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A Smattering of SEO News – Were We Ready for the Fallout?

Hello my friends, and welcome to another Smattering! These past few weeks we’ve been in the aftermath of a few Google updates, and the main thrust of today’s news summary covers that and more, so check it out!

Google News

  • google-phantom-blogSearchmetrics Dissects Google’s “Phantom II” Update – Back in early May, many webmasters and site owners began to notice severe fluctuations in their rankings. For a while, Google denied any update had taken place until, later in the month, they confirmed there had been an update in how their algorithms assess quality across individual pages (but they didn’t give us a ton of details beyond that). Thankfully, the folks at Searchmetrics have been studying the aftermath of the algorithm update and have found patterns in the pages that have fallen in value, such as pages with duplicate content, self-starting videos, ads above the fold, and more. It’s a great look at what not to do with a website, and should really be studied by anyone wanting to avoid penalties from this recent update. Check it out!
  • Google Accidentally Labels Innocent Sites As Harmful – In a recent glitch, some webmasters reported that when visiting their site via Chrome, they would get a warning saying their site was infected and included malware. Thankfully, Google admitted to discovering the problem and fixing it, hopefully quickly enough to prevent any serious traffic or credibility loss from the sites affected. I wonder what triggered this glitch in the first place…
  • 429Google Sees Both 429 And 503 Server Codes The Same – A little while back, Google’s John Mueller stated that a site returning a 503 Service Unavailable code for temporary downtime wouldn’t be penalized for being down for a while, because that’s an expected code used in a temporary downtime situation. Interestingly, Google’s John Mueller says Google sees the 429 code (which means Too Many Requests, usually resulting in a site being overloaded with traffic or using a rate limiting scheme) the exact same way: a temporary situation in which you won’t be penalized for. That’s a comfort, I’m sure.
  • Inactive Google My Business Pages Might Be Shut Down – Haven’t updated your Google My Business page in a while? You might want to get on that, as Google’s Jade Wang recently stated that pages that have been inactive for around six months might be unverified and deactivated! Apparently not being active for six months means the business isn’t real, so get to updating those pages, people!

Other News

  • Yelp Now Shows Direct Evidence Of Review Fraud – In a very cool move – as I’m a tremendous fan of transparency – business search and review engine Yelp recently added functionality to show users direct evidence that they believe review fraud has taken place. On certain businesses, an alert will pop up saying that Yelp caught reviewers red-handed in being paid for reviews, and then gives users a direct link to the evidence in a screen shot. This is pretty awesome, and will hopefully make Yelp even more reliable in the future.


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A Smattering of SEO News – You Dropped a GoogleBomb on Me

Hello my friends, and welcome to another Smattering of SEO news! This week there’s a big kerfuffle about local results fluctuating all over the place as Google tries to remove racist results from local and Maps search. This and more in this week’s Smattering!


Google Local News

  • google-mapsGoogle Drops A GoogleBomb Of Racist Local Listings – Apparently there’s been a growing number of Google Local listings showing up under racist searches, bringing up results for Howard University and The White House. Since Google uses the entire web to find relevancy in local listings, this has led to problems such as these and others over the years. Google has thus implemented the GoogleBomb once again – the last time being the whole “miserable failure” debacle – to help curb Google Local of racist and offensive listings. This bombing might have caused some other issues, such as…
  • GoogleBomb Possibly Related To Local Web And Map Results Fluctuations – Several days after news of the GoogleBomb began to surface, many webmasters noticed rankings fluctuating wildly in both local web results as well as Google Maps. While the recent announcement of the GoogleBomb could be mere coincidental in relation to the timing of these fluctuations, Google isn’t outright saying what’s causing the fluctuations as of yet. However…
  • Google Looking Into Possible Location Bugs – Two theories have arisen as to the cause of the aforementioned local ranking fluctuations, including the recently announced GoogleBomb along with problems with Google’s location algorithms. Apparently, according to a Tweet from Google’s Gary Illyes – responding to a question from Screaming Frog’s Dan Sharp – he says they’re receiving numerous reports of Google’s IP overriding a searcher’s in the search results, and are investigating the matter. We’ll bring you more on this as we get it.


