Hi guys, counting the days before Christmas already?
A lot of distractions these days: starting with Black Friday and the upcoming shopping for Christmas trees and presents; you might have easily missed on some important industry news or discussions.
Not to worry, we are here to fill you in on what’s been happening in the past month in the world of SEO. We’ve wrapped up the past November news into the following main categories:
- GOOGLE EXPERIMENTS
- INDUSTRY STUDIES AND STUDIES
- INDUSTRY ‘OUT-OF-THE-BLUE’
- WHEN WORK MEETS PLEASURE
- EXPERT OPINION
THE LATEST GOOGLE SEARCH QUALITY GUIDELINES HAVE BEEN RELEASED
Time to benchmark your work against the ‘leaked’ Search Quality Rating Program. Skimming through different raters on Page Quality and Needs Met you’ll see that the changes added to the Guidelines issue from 2013 are mainly focusing on the rising new Mobile World.
Who knows how long before we see the next edition of the ‘human’ Rating Guidelines, so make the best of the knowledge this doc provides and help your business thrive in Google.
GOOGLE+ DIVORCES LOCAL PAGES
Google+ is no longer associated with Google’s Business Local Pages. The finally ‘social only’ platform is now focusing on Communities and Collections, oh, and yes, it is now “more mobile-friendly”.
The transition, even if expected, with the obvious demise of G+ both as a social and business-related product, caused some major issues:
- Businesses could no longer send their customers to review them at G+. Instead the happy or disappointment clients should Google the respective business and press the “Write a review” button from within the SERPs (on the right-hand side of the SERPs, in the Knowledge panel) if they are desktop users, or Google your business in their Google Maps app on their phone.
- The link to Google My Business (control panel for your Google business Local Page) is gone from one’s G+ control panel and busineses should sign in to GMB separately in order to edit their Local Page. Additional features that are no longer supported for Local Pages include: “Reviews, categories, directions, stars, photo uploads, interior photos, maps, hours, opentable/apps integration.”
- As a result any duplicates of the official Google business Local Pages will be much harder to find after this update.
NEW GOOGLE PENALTIES COME WITH MOBILE
Have you had your fair share of Panda, Penguin and Manual Penalties? Well, then you’re ready to face the new Google penalty that is coming on the horizon thanks to the fresh mobile-friendly algorithm.
The penalty targets excessive in-app advertisements. The pop-up interstitials that are blocking the whole screen, i.e. the entire content of a given mobile site are deemed by Google ‘user-unfriendly’. Thus sites that overuse interstitials instead of going for the more discrete banner ad formats will inevitably see their rankings drop.
GOOGLE MAPS APP TO NAVIGATE YOU OFFLINE
Using a map navigation even without internet connection on your mobile has not been a problem for Nokia users so far, however it’s been a feature that Google has been depriving his Map App users from until this month.
Fortunately the Maps app has finally been updated and once you’ve downloaded the map of the geographical area you’re to use, you have free access to it whether off or online.
GOOGLE LOCAL GETTING ONE STEP CLOSER TO FULL MONETIZATION
This month Google came up with an interesting merger between three separate communities: AdWords, Google My Business, and Google Analytics. The final product is called Google Advertiser Community. It makes us think whether this is not a strong enough of a signal, hinting of the future of Google Local Pages.
With the introduction of the paid inclusion in the Local Pack for plumbers, cleaners and other home service providers and the separation of the G+ social platform from the Local pages, it seems that it is a matter of time till all Google My Business active businesses become ‘true advertisers’ and active members in the Google Advertiser Community.
NEW FEATURE IN GMB SETTINGS
You can now give away special office hours info via your Google Local Page. This feature is especially useful on holidays or special events when your regular hours may drastically vary.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE PANEL GROWS BIGGER
The knowledge panel marks continuous transformations from day to day, but this month the winners are: the hospitality industry!
Google adds a special info section called Ammenities to its knowledge panel and reveals many of the hotels’ benefits to the interested travelling searchers.
NEW SCHEMA GOODIES
Google is offering a competitive edge to bloggers by introducing a special schema tags to distinguish the live blogs.
Such structured data markup will come in especially handy for the new live blog carousel that Google will introduce above its standard SERPs. All eligible publishers should really consider taking advantage of this markup if they are finding it hard to beat their fair competition of regular bloggers.
INDUSTRY STUDIES AND SURVEYS
CONTENT STUDY ON HOW TO RANK ABOVE WIKIPEDIA
This study conducted by HubSpot’s growth marketing team reveals some interesting actionable tips on how to optimize your online marketing campaigns. Some of the key insights you’d read about include:
- More relevant links (both outbound and inbound) will boost search rankings;
- A jump in social shares does not necesseraly translate into an increase in page views or conversions;
- Long tail keywords help you climb up the SERPs
- Concentrating on a single topic across all your content formats and linking them together helps you become an authority on the subject in the ‘eyes’ of the search engines.
As a result the three-month campaign brought in:
- A substantial jump in monthly organic traffic to the site;
- A 1,500% increase in CTR for a single keyword;
- 20 points increase of Domain Authority.
REMOVING A MANUAL PENALTY WITHOUT BLOGGERS OUTREACH
There are a number of case studies on the net that discuss how to revoke a Google Manual Penalty. However, this post is one of the rare articles claiming that disavowing your bad inbound links is all that it takes to recover your rankings.
