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Quarterly SEO Update: What Has Google Changed in 2014 So Far?

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With the first quarter of 2014 behind us, we wanted to take a quick look at some of the biggest news on the SEO / Google front so far this year.

January:

  • Webmasters speculate that an unconfirmed algorithm update occurred between January 8-10 due to shifts in placement and traffic drops.
  • Google punishes a large French blog network called Buzzea.
  • Google tests a knowledge graph snippet overlay, meaning a snippet pops up when you hover over a search result. (Note: I currently do not see this feature happening, so the test may have already ended)
  • Matt Cutts personally addresses guest blogging on his personal blog. He writes this message “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
  • Matt Cutts posts a video about not posting to article directory sites such as ezine.com.
  • Google announces a “page layout algorithm improvement,” which could potentially penalize any website that has excessive advertising above the fold.

February:

  • YouTube videos are enlarged in the SERPs. If someone is searching for a specific music video, the results page will show the YouTube video at the top of the page, making it more accessible for the user.

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  • Google punishes a German agency and link schemes.
  • Google updates the “page layout algorithm” for the third time. This was only a refresh and had little impact in the SEO community.
  • The Google Panda update celebrates its third anniversary.
  • Google Analytics rolls out a new user interface to make it cleaner and easier for users to access data.
  • Google’s OneBox answers become more detailed. Google uses knowledge graphs and authoritative websites to answer questions typed into the query box. Below are two examples of how Google answers these queries:

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March:

  • User interface in the Google SERPs has been updated several times over the past few months. Some of the most recent changes include:
    • Google Ads are now labeled “Ad” in a yellow box instead of being highlighted in a light peach color
    • Underlines in each search result have been removed
  • Due to the redesign in the SERPs, the font size for title tags has increased, resulting in a decrease in characters displayed on the page. Moz has released a title tag preview tool that can help webmasters choose the length of their title tags.
  • Google continues its attempt to fight spam by penalizing link networks in Spain, Germany, and Italy.
  • Matt Cutts announces that Google is working on the next generation of Panda updates that will soften the algorithm.

What to Expect for the Summer:

  • Fewer announced updates from Google
  • More user interface changes, especially in the knowledge graphs and Google cards
  • More intuitive answers and results from queries
  • An increase in mobile site optimization

Google has kicked off this year with a whirlwind of changes and will only continue to push more updates in order to improve and evolve into a better and more user-friendly search engine.

If you have questions about Google updates and how they may have impacted your website, call us at (512) 806-7955 for more information.

Nancy Tran  April 1st, 2014 – Posted by to Search.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: ntran@thesearchengineguys.com


Yelp! I Need Somebody

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.

What This Means for You

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.

amy  September 16th, 2013 – Posted by to SEO.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: amann@thesearchengineguys.com


Google Hits June With A Heat Wave

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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:

  • 10 Day Panda Monthly Update
  • Payday Loan Algorithm
  • Partial-Domain Match Update
  • Multi-Week Update

10 Day Panda Monthly Update (Panda Dance)

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.

Payday Loan Algorithm

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.

Partial-Domain Match Update

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.

Multi-Week 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.

Why does Google push out algorithm updates so often?

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.

What should you expect for July?

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:

  • Advanced spam detection as Google is constantly fighting off low quality and irrelevant websites
  • Google working on improving malware detection
  • Due to the consistent Panda roll outs, Google will be working on improving this update by adding new metrics and quality signals

What does this mean for you?

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.

Nancy Tran   July 3th, 2013 – Posted by to Search Engine Optimization.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: ntran@thesearchengineguys.com


Cloud [8] Sixteen, Inc., CEO Speaks at Annual WTLA Seminar

Last week, Joe Devine, CEO of Cloud [8] Sixteen, Inc., spoke at the Western Trial Lawyers Association’s annual seminar, lasting from June 11th to the 14th, at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, Hawaii. The theme of this year’s conference was “Pride, Passion & The Practice of Law.”

The conference had a number of guest speakers discussing various topics, and Mr. Devine spoke about the benefits that search engine optimization and live chat can have specifically for attorneys’ practices. This is the third year that Mr. Devine has spoken at this conference.

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