Episode 15 - Surprise! Local Search Update, Canonicals and Cannibals

Where queries are weird, advice is controversial, and everything depends.

A surprise local search algorithm update around proximity, People Also Ask in the Google Search Bar, and the value of content engineering.

In this week’s episode, we also cover a new Google Video Series – “SEO and Devs’, Twitter threads on canonicalization and cannibalization, and a new Cloudflare bulk redirection feature.


Host: Garrett Sussman | Demand Generation Manager 

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Show notes / References:

Google/SERP Updates:

Surprise!  Unannounced Local Search Update

“Our November 2021 local search update has concluded. It began Nov 30 and ran through Dec 8. It involved a rebalancing of various factors we consider in generating local search results. General guidance for businesses remains the same as covered here:


Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky found that this update seems to be primarily focused on proximity. She said:

“I believe that this was an update that impacted proximity, making it weight heavier. It may have also devalued the impact of keywords in the business name. “

She’s referring to this as the Vicinity Algorithm Update.

Google Redirect Error Issus During Indexing

A Dec 13th from Google Search Central:

“An internal issue is causing an increase of redirect errors during indexing, and associated email notifications. This is not due to any website issues, but is due to an internal Google issue. We hope to fix this problem quickly.”

This has not been completely resolved, but because it’s internal, it doesn’t appear to have any impact on search rankings or traffic for anyone who received an email notification error warning.

PAA in Search Bar Drop Down

There’s a new version of the search bar drop-down that’s been tested this week. You will now see ‘People Also Ask’ queries as well as related images in the expanded search bar to improve user experience. This feature is also appearing to take up the entire width of your browser, ‘edge to edge’, according to Brodie Clark.

New VIdeos Series from Google: SEOs and Devs – SEO Web Developers: Friends or Foes?

The first episode of a new series from Martin Splitt and the Google Search Relations Team that covers the relationship between SEOs and Devs was published this week.

Surma from the Google Chrome Developer Relations Team chatted with Martin about a variety of topics that cross between the disciplines. Is SEO just another constraint for devs (like a variety of browser requirements)? Why it’s important for developers to keep up with SEO trends. And more.

Check out the episode and keep your eyes peeled for the January 12th episode featuring our own Mike King.

Twitter Threads/Tweets:

The First Thing to Learn in SEO Helen Pollitt

Helen Pollitt asked on Twitter:

What one activity would you recommend someone new to #SEO do on repeat to get familiar with how SEO works?

Keyword research, competitor research…what helped you understand SEO better?

Some of the great answers from the thread included:

Marissa Ryan:

Regularly (weekly) dig through Google Search Console, the messier the account the better. Try to look for patterns and cause-and-effect correlations.

Petra Kis-Herczegh:

Investigate the SERPs every time they search.

  • Competitiveness; how many results were returned and are there ads?
  • Intent; are there SERP features and what are the people also ask?
  • Who’s winning; what type of domains are ranking and what’s the intent of the ranked page?

Natasha B-d:

Learn about HOW people search and interact with search engines and what drives that behaviour. I love Google’s concept of “micro-moments, learning about those as a student really shaped how I approach search because at the end of the day, we’re targeting humans.

Kristine Schachinger:

Before you start any task repeatedly make sure you have read… 

Google SEO Docs (all levels)

Google Webmaster Guidelines

How Search Works

How Algos Work

Canonicalization – Lyndon Nelson-Allen – Semrush (05:53) 

(Twitter thread)

In this thread, Lyndon does a fantastic job running through the sometimes confusing nature of canonicalization. All via Twitter, he dives deep into:

  • What is canonicalization?

Definition: the selection of one of multiple as the preferred or representative version.

  • Why do you worry about canonicalization?

Canonicalization is to help with two main types of issues:

Duplication and High Similarity.

  • Potential problems with doing it wrong?
  1. Split ranking value

(values spread across 2+ versions)

  1. Fluctuations in the SERPs

(SE’s may switch between different versions)

  1. Crawling issues

(SE’s may crawl dupes rather than new/edited content)

  1. Potential Spam issues 

(masses of nigh identical/cookie-cutter content may be perceived as spam)

  1. User confusion/irritation

(encountering the same/highly similar pages, thinking they are new/different)

  1. Complexity in tracking

(SERP performance across multiple pages is a pain)

  1. UX/CRO monitoring

(campaigns and interactions across multiple pages is a pain too)

  1. 3rd party’s ranking

(syndicated content may get SERP attention instead of yours)

  • 4 Methods of Canonicalization
    • Hard
    • Soft
    • Hybrid
    • Wrong

Keyword Cannibalization by Joshua Hardwick


Joshua Hardwick of Ahrefs breaks down common misconceptions around keyword cannibalization.

  • What is it?
  • Why is it an issue?
  • What can you do with your content to ensure you’re not ranking for the same targeted keyword.
  • When is cannibalization, not an issue?

“Let’s start at the top.

There’s a theory in the SEO world that having multiple pages about the same thing can “confuse” Google and lead them to rank the wrong page.

This is dubbed “keyword cannibalization”‘

General SEO:

Free SEO Templates from the SEO Community: Kickoff & Improve SEO Work – Tory Gray and Begum Kaya (07:42)

Tory and Begum curated an awesome list of templates to be used across a range of SEO and content strategies and tasks. They’re open-sourced and incredibly useful. They include:

SEO Clinic Episode III: How to Analyze Your Place in the Online Market and Unwrap New Growth Avenues

Semrush organized a ‘takedown’ of the website Performio is a California-based sales performance management software company. Each of these SEO professionals took a different approach to auditing and making recommendations for the site. It’s a great exercise to see how you can improve your own. Angles included: 

  • How to Understand Your Market and Create a Base for a Solid SEO Strategy by Himani Kankaria
  • Implementing a Technical SEO Makeover by Harry Sanders
  • How to Improve Your SEO Performance with an SEO Audit by Nitin Manchanda
  • Closing the Keyword Gap by Brie Anderson
  • How to Get Ideas for Amplifying Your Backlink Portfolio by Koray Tuğberk Gübür

Technical SEO Articles:

The Value of Content Engineering

Andrew McDermott captured the approach to content engineering using a data-backed approach to creating content that appeals to audiences, customers, and search engines but specifically hits the notes that search engines are looking for when ranking content.

Web Design Practices That Frustrate SEO ProsKim Krause Berg

Connecting design/CRO preferences with SEO best practices. Might not be able to accommodate everyone, but it’s important to communicate and have a conversation.


Cloudflare: Maximum redirects, minimum effort: Announcing Bulk Redirects

To simplify the management and implementation of URL redirects at scale Cloudflare has created Bulk Redirects. Bulk Redirects is a new product that allows an administrator to upload and enable hundreds of thousands of URL redirects within minutes, without having to write a single line of code.

Big Data Keyword Research: Power Up Your SEO Team with Keyword Intelligence

iPullRank’s John Murch, Colt Sliva, and Mike King, joined Jeff Coyle of MarketMuse to demonstrate 6 awesome use cases for Grepword’s 5 billion + new keyword universe. Examples included:

  • Keyword clustering
  • Adding search volume to GSC
  • Creating a slack app that allows you to look up search volume in Slack
  • And more

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