Algo Changes

Google+ Local for Business Updates: Return of Categories and Fake Reviews

The Return of Categories… Maybe During this week, I have had the opportunity to verify four locations via the Google+ Local system. If you are not familiar with the new verification process for Google+ Pages, let me give you a quick run down. Similar to the way the system worked before in Google Places, you complete a listing (in this case a +Page designated during the setup as a “local business”), click the verify this business button and wait for a Google PIN post card to arrive at the location specified in the Google+ Page listing. Once the PIN arrives, you visit your management screen or navigate to www.google.com/local/verify/ and enter the PIN. What seems to have changed recently is the return of categories. Categories were available throughout the original Places and Local systems until Google+. In the screenshot below, you’ll see the screen that popped up on 2 out of the 4 listings I verified. Is this a test of a new set of options available after verification? Possibly, or just an A/B test of possible changes. The categories haven’t shown up on the front-end (public side) of these listings so it is unclear what Google is doing with Google+ Local and categories. This is just another change that small businesses will have to make the most of. It could be a good thing seeing that there aren’t a lot of useful categories when setting up a Google+ Page for a business that doesn’t fit the few options currently in the setup. Still frustrating though… Speaking of local businesses — have you heard the news? Reviews and You. Without getting into too much technical talk, Google has made it clear; they want authentic data reviewers and their reviews. In the past businesses have tried to meet clients where they were, meaning in the office and collecting paper reviews then posting by proxy these authentic reviews for clients that were technology declined or unwilling to digitize their review. Enter the post in the Google forum and review algorithm change outlined in the statement below: For SEOs: If a business accepts paper comment cards it might be tempting to collect them and “digitize” them by posting the reviews on Google+ Local. We ask that all reviews come from first hand experience and do not allow posting reviews on behalf of others. – Care of “Dasha“, Google Employee. Additional Resources: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2241393/Google-Warns-SEO-Businesses-to-Avoid-Fake-Reviews http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2622994&topic=2624941&ctx=topic The Wrapper *In my 3-6 Mafia voice* Google is making it hard for everyone. From reviews to the verification, there seems to be a new change every five seconds (not literal). As interesting and entertaining as it maybe to have business owners dancing on hot coals, SEOs pulling their hair out, and users giving all types of data, these types of hurdles make it harder for everyone to reach the goal that is at the core of the search giant; the answer to a question. Reviews offer insight into the experience of others that, most likely used, the Google megaplex to answer their query. To complicate the process of exemplifying good businesses makes no sense because it creates a lack of confidence in the system that starts at users and continues through businesses all the way to Google’s bottom-line in the end. There are a number of solutions they could implement versus complicating the review process. One simply being requiring a secondary email or phone number. Payday loan places don’t make it this hard to get cash in hand, why is Google requiring blood for a review?! Mike Ramsey has a great infographic that makes a lot of sense...

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Authorship and Authority: How Do I Get Some?

With Google’s recent algorithm update the general consensus is WTF do I do with my SEO now?! Or at least that is the result for those putting too much stock in keyword targeted marketing strategies. These are strategies focused on SEO for search engines and not SEO focused on users and the way they interact with content. Let me slow down for a second. If you haven’t heard, Google has released an update, on or about September 27th, that impacted approximately 0.6% of all English queries according to Matt Cutts in a set of tweets. Exact Match Domains and The Algo The EMD update was unrelated to Panda or Penguin and was meant to reduce (or eliminate) the value given domains for using keywords in the URL. So websites using something like www.BestCreditCardsforBuildingCredit.com* (4-5 keywords) or www.InsuranceRateComparisons.com (3 Keywords) would notice some level of negative change. In the case of one of my clients it looked a little something like this:   That being the case, what is an SEO to do? Continue the course, with a few refinements. As I mentioned in a comment on a blog post on SEOMoz, SEOs that work with the systems (Google, Bing and Yahoo) and build with quality in mind, may be hit by these updates and releases, but won’t be completely blown away because they will have a diverse marketing strategy that has more to it than just keyword prowess. Hence, Authorship. Authorship is not new to the SEO and marketing toolbox. Authorship has just taken a new step into being directly used to provide authority for content. In the past, services such as Ask.com, Google Knol, and Yahoo! Directory, provided authority for content creators in the form of links. Google Authorship comes in the form of either verifying an email address on a given domain or by completing some form of their authorship verification mark up. To learn more about verifying an email on a specific domain visit: https://plus.google.com/authorship For me and a few other SEOs, it makes the most sense to use the snippet markup to accomplish authorship as Google makes it a step in verifying URLs in Google+. If you haven’t set up a Google+ profile, that would be step one. Followed by creating a Google+ Page for the domain you are building authorship for. Once you have these set up, you will need to make sure you establish some link between the profile and +Page by linking it to your website. Just putting the website in the designated block won’t do it. You will have to add the appropriate markup to the homepage of the website. Now here is where some people differ in approach. Although Google offers this when looking to verify, I often get errors: You then need to verify this connection by added this link to your homepage –  <a href=”https://plus.google.com/[yourpageID]” rel=”publisher”>Find us on Google+</a> In most cases, I use the link in the header instead without issue or problem: <link href=”https://plus.google.com/[yourpageID]” rel=”publisher”/> Doing it this way allows me to use the author link on posts without confusing the Google. There is also a third method. You may receive the option to verify the link using Google Webmaster Tools if you have the website you are working on linking listed. Clicking the verify website link will display a message saying you can send a request to the webmaster. This will send a notification to the owner (not a user) of the webmaster  account that a link association is being requested. Once the association is approved, the website will be verified for the page and display...

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