How to Handle Temporarily Out-of-Stock Product Pages

The next few months are going to be uncharted territory for all of us, with serious challenges for both brick-and-mortar and online businesses. Many e-commerce sites are already facing a unique situation right now, and it looks something like this: These are hand sanitizer results from Staples.com, and this screenshot is just a portion of the first page. I’m not picking on Staples — this page is representative of a problem across every major e-retailer right now. While there are many ways to handle out-of-stock and discontinued items under normal conditions, this situation is very specific: Multiple similar items are out-of-stock at the same time Retailers may not know when they’ll be back in stock These products may not stay back in stock for long Demand is high and continuing to rank is critical From an SEO standpoint, it’s essential that these pages continue to rank, both for consumers and […]

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How Low Can #1 Go? (2020 Edition)

Posted by Dr-Pete Being #1 on Google isn’t what it used to be. Back in 2013, we analyzed 10,000 searches and found out that the average #1 ranking began at 375 pixels (px) down the page. The worst case scenario, a search for “Disney stock,” pushed #1 all the way down to 976px. A lot has changed in seven years, including an explosion of rich SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features, like Featured Snippets, local packs, and video carousels. It feels like the plight of #1 is only getting worse. So, we decided to run the numbers again (over the same searches) and see if the data matches our perceptions. Is the #1 listing on Google being pushed even farther down the page? I try to let the numbers speak for themselves, but before we dig into a lot of stats, here’s one that legitimately shocked me. In 2020, over 1,600 (16.6%) of the searches we […]

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Position Zero Is Dead; Long Live Position Zero

In 2014, Google introduced the featured snippet, a promoted organic ranking that we affectionately (some days were more affectionate than others) referred to as “position zero” or “ranking #0.” One of the benefits to being in position zero was that you got to double-dip, with your organic listing appearing in both the featured snippet and page-1 results (usually in the top 3–4). On January 23, Google announced a significant change (which rolled out globally on January 22) … “Declutters” sounds innocuous, but the impact to how we think about featured snippets and organic rankings is significant. So, let’s dig deep into some examples and the implications for SEO. What does this mean for Moz? First, a product announcement. In the past, we treated Featured Snippets as stand-alone SERP features — they were identified in our “SERP Features” report but were not treated as organic due to the second listing. As of Saturday, […]

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Google’s January 2020 Core Update: Has the Dust Settled?

On January 13th, MozCast measured significant algorithm flux lasting about three days (the dotted line shows the 30-day average prior to the 13th, which is consistent with historical averages) … That same day, Google announced the release of a core update dubbed the January 2020 Core Update (in line with their recent naming conventions) … On January 16th, Google announced the update was “mostly done,” aligning fairly well with the measured temperatures in the graph above. Temperatures settled down after the three-day spike … It appears that the dust has mostly settled on the January 2020 Core Update. Interpreting core updates can be challenging, but are there any takeaways we can gather from the data? How does it compare to other updates? How did the January 2020 Core Update stack up against recent core updates? The chart below shows the previous four named core updates, back to August 2018 (AKA “Medic”) … […]

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How to Write Content for Answers Using the Inverted Pyramid – Best of Whiteboard Friday

If you’ve been searching for a quick hack to write content for featured snippets, this isn’t the article for you. But if you’re looking for lasting results and a smart tactic to increase your chances of winning a snippet, you’re definitely in the right place. Borrowed from journalism, the inverted pyramid method of writing can help you craft intentional, compelling, rich content that will help you rank for multiple queries and win more than one snippet at a time. Learn how in this fan-favorite Whiteboard Friday starring the one and only Dr. Pete! Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Hey, Moz fans, Dr. Pete here. I’m the Marketing Scientist at Moz and visiting you from not-so-sunny Chicago in the Seattle office. We’ve talked a lot in the last couple years in my blog posts and such about featured snippets. So […]

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Google Review Stars Drop by 14%

