Hello folks, and happy Wednesday! I apologize for the lack of a Smattering post last week, as I was home sick as a dog. I’m recovering though, and have just enough energy to bring you the last TWO weeks of the biggest SEO news headlines. Enjoy!
- EXIF Image Data: Not A Ranking Factor, But Could Be In The Future – In a recent webmaster video, Matt Cutts was asked if EXIF annotation data – the data on image files that denotes when a picture was taken, which what kind of camera, whether a flash was used, etc. – was currently used as a ranking factor. According to Cutts, EXIF data is not currently a ranking factor, but Google has the option to use it as such in the future. As more and more people are using information found in EXIF data to search for specific images, it is useful and should be used if available on your camera, but not a necessity.
- Google Takes Action On Two Polish Link Networks While Still Keeping Eyes On Germany – In a recent tweet, Google’s Matt Cutts said that they recently took action against two unnamed Polish link networks while stating they’re “not done with Germany yet,” meaning more manual actions could be on the way for some German link networks in the near future.
- Google Adds Descriptor Option To Places Listings – Google recently updated their quality guidelines for Google Places to cover a recently added descriptor to go along with the business name. Google states this should help “customers locate your business or understand what your business offers”, and should not include phone numbers, tag lines, or URLs. While some might welcome this change, others see it as a new opportunity to spam Google Places.
- Several Movie Sites Drop Significantly In Rankings, Reach Out to Google – Several movie blog sites, such as Slashfilm, have recently and inexplicably lost significant visibility in Google’s SERPs, enough so that they reached out to Matt Cutts on Twitter. The issue was apparently big enough that Cutts said they would look into it. A few days later (today, as I write this), Matt Cutts told Search Engine Land that there was a “transient issue” that affected a small number of sites, which has now been fixed, but didn’t give any further details.
- Some News Outlets Hacked To Link Free Downloads Of The Lego Movie On Google News – Somehow, and it hasn’t been discovered how yet, someone hacked into several news sites and redirected the site’s results in Google News to show a listing for a download of the recently released Lego Movie at a free download site. This site asks the user to fill out a survey or download a program – both pretty suspicious – in order to download the film. This was reported on 2/22, and so far no solution has been found. Though I don’t see this in my own results, so it might have been removed already.
- Google Analytics Information Added To Google+ Page Dashboard – If you have a website associated with a Google+ Page that has Google Analytics set up, you can now see a new panel in your page’s dashboard that shows new visits, unique visitors and page views over the past thirty days, along with an indicator for each as to whether that’s higher or lower than the previous thirty day period. This is a great way to see how your page is doing at a glance.
- Google Updates Webmaster Guidelines To Warn Against Blocking Google Ads In Robots.txt, Then Reverses Themselves – In an odd move, Google recently updated their Webmaster Guidelines and warned against blocking Google ads in a site’s Robots.txt file. The text reads as follows, “Make efforts to ensure that a robots.txt file does not block a destination URL for a Google Ad product. Adding such a block can disable or disadvantage the Ad.” Then, in an odd move, Google removed the guideline a day later. Google apologized for the confusion in an email to Search Engine Land, as they need to be able to crawl landing pages for their own ads and other’s, and are likely still working out how to best accomplish that without diluting their search results.
- Google+ Used By Starbucks And The Economist Mostly For SEO Rather Than User Engagement – In a recent article from the New York Times, they looked at some of the benefits of Google+, and surmise that it benefits Google more than it does users. This was emphasized when the article noted that search marketers at both Starbucks and The Economist basically admitted that they use Google+ to further their search profile, as even a barely updated page will still show up prominently in search results, which is advertising you can’t even buy.
- Possible Google Algorithm Update Underway – Many webmasters are reporting fluctuations in their results recently, and both MozCast and Algoroo show severe volatility in the SERPs in recent days as well. Interestingly, however, SERPMetrics and SERPs aren’t showing any volatility at all. We’ll have to keep an eye on these results and see what comes of them.
- Users Don’t Seem To Like Google’s New Dynamic Search Menu – Honestly, I’ve never even seen this, but apparently the order of the textual links under the search bar (i.e. Web, Images, Videos,Shopping, etc…) can change dynamically based on what one is searching for. Well, folks apparently don’t like this and are finding it a bit confusing, as complaints on Google’s web search help forum would indicate. It’ll be interesting to see if they stick with this change or if they make it more consistent throughout the search engine. Personally, I’m hoping for consistency.
- Twitter Including Promoted Accounts In Search Results – Twitter recently added a new feature to their internal search in which promoted accounts would now show up prominently in related searches. This jives with recent research that suggests seventy-two percent of Twitter users are more likely to buy from a business they follow, so this seemingly small change will likely have big results.
- LinkedIn First Social Network To Launch Chinese Version – LinkedIn has recently launched a version of their site in the Simplified Chinese language, opening the site up to millions more potential users who didn’t want to use the English site (of which only four million Chinese people used, apparently). This could potentially increase their user base exponentially, especially since the Simplified Chinese version of LinkedIn integrates easily with other local accounts such as Weibo, Sina and Tencent.
- Bing: Poor Grammar Might Equal Poor Rankings – While Google recently said that grammar in posts isn’t exactly a ranking factor – yet – Bing recently came out in a blog post and stated that poor spelling and grammar might lead to the engine ranking other sites, with better quality content, more highly. This all has to do with producing quality content for both the engines and the users, and from a user experience perspective, it makes sense.
That’s it for today, but be sure to check in next week for more exciting SEO news!