February SEO Updates
Google Image Search
Google has rolled out a new layout for the image result pages. The new formatting allows the searcher to see a full version of the image without clicking through to the website. There is talk in the industry that this will have to be changed for legal issues.
This image search caused some worry for Webmasters who relied on traffic from image searches as they saw a decline in click-through-rate (CTR). After some time Webmasters have noticed, however, that the quality of CTR has increased because the visitors who click through to the website are more likely to convert.
There are still some legal questions about providing a full image in the search results. If a website pays to display an image then that image may be restricted by certain copyright laws that are not protected by the image search result page.
Google Webmaster Tools
The interface for Webmaster Tools was updated early this month and with it came a surprising drop in the number of links to your website. Apparently there was a glitch in the update that caused links to the home page to be removed from the report. Google quelled concerns from Webmasters by ensuring that there was no change in authority, but merely a Webmaster Tools reporting issue. The report has since been corrected and all links are now visible through the dashboard.
When signed in to Webmaster Tools you used to be able to see the number of URLs that Google decided not to put in the index, but the “not selected” label was confusing for some users. Google decided to remove that parameter from the report to avoid confusion for Webmasters.
Penguin and Panda Update Anniversary
February marks the second anniversary of the Panda update and we are also coming up on the first anniversary of the Penguin update. There have been recent signs of increased GoogleBot activity and some SEOs believe that there may be another update coming soon.
While Google Panda has fairly regular updates, the Penguin algorithm has only had 3 updates since it was rolled out in early 2012.
Profiting from Link Removal
Website owners who have received “suspicious link” have been requesting link removals from certain websites to fix the problems. With the increase in requests for link removal, some website owners have started charging for link removals. For a website that has been penalized by Google as a link farm it is a good way to make a little profit from the downfall.
The End of Advertorials
A well-known online floral delivery website was heavily penalized by Google this month. Interflora was given penalties from Google for engaging in what are known as advertorials for online magazines. An advertorial provides a “story” about a certain company that also serves as an advertisement with a link to the company website.
While this sort of symbiosis between advertiser and online publication used to be okay, Google is now considering the practice a form of link buying. Google considers paying for links a black hat SEO practice and now one more loophole has been closed with the elimination of advertorials as trusted links.
Re-directs do not Affect PageRank
There has always been a rumor in the SEO industry that once you re-direct a page to a new URL any link juice that was going to the original page got decreased. Matt Cutts from Google released a video in February debunking that theory and stating that there is no PageRank lost when a proper 301 is utilized for any page.
February Local Search Updates
Google Maps announced an update in the algorithm to help identify “spammy” reviews posted for a business. This update eliminates most “anonymous” reviews and further investigates user profiles to help spot fake ones.
The Google+ app on your mobile device is now enough for you to verify your Google listing, making it even easier for businesses to become more present on Google Maps. This new feature in the Google+ app makes the platform even more relevant in online social media.
Google announced that business listings with multiple practitioners are not allowed to have multiple listings. That means that a Dentist office can only be listed once even if there are several DDS practitioners using the same office.