Google News

  • matt-cuttsNew Head Of Web Spam Team Announced, But Not Named – For over a decade, Matt Cutts was the head of Google’s Web Spam team, and in that time he became an integral part of the public face of Google, answering questions via video, conferences and so on. Cutts went on an extended leave many months ago, from which he still hasn’t returned. This has led Google to replace Cutts as head of the Web Spam team. Interestingly, while we know there IS a replacement, we don’t yet know WHO the replacement is. Many think Google is trying to temper expectations that this person will simply be the “New Matt Cutts,” intimating that the new person will simply be head of the Web Spam team rather than a public face of Google. I’m fascinated to see who they chose.


  • Student Launches “World White Web” To Help Diversify Google Image Results – A student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden named Johanna Burai recently noticed something interesting when doing a Google Image search for “hand”: All the results she found – over 800 of them – were white. Apparently searches for other body parts turned up similar results. Burai has since launched “World White Web”, which involves the sharing of six pictures of non-white hands across social media channels in the hopes that Google will eventually pick these up and have them show up in their image results. It’ll be interesting to see if this works given this sort of thing is just what caused Google to drop a GoogleBomb on local results. We’ll keep you posted.



Other News

  • Facebook Targets Yelp With Internal Restaurant Reviews – Facebook recently announced partnerships with companies such as Grub Street and to showcase restaurant reviews inside of the Facebook interface. This will also be coupled with user reviews, showing reviews from friends when searching for local places to eat. Some see this as direct competition for the “crowdsourced” reviews on Yelp, helping make these reviews more useful for users. It’ll be interesting indeed to watch how this changes the local landscape.


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A Smattering of SEO News – Quality over Quantity

Hello friends, and welcome to this week’s Smattering! We have had some fantastic news this past week, the biggest being Google finally admitting there was something of an algorithm update recently, this one taking direct aim against low quality and thin content. Google’s been pushing for higher quality and more useful content for a while now, so it’ll be fascinating to watch this change play out in the coming weeks. Check it out!


Google News

  • Google Confirms Quality Algorithm Update – Earlier this month, many site owners and webmasters noticed their rankings fluctuating all over the place. This coincided with what looked to be manual penalties for supposedly thin content. Well, after much prodding and poking, Google has finally admitted that, yes Virginia, there was an algorithm update recently, specifically in how Google processes signals relating to quality. While content networks like Hubpages claim Google was targeting informational sites, or “how to” focused sites, it’s also been seen that sites with informational content have risen in the SERPs as well. The update didn’t seem to go after any particular type of site, just sites with thin or low-quality content, which is kind of awesome. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
  • panda-penguin-sadGoogle Is Still Trying To Speed Up Panda And Penguin Updates – Several months ago, the folks at Google stated that they were trying to tweak Panda and Penguin so it would update more frequently, therefore giving hope to those who are still living under the penalties of these algorithms. Well, cut to recently, when Google’s John Mueller stated that Google is STILL trying to speed up the algorithms. I wonder when it’ll actually happen…
  • Webmaster Tools Rebranded To Search Console – For what seems like ages now, Google’s Webmaster Tools has been one of the last bastions of transparency when it comes to gathering data from the search engine, especially as Analytics has become less and less useful due to its “not provided” problem. Well, apparently Google recently came to the realization that the term “webmaster” doesn’t apply to everyone who uses their tool, so they’ve rebranded it Search Console. This is, “to make sure that our product includes everyone who cares about Search,” apparently. Other than the name, it doesn’t appear as if anything else has changed, thankfully.
  • Twitter Results Now Live In Google Mobile Results – The deal between Twitter and Google went live earlier this week, with Twitter results now showing up in the carousel of mobile results (mostly at the top, but sometimes at the bottom for some reason). While Twitter doesn’t get any direct ad revenue from these links, the increase in traffic and visibility should definitely be a boon for the social network.


  • Removing “Right To Be Forgotten” Requests Is A Very Manual Process – According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, Google gave them some insight on how they go about approving or denying “Right to be Forgotten” requests. Apparently it’s a very manual process, requiring weekly meetings to go over the requests, each of which are manually approved or denied. Also, since the law requiring this right is fairly vague, the final say is with Google itself, which is likely why only 30-40% of requests are approved, one would reckon.
  • seoWebmasterWorld: Google’s Top On-Site Ranking Factors Have Changed – If you’re not familiar with WebmasterWorld, it’s basically the go-to forum on the web to talk about search engines and some of the users there are VERY knowledgeable. One of these users is Roger Montti, and recently he came up with an updated list of what he thinks are the top on-site ranking factors for this year, which are, in order: user experience, shorter title tags, original content, engaging content, and so on. While it’s not a definitive list, it’s very enlightening and definitely worth some thought. Head over to the forum thread and check it out.