On Monday, September 16, Google announced that they would be restricting review stars in SERPs to specific schemas and would stop displaying reviews that they deemed to be “self-serving.” It wasn’t clear at the time when this change would be happening, or if it had already happened. Across our daily MozCast tracking set, we measured a drop the morning of September 16 (in sync with the announcement) followed by a continued drop the next day … The purple bar shows the new “normal” in our data set (so far). This represents a two-day relative drop of nearly 14% (13.8%). It definitely appears that Google dropped review snippets from page-1 SERPs across the roughly 48-hour period around their announcement (note that measurements are only taken once per day, so we can’t pinpoint changes beyond 24-hour periods). Review drops by category When we broke this two-day drop out into 20 industry categories (roughly corresponding […]

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Google Review Stars Drop by 14%

On Monday, September 16, Google announced that they would be restricting review stars in SERPs to specific schemas and would stop displaying reviews that they deemed to be “self-serving.” It wasn’t clear at the time when this change would be happening, or if it had already happened. Across our daily MozCast tracking set, we measured a drop the morning of September 16 (in sync with the announcement) followed by a continued drop the next day … The purple bar shows the new “normal” in our data set (so far). This represents a two-day relative drop of nearly 14% (13.8%). It definitely appears that Google dropped review snippets from page-1 SERPs across the roughly 48-hour period around their announcement (note that measurements are only taken once per day, so we can’t pinpoint changes beyond 24-hour periods). Review drops by category When we broke this two-day drop out into 20 industry categories (roughly corresponding […]

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Aren’t 301s, 302s, and Canonicals All Basically the Same? – Best of Whiteboard Friday

They say history repeats itself. In the case of the great 301 vs 302 vs rel=canonical debate, it repeats itself about every three months. And in the case of this Whiteboard Friday, it repeats once every two years as we revisit a still-relevant topic in SEO and re-release an episode that’s highly popular to this day. Join Dr. Pete as he explains how bots and humans experience pages differently depending on which solution you use, why it matters, and how each choice may be treated by Google. Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Hey, Moz fans, it’s Dr. Pete, your friendly neighborhood marketing scientist here at Moz, and I want to talk today about an issue that comes up probably about every three months since the beginning of SEO history. It’s a question that looks something like this: Aren’t […]

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Podcasts in SERPs: Is Audio SEO The Next Frontier?

One of the many bits of news from Google I/O 2019 was that Google would soon start displaying podcasts in search results. “Soon” turned out to be very soon, as we’re already seeing these results surface. Here’s one from a search for our own podcast, MozPod: While the feature itself is interesting, and the fact that the main result goes to Apple while the episodes go to Google is entertaining, the talk out of I/O suggested something much more intriguing – that Google would soon be indexing podcast content and returning audio clips in search results. Can Google transcribe audio content? Is this currently possible? In a word: yes. We know that Google has offered a speech-to-text service as part of Google Cloud Platform since 2017, which has already undergone a few iterations and upgrades. Earlier this year, Android Police spotted source code changes which suggested that Google was proactively […]

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How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?

In 2018, Google reported an incredible 3,234 improvements to search. That’s more than 8 times the number of updates they reported in 2009 — less than a decade ago — and an average of almost 9 per day. How have algorithm updates evolved over the past decade, and how can we possibly keep tabs on all of them? Should we even try? To kick this off, here’s a list of every confirmed count we have (sources at end of post): 2018 – 3,234 “improvements” 2017 – 2,453 “changes” 2016 – 1,653 “improvements” 2013 – 890 “improvements” 2012 – 665 “launches” 2011 – 538 “launches” 2010 – 516 “changes” 2009 – 350–400 “changes” Unfortunately, we don’t have confirmed data for 2014-2015 (if you know differently, please let me know in the comments). A brief history of update counts Our first peek into this data came in spring of 2010, when Google’s Matt Cutts revealed that “on average, [Google] tends to roll out […]

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Can You Reverse A 301 Redirect?

