After 4 months of Beta testing, Google has released Review Extensions to the full population of Adwords advertisers.
Review Extensions will display 3rd party reviews underneath an advertiser’s ad, hopefully lending both security and confidence to the product or service. This should help advertisers a great deal by confirming to users that the product or service in question is reputable and has already been vetted by others. Google has one advertiser who was included in Beta testing who claims they’ve seen a clear 10% increase in click through rates since starting use of review extensions.
One feature that will prove very interesting with this extension is the fact that the review publisher will have a link within the ad itself. If the user clicks the link to the review, the advertiser will not be charged for a click. While this extension will still most likely be a net positive for Adwords customers, it is yet another signal that review sites are gaining more authority in the eyes of Google.
All told, this newest Adwords bell and whistle should have an immediate and real impact on search results, both paid and organic. Keep an eye out for these in the very near future, and take note of the creative ways that advertisers put these to use.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: email@example.com
Since the website Yelp (www.yelp.com) was relaunched in February of 2005 with a decided focus on providing user reviews of businesses and professionals, the site has become one of the most frequently visited sites on the web, as people look to the reviews provided by others in their communities before going to a new mechanic, visiting a new doctor, or even eating at a new restaurant. For a while, these reviews had a limited effect, and only seemed to affect the ranking of businesses within Yelp’s internal search engine.
However, since Penguin 2.0 rolled out back in May of this year, we’ve noticed an interesting trend among search results that appears to be increasingly prevalent: the high ranking of directories for many search terms in Google. Directories like Angie’s List, Yelp, and even the Better Business Bureau are showing up on the first page of Google – often in the first and second spots – for extremely competitive keywords. Click here to see an example.
If you haven’t claimed your business’ Yelp listing, do it now. You could be missing out on valuable opportunities to get your name out in your community and to rank higher for your targeted keywords in Google and on Yelp. Additionally, there does seem to be a correlation between the number of reviews a business has and how strong their rankings are, both inside and outside of Yelp.
Thus, if you have satisfied customers, encourage them to leave you a Yelp review. This seemingly small action could have significant effects on your placement online, making it well-worth the effort.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
CloudSixteen, Inc., got its start as The Search Engine Guys (TSEG), a Search Engine Optimization company that our CEO and CTO ran out of their homes before making the company’s first move into a 500 sf office space in Westlake. After outgrowing that space, the company moved to a four-roomed, 1,000 sf office downtown next to the Driscoll Hotel.
In late 2008, TSEG moved from its small downtown office to a much larger space on the third floor of an office complex in South Austin. After expanding into the office adjacent to ours, renting additional offices on the second and first floors of the building, starting Ngage Live and Big Momma Apps, and uniting under the parent company CloudSixteen, Inc., the Cloud has moved once again to accommodate our continued growth.
On June 1, CloudSixteen, Inc. moved into a beautiful 12,492 sf office located at 360 and Wild Basin Rd., just north of Bee Caves. The new space has an incredible view of the hill country and has allowed the entire Cloud family to work together in the same office for the first time in almost 4 years. While our unique decorative stylings have followed us from the old office, we’re all excited about the opportunities for growth that this new office will bring, and are already working on making memories in our new home.
Aaron Dillon, Ngage Operations Manager, had experience in Pool League Play from years previous and decided to collect seven other members from Cloud  Sixteen, Inc., to form a pool team for a local Tuesday night league. One week later, our dynamic group entered into 9 and 8 ball competition. With varied levels of pool experience, the rag tag team had a few rough weeks in the beginning, but has been making vast improvements with each passing week.
A string of close losses and meaningful victories in the last couple matches has led them to the opportunity to jump up 2 spots this past Tuesday. While their record may not be the best, in true Cloud fashion, the team has already garnered a reputation for being a social force, forging new friendships with each team they compete against. Everyone is in high spirits and looking to spend the second half of the season fighting for a position in the End of Season Tournament.
If any ringers out there would like to join the Cloud Family for the purposes of elevating the pool team, send applications to email@example.com.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever since Matt Cutts, Google’s head engineer in charge of web-spam released a video in May about what to expect in the next few months in terms of SEO, there have been noticeable fluctuations in the search results for many website owners.