Other News

  • Bing Planning Own Mobilegeddon, Kind Of – Bing has announced that they too will be launching a mobile-friendly algorithm update to their search engine in the near future (no date was given). However, unlike the fairly scary proclamations coming from Google, Bing is saying their update won’t hurt the relevancy of their results and that even sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will still rank well if they remain relevant. We’ll be keeping an eye on this to see when and how it all comes about.


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A Smattering of SEO News – Google Owns the News of Late

Hey folks, welcome to another Smattering of SEO News! This installment includes the last two weeks of important news pieces because I sadly had to miss last week, so that’s more news for you! It’s all Google related too, which is interesting in its own way. Enjoy!


Google News

  • google-penalty-cardGoogle Goes After Thin Content With Manual Penalties – According to several webmasters,  a major content network that provided “thin content” was manually penalized over the past weekend. Many webmasters reported receiving messages via Webmaster Tools alerting them that their site has been identified as having “low-quality” or “shallow” pages, and having sites with hundreds of pages penalized as a result. Many webmasters go on to say that that they weren’t part of the network that was targeted, so this looks to go beyond it. We’ll keep an eye on this and report if there’s more info.


  • Google: “UX Will Never Be More Important Than Content” – While user experience has been becoming increasingly important to a user’s happiness and stickiness on a website, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that content is still king. Recently, at the SMX conference in Sydney, Illyes was quoted as saying, “User experience would never be more important than content.” This is a relief to those of us who value content as much as we do.


  • penguin-panda-googleUpdating Panda And Penguin Is A Two-Part Process – There’s been quite a bit of confusion as to whether Panda and Penguin are updated in real time or manually. According to Google’s Mariya Moeva, it’s apparently both. Her explanation: “Essentially, both (Panda and Penguin) are built-in in the realtime infrastructure, but the data has to be updated separately. I think this two-part process is what’s leading to the confusion.” This clears it up a bit.


  • Right To Be Forgotten Requests Refused More Than Accepted – According to two different articles (which have slightly different numbers), one year since the EU’s ruling on the issue, Google’s right to be forgotten requests are apparently denied more than they’re accepted. Google’s report (in the link above) states that only 40% of requests are accepted, while a report from Reputation VIP says that 70% of requests are refused, so somewhere in the middle there likely lies the truth. Regardless, it’s interesting to see that more requests are refused than accepted.


  • “How To” Searches Up 70% Year-Over-Year On YouTube – In an interesting development, YouTube announced that over the past year, the amount of searches covering “how to” videos has increased around 70%, with over 100 million hours of these videos watched this year alone. The most popular videos seem to cover home improvement, beauty, and cooking. Regardless of your industry, this sounds like a fantastic way to get some visibility to your brand, if it can be in any way applicable.


  • Despite Much Reported SERP Volatility, Google Claims No Update Over Weekend – Apparently a lot of webmasters have been reporting increased volatility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) over the past week, especially around the weekend. Barry Schwartz contacted his…er…contact at Google and asked what was up. Apparently, there wasn’t any update at all over the weekend. What, then, caused the volatility? More fallout from the mobile-friendly update? We’ll keep you posted as we find more.


  • Improved Search Analytics Report Launched In Webmaster Tools – Google has launched a new and improved search queries report, renaming it the Search Analytics report and making it much more useful. Now webmasters can filter results by location, device type, clicks, impressions, and much more. This will definitely go a long way toward filling in gaps left by the not provided issue in Analytics, we hope.


  • twitter-googleTwitter Begins To Return To Google SERPs – Google has begun experimenting with putting Twitter information back into results pages, according to reports. It’s been years since we saw Twitter in the search results, but now several users are reporting seeing relevant Twitter accounts show up in mobile searches. This can only help both with visibility and usability.


