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The Pistons Are Far From Perfect, But They Could Make Noise In The Playoffs

There’s a natural tendency in the NBA to lavish attention on teams that, with every bad loss, send social media into a tizzy because of what it might mean for the league’s landscape. For instance, if the LeBron-led Lakers don’t reach the postseason — a 80 percent probability at this point — it would seem a foregone conclusion that major changes would take place in L.A. this summer.

On the other extreme, then, are the Pistons. Detroit, which has been to the NBA playoffs once in the past nine seasons, desperately craves a postseason berth. But if the Pistons don’t make it, there won’t be headlines in national news outlets criticizing them for it. And even if there were, it would be tough to make big changes within an organization that has a first-year head coach and a top-heavy roster. This is their team for now.

The Pistons are clearly an imperfect club. But they can bolster their fortunes by simply continuing to play the way they have in recent weeks, winning eight of their past 11 games. Through Feb. 1, the sputtering Pistons’ offense ranked 29th out of the league’s 30 teams in both effective field goal rate and true shooting percentage. Since Feb. 2, though, the club has jumped into the top five leaguewide in both categories.

Unlike earlier stretches in the season, when All-Star forward Blake Griffin was carrying the offense, the Pistons have enjoyed a far more balanced approach over the past month. The team’s share of one-on-one plays — which was the NBA’s second-highest through Feb. 11 — ranked just 12th over the past month of action, according to stat-tracking database Second Spectrum.

After coming into the season showing off a jumper that wasn’t quite game-ready, two-time All-Star Andre Drummond has looked better than ever simply by getting back to the basics near the rim. He’s averaging more than 22 points and 17 boards2 over his past seven games and has found considerable success with a nifty little push shot from about 8 feet out. Beyond that, maddeningly inconsistent guard Reggie Jackson has been consistently good for a month now and is shooting a career-best 36 percent from deep.

All of this is noteworthy for an offense that sometimes shoots as if the object of the sport is to bruise the backboard with repeated misfires. On Wednesday in San Antonio, for instance, Detroit bricked 14 of its first 15 shots to begin the second quarter. Coach Dwane Casey has acknowledged that the iso-heavy games prior to February were largely a necessity: Griffin trying to break down an entire defense — or simply trying to post up — was often Detroit’s best hope.3

The team has to use an array of handoffs and screens, both on and off the ball, to convince defenders to move and to free up jump-shooters.4 No team scores fewer fast-break points per night than Detroit, and the Pistons are less efficient after forcing a turnover on D than any other NBA club.

If there’s been a surprise during the team’s stretch of solid play, it’s that Detroit has shot so well in the aftermath of trading its best shooter, Reggie Bullock — a deal that initially looked suspect and suggested to many that the Pistons were trying to dodge paying the luxury tax. (Signing perimeter threat Wayne Ellington obviously made up for much of that.)

But there’s a strong argument to be made that speedy backup guard Ish Smith has been the catalyst in the turnaround. The Pistons were terrible in the time he missed earlier in the season with an injury but looked competent again once he rejoined the lineup. (With Smith out, the only other point guard Detroit had outside of Jackson was 37-year-old Jose Calderon.)

Heading into Wednesday night’s games, only four players5 had helped boost their teams’ winning percentages more than Smith,6 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Pistons have logged a 21-13 record with Smith (61.8 percent) and an 8-18 mark (30.8 percent) without him.

Buying stock in the Pistons feels risky because of their shallow depth and their cold spells that feel like arctic blasts straight from Canada. This 11-game stretch hasn’t been tough, featuring just two wins over teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

Still, Detroit owns an 87 percent playoff probability and a favorable remaining schedule — far easier than that of Brooklyn, Charlotte or Miami.7 The Pistons’ defense has been solid all year (Drummond is among the league leaders in steals), and the club limits opponents to a league-low 33.7 percent from the 3-point line.

There’s a bizarre universe in which the Pistons could reach the playoffs at below .500 and still be favored in the first round. If the Pistons land at the No. 6 seed, and the Pacers minus star Victor Oladipo hold on to the No. 3, not only would Detroit have the top player in the series, but it would also have a real chance to advance to the second round.

Beggars can’t be choosers, and those might be high hopes for now. But for a capped-out franchise that hasn’t reached the second round since 2008, the mere dream itself almost feels like a noteworthy accomplishment.