The MozCast Google weather tracker is a tool designed by the highly regarded web-marketing company Moz. Recently, their “Mozcast” site displayed what many SEO experts consider to be alarming temperatures in the month of June. A “regular” temperature reading is usually somewhere between 50 to 80 degrees, but two readings this month have shot up over 100 degrees, breaking records in the weather chart. In fact, June 27, 2013 yielded a 120 degree reading, the highest ever seen in the history of MozCast. Overall, changes in the Google algorithm have shaken up the search results a few times this past month, including roll outs such as:
In March, Google mentioned that they will stop publicly announcing Panda updates, as the algorithm will continue to roll out monthly. Google is currently pushing out Panda updates over a 10 day period every 30 days.
What does this mean exactly? Google pushes the update on a specific day, so from that start day, the algorithm will continue to push out over a 10 day span. The push will continue to repeat itself every month.
Google has been working on refining the Panda algorithm to help sites that are lingering “on the border” of being impacted by the update. Cutts mentioned that they are “softening” the Panda algorithm by adding signals to search for quality metrics on these types of websites. It is unclear as to how soft these roll outs will be or how much change will take place in the search results.
Cutts also mentioned in this video (at 2:30) that there will be a new search update targeting “spammy queries.” Roughly a month after the video was posted, Cutts sent a tweet out confirming his statement in the video.
Certain industries, one being payday loans, are infamous for abusing Google’s algorithm by using automated software to build quick backlinks within a short amount of time. Of course, these websites do get caught after some time and lose their rankings once detected. Once the website gets flagged by Google for their unfavorable link building tactics, these companies then toss the old website, start over with a new website, and repeat. This “churn and burn” method is considered illegal and has been on Google’s action list to clean up.
This algorithm update is aimed to target link building and spam tactics globally. Other affected search terms include “car insurance” and pornographic related queries.
On June 25th, the MozCast reached 113 degrees, ousting the previous high of 102 degrees set on December 13, 2012. In this blog post by Dr. Peter J. Meyers from Moz, he discusses case studies monitoring de-personalized and de-localized queries.
Meyers conducted two different studies on the search terms “limousine service” and “auto auction.” Both cases showed similar patterns that indicate a partial-match domain update.
While the temperature in MozCast is experiencing high levels of fluctuation, Cutts also threw a Multi-Week update into the mix. Details on this update haven’t been confirmed yet, but there have been speculations as to what kind of update this will be. Will it be a follow up to the Payday Loan Algorithm or is this PMD update just a trigger to something of greater impact?
Cutts announced the rollout was happening on June 21, 2013 and will continue to affect the search results until the week after July 4, 2013. We’ll keep an eye on this while this update keeps rolling out through the month of July.
Google strives to improve the quality of search results for the user by keeping quality sites ranked high and devaluing sites that prove to be harmful or untrustworthy. To assure that Google users have the best matching results for their queries, algorithm pushes are necessary to keep spam and questionable websites off your results page.
There will be constant algorithm fluctuations this next month, considering the turbulence that occurred in the last week of June. If the pattern continues with the Multi-Week update, we could be approaching a few more stormy SEO days. Look out for:
If your site has lost placement recently or has been moving around in the SERPs, the high number of algorithm changes that rolled out in June may be the reason. While we expect things to start settling down soon, the effects of these updates are likely to continue for a little while longer.
To contact the author, emails can be sent to: email@example.com
Over the years, Google has continually updated the layout of search results. On June 18th, Google announced they were rolling out an interactive carousel of local results “for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop” that will be featured at the top of the page. Below is an example of the new Local Carousel:
On the day of the announcement, Google+ Local community manager Jade Wang offered advice for businesses in a post on the Google and Your Business Forum:
How can I get my business to show up in the carousel?
While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.
Why is this feature only available for some business verticals?
We’re committed to providing users a high quality search experience for every query. The carousel filtering experience is a good fit for some categories of local businesses. We will continue to experiment with different designs and interfaces to make sure that users get the information they’re looking for, fast.
I’d like to see this feature in more languages and countries, please!
We’ll work as fast as we can to roll out new features in as many places as possible, but have nothing to announce at this time.
My business is on the carousel, but I’d like to change the photo. How can I do that?
The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.
While the answers to the questions listed above offer some great insight, you may still be asking yourself the following questions:
At The Search Engine Guys, these are all important questions we discuss when building our local search strategy. We have dedicated our time to studying the history of changes regarding local search and keep ourselves informed regarding the most recent updates.