  • Google Announces More Searches On Mobile Than Desktop – Google has formally announced that recently they began to see more searches via mobile than via the desktop in several countries, including the US and Japan. Along with this announcement comes word of expanded services for hotel reservations and car insurance research, along with better ad tools as well. No wonder they’ve been so focused on mobile as of late.


  • Report: YouTube Drives More Video Engagement Over Time – While reports have come out saying that Facebook video usage is leading toward more engagement with customers, firm Visible Measures says that’s only true initially. Apparently they found that videos on YouTube videos perform better over time, retaining viewership and engagement over the long haul, while Facebook tapers off after an initial boost in viewership.


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A Smattering of SEO News – Mobilegeddon’s Rollout Continues

Hey folks, welcome to another Smattering of SEO news! Last week, Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm, or “Mobilegeddon” as it’s being called, began to roll out. How effective has it been? Read on my friend.
Google News

  • mobilegeddon-smartphone-brokenOne Week On, Mobilegeddon Doesn’t Seem To Have Fully Taken Hold – When Google first announced their mobile-friendly algorithm, they said that the rollout would take maybe a week to a week and a half. Well, it looks like the latter portion of that prediction is more accurate, as many webmasters aren’t reporting significant jumps in web traffic one way or the other. This could mean a lot of things, really, such as those sites not seeing much of a change aren’t as mobile-friendly as they’d like to believe, or the update is slower in taking hold than initially planned. We’ll be keeping a sharp eye on this, don’t you worry.
  • Searchmetrics Details Top Winners And Losers Of Mobile-Friendly Algorithm (So Far) – Searchmetrics has released their own study of the top winners and losers of Mobilegeddon so far in terms of search visibility, and the results are a bit surprising! is down 27%, is down 28%, and is down 76%. Apparently all of these losing sites had a lack of mobile-friendly pages in common (they all failed at Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool). Winners included (up 13%), (up 32%), (up 420%), and (up 771%), all of which passed Google’s tool. You can read more of the winners and losers on Searchmetrics’ blog.


Other News

  • twitter-googleTwitter Turns Firehose On Google In May – Twitter announced that it plans to roll out its firehose – the term for its API covering public tweets – to Google in May. This will give Google access to all of Twitter’s public tweets and allow Google searchers to find tweets in their search results. It’s been years since Google users had access to the firehose, so this is definitely a benefit to users.
  • ComScore: Mobile-Only Internet Users Surpassed PC-Only Users For First Time – Data firm comScore is reporting that, for the first time ever, mobile-only Internet users surpassed PC-only users back in March. Mobile usage actually dropped from the month before, from 11.8% in February to 11.3% in March. PC-only users had a larger drop though, from 12.1% in February to 10.6% in March, putting them below mobile-only users basically due to attrition. This is likely one of many reasons why Google is so focused on mobile as of late.
  • Facebook Small Business Pages Increase To 40 Million – In less than a year, Facebook has seen 10 million small business pages created, bringing the number up to 40 million from 30 million last June. To support all these new pages, Facebook will be hosting a series of “Boost Your Business” events later this year across the country, including in Boston, San Diego, and Minneapolis. Small business page owners also now have access to a direct chat with Facebook support folks. Maybe this means Facebook will start to make pages more visible again? One can only hope!


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A Smattering of SEO News – Contradictory Information, European Commissions, and More

Hey folks, welcome to another Smattering of the SEO news that matters the most! This week, the European Union once again sets its sights on Google, and we get some more fun info about Panda and Penguin while also finding out what the mobile-friendly algorithm will and won’t target. Check it out!


Google News:

  • European Union Opens Antitrust Investigation Targeting Android – In the latest of what seems to be a long line of antitrust actions against the search engine giant, the European Commission – the executive legislative body of the European Union – has opened an antitrust probe looking into Android’s apparent dominance of the marketplace, and whether that dominance unfairly hurts competition. Google has ten weeks to respond to the Commission’s “Statement of Objections,” so we’ll bring you more as it happens.
  • google-penguin

    Panda And Penguin Are Manual AND Automatic AND Manual AND Automatic And… – So Google’s been sending out some contradictory information as of late regarding whether updates to Panda and Penguin are manually pushed or whether they’re automatic. When recent news of the updates being manual raised something of a kerfuffle, John Mueller took to the airwaves (Hangoutwaves?) to say that some things in the algorithms are automatic, like checking for issues in disallow files, while other things are manual. It’s very confusing, so hopefully this gets sorted soon!

