What happened in SEO during Q2 2021

by David Broderick

Want to stay on top of what’s going on in the world of SEO without spending hours trawling through Twitter and browsing blogs?

We’ve got you.

Read on to get an overview of the biggest stories and hottest topics in search right now at a glance.

The most popular stories from our Rich Snippets newsletter

Discover the ten most popular articles, updates, and resources from our weekly Rich Snippets newsletter during Q2 2021:

1. What creators should know about Google’s product reviews update – Google Search Central Blog 

At the start of April, Google rolled out the product reviews update. These guidelines published on the Search Central blog – which include a nine-point checklist for site owners to use to evaluate whether their reviews hit all the marks of a quality review – are essential reading for affiliate site owners.

2. Improve your content with Search Console Insights – Google Web Creators Blog

In June, Google accidentally published – then promptly deleted – the announcement for Google Search Console’s Insights Report… but not before we spotted it and shared the archive.org link with Rich Snippets subscribers the next day.

3. Create good titles and snippets in Search Results – Google Search Central

When Google publishes new best practices on something as ubiquitous as page titles, it’s well worth paying attention. TL;DR: “ctrl+z the SEO tactics we all used in 2013”.

4 . How to Grow a Blog (from 0 to 15k Monthly Visitors) – Samuel Schmitt

In this article, Samuel Schmitt details the step-by-step process he used to grow his blog from 0 to 15,000 visits a month and build a personal brand in the SEO space from scratch.

5. Importance of Context for SEO: More Text is not Better Context – Root & Branch Group

How information is categorized, associated, and catalogued has a bigger impact on the SERPs than any on-page element we control. This in-depth article from Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR explores the systems that establish and categorize context – and might change the way you think about SEO.

6. How to create a competitive analysis dashboard for Core Web Vitals using Google Data Studio – Deepcrawl

This reusable template from Rachel Anderson connects CrUX data with Google Data Studio to whip up a competitive dashboard in minutes. It’s built for your client and four competitors, but with a little love you can spin it out into a multi-niche show stopper.

7. SEO Success Case Study: Encazip.com – Authoritas

The second article from Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR on this list gives you the numbers, charts, and stats you need to get the development work you need doing prioritized. 

8. Learning SEO

This resource from search superhero Aleyda Solis is a roadmap for anyone looking to learn the concepts, skills, and specializations to start or grow a career in search. Each step of the roadmap even links to the best free resources out there for learning the skill.

9. 3 Vital Click-Based Signals for SEO: First, Long, & Last – Moz

In this article, Cyrus Shepard explores how to optimize for the three key engagement metrics a new Google patent reveals you should focus on: High CTR, Strong Engagement, and User Satisfaction.

10. Optimizing Web Vitals using Lighthouse – web.dev

Addy Osmani is one of the key people behind Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, CrUX, DevTools, and Core Web Vitals. In this article, he takes a deep dive into how new Lighthouse, PageSpeed and DevTools features can help you quickly identify ways to improve your site’s Core Web Vitals.

The hottest topics in our Slack community

Discover what some of the biggest names in SEO are discussing with each other right now in the most popular threads from our exclusive Slack community from Q2 2021:

1. How to pitch link building services to B2B SaaS companies

When Shaurya Jain asked the community for advice on pitching link building services to B2B SaaS companies, Joel Klettke, Alex Birch, Garit Boothe, and Matt all contributed their perspectives.  

The consensus: pitching link building services to the decision makers within established SaaS companies is likely to be an uphill struggle. However, approaching SEO consultants and agencies already working with those companies could yield some good results. 

Matt added that when it comes to pitching link building services directly to SaaS businesses, you’d have the best bet by positioning yourself as being able to help them:

2. An open discussion about mental health in SEO

Blake Denman, one of our Community Advocates, started a frank discussion on mental health in the SEO industry by opening up about his own struggles and how much therapy has helped him overcome them. 

In the thread, several TTT members opened up about their own mental health struggles and the approaches that have helped them, which included therapy, meditation, journaling, and regular exercise. 

The whole thread served as a great reminder that mental health issues can affect anyone – and how important it is to seek help if you need it. 

3. Kristin Tynski came up with press-worthy content ideas for TTT members

Kristin Tynski, another of our Community Advocates, offered to come up with a few press-worthy, data-driven content ideas for TTT members’ sites – free of charge. 

Several members took Kristin up on the offer, and she came up with content ideas for sites in niches as broad as e-commerce fulfillment, men’s fashion, and precious metals. 

4. Fallout from the June Google update

Ian detailed how the three TTT canary sites fared in the wake of the June Google update. While there were plenty of ranking fluctuations for terms outside of the top three Google results, traffic remained relatively stable for all three sites.

5. Which metrics should you use to measure content marketing success?

Jenna Potter revealed what metrics her and her team at Codeless and Wordable track to measure the success of their content marketing campaigns. She says these aren’t the kind of lag measures found in Google Analytics like traffic, but lead measures like topical authority, referring domain quantity and quality, and subject-matter expertise. 

6. How big will Google’s product reviews update be for affiliate sites?

Martin Hayman kicked off a discussion on Google’s product reviews update, in which Adam Voges went back and forth with Ian on what it might mean for affiliate sites going forward. 

Are the days of successful affiliate sites filled with reviews by people who’ve never used the products numbered, or will Google’s new guidelines be easy enough for them to meet? Only time will tell. 

7. The TTT community’s advice for starting an affiliate site

When Michelle Edwards asked for the community’s thoughts on her plan for launching an affiliate site, several members stepped up with their hard-earn insights:

8. What does Apple blocking email tracking mean for email marketing? 

Richard Gargan started a discussion around the news that Apple is blocking open tracking for emails

Matt said this could be monumental for email marketing if Google and others follow suit, while Ian suggested it might ironically lead to more spam, as email marketers might revert to a “spray and pray” approach once they can no longer track and optimize their campaigns. 

9. How to identify keywords with structured data opportunities 

When ​​Sophie Bessemer asked the community how to identify which keywords represent opportunities for the practice problems schema, representatives from Ahrefs, Semrush, and Sitebulb all suggested ways their tools could be used for the task. 

Saijo George also suggested a manual approach: checking the source code of the knowledge graphs of the target keywords for the class “knowledge_game__kg-in-on”.

10. A simple way to earn a new link every few days 

Shaurya Jain shared a link building tactic that’s been earning him a new link every few days – asking new members to a Facebook group he manages if they’d help support the group admin by linking to his site. Most of the people he follows up with give him the link.


Want to keep your finger on the pulse of the world of search without having to wait for our next quarterly highlights? Sign up to our weekly Rich Snippets newsletter and join Traffic Think Tank to get real-time updates – and join in on the discussion.

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