Google Updates

Panda 4.1

Content is built to help inform and educate users. Google’s algorithm handles multiple areas focused on quality and content. To ensure the search results are as relevant as possible, the Google algorithm has several components that focus on separate values. Panda is aimed at identifying low-quality content. The latest update to Panda, released on September 25 and rolled out over the span of 2-3 weeks, is designed to help SMBs and their sites. This update, like others, only affects certain queries. “Depending on the locale, around 3-5% of queries are affected.” According to Pierre Far. Furthermore, Pierre said, “Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.” The latest version of Panda (4.0) was released in May of 2014. Websites with low-quality content and content that is overly duplicated were impacted by the release of 4.0. Popular websites PRWeb and PRNewswire were impacted, losing up to 70% of their search engine traffic according to Forbes. That original release (Panda 4.0) affected about 7.5% of all English queries by comparison.   The Wrapper What can be taken from this latest Panda version and Pierre’s comments is that the algorithm has been further refined to improve the way content is evaluated. Websites that offer little unique or informative content may find themselves loosing visibility; while small businesses with good localized content may see a slight increase in search...

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Penguin 3.0 to hit before the end of the Year

We have seen the signals that Google was preparing to make an update or change to their search system, in regards to refining the way the algorithm evaluates links, for some time now. Tremors in the search surrounding links comes in the form of changes in GWMT’s link reporting, changes to authorship, concerns with directory and forum linking along with the ever-controversial advertorial links. Penguin focuses on links and Panda focuses on low-quality content. Search Engine Land offers a great history of Penguin update and Barry Schwartz shares his thoughts on this news as well. According to their records, the order and dates for releases are: Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (initial release, affected about 3.1% of search queries) Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (less than 0.1% affected) Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (less than 0.5% of queries were impacted) Penguin 4 (Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (2.3% of queries affected) Penguin 5 (Penguin 2.1) on Oct. 4, 2013 (1% of queries affected) The next update is planned to be a complete update of this backlink evaluator of the algorithm with a focus on allowing Penguin to run like Panda does now, which is monthly. When the algorithm runs, it refreshes the Google index to align better with the signals and values of web pages; meaning that see improvements  becomes quicker. Currently, it can take a few weeks (6-10) for changes made in regards to links to be fully realized. The Wrapper Although Google is not giving out many details or officially announcing ever update, John Mueller with Google announced their anticipation of releasing a Penguin update within 2014 “in the reasonable future.” This really means that it will be easy to see recovery after a penalty and to see search improvements faster with white hat and organic link...

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5 Facts about PageRank in 2014 (and Beyond)

Why Links Matter/ed – PageRank   Introduction to PageRank   When you have the job of organizing the world-wide-web, you need some method of assigning value to each page the web contains. For Google and its creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin, this value came to be known as PageRank. This arbitrary value is a combination of several parameters associated with any and every page saved to their index. PageRank is meant to offer an ‘absolute quality’ for any given page. It was understood in the early years of Google (circa 2008-2010) that the top elements used in PageRank were links pointing to pages (+), the number of links on a page (-), and page-level qualities (e.g. technical coding, content, terms, etc.). As far back as 1998, when Page and Brin initially presented Google to Stanford University, the idea of their indexing system was to evaluate content on the web and present the findings to users for easy accessibility. During the process of evaluation each page would be indexed, quantified and stored based on over 200 factors. In 2014, what matters the most in that evaluation? Not only to businesses but also to Google? What Matters in 2014 for PageRank Over the years we have all become a little jaded when we hear the term ‘algorithm’ when having conversations about Google. “Hey, did you hear about the latest algo change?” “The local algo is really messing with my business.” We may have forgotten the mathematics involved in Google’s process of ranking and valuing. There is a lot of science behind the Google algorithm(s). Even with all the updates, the fact that search platforms use mathematic equations has stayed the same. The updates the Google team makes are centered on the quality of the indexed results, incorporation of user feedback (this is where ‘organic’ comes from) and the inclusion of their business plan (sadly). Money is now a major motivator of the search algorithm and the changes being made. So, in 2014, what factors are within our power to influence search to position our web pages in prime positions?   Five Facts of PageRank Links – As with the first iterations of the Google algorithm, links are a primary factor in the mathematics used to determine the value of a web page. The algorithm has evolved past just looking at the number of links and focuses more on the quality of links. This means, the links pointing at a web page pass value, but that value is evaluated for relevancy along with some concern with ‘why’ the link exist. Why is this page linking to that page (and visa versa)? Why would a user click on the link? Ensuring pages linking to your web page(s) are appropriate is vitally important. Content – Building a great site is one thing, having tons of great links is another, but all of that only makes since when the content of the site is worthy of existing. Content is king but only when the kingdom is worthy of subjects! The best kind of links come from users that enjoy your content; whether it is a product, service, educational, informational, or just entertaining. The content is the meat of the experience, without it the page is just an empty plate. Context – Theme here is that links bring visitors, those visitors are looking for content relevant to them and their interest. Context gives them reason to read, digest the content, and finally act. Pages on the Internet exist to have users take action in some form. By definition context helps them understand why the page...