The short answer is “yes.” You can reverse a 301-redirect, even though it’s technically permanent. The long answer, though, is that this change may not work the way you’d expect or hope, and it could even make your problems worse. Let’s explore the long answer with four real-world scenarios … First: A note and a warning… Before we dive into the scenarios, there are two things you need to know. This stuff all sounds easy in theory, but — in the real world — 301-redirects take time to process, and reversing them (or changing signals in any major way) often takes even more time. Be prepared for those delays, and prepare your stakeholders. You may see ranking flux during this time period. Most of the time, it will pass fairly quickly, but reversals tend to get messy. This leads me to the warning – don’t reverse a 301-redirect simply because […]

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How Do I Improve My Domain Authority (DA)?

The Short Version: Don’t obsess over Domain Authority (DA) for its own sake. Domain Authority shines at comparing your overall authority (your aggregate link equity, for the most part) to other sites and determining where you can compete. Attract real links that drive traffic, and you’ll improve both your Domain Authority and your rankings. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, over a rock, or really anywhere rock-adjacent, you may know that Moz has recently invested a lot of time, research, and money in a new-and-improved Domain Authority. People who use Domain Authority (DA) naturally want to improve their score, and this is a question that I admit we’ve avoided at times, because like any metric, DA can be abused if taken out of context or viewed in isolation. I set out to write a how-to post, but what follows can only be described as a belligerent FAQ … Why do you want […]

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How Bad Was Google’s Deindexing Bug?

On Friday, April 5, after many website owners and SEOs reported pages falling out of rankings, Google confirmed a bug that was causing pages to be deindexed: MozCast showed a multi-day increase in temperatures, including a 105° spike on April 6. While deindexing would naturally cause ranking flux, as pages temporarily fell out of rankings and then reappeared, SERP-monitoring tools aren’t designed to separate the different causes of flux. Can we isolate deindexing flux? Google’s own tools can help us check whether a page is indexed, but doing this at scale is difficult, and once an event has passed, we no longer have good access to historical data. What if we could isolate a set of URLs, though, that we could reasonably expect to be stable over time? Could we use that set to detect unusual patterns? Across the month of February, the MozCast 10K daily tracking set had 149,043 unique URLs ranking on […]

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March 1st Google Update: The Mysterious Case of the 19-Result SERPs

Late last week (Feb 28 – Mar 1), we saw a sizable two-day spike in Google rankings flux, as measured by MozCast. Temperatures on Friday reached 108°F. The original temperature on Thursday was 105°F, but that was corrected down to 99°F (more on that later). Digging in on Friday (March 1st), we saw a number of metrics shift, but most notably was a spike in page-one Google SERPs with more than 10 organic results. Across the 10,000 keywords in MozCast, here’s what we observed at the high end: Counting “organic” results in 2019 is challenging — some elements, like expanded site-links (in the #1 position), Top Stories, and image results can occupy an organic position. In-depth Articles are particularly challenging (more on that in a moment), and the resulting math usually leaves us with page-one SERPs with counts from 4 to 12. Friday’s numbers were completely beyond anything we’ve seen […]

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Why We’re Doubling Down on the Future of SEO – Moz + STAT

Search is changing. As a 200-person search marketing software company, this isn’t just a pithy intro – it’s a daily threat to our survival. Being an organic search marketer can be frustrating when even a search like “What is SEO?” returns something like this… …or this… …or even this… So, why don’t we just give up on search marketing altogether? If I had to pick just one answer, it’s this – because search still drives the lion’s share of targeted, relevant traffic to business websites (and Google drives the vast majority of that traffic, at least in the US, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe). We have to do everything better The answer isn’t to give up – it’s to recognize all of this new complexity, study it, and do our jobs better. Earlier this year, for example, we embarked on a study to understand how SERP features impact click-through rates […]

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NEW On-Demand Crawl: Quick Insights for Sales, Prospecting, & Competitive Analysis