  • What The Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Will And Won’t Affect – Recent murmurings out of Google state that the effect of the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm will be relatively narrow, compared to other updates. Apparently the update will only affect the “10 blue links”, which are the 1-10 results in Search Engines Results Pages. This from Google’s Gary Illyes, who confirmed in a tweet that other portions of Google won’t be affected. While that’s likely a relief to some folks who aren’t fully ready for what the mobile-friendly algorithm is planning, they have to realize this is just likely a first step toward more changes in the future.
  • google-sitemap

    You Likely Don’t Need A Mobile Sitemap – With all the hubbub over the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm update, webmasters are scrambling to make their sites more mobile-friendly. At one time this included a mobile sitemap, but according to John Mueller this is no longer the case. Apparently you only need a mobile sitemap if you have a feature-phone version of your site, but who has those anymore? This will likely come as a welcome reprieve for those working hard to make their sites as mobile-friendly as possible.


Other News:

  • Yandex Brings Back Links As A Ranking Factor – After making a big brouhaha about not needing links as a ranking factor some time back, Russian search engine Yandex announced they would be bringing them back as both a positive and negative ranking factor. It seems that “Yandex was disappointed with the inertia shown by the search industry, which showed only a 16% reduction in the acquisition of paid links even despite them being told that Yandex was ignoring them.” Apparently the market, they claim, was too slow to react despite how technologically sound their algorithm was.
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A Smattering of SEO News – Pushing Pandas and Penguins

Hey kids, welcome to another week of SEO news! As we gear up for the upcoming mobile-friendly algo shift, we gain some more insight into some other algorithms we’re old friends with, Panda and Penguin. Seems to get them moving, they have to be jostled manually. All this and more below.

Google News:

  • Panda And Penguin Updates Are All Done Manually – In a recent Google Hangout, John Mueller stated that updates for both Penguin and Panda aren’t done regularly at all, and are actually pushed manually. Given that people have been waiting months for a refresh or update to these algorithms (so that their penalties might be removed after working to get back into Google’s good graces), I’m sure that some people properly cheesed. Hopefully Google is working to make updates to these important algorithms much more frequently.
  • Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.15.31 PM

    Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Update To Only Affect Smartphones – In a response to a question via Twitter, the official Google Webmasters’ Twitter account stated that the upcoming mobile-friendly update (that we’ve been talking about for weeks now) is geared toward smartphones only, and tablets aren’t part of the update. Interestingly, Barry Schwartz – the author of the linked article – did a test to see if Google’s new “Mobile-friendly” label shows up on Tablets. To my surprise, the label only seems to show up on smartphones, which bolsters the news that the update is for smartphones only. One wonders why tablets are being left out, but smartphones are more prolific than tablets so it kind of makes sense. Kind of.

  • google-bolding-answers

    Google Bolding Answers In SERPs – It’s a minor but interesting thing: Google has taken to bolding the answers to questions posed in Search Engine Result’s Pages (SERPs). You know, when you look up something and get that answer box, now Google has begun bolding the answer in there, along with bolding the words used in the query as they’ve done for years now. It’s a little usability thing that makes scanning the SERPs a bit easier, and therefore it’s a great addition, I think.

  • Rumor: Google To Launch Home Service Provider Search Later This Year –According to reports on Buzzfeed and Tech meme, Google could be launching a new service later this year to connect home owners with those who provide home-focused services, such as plumbers, electricians, roofers and so on. This could directly bank on the data in Google Local, meaning local home-focused businesses really need to make sure their Google Local profiles are as up to date and as engaging as possible.

Other News:

  • Twitter Experimenting With Filtered Search Results – According to Marketing Land, Twitter is now experimenting with different filters for search results. These include search results by tweets, accounts or photos, searching tweets from everyone or people you know, from all around the world, or more locally. This would be a serious boon toward making Twitter much more usable and therefore valuable for both users and marketers.