Check out our latest NBA predictions.

Politics Podcast: Our Best (Or Worst) Show

FiveThirtyEight

 

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District will be the first district to redo an election since 1975, after evidence of absentee ballot fraud in 2018. Elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich joins the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast to discuss the evidence of fraud and what to expect from the redo. The crew also debates what would constitute a serious primary challenge to President Trump and plays a round of the game “Guess What Americans Think.”

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Monday evenings, with occasional special episodes throughout the week. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Backlinks 101 – SEO’s Off-page Often Ignored Power Ranker

First off a little disclosure this article over laps the Backlinks category of the FAQ.

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links from other sites.  Think of them as votes of affirmation.  Only one vote can come from a domain so for SEO purposes it doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 1 link from the same domain one link is the count you gain.  Subdomains are viewed separately…thats why yourblog.tumblr.com isn’t a tumblr backlink.  Now those other links may increase traffic to your site but in regards to SEO value its one vote.  Some call this metric “Domain Pop” … how many different domains link to a site.  It’s also gotten more complicated as people would host multiple sites on a shared IP.  How many backlinks come from different IPs is “IP Pop.”  It’s common to see a little higher domain pop than ip pop but if its a huge gap its suspect.

The more domains that link to you the more authoritative you must be right?  Well Kinda.  If 1000 domains link to your site you likely are more authoritative than a site that 3 sites link too.  Not all domains or votes or backlinks….are the same.  A link to your site from UltimateSEO.org carries with it the weigh attributed to that site by its backlinks.  People refer to this as “link juice” basically the backlinks coming in to a site fuel the backlinks leaving a site.

Link juice prevents someone of registering 10 new domains and making 10 backlinks to their original site because those ten new sites probably lack link juice from their own backlinks.  Generally said though backlinks increase a site’s domain athority or citation flow.  Different companies refer to the authority of a site differently.  Beyond DA and CF there is also LIS but I have found DA to be the best singular indicator of a sites worth.

You can see a site’s backlinks from many indexes, most are paid.  Ultimate SEO recommends Monitor Backlinks if you want a tool that is really good at backlinks.  UltimateSEO received nothing for that endorsement.  The endorsement or vote …. as you see it’s a backlink.

What Kinds Of Backlinks Are There?

No-Follow vs Do-Follow Backlinks

No-Follow vs Do-Follow Backlinks

Beyond saying Good and Bad there are actually a couple to be aware of “follow” or “do-follow” and “nofollow.”  They get their names by the instruction they give search engine crawlers…no follow links mean don’t follow this to that site.  In theory a regular link is a follow link and serves as the backlink you ultimately want.

Some reason folks went a little crazy and no-followed everything … even internal links.  No-follows were meant to combat link building schemes such as blog comments.  While its fine to have no follow links to your site there should be a limited mixture of them in relation to your actual do-follow links.  No-follow links are still indexed and I feel strongly have some SEO value still even if its just to drive traffic to your site.  In the end you want do-follow links because they come as full fledged votes for your site, where as no-follows are more or less saying “here is this link to a sight I don’t want to be associated with necessarily.”

It’s that distance that makes “no-follows” a poor source of SEO efforts and its why you should use them sparingly in internal links.  Why would you send a signal to Google that you don’t stand behind an internal link to yourself?  Some try to hold onto all the link juice coming in and no-follow” every external link, this is a poor practice and its been shown that linking your content to relevant good external content helps you.

No-Follow Internal Links…Just Don’t

I rarely use no-follow links, I kinda think they system there is broken so I just follow them all.  Sometime ago people started no-following everything and lead their link juice to specific pages they wanted to rank.  Since this was a misuse of the no-follow Google changed how it handled no-follows, it doesn’t keep the juice in your site or on a page it just disappears.  No-follows take the same amount of link juice as a regular link but no one gets it.  Pointless then right?  We’ll debate that more another day.

What Is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the “keyword” of a backlink.  Ultimate SEO for example is anchor text for the link https://ultimateseo.org which that link had no anchor text.  Anchor text defines the backlink vote.  If enough people make a link to your site like “Miserable Failure” it will teach Google that the target of that link is a miserable failure.  This happen to George W Bush’s White House biography page long ago and is called a “Google Bomb”.  It’s that old saying…if you say something often enough it can become true.