In June of 2017, Moz launched our entirely rebuilt Site Crawl, helping you dive deep into crawl issues and technical SEO problems, fix those issues in your Moz Pro Campaigns (tracked websites), and monitor weekly for new issues. Many times, though, you need quick insights outside of a Campaign context, whether you’re analyzing a prospect site before a sales call or trying to assess the competition. For years, Moz had a lab tool called Crawl Test. The bad news is that Crawl Test never made it to prime-time and suffered from some neglect. The good news is that I’m happy to announce the full launch (as of August 2018) of On-Demand Crawl, an entirely new crawl tool built on the engine that powers Site Crawl, but with a UI designed around quick insights for prospecting and competitive analysis. While you don’t need a Campaign to run a crawl, you do […]

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Google’s August 1st Core Update: Week 1

On August 1, Google (via Danny Sullivan’s @searchliaison account) announced that they released a “broad core algorithm update.” Algorithm trackers and webmaster chatter confirmed multiple days of heavy ranking flux, including our own MozCast system: Temperatures peaked on August 1-2 (both around 114°F), with a 4-day period of sustained rankings flux (purple bars are all over 100°F). While this has settled somewhat, yesterday’s data suggests that we may not be done. August 2nd set a 2018 record for MozCast at 114.4°F. Keep in mind that, while MozCast was originally tuned to an average temperature of 70°F, 2017-2018 average temperatures have been much higher (closer to 90° in 2018). Temperatures by Vertical There’s been speculation that this algo update targeted so called YMYL queries (Your Money or Your Life) and disproportionately impacted health and wellness sites. MozCast is broken up into 20 keyword categories (roughly corresponding to Google Ads categories). Here […]

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Desktop, Mobile, or Voice? (D) All of the Above – Whiteboard Friday

We’re facing more and more complexity in our everyday work, and the answers to our questions are about as clear as mud. Especially in the wake of the mobile-first index, we’re left wondering where to focus our optimization efforts. Is desktop the most important? Is mobile? What about the voice phenomenon sweeping the tech world? As with most things, the most important factor is to consider your audience. People aren’t siloed to a single device — your optimization strategy shouldn’t be, either. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete soothes our fears about a multi-platform world and highlights the necessity of optimizing for a journey rather than a touchpoint. Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab! Video Transcription Hey, everybody. It’s Dr. Pete here from Moz. I am the Marketing Scientist here, and I flew in from Chicago […]

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Tracking Your Link Prospecting Using Lists in Link Explorer

I’m a lazy marketer some days — I’ll admit it. I don’t do a lot of manual link prospecting, because it’s a ton of work, outreach, and follow-up. There are plenty of times, though, where I’ve got a good piece of content (well, at least I hope it’s good) and I want to know if it’s getting attention from specific sites, whether they’re in the search industry or the broader marketing or PR world. Luckily, we’ve made that question a lot easier to answer in Link Explorer, so today’s post is for all of you curious but occasionally lazy marketers. Hop into the tool if you want to follow along: Open Link Explorer (1) Track your content the lazy way When you first visit Link Explorer, you’ll see that it defaults to “root domain”: Some days, you don’t want to wade through your entire domain, but just want to target […]

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How to Write Meta Descriptions in a Constantly Changing World (AKA Google Giveth, Google Taketh Away)

Summary: As of mid-May 2018, Google has reverted back to shorter display snippets. Our data suggests these changes are widespread and that most meta descriptions are being cut off in the previous range of about 155–160 characters. Back in December, Google made a significant shift in how they displayed search snippets, with our research showing many snippets over 300 characters. Over the weekend, they seem to have rolled back that change (Danny Sullivan partially confirmed this on Twitter on May 14). Besides the obvious question — What are the new limits? — it may leave you wondering how to cope when the rules keep changing. None of us have a crystal ball, but I’m going to attempt to answer both questions based on what we know today. Lies, dirty lies, and statistics… I pulled all available search snippets from the MozCast 10K (page-1 Google results for 10,000 keywords), since […]

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