Analyzing Position in Google Search Console


Too often, the data isn’t wrong. The error is in how people read and interpret the data.

The Position Problem

The best way to explain this is to actually show it in action.

Analyzing Algorithm Changes

Number of Queries Per Page

This is all related to an old metric I used to love and track religiously.

These numbers were all related but would ebb and flow togther as you gained more exposure.

124 queries, 3,456 impressions, 7.3% CTR, 3.4 position


Ignoring Link Spam Isn’t Working

Google might be pretty good at ignoring links. But pretty good isn’t good enough.

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Neutralize vs Penalize

The SEO industry underwent a huge transformation as a result.

Virtually Spotless


Cost vs Benefit

Risk vs Reward

Link Spam

I’m sure many of you are seeing more and more emails peddling links showing up in your inbox.

The response by John Mueller (another guy I like and respect) is par for the course.


What I Learned in 2016

(This is a personal post so if that isn’t your thing then you should move on.) 



Easy Street

Is That All?

Enjoy The Groove

Staying Motivated

Believe In Your Value

What I realized is that I was internalizing this distaste for self-promotion and that was toxic.

Give Me A Break

Rev The Engine


The Future of Mobile Search

What if I told you that the future of mobile search was swiping.

Horizontal Interface

There’s one for videos.

And another for recipes.

There are plenty of other examples. But the most important one is the one for AMP.

What if you could simply swipe between AMP results? The current interface lets you do this already.

User experience trumps publisher whining every single time.


Swipes Not Clicks


No more blue links.

New Metrics of Success

Hype or Reality?


RankBrain Survival Guide

You Can’t Optimize For RankBrain

What Is RankBrain?

How Does RankBrain Work?

Greg Corrado

This makes it pretty clear that RankBrain uses vectors to better understand complex language.

Unfortunately the next statement has caused a whole bunch of consternation.

Andrey Lipattsev

Gary Illyes

Paul Haahr

It’s in the Q&A that Haahr discusses RankBrain.

I think we understand how it works but we don’t understand what it’s doing exactly.

Danny then asks about how RankBrain might work to ascertain document quality or authority.

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You Can’t Optimize For RankBrain

So what can you do differently based on this knowledge?


Query Classes

I’ve talked for years about query classes but never wrote a post dedicated to them. Until now.

Query Classes

vacation homes in tahoe

midday moon lyrics

best science fiction books 2015

Of how about food glorious food.

User Syntax

Do you want to optimize for the minority or the majority?

Here are just a few of the ‘[dish] recipe’ terms I thought of off the top of my head.

Query Intent

Not only do we want to know how they search, we want to know why.

Satisfying passive intent increases the value of your page and keeps users engaged.


Sometimes you can play with the value proposition in the title.

Vacation Homes in Tahoe vs Vacation Homes in Tahoe – 1,251 Available Now

Smart templates let you scale without sacrificing quality.

Rank Indices

Identifying Query Classes


Do 404 Errors Hurt SEO?

There’s one variety of 404 that might be quietly killing your search rankings and traffic.

404 Response Code

404s and Authority

Types of 404s

Because some 404s are harmless and others are downright dangerous.

External 404s

Outgoing 404s

Internal 404s

Why Internal 404s Matter

Does a high-quality site have a lot of internal 404s? Unlikely.

Internal 404s piss off users.

Finding Internal 404s

In Search Console you’ll navigate to Crawl and select Crawl Errors.

Correlation vs Causation

You’re right and … I don’t care.

Not knowing why eliminating internal 404s works isn’t going to stop me from doing it.

Make it a habit to check and resolve your Not found errors via Search Console or Screaming Frog.

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Acquisition SEO and Business Crowding

If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em.

Acquisition SEO

Search Shelf Space

(Please note that this is not how these two sites are configured today.)

Host Crowding

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At the time Google showed 7 from Today they show 9.

But I digress.

Business Crowding

The diversity of that result goes down and users probably don’t realize it.

Doorway Pages

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Where To Draw The Line?

What’s Good For The User?

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Doing good by the user is doing good for the business.

It sounds like an environment ripe for a local maxima.

There’s only one way to find out.

Vacation Rentals

One area where this is currently happening is within the vacation rentals space.

In this instance the property listings on VacationRentals and HomeAway point to the one on VRBO.

Is the false choice being offered to users ultimately detrimental to users and, by proxy, to Google?

The Mid-Life Crisis of Search Results

Can It Be Addressed Algorithmically?

Too Big To Fail (at Search)

That Time I Had Cancer

(This is a highly personal post so if that isn’t your thing then you should move on.)

High Noon

It’s terrifying.

Happy Birthday

I was freaking out. I was certain my Lymphoma was back.

A few days later I was able to go back into the oncologist’s office to review my blood test.


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This is a good segue to talking about what it’s like having cancer.

That’s Not Helping

Screw you.

You don’t know better.

Positive Work



Overall I’m just humbled by your collective kindness.



A life full of small moments is my reward.

Is Click Through Rate A Ranking Signal?

Following is an exploration of why I believe click-through rate is a ranking signal.

Occam’s Razor

The Horse’s Mouth

[Updated 7/22/15]

So is Google a reasonable and smart search engine?    

The Old Days

The Bing Argument

Pogosticking and Long Clicks

Seeing Is Believing

But just the other day he ran another version of the same test.

But wait, there’s more. Much more.

Show Me The Patents

Then there’s this rather nicely summarized 10,000 foot view of the issue.

But it gets better as you go further into these patents.

But does it take into account different classes of queries? Sure does.

This shows that Google may adjust what they view as a good click based on the type of query.

Users are not created equal and Google may weight the click data it receives accordingly.

But they’re missing the boat on topical expertise, right? Not so fast!

Google may identify topical experts based on queries and weight their click data more heavily.

Here’s a fairly clear description from the patent.

But, But, But

Why Does It Matter?

Those ‘old school’ SEO fundamentals are still important.

Over time, that type of behavior could lead to better search rankings.