How Many Do I Need?

A lot.  You need as many as you can get from as many places as you can get them.  Just keep in mind that a backlink from my personal site isn’t as powerful as a backlink from the CDC.gov website …. they have the authority.  Thats also why .edu and .gov backlinks are especially coveted.

Backlinks

Backlinks

A quick rule of thumb to determine how many you need is to simply Google the keyword you are attempting to rank for….lets say “cool music from the 60s.” I get pastemagazine.com leading the pack.  According the SEMrush.com that site has 2.7 million backlinks coming from 36,700 domains on 44,300 IP addresses.  So roughly keep that your target if you want to rank #1 for “cool music from the 60s.”

How Do I Get Backlinks?

Many ways….the Gods honest truth is to do it the obvious way …. by having content worth linking too.  If you want a page to rank at the top you need a site thats fast, optimized on page, has relevant … awesome content … and people will backlink to you.  Over years and years and years and you’ll need to keep that content better than everyone else’s … thats not super realistic though.  Sometimes the best content is on page 2 and it’ll stay there…I often Google something and skip the first things just cause they are often just the most SEOed things.  BUT most people by far pick the first result, then the second and so on.

What Are Some Popular Link Building Techniques?

So you need to prime the pump and simulate organic growth and popularity and now you’re in a link building scheme.  Some are looked down upon more than others but make no mistake any attempt to gain backlinks is a link building scheme.  Press Releases, Guest Blogging, Commenting in Forums, making profiles on other sites, link swapping, selling or buying links and finally PBNs.  PBNs are private blog networks where you make zombie sites that link to your important site … but considering that the example above had 37,000 domains linking to it how effective is a network of say 200 sites?  Well surprisingly effective…and thats why Google hunts PBNs like Buffy the vampire slayer.

Thats our Backlinks 101…I’ll talk more about some of these concepts in future posts.

Ultimate SEO”Ultimate SEO”

Politics Podcast: 99 Problems And Mueller Is Just One

The word is that special counsel Robert Mueller could wrap up his investigation as early as next week. Whatever the outcome, it will be an important political moment in Donald Trump’s presidency. However it probably won’t be the end of his legal troubles. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, legal reporter Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux shares an overview of the criminal investigations involving the president, ranging from campaign finance violations to fraud.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Monday evenings, with occasional special episodes throughout the week. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Wait … Is LeBron James Actually Going To Miss The Playoffs?

LeBron James has been so good for so long that it’s easy to forget just how astounding some of his accomplishments are. For example, he currently owns one of the greatest ongoing streaks in sports: His team has made the NBA Finals in eight straight seasons, starting in 2011. That’s mind-blowing in a league where a single finals appearance can be the highlight of a player’s entire career — and he’s done it for two different franchises.

Of course, everyone knew it would be hard for James to keep that streak going this season after moving from the Cleveland Cavaliers — and the relative ease of the Eastern Conference — to the Los Angeles Lakers and the scary West. The thing that has taken NBA observers by surprise is the reason why the finals streak might not happen: James’s Lakers are in real danger of not making the playoffs at all.

According to our NBA projection model, Los Angeles currently has just a 26 percent probability of making the playoffs. L.A. sits a game under .500 in the West’s No. 10 slot, three games back of the eighth-seeded Clippers with 25 games left on the schedule, and it will face the league’s ninth-toughest schedule down the stretch. The Lakers’ only saving grace is that, at full strength, our model thinks they’re the West’s eighth-best team, significantly better than both the Clippers and the No. 9 Sacramento Kings. But it will be a race to the finish that James hasn’t had to worry about in a very long time.

The last LeBron-led team to miss the postseason entirely was the 2004-05 Cavs, in James’s second NBA season. They went 42-40 — which has traditionally been good enough to make the playoffs in the East — but lost out on a tiebreaker with the New Jersey Nets (who beat Cleveland 3-1 in the season series). Talent-wise, that team was a far cry from even later versions of the Cavs that would be prematurely bounced out of the playoffs: Journeyman guard Jeff McInnis was second on the team in minutes behind LeBron, and low-scoring swingman Ira Newble was also a full-time starter. (The next scoring options behind James were Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden.) James himself had not yet fully ascended to GOAT levels of performance, either, posting what would eventually be the fifth-worst Box Plus/Minus and fourth-worst win shares per 48 minutes of his career to date.