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A Smattering of SEO News – Preparing for the Fallout…

As Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm launch approaches later this month, Google is preparing both marketers and consumers for what’s to come. Mobile-friendly alerts and speed warnings are just the start. With Google revealing it has a method of putting customer expectations front and center, it seems the mobile-friendly algorithm is just a part of a grander plan. Fascinating stuff, check it out:

Google News:

  • Customers Come First In Google’s Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Algorithm – For years, Google has strived to have webmasters focus on users first and search engines second. Google now seems to be adopting that motto themselves, if this upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm is any proof. Google has started adapting to a pyramid model used by other corporations like Ritz-Carlton, which puts consumer expectations at the base of the pyramid, requests in the middle, and delights at the top. Google now sees striving for mobile-friendliness as part of a larger plan to delight consumers, eventually turning them into Google brand ambassadors. Having a fast, mobile-friendly site that delights customers is part of that plan, and it truly sounds outright fascinating.


  • Google Says Recent Fluctuations Are Part Of Normal Algorithm Updates – Webmasters have been all aflutter about many recent SERP updates late last month, and Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz finally asked Google’s John Mueller about it in a recent Google Hangout. Mueller said that after looking into the changes – “because people have been writing about it” – they are normal fluctuations that always happen as they update their algorithms. Shame, it’s more fun for something to be wrong or for there to be an actual update, but we’ll have to sit and wait a bit longer for that kind of excitement.

Other News:

  • Baidu Benefits From Google’s Blockage In Mainland China – While Google is still the dominant search engine worldwide, due to its being blocked in mainland China, the Chinese engine Baidu is reaping the rewards, aka traffic. From 2013 to this year, Baidu’s global market share has increased from 6.4 to 8.8 percent due to that blockage, which is no small feat. Analysts also predict that Baidu’s search spend for 2015 will be upwards of $14.90 billion, which will make up about 33% of the global spend on search. That’s double its overall growth over the past year or so. It’ll be fascinating to see how Baidu further grows due to Google’s continued block.


  • Microsoft And Yahoo Extend Deadline To Renegotiate Search Relationship – Back in 2010, Microsoft and Yahoo formed a search partnership which was to last ten years, with the option to renegotiate the deal after five years. Well, that five years is here, and while the original renegotiation was to be signed off within 30 days, the two parties have extended the deadline another 30 days. Since Yahoo’s current CEO, Marissa Mayer, has been…let’s say, less than happy about the partnership since coming on board as CEO, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in 30 days. Stay tuned!
  • Twitter Releases Tool To Help Media Publishers And Businesses Curate Best Tweets – Let’s face it, Twitter is a bit of a mess when it comes to following specific topics. Sure, you have hashtags and searches, but those are hardly optimal solutions as they don’t really allow users or brands to control how the information in those tweets is presented. Twitter apparently realized this, and has released a tool simply called Curator. With this, you can now curate a series of tweets based on specific parameters you choose, such as tweets with a specific hashtag from users who only have 1,000 or more followers, for example. This will allow a lot more focus when it comes to sharing relevant and popular tweets on a given topic, and it sounds like a fantastic idea.


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A Smattering of SEO – Mobile-Friendliness is Best-liness

Hey folks, welcome to another Smattering of SEO news! This week, Google wants to help us prepare for the big mobile-friendly algorithm upgrade next month, which is unusual for them. With that said, let’s dive in!

Google News:

  • mobile-smartphones-seo

    Google Answers Some Questions About Its Upcoming Mobile Algorithm – There’s plenty of buzz going around regarding Google’s upcoming mobile-friendly update coming April 21st, but a lot of people still have questions about it. Thankfully, Google folks took time in a recent Hangout to answer just a few of them. What we now know is that the rollout is planned to take between a few days to a week. Secondly, we know that this algorithm will see your site as either mobile-friendly or not, there’s no in-between or gradients here. This actually gives us quite a bit to work with. Google encourages users to check if their site is mobile-friendly with their testing tool, and we’ll know that for a week, results could be all over the darned place. Stay tuned as we find out more.


  • google-mobile

    Google Adds Mobile-Friendly Reminders To Webmaster Blogs – In a further push to get websites mobile-friendly in the run up to the April 21st algorithm roll-out, Google has added a new little banner to their Webmaster blogs. Now you’ll be prompted to visit their mobile-friendly testing tool, as mentioned above, to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Google is pretty in-your-face about this sort of thing, so they must be taking it super seriously. I wonder if they’ll eventually place these kinds of banners in the SERPs as well.


