Tom Capper's Posts

What Google’s Star Rating Rich Snippet Changes Mean for You

On Monday this week, Google announced that they would be changing their treatment of star rating rich snippets in search results. 

We already know that Google wasn’t happy with how star rating rich snippets (like those pictured above) were being used in the wild. “Structured data penalties” have become common in the past couple of years, mostly (in my experience) for the practice of placing organisation-level ratings markup across your entire site, which Google considered inaccurate or misleading (as the ratings weren’t for the specific content of the page they were on). Lots of examples of this exact behaviour continued to exist, however, with Google seemingly unable to enforce their own rules at scale (as is common for activities requiring manual review).

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“Impressions” is an Undervalued SEO KPI

This post is about a hill I’m willing to die on, but might not need to - I actually have no idea whether the title of this post is a controversial statement, or not. I’m keen to find out! However, from what I see in talks, posts, pitches, and business practices, our industry has definitely not taken to heart the value of an impression.

I’m going to lay out five reasons why I think impressions are not just a valid indicator of SEO success, but actually an unusually good one.

Before we go any further, it’s probably worth clarifying what I mean by an impression - I’m talking about the number of times someone has seen a site in search results. The most common place this is measured is Google Search Console, who write about their metrics in more detail here.

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What is a Ranking Factor?

I decided to write this for a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve seen a lot of potentially misleading Tweets on the subject recently (naming no names!), and the other is that it’s related to another pet peeve of mine, about ranking factor studies.

What is a ranking factor?

A ranking factor is a variable that a search engine uses to decide the best ordering of relevant, indexed results returned for a search query.

Note that I’ve said the decision is between relevant, indexed pages - a good illustration of this distinction is the often absurdly high number shown beneath your query when you perform a Google search, such as the 643 million “potatoes”-related pages shown here:

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Reading Between the Lines - Three Deeper Takeaways from John Mueller at BrightonSEO

Last Friday I had the pleasure of watching John Mueller of Google being interviewed on the BrightonSEO main stage by (Distilled alumna!) Hannah Smith. I found it hugely interesting how different it was from the previous similarly formatted sessions with John I’ve seen - by Aleyda at BrightonSEO previously, and more recently by my colleague Will Critchlow at SearchLove. In this post, I want to get into some of the interesting implications in what John did and, crucially, did not say.

I’m not going to attempt here to cover everything John said exhaustively - if that’s what you’re looking for, I recommend this post by Deepcrawl’s Sam Marsden, or this transcript via Glen Allsopp (from which I’ve extracted below).

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How to rank for head terms

Over the last few years, my mental model for what does and doesn’t rank has changed significantly, and this is especially true for head terms - competitive, high volume, “big money” keywords like “car insurance”, “laptops”, “flights”, and so on. This post is based on a bunch of real-world experience that confounded my old mental model, as well as some statistical research that I did for my presentation at SearchLove London (create a free Distilled account to access the video) in early October . I’ll explain my hypothesis in this post, but I’ll also explain how I think you should react to it as SEOs - in other words, how to rank for head terms.

My hypothesis in both cases is that head terms are no longer about ranking factors, and by ranking factors I mean static metrics you can source by crawling the web and weight to decide who ranks.

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