A GUIDE ON LOCAL MARKETING AUTOMATION
The study covers the key steps of shaping a good Local Marketing strategy:
- listing management
- local seo
- local landing pages
- reputation management
- paid search and social media
The study includes a list of Local Automation Platforms that cover the above-mentioned steps either to an extend or on a full scale. And while it is really useful to see such a comprehensive comparison between Local SEO tools, it would have been quite useful also to mention the the actual benefits of having a custom manual research and support conducted for a Local business.
A STUDY ON HOW TO FIGHT 200 FAKE 1STAR REVIEWS
This study is rather fascinating for it discusses a real-life example of an unfair competition campaign and its impact on a local business.
The given business received 100 1star reviews in a matter of minutes: what was later established to be a result of a paid Fiverr reputation attack. The average rating of the company drastically dipped and Facebook support was deaf to its cry for help.
As the study reveals it is then when you could turn to your last resort for help – your loyal clientele. However, even their natural and real support could not fight a paid review span – a fact that clearly shows how seriously flawed Facebook’s Rating System is.
The final conclusion of the study really makes you think: “Ratings are the new currency on the Internet used to destroy brands”.
ORGANIC TRAFFIC TO DIE FOR
An in-depth case study, revealing the secret formula of gaining 11,065% more organic traffic in 6 months.
The strategy included:
- creating quality content after having conducted a detailed keyword research (4,400-word guide)
- which lead to acquiring a featured snipped and high rankings for several long tail kws;
- the result was a definite increase in total traffic, in the average time spent on page, and in onsite conversions.
The final statistics are pretty amazing, but I’ll leave you to read those on your own!
INDUSTRY ‘OUT OF THE BLUE’
A UK MAPPING COMPANY SUES GOOGLE FOR “ABUSE OF COMPETITION”
Google have a tendency to promote their own product in their search results, however few are the companies to argue with this practice. That’s exactly what makes Streetmap’s accusation of “anticompetitive search abuse” so interesting.
Many are the companies that are just waiting for a precedent to add to their defense strategy when going after Google for search monopoly, let’s see if this lawsuit will present them with the so-longed for solid case foundation.
YELP AND TRIPADVISOR HAD IT WITH GOOGLE’S MONOPOLY FOR NAVIGATIONAL SEARCHES
And while Google are trying to rebuff yet another rival accusation, by accusing a temporary bug in their code, Yelp and TripAdvisor are taking a legal action against their anticompetitive behavior.
The algorithm preference of Google products over their competitors’ is actually triggered by the so-called “co-occurance signals”. This ranking ‘bug’ is especially strong on mobile and according to Yelp, resulted in TripAdvisor getting “50.54 percent “misdirected” mobile visits”. The natural comment of TripAdvisor CEO read:
“It’s clear that Google continues to seek ways to manipulate its search results to benefit Google’s own interests. Google’s behavior to suppress the most useful and relevant content is both deceptive and anti-consumer.”
FACEBOOK BRINGS MORE FEATURES TO ITS LOCAL ADS
Facebook is ofter referred to as a serious competitor of Google on the Local and Ad arena. The latest innovations for the platform include:
- dynamically insertion of “relevant location information into ads for companies with five or more places of business that have set up local Pages” ;
- foot traffic statistics that will help small business owners analyze their market and plan their outreach strategy.
PC ON A KEYCHAIN
Have you dreamed of having a computer so small that could fit into your pocket or on your key chain and yet having the capacity to store all your data, programs, music, videos, bookmarks. I know I did.
Google has joined forces with Asus to create this unique piece and call it Chromebit. Its price is remarkably good: $85, its stats – quite decent: a Rockchip ARM processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 802.11ac Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0 a USB port. Plug it into a TV or a monitor, add a keyboard and mouse and you are all set. Imagine how much freedom this compact powerful set will present you with.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: MIKE RAMSEY INTERVIEWS ANDREW SHOTLAND
A great talk between two Local SEO veterans with progressive thinking. As a fan of Andrew’s expertise and sense of humor, I couldn’t resist sharing this interview with you.
WHEN WORK MEETS PLEASURE
THE COMPUTER SHOW SERIES
The Computer Show is a fascinating project! And even if it is not SEO related per se, I am sure most of you geeky pros will appreciate. The series look as if shot in the 80’s and so are the anchors of the show.
The guest on the other hand represent real-life modern companies and explain the pros and essence of the tools they’ve created. Check it out, it’s a real treat!
DAVID, MARY AND MIKE RATE THE RANKBRAIN ALGO
The LocalU crew (David Mihm, Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal) have gathered to ‘dissect’ the Google AI algo RankBrain. This is a lovely discussion, and everyone’s input is quite insightful, though my favorite remark was that of Mike’s:
“…there is very little input from direct engineers in terms of that algorithm, which is currently 15%, but goes to 30%, or 50%, or 70%, it just makes the idea all the more absurd of doing anything other than broad brand building, and semantic writing, and those sorts of things, rather than key words and link building, right? I think it will put the final nail in the coffin of that kind of SEO, not that there won’t be a role for technical excellence in web-design and in marketing there will be, but it won’t be what it used to be.”
‘SEO IS DEAD’ AS AN OXYMORON
This is not the next “SEO Is Dead” post. It offers a clear and biting sharp overview of our industry that would make every seasoned digital marketer nod in agreement. My favorite quote of this honest rant:
“Now link building has become PR, the race is on between PR agencies who want to convince brands that they’re good at SEO, and SEO agencies who want to convince brands that they’re good at PR. PR agencies are building better links than we were a decade ago, but are they doing better SEO than we are now?”
To wrap it up – it’s been a busy November, but it seems December won’t give us a break either. So keep calm and check out our monthly roundups in order to stay in the loop of what’s happening in the world of SEO:)