types of replies you find relevant in a convo, so we can work on ways to show more of them.’ Currently, votes are not public,” wrote Ian Carlos Campell for The Verge.

Social media managers, rejoice! Instagram data now spans 60 days. And it’ll expand even further to 90 days of data later this summer, according to a tweet from Vishal Shah, VP of Product at Instagram. This update will be a big deal in helping both marketers and SaaS tools show trend data over time. We love something that makes our jobs easier.

TikTok’s new Spark Ads to boost native content. “Spark Ads enables brands to amplify existing organic videos that fit their campaign objectives such as video view and conversion with great flexibility and efficiency,” said the TikTok For Business Editorial Team in the announcement.

What We’re Watching: TikTok’s algorithm — Great for advertisers but weird if you zoom out

“A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you.”

That’s the summary of this 13-minute video on WSJ that digs into just how TikTok’s algorithm figures out its users’ interests and then takes them down very niche rabbit holes of content. The publisher created over 100x bot accounts and assigned them specific interests and then had them watch over 100k videos on the social media app.

TikTok says “shares, likes, follows, and what you watch all play a role in what TikTok shows you.” But the WSJ found that TikTok actually only needs one metric to target users so specifically: how long you linger over a piece of content. “Through this one powerful signal, TikTok learns your most hidden interests and emotions.”

This video highlights the debate we’ve been seeing play out on multiple channels. When search marketers have access or targeting based on this very specific data, it also means we can customize our advertising to those very niche audiences. If you love pets and TikTok figures out that you love French bulldogs in particular, advertisers can use that to make distinct ads to serve that particular audience.

But audiences may not realize that lingering on specific types of TikTok videos gives both the social media company and potentially advertisers that information — which as the video proves, can be very personal.

It’s the classic paid advertising conundrum: audiences want targeted advertising, but they’re afraid of giving up their personal data to get it.

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