Hello my friends, and welcome to another Smattering of SEO news to start your week on the right (or at least, informed) foot. There’s some interesting news out of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Pinterest over the last week, so let’s take a gander, shall we?
- Google Doesn’t Consider Social Engagement As An SEO Signal – In a recent webmaster video, Google’s Matt Cutts was asked if Facebook and Twitter signals are part of Google’s algorithm. Citing that the web is imperfect, and that there are issues with privacy and access to data (which both Facebook and Twitter have cut off at times), he said that at present, Google doesn’t use social signals such as Likes and retweets in their SEO algorithm. If, he claims, you see a spike in Facebook Likes correlating with an improvement in the SERPs, those are merely related incidents, rather than connected incidents.
- Knowledge Graph Site Popup Added To SERPs – Google has begun rolling out a new popup of their Knowledge Graph that cites authoritative sources for a web search (which has been typically Wikipedia thus far, but other sites have shown up). What this does is, cite the source of the search result, allows you to hover over it to get more information about that source, as well as seeing more links from them. Getting links like this in the SERPs can show your site is authoritative in this space.
- Google Releases New Smartphone User-Agent To Improve Mobile Indexing – Google recently announced that they have released a new user-agent specifically for smartphones and mobile devices to better detect when a website is optimized properly for mobile browsers. The new agent identifies itself as Googlebot rather than Googlebot-Mobile, and better follows protocols set up in robots.txt, the robots meta tag and HTTP header codes.
- Tech Companies Spend $61 Million On Lobbying In 2013, $14 Million Just by Google – The results of a recent report by Consumer Watchdog say that tech spending on lobbying efforts was up significantly from 2012 last year. Google alone spent $14.06 million, an increase of nearly fifteen percent. Following that is Microsoft with $10.49 million (a nearly thirty percent increase) and IBM with $7.06 million (a nearly forty-six percent increase) and Facebook, which increased their spending over sixty-one percent from 2012 to spend $6.43 million. These increases are startling, to be sure.
- Yahoo Switches All Search To SSL – Yahoo recently made the switch to SSL-enabled secure search, following in the heels of both Google and Bing. Unlike Google, however, Yahoo will pass search referrer and query data if your site also supports the HTTPS protocol. If your site is unsecured, referral data will not be passed on. This is more in line with how the protocol is supposed to be followed, apparently, rather than how Google has chosen to follow it.
- Facebook Updates News Feed To Show More Status Updates, Fewer Page Updates – Facebook recently released an update to their News Feed that tweaks the amount of personal status updates and branded page status updates a person will see in their feed. This was done because Facebook found people see more updates with friends, they update more themselves. Now, status updates from pages are in a different category entirely from users’ status updates. Facebook said Pages managers can expect a decrease in distribution of their updates, but an increase in engagement, though they didn’t specify how, exactly.
- Pinterest Begins Adding Personalized Pages, GIF Support And Improved Recipe Search – In a set of sweeping changes set out to certain users, Pinterest now has a personalized page which uses keywords and phrases specifically taken from your feed as clickable links, so you can quickly find new images on those topics. They’re also now supporting the popular GIF format, which is amazing since it’s one of the oldest image formats around. Finally, they’ve improved their recipe search by adding categorical filters such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten free, to help people with certain dietary restrictions find their recipes easier.