On paper, this season’s Lakers should not be drawing comparisons to Jeff McInnis and Ira Newble. Although L.A.’s supporting cast didn’t have the same immediate appeal as players in other potential free-agent destinations for James, it was assumed that the young quartet of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball would build on their promising 2018 performances — particularly by playing alongside James — and mix with the Lakers’ strange mishmash of veterans to make a functional team. But that hasn’t consistently happened during James’s debut campaign in purple and gold.

It’s been a tough season for the young Lakers

Performance metrics for four Los Angeles Lakers prospects, 2018 vs. 2019

2018 Season 2019 Season
Player BPM WS/48* PIE%† BPM WS/48* PIE%†
Kyle Kuzma -1.3 .077 10.4% -1.3 .078 10.6%
Brandon Ingram -1.3 .068 9.6 -3.2 .042 8.4
Josh Hart -0.1 .111 8.8 -0.4 .063 6.4
Lonzo Ball +1.7 .053 10.0 +0.7 .056 8.8
Average -0.4 .076 9.8 -1.1 .060 8.7

*Win shares per 48 minutes

†PIE% = Player Impact Estimate, a rough measure of the percentage of all positive on-court events (for both teams) the player accounted for.

Source: Basketball-Reference.com

Across a variety of metrics, LeBron’s young sidekicks have mostly declined in performance this season, despite benefiting from an extra year of development and getting to play next to one of the greatest offensive creators in NBA history. Only Kuzma can credibly say he has shown any amount of improvement, increasing his usage rate and true shooting percentage while reducing his turnover rate. The rest — particularly Ingram, whose advanced stats have slid into an abyss — have stalled out or worse, and none has even amounted to a league-average player, according to the consensus of metrics.

Making matters worse, it could be argued that those four cost Los Angeles a shot at trading for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis at the deadline (assuming that former Pelicans GM Dell Demps ever actually intended to deal Davis). If even a few of the Lakers’ youngsters had played well this season, showing the requisite star potential to be included in a trade package for Davis, it’s possible that L.A. would have been penciling a LeBron-AD duo into its lineup for a playoff push this year. Instead, it’s left waiting for Hart and Ball to return from injury and hoping the kids can play better down the stretch.

The veterans haven’t exactly helped much, either. JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler are an efficient pairing of defensive bigs, and both are above average in win shares per 48 — the most charitable stat for each — while shooting guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the recently acquired Reggie Bullock are at least in the vicinity of average in the metric. (As is new power forward Mike Muscala.) But Rajon Rondo has shot the ball poorly this season, and Lance Stephenson hasn’t been an effective player in years. All told, James’s supporting cast hasn’t been appreciably better than the one he fled in Cleveland after last season.1

And it bears mentioning that James himself has not been as statistically dominant as in his last few seasons as a Cavalier. His usage rate, true shooting percentage, assist rate, rebound rate, steal rate, block rate and defensive BPM are all down from last year. He’s shooting worse on twos, threes and free throws. And most concerning, the 34-year-old missed 18 games between Christmas and early February with a groin injury, and he’s played only 49.5 percent of the Lakers’ available minutes this season — by far the lowest mark of his career.

James did tell reporters over All-Star weekend that he “feels great,” though, and that he’s ready to lead a playoff push for Los Angeles.

“[I’m] looking forward to seeing what we can do to get back in this playoff race,” James said. “That’s the only thing that’s going to happen in my mental space for these next two months, pretty much on how I can get this team playing the type of level of basketball we were playing before my injury.”

The Lakers will need to summon all of James’s focus and talent to storm back into the playoff picture. It’s more than possible, particularly if James is indeed healthy. But our projections are still low for a LeBron team even after accounting for James’s return to the lineup — and the fact that the Clippers were sellers at the trade deadline. (That’s why we give L.A. a 26 percent chance, while simpler forecasts such as the one at Basketball-Reference.com peg its odds at about 5 percent.) And even if the Lakers do make the playoffs, they would probably end up being heavy underdogs against the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

The Lakers’ long-term future should be brighter: The team will have plenty of cap space to use on free agents surrounding James and plenty of superstar options to choose from (in addition to the ongoing potential of a Davis trade). For now, though, James’s finals streak has a real chance of ending far earlier than anybody expected: April 10, the final day of the 2018-19 NBA regular season.

