How Sites With Less SEO Win Google + 4 More SEO Tips

Howdy SEO Super Friend!

As we spot a small number of sites recovering traffic from Google's last round of updates, it's becoming clearer what Google wants when it talks about "Helpful Content."

  • UX (Ads & popups ↓)
  • Business Model (Review sites ↓, ecommerce & forum sites ↑)
  • First-hand Experience

Now, based on our latest SEO study, we can likely add over-optimization to that list.

Google says they want to demote content that's primarily made for search engines - but how do they know what to target?

In our latest study, I partnered with Ahrefs and examined common SEO practices—things that savvy SEOs might do aggressively.

The study found 4 surprising SEO practices that, when pushed to the limits, were significantly associated with losing traffic after a Google update.

Read the SEO Study Here

Here are the best SEO Tips we've seen this month:

1. Keep Your Topics Focused

Over the past year, we've seen Google shift towards rewarding sites that focus on more specific topics rather than sites that publish on a broad range of things. The recent Google leaks reveal a metric called SiteFocusScore. While we don't know if or how Google uses this metric, you can learn about it and a bunch more related to the Google leaks in a very excellent post by Chima Mmeje.

20 SEOs Share Their Key Takeaways From the Google API Leaks

2. Don't Lie to Google In Your XML Sitemaps

Both Google and Bing are encouraging you to include the lastmod element in your sitemap files. Many publishers sometimes "fudge" the lastmod date, believing Google will crawl their site more often. But if you do this, Google may lose trust in you.

Google: We Either Trusts Or Doesn't Trust Your Sitemap's Lastmod Date

3. Negotiate a Better SEO Salary

Whether you are negotiating with a client or starting a new role in-house, you want to get paid what you are worth—which is a lot! Don't let the dollars slip by with this excellent guide from Carolyn Lyden and the experts at SEOjobs.

How to Successfully Negotiate Your SEO Salary: A Complete Guide

4. Kill Those Negative Search Results

Ranking higher is great, but sometimes you have to bury the bad stuff. This is the best and most comprehensive guide we've ever seen on Reputation Management in SEO, written by the terrific Chris Long.

How to Remove & Suppress Negative Search Results

Bonus: Tool of the Week

Google says it's bad if you change "the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed.” We've seen evidence this can actually hurt sites, so it may be best to only update your page dates when you actually make significant changes. For WordPress users, the WP Last Modified Info plugin is my go-to for clients. It allows you to easily set all date parameters and display them however you wish. Get it here:

WP Last Modified Info


Do you have any SEO Tips you'd like to share? Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Threads.

Best of luck with your SEO!

Zyppy SEO

p.s. I'm once again offering SEO consulting services to select clients. If you're interested, check out our Services page.

SEO Tips Newsletter

Get 2-4 emails per month to learn cutting-edge SEO best practices, the newest SEO tips and research, and highlights of the best SEO content in the industry. Created by Cyrus Shepard, founder of Zyppy SEO and former lead of SEO at Moz.

Read more from SEO Tips Newsletter

Links, links, links Google's Disavow tool is something I use occasionally to help sites strategically recover from traffic losses of one kind or another. Many SEOs use it to disavow "shady links." But what would happen if you disavowed every link pointed at your website? I was curious enough to try and find out... (who needs traffic anyway?) My traffic didn't exactly tank, but the experiment ended up surprising me more than expected. What I learned is that the tool is still very powerful. And...

You still need links to rank in Google. For years, many SEOs used HARO for link-building and digital PR. It was free. You recieved cool emails every day. And it was really time-consuming. The old HARO is no more, but the landscape for pitching journalists and building links through digital PR is more robust than ever. If you haven't pitched to publications in a while, here are my top 3 recommended alternatives to HARO for link building: HARO - Wait, huh? While classic HARO is gone, new owner...

Hi SEO Super-Friends,If there's one thing we learned from Google's antitrust trial last year and its extensive use of click data for rankings, it's that user satisfaction is really Google's #1 ranking factor. Google says to chase the user, not the algorithm. We had no idea how true this is. To oversimplify: Google watches what users click on and search for, then uses that data to rank more satisfying documents higher. One thing I've noticed working as a Google Quality Rater and examining...