  • Google Wants To Improve Local Business Data – Google recently launched a program called Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map. This new tool encourages business users to improve and complete their online presences via an easy-to-use portal called Get Your Business Online. Users can search for their businesses and find whether their information is complete or not, then fill in all the missing pieces. If a business doesn’t have a website, Google is actually offering a free domain for a year via a partnership with Startlogic. Overall, this sounds like a win-win, as businesses increase their online visibility, and Google gains more data to mine.



  • FTC Report Details How Google “Harms Customers And Innovation” – According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, a leaked copy of an FTC report detailing Google’s handling of its own search monopoly has found that the search giant has taken actions that “[have] resulted-and will result-in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets.” This includes boosting the rankings of its own properties, taking content from Yelp and Amazon for use in its own search results, and threatening to remove rivals when they complained about Google using their data for their own purposes. Honestly, how this surprises anyone, I have no idea.


Other News:

  • Watch Out, Facebook Messenger Is Going To Be Everywhere! – Facebook recently presented an updated and more integrated version of its Messenger app that will now allow embedding within business and Ecommerce orders and apps. To go even further, companies will be able to integrate Messenger directly into their communications, allowing users to use the app to communicate directly with the companies they interact with. For example, if you order something from a company that uses Messenger, you can use Messenger to keep track of your order and follow up with the company all in one place. This is wacky, but convenient for users, so it’ll be interesting to see if people jump on this.


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A Smattering of SEO – Doing the Algorithmic Mamba…

Wow folks, LOTS of Google algorithmic news this past week, and it’s all over the place! The next big update is likely to shake up quite a few sites’ rankings. We’ll keep you posted on all the goodies, starting with this week’s feast. Enjoy!

Google Algorithm News:

  • google-mobile

    Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Algorithm “Bigger Than Panda Or Penguin” Apparently – At SMX Munich, Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji was quoted saying that the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm update will be more impactful to websites than Panda or Penguin. While there were no specifics to go along with this statement, SEO news folks are beside themselves guessing how big the impact will be. Since more and more of Google’s traffic comes from mobile, one can guess that it’s going to be a big deal. We’ll bring you more as we get it.

  • Google Updated Their Doorway Page Algorithm – Google has never been fond of doorway pages, previously calling them “poor-quality pages”. Now, Google has gone ahead and updated their doorway page algorithm to be increasingly aggressive against them. Google now defines them as, “sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries.” They go on to say these pages are outright bad for users. If you have an Ecommerce site that uses this tactic to try and expand your search engine coverage, now might be the right time to stop.
  • google-doorway

    Speculation: Google’s Upcoming Algorithm Targeted At Ecommerce Sites – Over on RocketMill, author Yousaf Sekander took a look at both the data known about the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm, as well as the aforementioned doorway page algorithm and came to one conclusion: Ecommerce is the big target of the upcoming algorithm. He notes one of Google’s new “questions we should ask ourselves” specifically asks, “Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?” This, to him, specifically goes after Ecommerce sites, who’ve been using this doorway tactic for a long time now. It’ll be interesting to see if he is right.

  • Penguin Not Updated Regularly Or Monthly – In a recent Google Hangout, a viewer asked Google’s John Mueller about Penguin updates, whether they’re regular or monthly. Mueller replied that he didn’t think the algorithm is on any kind of schedule at the moment, but it’s something they want to be more regular about. That just doesn’t mean monthly.


Regular Google News:

  • Google Says Mobile Autocomplete Forms Useful For Users, Not Rankings – In a recent update, Google stated that, “We hope to see many forms marked up with the ‘autocomplete’ attribute in the future.” When Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz asked Google’s Gary Illyes if this was a hint about using these forms for rankings, Schwartz was told that nothing is being hinted at at all. Regardless, it’s good usability to make sure these forms work, so they should be implemented regardless.



Other News:

  • Yahoo Market Share Falls As Firefox Users Fall Back To Google – While the numbers are quite small, it’s fascinating to watch Google slowly creep back up in market share. Firefox users are returning to the search engine giant after Yahoo was made its search engine by default late last year, according to comScore’s recent February Search Share Report. According to the report, Yahoo’s share dropped to 12.8%, while Google’s rose to 64.5%. comScore went on to say that Yahoo lost 10% of its search volume between January and February.