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🔍 Google under fire, but the WSJ gets a lot wrong

Good morning Refactual, did the WSJ catch your attention?

You may have seen or heard about the Wall Street Journal’s big piece on Google that came out Friday, provocatively titled “How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results” (read it here with subscription or here). It’s worth a read, and there are some interesting anecdotes, but the paper also gets a lot wrong, as Greg Sterling reports. 

There’s no debating that Google is a behemoth and that the actions it takes, both manually and algorithmically, have far-reaching and sometimes devastating implications for businesses. Further, as Rand Fishkin said during his keynote at SMX last week, Google’s interest in zero-click searches means site owners need to think differently about their organic search strategies. There’s plenty to debate about Google’s role, size and level of transparency, but from our POV, the WSJ story makes several faulty leaps. We’ll have more to come on this through the week, including industry reactions, but would love to hear your take. Send me your thoughts at  

If you’re looking to up your Schema game, international SEO consultant Aleyda Solis mapped out the structured data framework she uses to generate lasting visibility in the search results in a talk at SMX last week. Chris Long, architectural SEO manager for Go Fish Digital, then highlighted several Schema tactics for achieving greater visibility in the search results. For example, after conducting an audit of Wikipedia, Long discovered that the site uses the mainEntity property to include a link to their Wikidata page, which contains a list of all the different topics that make up that entity.

Read on for a handy Pro Tip for merchants and more. 

Ginny Marvin


Pro Tip

Tired of manually checking for Google Merchant Center disapprovals?

“If you run Google Shopping activity, you’ll be familiar with the Google Merchant Center. It houses all your product fees, which are bumper lists of all of the products you sell,” explains Daniel Gilbert of Brainlabs. “Each product in your feed has to be approved in order to show ads for it. Unfortunately, there are plenty of things that can, and often do, go wrong. You could have gaps in your feed, a mismatch between your product information and the listing on your site, or Google might be struggling to crawl your images and the list goes on. These errors and policy violations lead to ad disapprovals and checking Google Merchant Center Diagnostics is tedious. But neglecting to check means running the risk of loads of products being disapproved without your knowledge. That means you’re not running all your Google Shopping ads. A new Google Merchant Center Disapproval Checker Script will keep up constant vigilance for you.”

Get the script »


Compare 15 top SEO software vendors

Learn what to look for in a SEO solution. MarTech Today’s “Enterprise SEO Platforms : A Marketer’s Guide” examines the market for SEO software platforms. This report includes profiles of 19 leading vendors, capabilities comparisons, pricing information, and recommended steps for evaluating and purchasing.

Read more »

Search Shorts

Video structured data help document updated

Google video structure help. Lizzi Harvey from Google announced that the Google video structured data doc got a big refresh — and it did.

Third-party data. Speaking of traffic trends, Google’s John Mueller said: “I generally wouldn’t use 3rd party tools to track things like this, they’re always skewed in unexpected ways — use your actual traffic data instead.”

Nofollow disavow. If you nofollow the link then you don’t need to disavow the link, said John Mueller of Google.


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What We’re Reading

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

6 Things You Need to Know From the Google Webmaster Conference – Seer Interactive

Additional steps to further safeguard user privacy – Google Blog

Businesses and Consumers Growing to Love Voice Assistants: Report – Voicebot

Google Assistant smart speaker shipments drop by 40% – 9to5Google

Google Local Update (Bedlam Update) Related To Relevancy Not Proximity – Search Engine Roundtable

Google News highlights in-depth reporting on key issues – Google Blog

Google Site Kit Review: Google’s official WordPress plugin – Hallam

The Website Migration Checklist: How To Safeguard Your SEO While Updating Your Site – Botify




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