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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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