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What Google Removal of Right Column Ads Means for Organic Search

GoogleUPDATEAs of Friday, February 19th, Google stopped displaying AdWords ads in the right column on search engine results pages (SERPs). Users will now only see pay per click ads on the top and bottom of the page. Going along with the removal of the right column ad strip, reports indicate that there will be more SERPs showing four ads at the top of the page with commercial searches. The question for search engine marketers is how the removal of right column ads will impact their marketing strategies on Google. (more…)

Most Visible Websites on Google in 2015

What were the most visible websites on Google in 2015? Which sites improved the most in Google top rankings?  A recent report published by Dr. Peter Meyers of Moz provides an interesting look. For the study, a 10,000-keyword daily Google tracker was used to determine the top domains with the most page-one Google real-estate. The report shows the brands that ranked in the top 10, as well as the most improved in terms of first page Google visibility.

MOZ top sites 2015 (more…)

Google Local Search Update

By now you may have noticed a change in Google’s local search results.  On August 6th, Google released an update to the way in which it displays business options for locally focused searches. The primary change is that we no longer see the familiar 5-pack or 7-pack of results because Google has reduced the pack to three featured businesses. It is also no longer showing the phone numbers for the businesses.

google local search screenshot (more…)

How Does Google’s Pigeon Update Affect Your Site?

A couple weeks ago (on July 24th), Google pushed out a new, major update to their search algorithm titled the ‘Pigeon Update’.  This is part of a series of updates (most seem to start with a ‘p’) that are changing the way the search engine produces results.  The whole goal is to provide more useful and relevant results – and in this case, the core change is occurring in the local search rank algorithm!

Below is the major list of changes involved in this update.  But don’t panic, there are basic best practices you can follow so your business isn’t as affected!

  • Local listing packs will disappear for a large number of keywords
  • Local rankings are expected to depend more on website authority – i.e. domain age, backlinks, and all sorts of other ranking factors
  • Ranking boost is seen for Yelp and other prominent local directories – even business websites are being seen less and less, so make sure you’re listed in these directories

(more…)

Google Releases the “Hummingbird”

Late last month, on their 15th anniversary, Google announced a major change to its search algorithm, dubbed Hummingbird, which had actually been active for over a month.  Unlike the recent Panda and Penguin updates that affected a relatively small number of search results, Hummingbird may impact up to 90% of searches!  So, what is Google trying to accomplish, and what do we SEO types plan to do about it?

Google Hummingbird (more…)

Google SEO : What Updates Are Ahead

In a May 13 blog post, Google’s Matt Cutts posted a video on what web developers should expect in the next few months in terms of updates to the way Google ranks sites.  A lot of these changes will have an impact on webmasters and the SEO community.

Some of the changes are a continuation of updates (Penguin, Panda) and others focus on specific issues that Google is working to address. (more…)

What Google Actions Could Affect You

As the biggest name in online search, Google answers more than one billion queries every day. In order to maintain their powerhouse reputation, Google is continuously tweaking their methodology, which allows them to offer the best possible search results for users while presumably keeping webmasters from “gaming the system” to gain better rankings. Website owners and SEO experts are constantly kept on their collective toes, trying to keep up with the on-going developments in order to achieve the highly coveted first page Google ranking. There are two primary ways through which Google impacts the ranking of a website – manual actions and algorithmic updates. (more…)

Google Unleashes Penguin

At the end of April, Google released a new algorithm update designed to improve search results for users by targeting what Google considers to be “webspam.” The “Penguin Update”, as it is known, follows the “Panda” series of algorithm updates, which focused on penalizing low quality sites with poor content.

Targeting webspam is not a new thing for Google. As Matt Cutts explains in his Webmaster Central Blog post on the subject, this latest update is about improving their approach:

“We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.” (more…)

Verify Your Business in Google Places & Bing Local Business Center

Every business– from local start-ups to international corporations– benefits when they claim their location profiles in the Top 3 search engines’ local listing centers.

The Top 3 local listing centers are:

The larger your business and the longer it’s been around, the higher chances that incorrect or outdated info about your business is displayed by these 3 business centers.  Claiming these profiles ensures you have control over how your business is represented online.  You can correct mistakes and also add marketing assets like photos and coupons!  Each has its own special perks — Google Places offers the Google Dashboard, where you can see visibility numbers for your local listings.  Yahoo does not require any verification step to complete Local profiles.  And Bing offers mobile-marketing considerations and allows you to prioritize your services.

HOWEVER, there is one minor caveat to the simplicity of this process: the dreaded VERIFICATION STEP required by Google and Bing.

This verification step, required before a new listing is published, is vital to limiting spam.  But for those attempting to ethically publish info about their location(s) online, verification can be an inconvenient challenge.  Depending on several factors, Google and Bing require one of two forms of verification before a location’s listing can successfully publish:

1) phone verification – Google or Bing call you, and provide a PIN number to enter
2) letter verification – Google or Bing send your location a letter, supplying a PIN number to enter

There are pros and cons to each method.  When given a choice, phone verification is more immediate.  However, it requires the person who answers the phone at your location(s) to understand the process described above (sometimes a lot to ask during a busy day!).  Good thing both Google and Bing provide multiple attempts before letter verification is required.  Letter verification is no longer a snail’s journey.  The time it takes to receive these letters is getting faster– most companies will find Google and Bing letters in their mailboxes within a week.  And letters can be easily resent on command.

The bottom line is to stay calm during the tricky verification process.  These verification systems are patient and offer several attempts.  And the light at the end of the tunnel is awesome — much-increased visibility of your business to local consumers.

If you continue to have trouble verifying your business in Google Places specifically, search Mike Blumenthal’s blog for solutions.  The actual Google Places forum is a tangled web, and Mike does a great job to synthesize issues business owners face during this process.  Popular user issues covered on Mike’s blog include:

What does “We currently do not support this location” mean in Google Places?
My Google Places listing has been in ‘Pending’ status forever!

Why did I receive the error message that I’ve used a banned term in Google Places?
Why is my business marked closed in Google Places?  I’m still here!

Best of luck, and please comment below with any questions as you verify your business in Google, Yahoo and Bing!

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