In comparison to the previous local results on Google, the new carousel displays results horizontally versus vertically. There must be at least 5 local results for the carousel to be displayed. If there are any fewer, it will show the original 1, 2, 3, or 4 pack display. It was noted by local search expert Mike Blumenthal that “the new Local Carousel will show up to 20 results if there are that many in any given market.” Depending on the size of your screen, the number of results that will display before using the scrolling feature will vary. Each business result will feature a photo, the business name, and rating and review information. The photo below shows how the Local Carousel aligns with the old 7-pack result set:
I am interested in seeing if the clicks for local results will be more evenly distributed now that the results are showing horizontally versus vertically. In an article posted on Search Engine Land, they discuss a study conducted by search marketer Matthew Hunt who used heat maps to gauge interest levels for results. It was discovered that 48% of searchers click the carousel while only 14.5% of users clicked the map. I also look forward to seeing if the photo selected by the Google algorithm for local listings has an impact on click through rates.
Now more than ever, it is important to place locally on Google. Because the carousel features an image for each business, it is important that all of the photos you have posted are high quality and representative of your business. Reviews will also become more important because of Google’s announcement discussing the return of the 5 star review system. Once a business has received 5 reviews, the stars will be highlighted in gold , which could be a determining factor for piquing user interest.
It is hard to be certain what changes or updates will be made in the future, but it’s important to always be prepared. Will Google slowly roll out the Local Carousel to other categories, such as attorneys? We aren’t quite sure, but we are adjusting our local search strategy in case it does. Will the local carousel extend to mobile search results, where the local results predominantly show before the organic results? If so, it will be crucial to gain local placement. Here at The Search Engine Guys, we begin researching updates as soon as they are announced and discuss what potential changes could happen in the future in order to be better prepared. We are anxiously waiting to see what Google will do next.
We have been through 5 major Google algorithm updates in the last 6 years and dozens of minor updates. Google recently stated that “We make over 500 changes to our algorithms a year, so there will always be fluctuations in our rankings in addition to normal crawling and indexing.” Additionally, SEOMoz reports that there have been 76 notable algorithm updates since 2007. Most of the minor updates go largely unnoticed by everyday users of Google and may feel more like typical fluctuations due to the content changes in the index.
Major updates are more like 50 year storms, and during major updates, it’s not uncommon for sites that enjoyed dominant first page positions to drop out of the top 10 pages.
Currently, the industry is buzzing with talk of a major update that Matt Cutts has labeled Penguin 2.0. Given the buzz, we thought we would share our 10 cents on how to handle the next “big one,” whether it happens this week or in 10 weeks:
Ultimately, when the algorithm is updated, the best course of action is to take a deep breath and evaluate everything that changes. Compare what the sites that were penalized have in common and what the websites that held strong have in common. Take action appropriately and with time, the results will return.
Here is a helpful video from Matt Cutts on Penguin 2.0 and what changes to expect in the coming months.
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Excerpts from an upcoming book by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt were published by The Wall Street Journal last week. In the article, Schmidt laid out his seven predictions for the future of the digital age, but for marketers one sentence stood out from the rest:
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in more users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.”
To many, this seemed less like a prediction and more like a veiled confirmation of what marketers had long suspected: AuthorRank is coming.
The AuthorRank saga began in 2005 when Google filed a patent for something called “Agent Rank.” The document described how the search engine could use a number of metrics to determine an “agent’s” position within a subject area. By outlining a way to consider an agent’s popularity and authority within a given subject area, marketers inferred that Google was looking to supplement the cold statistics of search with human factors.
Traditionally, Google had not had access to enough data to warrant using social interactions as a direct ranking factor. The company found a way to solve this problem in 2011 with the introduction of Google+. With its social network providing access to a trove of qualitative data, the logical next step was to incorporate it into search. Thus, AuthorRank became a reality.
Simply put, the goal of AuthorRank is to determine the credibility and popularity of an individual and the content they publish. Many factors that will likely have an impact on AuthorRank are old-hat for SEOs, such as: the number of followers on social networks and the frequency of shares, as well as the number of links, Likes, tweets, etc. The difference, however, is that Author Rank ties these metrics to the individual who publishes the content – not the website that hosts it.
This change has huge implications in the SEO world, but the first step for anyone marketing online is to claim authorship of their content. Any content a marketer has created should be tied to a verified Google+ profile. This means an author’s Google+ profile must have a link to the pages that host their content, and vice versa. Once this is done, the long climb to dominant Author Rank begins.
Everyone in the SEO industry is anxiously awaiting Google’s Panda Update 25. It is not yet known if this specific update will further the push from Page Rank to AuthorRank, but Google is clearly headed in that direction. The web strategists at The Search Engine Guys have been preparing for the move to AuthorRank for some time. If you have questions about SEO, AuthorRank, and how to prepare your website, please contact us today.