Check out our latest NBA predictions.

How To Rank Your Site On Google…Forget the Keywords

Ultimate SEO

Well don’t totally forget the keywords but I think if you spend more than 5 minutes on keywords you’re going to be pretty surprised by some purported data I stumbled across.  As you likely know Google uses about 200 factors in determining your sites ranking.  I personally have place a lot of emphasis on speed and backlinks and while I have thought it was important I must admit I didn’t give the social media factor as much attention as I should.

The first big thing to not is that 10.3% of ranking is CTR so if you have ever seen your content just jump up on the rankings and then slowly (or quickly) taper off as time goes its likely that people are clicking on you less and less as you slide below the pages.  Its the single biggest impact.  I feel Google gives you the benefit of doubt at first ranking you higher than average and then they allow people to determine if your site is worth it.  That’s important to consider and similar to conversion rates.

When we take human behavior out we have largely backlinks and social media deciding your ranking ability.  These make sense, if no one is talking about you but they are about your competition and more people click on your competitors site who also has the most backlinks you’re wasting your time trying to get your keywords exactly right in the headers, description and title….they combined contribute a value of 5  where backlinks are over 120.

If you’d like to access the Data Studio report directly you can visit https://datastudio.google.com/open/1lNt4SYd4jrfXWMo9HPKvrj1FWFO0oxG4

If this graphic surprises you it might be a good plan to check out our SEO Store or Upwork Profile.

Ultimate SEO”Ultimate SEO”

Adwords And Google Data Studio: Wordstream Alternative

I’ve been managing Google Adwords campaigns for political campaigns mostly but recently I stepped out into managing the Adwords campaigns for an IT consulting company. It’s a little bit of a challenge I’m not going to lie. More than just matching the search with the keyword I need to attract only business customer and cut out residential. So as you can image someone Googles “IT Help Desks” and they might be looking for a specific help desk, a personal help desk or a help desk to contract business services too.

Wordstream Free Alternative

In Ultimate SEO‘s  struggle to compete in this expensive market I tried Wordstream out for a week and a half of so and thats really not enough time to get much actionable help. I was pulled into a sales demo consultation and sure it seemed like it could offer insights but WOW … the expense associated with that out paced any other SEO tool I use. I felt the main task Wordstream was completing was organizing and presenting the data in a way that I could see the areas of need. Google Data Studio has been doing that for me in SEO for over a year now so I’ve tried my hand at making a Google Adwords Google Data Studio report with the aim to save about three hundred a month from getting Wordstream.

google data studio adwords

google data studio adwords

Data Studio Adwords Template

Google Data Studio also lets you copy reports that others make available and you can attach your own data respository to populate the report. Basically if you want a Google Data Studio Template for Adwords you’re welcome to copy this report in Google Data Studio.

I’ll come back in a month and let you know how this free product helped or didn’t help me rather than paying PPC software provides.

Ultimate SEO”Ultimate SEO”

Adwords Template With Search Console, Google Analytics In Data Studio

Adwords Template With Search Console, Google Analytics In Data Studio

SEO & PPC Data Studio Report Using Adwords, Google Analytics and Google Search Console All-In-One Template

Google Data Studio Reports are some fun things.  Here at Ultimate SEO you love visualizations and thats partially why we like Data Studio. Beyond the looks its also integrated easily with Google Sheets, Google Analytics and Search Console to name a few. These few though create a powerful free SEO PPC tool.

You can check out the report directly by clicking the link above, here is an embedded look at the nine pages of live data thats basically always right.  It’s nice to be able to pull in data from two very different Google tools.  Lots of people know of Google Analytics and think it covers Google Search Console but it doesn’t and I’ll discuss that more in another post but the unique data from these sources can all mix to form one handy live report.

You can check out all the information pulled here in this report and change the dates as needed using the drop down.  To personalize the report to your own site simply copy it and set the data sources to your own Google Analytics and Search Console sources.  Word of caution on the Search Console aspect there are two connections, one is the site and the other I believe is the page urls.  So make sure to connect those correctly.  Just like in electrical work it’s like to like.