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Google Moves into the Registrar Business

Yup, Google is testing the waters on allowing Internet users to register domains with them. The new service, called Google Domains (currently in beta and by invite only) allows users to manage, transfer in, and buy domains from within Google’s system at domains.google.com. To introduce the service, Google is offering selected invitees the ability to purchase a domain for free as long as the domain is under $12 USD. You may have received an email from Google Analytics with a 20-character code for free one-year registration. As a test of this new service, I purchased (for free) the domain achristurner.com. I setup forwarding of the domain and it was active within 1 hour! Impressive… most impressive. The process was extremely simple and easy to navigate. You will find the standard options of registering in the process: auto renewing, domain forwarding, administrative contact, hosting options, privacy settings, and a few others. The platform is integrated with Gmail and uses the Google Wallet for purchasing. Some users may find it interesting that once they complete the registration process, they will be immediately offered the options of using a template hosting site such as SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify, and Weebly. Although it is designated as ad space, where is WordPress or HostGator? They aren’t partners?! The Wrapper I would have to say I  am not surprised by this move. I think it has been a long time coming. Google has been providing businesses with Google Apps centered on helping streamline digital assets and the management of said assets; the timing of this move was just unexpected. But a good move seeing that the fiscal year starts in September. That being the case, one can only speculate that there will be concerns with ‘extra’ (read: preferential) value being given to domains that are hosted by Google. Only time and SERPs will tell. Reviewing the Terms of Service, there are no indicators or areas of concern as much of the language mirrors the terminology used on all registrars.  ...

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Local Search Update, Codename: Pigeon

Google Gets Pigeon-Focused In Local Search Yeah, we know, another goofy animal name for something that really impacts the way we live our lives and conduct business everyday; but it’s better than Codename: Fluffy Bunny. So, what do we know about this update after a few days with it. According to Search Engine Land, the focus of the update is to “provide a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals.” This resulted in a few noticeable alterations to the organic and Map results (and some less-than-noticeable changes). User searches pull in more local results for both organic and Maps. Map searches contain local results showing the cumulative reviews score and number of reviews first, business category, a shortened description followed by address. (It’s interesting to note that clicking on the Red Robin listing shows that the Map result is tagged with UTM code.) Organic searches see a different mix of local results in the local banner. Some contain reviews, owner submitted pictures, and details, and others do not. Along with this, the option to organize by price, rating and hours is available. Adding in local qualifiers alters the results significantly. (Below, Burgers vs Nashville Restaurants) Behind the scenes, the algorithm update improves the distance and location evaluation for searches, according to Google. The Wrapper As with any algorithm update, the SERPs will be in flux for the next few weeks as the system re-indexes and re-evaluates businesses against the new parameters. This may result in duplicates or multiple listings for the same business in the local pack and organic results or listings disappearing for a period only to return later....

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Small / Medium Business Local Data: Citations & Map Listings

Citations are points of reference that point to a business. For some, it may be easy to remember having to cite resources used in a college report. In the same fashion, search platforms like Google use digital citations to determine accuracy of geographical information. Search engines are similar to encyclopedias or indices (the plural of index) that contain a number of reference points. In search 4.0, many platforms have moved beyond simply providing a reference into providing the answers themselves. But no matter the method, citations connect real world businesses with online assets; offering digital credibility to brick and mortar locations which extends to the website(s) associated with them.   Citation NAPs and SMBs NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. NAP information makes up the core of any business citations. Secondary details that can and often should be included are: Owner(s) names (Authorship connections are a Plus) Official email Website Logo/slogan. Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) don’t have the luxury of ignoring the popularity, usefulness, and necessity of online resources. Conversations are happening and users are searching and engaging; whether or not the business they are talking about are online or not.     Local Directories: What Is Yext?! This is where local directories come in. Local directories have two primary functions, aside from generating revenue from SMB subscriptions. First, they provide a digital version of a business index, similar to the Yellow Pages. Second, the number and consistency of the citations support the local results on several platforms. From a technical standpoint, there are data stacks on servers the maintain the ‘verified’ NAP information where a lot of websites, including search engines, get their information. A good example of this is Google’s Map system. Business listings within the platform are generated and given value from directories that contain the same NAP details. If you have a business, do you need to be on every known citation resource? No, but you need to be on the ones that matter to your users and matter to the local ecosystem. Based on trust, value, credibility, and usefulness, here are the top 15 citation locations:   Citation Name URL Authority Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ 100 Google Places (aka Google+ Local) http://www.google.com/+/business/ 100 Hotfrog.com http://www.hotfrog.com/ 100 Yahoo Directory http://dir.yahoo.com/ 100 Yahoo Local http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings/ 100 AOL Yellow Pages http://yellowpages.aol.com/ 99 BizJournals http://businessdirectory.bizjournals.com/ 97 DMOZ.org http://www.dmoz.org/ 97 BBB.org http://www.bbb.org/ 96 Yelp http://www.yelp.com/ 95 Foursquare http://foursquare.com/add_venue 93 Yellowpages.com http://www.yellowpages.com/ 93 Angieslist http://www.angieslist.com/ 92 Yellowbook http://www.yellowbook.com/ 91 MerchantCircle http://www.merchantcircle.com/ 90   Directory networks often contain over 100 citation websites like those listed above; some even span hundreds of partnered networks meaning that one management tool may have connections to thousands of citations. Names like Yodle, ReachLocal, and Yext are big in this local space. Yext has shown value for many of our clients. Yext is a directory management tool that operates on a network platform. Yext operates over 100 directory systems. Within the Yext network are a number of directories and citation websites that offer business information to users; the information on these web directories is not always accurate. Managing the information on many of these websites can only be done through Yext. While it is possible to connect social platforms to the tool, it is not recommended.   Directory Management: Is It Worth The Price? GoDaddy is joining the local business-listing vertical after acquiring Locu data system in August of last year (http://screenwerk.com/2014/01/27/godaddy-launches-get-found-listings-syndication-service/). The price point for GoDaddy starts at $4.49 per month, or $60 annual and can be as high as $330. In comparison, Yext offers packages starting at $16 per month, or $199 annually...

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