In addition to three important Google-related news headlines, Host Erin Sparks and Studio Creative Director Jacob Mann along with Mordy Oberstein, Wix’s SEO Liaison, announce a Twitter contest to choose the best 404 pages in time for next week’s news, which will be episode 404! And no, the price is NOT a home visit from Mordy. Get all the details in this week’s news roundup, episode 402 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast!


Google May Withhold Taxes from Non-US YouTube Creators

From Matt Southern on Search Engine Journal we see Google May Withhold Taxes from Non-US YouTube Creators. Google will soon be required to withhold taxes on YouTube earnings generated from viewers in the United States. If you live outside the United States and have a revenue-earning YouTube channel with a US-based audience, this applies to you.

  • Erin Sparks: Chapter 3 of the US Internal Revenue Code says Google is obliged to collect tax information from all monetized creators who live outside the United States, and also to deduct taxes from their earnings that come from US viewership of their content. To find your account information related to this, login to AdSense, go to Payments, then go to Manage Settings and look for United States tax info, then click Manage Tax Info and fill out the appropriate forms.
  • Mordy Oberstein: You could always just move to a country that doesn’t have a tax treaty with the US. I don’t which ones don’t, but probably North Korea and Iran don’t have tax treaties with the US. But it does point out how “immature” the digital space can be. It’s 2021 and the government is just getting around to realizing it should be collecting taxes from some of this stuff?
  • Jacob Mann: The article also notes that for those who choose not to fill out the required tax information, Google is going to just withhold 24% of your global YouTube revenue, not just the US portion. Big incentive to fill out the forms!


Google Local Tests Estimated Prices Near You

On Search Engine Roundtable From Barry Schwartz, we learn that Google Local Tests Estimated Prices Near You. Google Local, is testing a feature to show estimated prices near you for specific types of queries. Anubhav Garg spotted this box for a query on [roofing companies Hackensack] which showed estimated prices for a roofing job in that area. 

  • Erin Sparks: Google is partnering up with Homwyse to do this. I for one am not comfortable with Google pushing third-party estimates for services when it’s impossible for them to know what would even be comparing apples to apples. Let’s say the service is web development. Well, a WebDev project could run from as little as $250 to $50,000 depending on the scope of the project. 
  • Mordy Oberstein: Right, like the “roof repair” example in the article. How does Google know the user has accurately described what the needed roof repair is? What if the roofer shows up and discovers the damage is more extensive than the property owner realized? The property owner may assume they’re getting ripped off because Google said it would fall in XYZ range, but the roofer may be totally legitimate. How’s that going to work? 
  • Erin Sparks: There are also unscrupulous roofers who go around like ambulance chasers to say you’ve got hail damage so they can collect an insurance payout. How is that going to factor in?
  • Mordy Oberstein: It makes a ton of sense for Google to do this for regular “products” but it doesn’t seem like it would work as well for services. Why shouldn’t a premium roofer who has many years of hard-earned experience charge more? There has to be more nuanced for it to work well. Or if the range were really wide, how would users react to that?
  • Erin Sparks: Pricing for services is so variable and depends on so many factors it just doesn’t seem like a Google estimate could be accurate.


Is Google moving towards greater search equity?

From Mordy Oberstein on Search Engine Watch: Is Google moving towards greater search equity? Search equity allows for your average business owner to compete on the SERP without being impeded by a lack of SEO-knowledge. Google is pushing for equity on the SERP to a far greater extent. The democratization of the SERP represents an enormous paradigm shift that brings certain SEO skills to the fore.

  • Erin Sparks: This is an in-depth article documenting how Google does appear to be paying attention to search equity.
  • Mordy Oberstein: The new passage ranking is a prime example where Google is doing whatever it can to pull out an understanding of your page even if the site publishers doesn’t know a lot about how to properly structure a page the way Google would prefer it. Passage ranking allows that page with inexperienced or immature SEO to still have a chance at ranking. There are a bunch of examples similar to this that show how Google is moving toward search equity. Same thing with the closed CMS platforms like Wix and others that take care of your SEO basics for you, which means you can focus on writing great content instead of trying to learn and execute SEO.  
  • Erin Sparks: You make it sound like such a laudable position. My concern is that as SEOs we’ve been forced to play in Google’s sandbox and by Google’s rules, and so many of us have put in the time and the dollars on long-term, high-quality SEO work and content and so now all the people who haven’t put in the blood, sweat, and tears are going to get a chance at ranking without having done all that? 
  • Mordy Oberstein: Yes, but only if they’re putting the energy into creating fantastic content. You don’t get off the hook from creating good content. 
  • Erin Sparks: In other words, it shouldn’t be technical SEO that keeps you from ranking. If your content is fantastic, you should rank.
  • Mordy Oberstein: And remember that the web is still full of a lot of crappy, sub-par content, so Google has to further incentivize weeding out the crap, and this is a way to do that. How this will all play out and balance out or not I don’t know.


The Best 404 Page EVER Contest on Twitter

We are going to give away a fantastic podcasting setup to one lucky winner that includes three awesome components:

  • A Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone
  • Vogek Professional DJ Headphones
  • Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield

All you have to do to enter the contest is get on Twitter as of noon eastern time on Tuesday, March 16 and tweet the LINK to what you think is the very best 404 page ever (not a screenshot) with the hashtag #EDGE404. You can tweet up to 3 different submissions. If a submission is repeated between different people and it’s chosen as the winner, the prize goes to the person who submitted it first. All submissions must be tweeted by 5 pm eastern time on Friday, March 19. The winner will be announced during episode 404 that drops on Tuesday, March 23. We’ve lined up a panel of three fantastic judges to help us pick the winner: Lily Ray, Jason Barnard, and JR Oakes. Get all the details and rules at And if you want to participate in a little side hustle between the hosts, you can also add either #TeamSparks or #TeamMordy to your tweet and we’ll see which news host gets more mentions!

On tap this week for SEO Chat is the always lovely Brie Anderson for a deep dive into SEO Reporting! Join the discussion on Twitter by tuning in to #SEOchat on Thursday at 1:00 pm eastern time.