Across these nine pages you’ll find insights into any site with an Adwords campaign including keywords, search terms, CTR and CPC.

Ultimate SEO”Ultimate SEO”

MAJOR GOOGLE SEO CHANGE FOR SOME: Website Traffic CREDITED To Where Google Chooses

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

In Search Console, the Performance report currently credits all page metrics to the exact URL that the user is referred to by Google Search. Although this provides very specific data, it makes property management more difficult; for example: if your site has mobile and desktop versions on different properties, you must open multiple properties to see all your Search data for the same piece of content.

To help unify your data, Search Console will soon begin assigning search metrics to the (Google-selected) canonical URL, rather than the URL referred to by Google Search. This change has several benefits:

  • It unifies all search metrics for a single piece of content into a single URL: the canonical URL. This shows you the full picture about a specific piece of content in one property.
  • For users with separate mobile or AMP pages, it unifies all (or most, since some mobile URLs may end up as canonical) of your data to a single property (the “canonical” property).
  • It improves the usability of the AMP and Mobile-Friendly reports. These reports currently show issues in the canonical page property, but show the impression in the property that owns the actual URL referred to by Google Search. After this change, the impressions and issues will be shown in the same property.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console

When will this happen?

We plan to transition all performance data on April 10, 2019. In order to provide continuity to your data, we will pre-populate your unified data beginning from January 2018. We will also enable you to view both old and new versions for a few weeks during the transition to see the impact and understand the differences.

API and Data Studio users: The Search Console API will change to canonical data on April 10, 2019.

How will this affect my data?

  • At an individual URL level, you will see traffic shift from any non-canonical (duplicate) URLs to the canonical URL.
  • At the property level, you will see data from your alternate property (for example, your mobile site) shifted to your “canonical property”. Your alternate property traffic probably won’t drop to zero in Search Console because canonicalization is at the page, not the property level, and your mobile property might have some canonical pages. However, for most users, most property-level data will shift to one property. AMP property traffic will drop to zero in most cases (except for self-canonical pages).
  • You will still be able to filter data by device, search appearance (such as AMP), country, and other dimensions without losing important information about your traffic.

You can see some examples of these traffic changes below.

Preparing for the change

  • Consider whether you need to change user access to your various properties; for example: do you need to add new users to your canonical property, or do existing users continue to need access to the non-canonical properties.
  • Modify any custom traffic reports you might have created in order to adapt for this traffic shift.
  • If you need to learn the canonical URL for a given URL, you can use the URL Inspection tool.
  • If you want to save your traffic data calculated using the current system, you should download your data using either the Performance report’s Export Data button, or using the Search Console API.

Examples

Here are a few examples showing how data might change on your site. In these examples, you can see how your traffic numbers would change between a canonical site (called example.com) and alternate site (called m.example.com).

Important: In these examples, the desktop site contains all the canonical pages and the mobile contains all the alternate pages. In the real world, your desktop site might contain some alternate pages and your mobile site might contain some canonical pages. You can determine the canonical for a given URL using the URL Inspection tool.

Total traffic

In the current version, some of your traffic is attributed to the canonical property and some to the alternate property. The new version should attribute all of your traffic to the canonical property.

MAJOR GOOGLE SEO CHANGE FOR SOME: Website Traffic CREDITED To Where Google Chooses

MAJOR GOOGLE SEO CHANGE FOR SOME: Website Traffic CREDITED To Where Google Chooses

Individual page traffic

You can see traffic changes between the duplicate and canonical URLs for individual pages in the Pages view. The next example shows how traffic that used to be split between the canonical and alternate pages are now all attributed to the canonical URL:

Mobile traffic

In the current version, all of your mobile traffic was attributed to your m. property. The new version attributes all traffic to your canonical property when you apply the “Device: Mobile” filter as shown here:

In conclusion

We know that this change might seem a little confusing at first, but we’re confident that it will simplify your job of tracking traffic data for your site. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out on the Webmaster Help Foru

Ultimate SEO”Ultimate SEO”

Did The Cubs Miss Their Chance To Be A Dynasty?

