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Hello my friends, and welcome to another Smattering of SEO News, the only SEO news digest you need to succeed and slow down your airspeed so you decelerate enough not to crash in the weeds. Or something. Anyway, lots of stuff this week, from a possible Google update to changes with the Google Keyword tool and much more. Check it out!

Google News

  • Possible Google Update Earlier In June? – Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive has poured over a bunch of data and found that, yes Virginia, there was some sort of Google Algorithm update last month. Was it Panda? Was it Penguin? OMG WHAT WAS IT TELL US DAMN YOUR EYES! Calm down! Anyway, Gabe doesn’t know, but he thinks it’s most likely a quality (i.e. Phantom) update. The sites most heavily affected were those containing thin or generic content, articles with sponsored ads on the top of the article, and sites which apparently had more ads than content. Does this sound like your site? I hope not!

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  • RankBrain Now Apparently Involved In Every Search Query – Last year, Google’s machine learning thingy, RankBrain, was used in a minority of searches. Now, however, Google seems to be trusting the system enough that it’s “involved in every query.” In terms of rankings, it’s involved “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.” Crazy.
  • Google Adding Internet Speed Test to Search Results – We all knew Google cared a lot about speed, but this is nutty. Evidently Google is testing an interactive widget within the SERPs that will measure the speed of your Internet connection. Using Measurement Labs for the tests, it’s not clear which results this will show up for (or all of them), but it’s neat nonetheless.

Google Keyword Planner News

  • Keyword Planner Now Requires AdWords Account – Google’s Keyword Planner (one of their most useful tools, if you ask me) has apparently been updated so that now an AdWords account is needed to run the tool. There was some recent confusion regarding this as many received errors regarding their access to the tool. No word on when this technical issue might be resolved.

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  • Keyword Planner Possibly Becoming Far Less Accurate – Users are reporting that Google’s Keyword Planner tool is now combining similar terms (such as singular and plural terms) together in their results and giving them inflated numbers which are, we think, some combination of the numbers from the separate terms. In my own tests I’ve yet to see this, so they might just be rolling it out incrementally, or testing it, but if it becomes standard operating procedure, the tool will become far, far less useful than it is today.

Other News

  • Study Identifies Potential Top Local Ranking Factors – The folks at Local SEO Guide and University of California’s Center for Statistical Consulting did a study to answer the question, “How do you prioritize your local SEO operations?” What they found was rather interesting! For example, they found that the top ranking factors for Google My Business included website signals, links, and signals on the Google My Business page itself. Apparently geographical text on the page itself is far less important than originally thought! You can read the full results here.

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