Episode 208 contains the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Apr 15-19, 2024.

1. Google Confirms: Fewer Links Needed for Effective SEO Rankings! – At the recent SERP Conference, Google’s Gary Illyes reiterated a significant shift in SEO strategy: the diminishing importance of links in ranking web pages. During his presentation on April 19, 2024, Illyes highlighted that Google’s algorithm now requires “very few links to rank pages,” signaling a continued move away from heavily relying on link quantity for search engine rankings.

This evolution reflects Google’s ongoing updates to refine their search algorithms to focus more on content quality and user experience rather than traditional signals like the number of links. Illyes’ statement underscores a broader trend where links, although still valuable, are not the central metric they once were in SEO. This shift encourages SEO professionals and business owners to diversify their SEO strategies, focusing more on quality content and holistic site optimization.

For businesses, this means that developing robust, relevant content and ensuring a user-friendly site can be just as crucial as link-building efforts. This change is intended to make search results more useful and relevant to users, aligning more closely with Google’s core objective of enhancing the user search experience.

2. Preventing Deindexing After Hosting Transitions! – If you’ve recently migrated your site and noticed a drop in search visibility, then this is for you.

The issue begins post-migration, where a site might disappear from Google’s search results. This sudden disappearance often leads to a panic, but the root causes can typically be diagnosed and resolved through a few strategic steps. John Mueller of Google suggests that the primary check should be whether the new site setup is unintentionally blocking Google’s crawlers, which is a common oversight during migrations.

The first step in diagnosing this issue is to utilize Google Search Console. This tool can help identify whether pages are not found (404 errors) or if there’s a robots.txt file blocking the crawlers. Such blockages can occur due to settings that discourage search engines from indexing the site, which might be enabled during the migration process without the site owner’s knowledge.

Mueller points out that often during a WordPress site migration, settings intended to hide the site from search engines during development are not reverted. To check this, you can navigate to the ‘Reading’ settings under ‘Settings’ in the WordPress admin panel. If the ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ option is ticked, simply unticking this will resolve the issue.

If the problem isn’t related to this setting, it might be due to an SEO or migration plugin that inadvertently set up a robots.txt block. Alternatively, it could be a DNS setting issue or an error on the part of the web hosting service.

3. Google’s Stance on The Impact of Owning Multiple Websites – Google’s John Mueller clarified concerns surrounding the impact of managing multiple websites on SEO rankings. He emphasized that owning several websites in itself does not directly harm rankings. However, the real issue lies in the distribution of effort and quality. Mueller pointed out that managing multiple sites often dilutes the ability to maintain high-quality content across all platforms. If the sites cover the same topic, it might appear as an attempt to manipulate rankings, which is not an ideal strategy for SEO success.

For business owners, the takeaway is clear: focus on developing one authoritative website rather than spreading resources thin over multiple lesser sites. This approach not only enhances your site’s quality and relevance but also aligns better with Google’s algorithms, which favor comprehensive and user-focused content.

This perspective is supported by Bill Hartzer of Hartzer Consulting, who notes that while it’s common to think creating additional websites on the same topic might double success, this strategy rarely pans out. Consolidating sites into one primary, authoritative presence is usually more effective for maintaining strong SEO performance.

For those contemplating the management of multiple websites, it’s crucial to consider the strategic goals: are you aiming for quality or merely trying to capture more traffic? Opt for creating a single, robust site that truly serves your audience’s needs and stands out in Google’s search rankings.

4. 404 Errors on Your Website’s SEO Ranking – During the Google SEO office hours, Gary Illyes from Google addressed the common concern about the correlation between 404 errors and SEO rankings. Illyes confirmed that encountering 404 errors—’Page Not Found’ notifications—is quite normal and does not inherently lead to ranking drops. He specifically addressed a scenario involving ‘fake’ 404 errors, which are URLs mistakenly or maliciously generated by bots, emphasizing that these errors are unlikely to influence a site’s ranking negatively.

For business owners monitoring their website’s performance, it’s crucial to understand that while 404 errors are not problematic by themselves, their origin and frequency should be analyzed. If genuine users encounter 404 errors, this could point to broken links or misspellings which should be redirected correctly to improve user experience and site functionality. Moreover, it’s advised to periodically check for security vulnerabilities, especially if 404 errors might suggest bot activities searching for exploits.

Illyes suggests utilizing analytics tools to identify if real users are encountering these errors and to take corrective actions like redirection or offering relevant content on error pages to retain visitor engagement. His insights clarify that while 404 errors are normal, the context and response to these errors can influence the overall quality and security of a website.

5. Does Changing Your Web Hosting Impact SEO? Google Weighs In! – As business owners often ponder the implications of switching web hosting services, Google’s Gary Illyes sheds light on this topic. Illyes clarifies that changing your web hosting platform should not negatively affect your SEO rankings, provided the migration is executed correctly.

Key aspects to ensure a smooth transition include minimal downtime and maintaining website resolvability. This involves updating name server information and making sure the domain’s IP address matches the new hosting location. Even if a website experiences downtime, as long as it’s brief and the site’s structure remains unchanged, the impact on SEO should be negligible.

For those considering a host switch, it’s crucial to choose a service that matches or exceeds the quality of your current host to avoid any potential drops in site performance. Illyes’ insights confirm that with proper planning and execution, changing web hosts can be a seamless process that maintains your current SEO standing.

6. How Does a 503 Status Affect Your Site’s SEO? Google Explains – During the Google Search Central SEO office hours in April 2024, a significant clarification was made regarding the SEO implications of the 503 ‘Service Unavailable’ status cod…