In addition to being one of the great sports stories of the 21st century — breaking a 108-year championship drought in extra innings of World Series Game 7 — the 2016 Chicago Cubs were legitimately one of the best baseball teams of all time. With a championship core of young talent that included Kris Bryant (age 24),1 Anthony Rizzo (26), Kyle Hendricks (26), Addison Russell (22), Javier Baez (23), Kyle Schwarber (23), Willson Contreras (24) and Jason Heyward (26), Chicago seemed poised to follow up that magical run by becoming a dynasty in the coming seasons.

That’s not quite how things have played out. The 2017 Cubs stumbled out of the gate and never quite clicked, eventually losing to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The 2018 version squandered the five-game division lead they held over the Brewers on Sept. 1, lost the division tiebreaker in Game 163 of the regular season and then promptly lost the wild-card game against Colorado. And the Cubs’ grip on the Central figures to loosen even further this season. According to a preliminary version of our 2019 MLB Projections, we give Chicago only the third-best projected record (84 wins) in the division, with a mere 24 percent chance of winning it.

The NL Central has caught up with the Cubs

How our preliminary Elo ratings are forecasting the 2019 NL Central race

Avg. Simulated Season Chance to…
Team Elo Rating Wins Losses Run Diff. Make Playoffs Win Division Win World Series
Cardinals 1528 86 76 +42 45% 28% 4%
Brewers 1525 85 77 +33 41 25 4
Cubs 1523 84 78 +31 40 24 4
Pirates 1502 79 83 -15 25 13 1
Reds 1497 77 85 -32 20 10 1

Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB season.

Sources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport, Caesar’s Palace

How is it possible that the Cubs went from dynasty in the making in 2016 to a team struggling to stay atop its own division in less than three years? The answer lies in part with the team’s declining core and team president Theo Epstein’s inability to supplement it with effective reinforcements from the outside — particularly when it comes to pitching.

Few teams have ever undergone an overhaul as extreme as the Cubs did in the four years leading up to their championship season. Chicago improved from 16.6 wins above replacement2 during their dreadful 61-win 2012 to 56.8 WAR in 2016, with essentially all of those gains coming via newly acquired talent (rather than improvements from existing holdovers). As part of that process, Epstein made a number of shrewd trades, drafted several key contributors and increased Chicago’s payroll by 169 percent relative to the MLB average.

It all came together as a textbook example of tearing down and rebuilding a franchise. The 2016 Cubs had baseball’s third-most-valuable pitchers by WAR (including the No. 1 starting rotation) and the best defense by a country mile, on top of an offense that tied for the NL lead in adjusted on-base plus slugging percentage. The pitching side was expensive and creaky — one of the oldest ever to win a World Series, in fact — but Epstein and the Cubs seemed to be winning the battle of ideas about where to invest in order to build a ballclub with perennial championship aspirations.

Since 2016, though, the formula has broken down. The team’s net WAR on arrivals and departures — in which Chicago topped baseball from 2012 to 2016 — has dropped to eighth-worst in MLB. The Cubs haven’t added very many new faces, and what few acquisitions the team has made have largely flopped, particularly on the mound. Starters Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish all badly underperformed their established performance levels as members of the Cubs, for instance. As a result, Chicago has mainly had to rely on its existing core to keep the team in contention.

This makes some sense, to a certain extent. The natural maturation process of a championship team is to add talent in the lead-up to contention, then shift toward maintaining it once the roster finally reaches the top of the heap. But that hasn’t really happened, either. Not only have the new players underperformed, the team’s nexus of homegrown talent has, too. The Cubs’ holdovers are a net -14.8 WAR since 2016, which ranks fourth-worst in MLB. The multiyear plan to build a great core and then set it loose doesn’t work when that core regresses.

The rise and stall of the Cubs

Chicago Cubs’ net wins above replacement (WAR) added/subtracted by season from incoming/outgoing and existing players, 2013-18

Net WAR from…
Season Previous WAR + Arrivals Departures + Holdovers = Season WAR
2013 16.6 + 10.1 + 2.2 2.9 = 26.1
2014 26.1 + 7.8 6.1 + 2.2 = 30.0
2015 30.0 + 19.8 3.4 2.0 = 44.5
2016 44.5 + 10.8 + 0.5 + 1 = 56.8
2017 56.8 + 8.3 9.5 13.1 = 42.5
2018 42.5 + 7.5 6.2 1.8 = 42.1

Positive net WAR for departures means departing players cumulatively had negative WAR the previous year.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs

The 2018 Cubs shared some of the strengths of the 2016 club — both had top-5 defenses by WAR — but Chicago slipped to 14th in WAR from its starting rotation and was basically average offensively according to adjusted OPS. An injury to Bryant cost him 60 games, while Rizzo’s performance declined for reasons mostly unknown.

