Episode 24 - Busting Sitemaps and Programmatic SEO

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

Check out which sitemaps extension tags Google is deprecating, what Tom Critchlow means by SEO Pace Layers and the basics of Programmatic SEO.

In this week’s episode, we also cover SEO workflows, infinite scroll on desktop, and the results of the third iteration of the product review update.


Host: Garrett Sussman | Demand Generation Manager 

Don’t forget to please SUBSCRIBE to the channel if you enjoy the episode.


Show notes / References:

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Google/SERP Updates:

Spring cleaning: some sitemap extension tags are going away 

Google Search is deprecating a couple of sitemap tag extensions to simplify sitemap codes. The team found that including tags on videos and images isn’t as useful anymore. You should be using structured data for your images and videos instead of sitemap extension tags. While you won’t get penalized for still having these tags, they won’t matter anymore. 

Search Off the Record Podcast – Let’s Talk Sitemaps

John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Lizzi Sassman discuss the history, current state, and future of sitemaps. Why do they matter for website owners and for Google? 

DMCA Removed (and restored) the Moz Homepage from Google’s index

Anyone can submit a DMCA request against a website to remove content that’s breaking Google’s TOS or copying content. The process can and has been abused (probably too often). Moz was the victim of this and had its homepage deindexed for a few pages. While it was restored after a few days, it shows how this process needs to be improved.

More Infinite Scroll Tests on Desktop

Twitter example

Google has implemented infinite scroll on mobile since October of 2021. They’ve actually been testing infinite scroll on desktop for longer than that, but without deploying it permanently. Well, Brodie Clark is starting to see it more frequently and anticipates that it might become more like to be permanent at some point in the near future.


All SERP Click-through Rates Are Not The Same – Jeff Coyle

Jeff Coyle of MarketMuse discusses how our rank tracking reporting for SEO feels broken. You cannot generalize the studies that provide a standardized click-through rate (CTR) across every SERP. When you consider rich snippets, ads, and pixel height, the CTR can vary significantly depending on each query. 

Twitter Threads/Tweets:

What is your least favorite part of SEO? – John Mueller

On Thursday, John Mueller opened up a lovely can of worms on Twitter asking the community what they disliked about the industry. Common themes included a general distrust of Google, a lack of transparency, and the art and buffoonery of link building.

Danny Richman actually created a MuellerBot back in April using GPT-3 to create some AI JohnMu answers. 

A deep dive Twitter thread of Programmatic SEO by Fed

Fed discussed his success using programmatic SEO strategies. In essence, he shares how you can use some interesting data and push it to a lot of pages at scale to generate a ton of content that targets long-tail keywords. All of those pages add up to a nice amount of traffic to your site. He uses a great example of weather data.

JavaScript SEO: How Google Crawls and Indexes JavaScript Websites

Twitter Thread

Aaron Johnson of iPullRank put together a thread discussing tips around Javascript SEO that you can implement for your own site. It summarizes the amazing insights from Serge Bezborodov, CTO of JetOctopus.

General SEO:

London SEO Meetup XL 

On May 4th, Blue Array hosted their London SEO Meetup XL. There were a lot of familiar faces from the industry present. The SEO community was in the best of spirits. Presentations recovered a range of great topics including Martin Splitt on how Google renders websites, Aleyda Solis on SEO workflows and flow charts, Lily Ray on how Google is getting smarter, Crystal Carter on proactive indexing, a panel on Technical SEO, and more. 

You can purchase the replay of the event from Blue Array

Or check out a great play-by-play of the event via ContentKing’s Twitter.

Analysis of March’s Product Review Update – Glenn Gabe

Glenn Gabe took a look back at March’s Product Review Update to assess the extent to which the documentation and best practice recommendations from Google are being included in the actual results. 

  • He found that the suggestion to link to multiple sellers has not been included yet.
  • Videos on review articles are benefiting them in rankings, but the loophole is they aren’t required to be original yet. They can just embed someone else’s video.
  • Some thin content is still ranking.
  • Create unique info about the product. Don’t simply claim you tested it.

New SEO Interview Series by Shelley Walsh: The Pioneers

In the first episode of her new interview series, Shelley Walsh chats with Ammon Johns. They discussed early SEO topics, the origin of PubCon, and spamming techniques that used to work.

SEO Pace Layers – Tom Critchlow

Tom Critchlow explains the idea behind pace layers and how they operate in large organizations then translates the concept to SEO. In essence, he highlights the challenges presented by industry or organizational culture that’s yet to adopt SEO as a foundational marketing strategy and how you need to operate within company politics and power structures to slowly shift the dynamics by pulling on short term and long term levers at different levels of the business.

The Gender Gap in SEO Publishing – Lidia Infante

Across 7 major SEO publications (both editorial and SaaS tool blogs), over the last 12 months, 61% of articles were written by men. Lidia Infante identified a significant gap in gender equality and highlighted them so these and other SEO publications can do better. The top pubs that deserve to be celebrated? Semrush and Moz actually had more women writers than men.

Technical SEO Articles:

Tales of Robots.txt: Uncrawled URLs in Google Search – Adam Gent

Ever block URLs in your Robot.txt file and still have them indexed on Google? Adam Gent shared his case study where he needed to solve this problem. He provided 3 potential solutions:

  1. No Follow tags on the links
  2. Create uncrawlable links
  3. Canonicalize or No Index the actual source page.

It took over 10 months, but Google finally stopped indexing the un-crawled pages.

The Scoop On Using Python for SEO – SEO Rant with Greg Bernhardt (and Mordy Oberstein)

Mordy Oberstein chats with Greg Bernhardt about how you can use the coding language Python for a variety of SEO tasks that you can automate. Greg provides some great learning resources for getting started with Python for SEO.


State of MarTech 2022

Scott Brinker of MarTech (and HubSpot) released the 2022 version of his MarTech landscape. The number of SaaS vendors has skyrocketed to 9,932 tools (up from ~8000 in 2020). In the SEO category alone, there are apparently 181 tools, though this includes everything from full suites to redirection plugins.

Additional SEO tools via Sam Underwood.

SEO Jobs Board – Nick LeRoy

Nick LeRoy has cofounded the SEO Jobs board which is an excellent resource for finding SEO jobs in the industry. It includes a section that highlights job postings that have salaries as well.

Join Garrett Sussman each week as he pulls out all of the biggest and smallest stories from the past week that touch the world of SEO.

Get the scoop on what’s happening to Google, game-changing strategies for SEOs, and the people that you should have on your SEO radar.

Garrett Sussman

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