Welcome to the Smattering my friends! The big, massive, huge, mondo super duper news this week — that surprised everyone — is that Google is now part of a larger conglomerate corporation called Alphabet. While Google will be more focused on search and its various properties like YouTube, Maps and so on, Alphabet will take some of the other stuff Google was doing and separate it out. Neat, huh? Check it out and more below!
- Google Restructures Under New Alphabet Corporate Umbrella – Well this was a huge surprise earlier this week, to be sure. Google just went through a seriously massive restructuring, which includes both a new CEO – Sundar Pichai – and a new umbrella company called Alphabet. Google, thankfully, will still have control of things like search, Gmail, YouTube and so on, while Alphabet will broaden to other ventures. This includes Wing, their drone delivery system, as well as Calico, an anti-aging company. It’ll be fascinating to see what lies ahead for this new conglomerate. If you want more information, check out Google’s blog post on the matter.
- Google Local Pack Drops From Seven Listings To Three – In what surely will be felt by many local retailers who use the services of Google Local to drive business, this week Google limited the Local Pack a bit. Whereas before this change, Google’s Local Pack had seven listings, they now will only find three. Other things removed included phone numbers, replaced with the hours of the business. Thankfully users can still expand the Local Pack to show up to twenty listings, but this is still going to be a blow to businesses below that top three.
- “Watch Time” Patented As A Ranking Factor – A recent patent granted to Google this past week proposed methods of ranking content – video or otherwise – via “watch time.” The patent explains that this patent covers algorithmic systems which can adjust a site’s rankings based on how long a user watches video content, but can also apparently be used for other types of content as well. It’ll be interesting to see when this goes into effect. Also interestingly, Google has a document on optimizing for watch time, so this isn’t exactly a new idea, but the patent itself is decidedly new.
- Illyes: 404s Don’t Impact Panda – Less in the “news” and more in the “neat to know” column is the fact that earlier this week, Google’s Gary Illyes was asked if pages with 404 error codes have an impact on Panda. His answer? “Nope.” Seriously, that was it.
- Moz Ranking Study: Links Still Rule – Moz recently released their Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015 study, and it’s their most detailed yet. In asking around 150 SEO experts to rate over ninety ranking factors, the largest factor – in their opinion – is domain-level link features such as trust, page rank, quantity and so on. Falling just shy of that, in second place, is anchor text and referring domains. Google might try to tell us otherwise, but apparently in the minds of many SEOs, links are still super important.