Bryzzo wasn’t alone in its combined downturn. Sixteen players appeared on the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Cubs. Some of them — such as Contreras, Baez and Schwarber — have flourished in expanded roles since 2016. But in more cases than not, this core group has produced less despite being asked to carry more of the load over time:3

The Cubs are relying on the same core … and getting less

For players who were on the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Chicago Cubs, share of team playing time logged* and wins above replacement (WAR) by season

Playing time WAR
Player Pos 2016 2017 2018 2016 2017 2018
Anthony Rizzo 1B 6.6% 6.8% 6.4% 5.2 4.2 2.8
Kris Bryant 3B 6.8 6.5 4.4 7.6 6.4 2.1
Ben Zobrist 2B 6.2 4.8 5.0 3.8 0.4 3.4
Jon Lester P 5.7 5.1 4.9 4.9 2.0 2.4
Javier Baez IF 4.4 5.0 6.2 2.7 2.6 5.7
Jason Heyward RF 5.8 4.7 4.7 1.1 1.6 1.8
Kyle Hendricks P 5.3 4.0 5.4 4.8 2.8 3.0
Addison Russell SS 5.8 3.8 4.5 3.7 1.9 1.7
Willson Contreras C 2.8 4.2 5.2 1.9 3.6 2.7
Kyle Schwarber LF 0.0 4.8 4.9 -0.1 0.8 2.3
Albert Almora CF 1.1 3.2 4.6 0.6 1.1 1.4
Mike Montgomery P 1.0 3.8 3.1 0.2 1.9 1.2
Pedro Strop P 1.5 2.1 2.2 0.8 1.0 1.4
Carl Edwards Jr. P 1.1 2.4 1.8 0.4 1.2 1.2
Tommy La Stella IF 1.7 1.5 1.8 0.6 0.5 0.1
Rob Zastryzny P 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.5 -0.2 0.0
Total 56.3 63.0 65.3 38.7 31.8 33.2

* Through plate appearances or (leverage-adjusted) innings pitched.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs

It also bears mentioning that Epstein and the Cubs have been hamstrung in how much outside talent they can add by a massive payroll bill, which has affected the team’s depth all across the diamond. In terms of marginal payroll per WAR, Chicago went from being the second-most cost-effective playoff team of 2016 to the least cost-effective playoff team of 2018.

Trade pickup Cole Hamels was one of the few pitchers who didn’t underwhelm in Chicago (he was very good upon joining the Cubs at last year’s deadline). And in the field, rookie David Bote was a pleasant surprise last season. Both will be back for 2019, along with practically all the rest of the aforementioned core.4 The Cubs were briefly rumored to be in on the Bryce Harper derby, but for now Chicago’s biggest offseason acquisition is utilityman Daniel Descalso. And the lack of upgrades is part of the problem heading into 2019.

Although FanGraphs projects the Cubs to have a top-5 lineup, the site sees the pitching staff dropping outside MLB’s top 10 — and with an 88-win prediction for the Cubs, FanGraphs is one of the forecasters most bullish on Chicago’s chances. If the Brewers caught the Cubs on talent last season, the Cardinals might have passed them both by now. Meanwhile, manager Joe Maddon is in the final year of his contract, with no extension in place going forward. From team leadership to the core of the roster, many of the factors that played a key role in Chicago’s rise now look shockingly uncertain three years later.

The good news for Chicago, though, is that the potential still exists for an exciting summer at Wrigley Field. Even if 2016 was an outlier, a team as talented as the 2017 and 2018 Cubs — which was, after all, good enough for an average of 93.5 wins per season — remains a contender. It might not be the kind of dynasty that either Epstein or fans on the North Side had in mind when they were celebrating their curse-breaking World Series victory. But hey, at least it’s far better than all the bad Cub teams of the 1980s and ’90s that many of us grew up watching on WGN.

Jay Boice contributed research.