March Monthly Recap

SEO

There hasn’t been any dramatic updates from search engines this month. However, we are continually seeing reference to past updates and new ways that search engines, particularly Google, are implementing structure to help support their standpoints on risky SEO practices. Yes, we’re referring to the ever popular topics of links in reference to guest blogging, and spammy content.

Bad links and guest blogging are topics that have both been addressed multiple times in the last few months. We’ve heard what Google has to say — mainly, that businesses should avoid guest blogging, or using bad links to gain PageRank — but do we actually understand the factors that Google takes to determine whether a page and/or website should be penalized for risky practices? Many feel that Google is vague and inconsistent in the way they choose to penalize certain sites.

For example, Google recently issued a penalty to a website for posting a guest article that wasn’t clearly inline with the majority of content/subject matter. It may suggest that Google is discovering certain indicators that find off-topic content, and flagging that as a “spammy” practice. Head of web spam at Google, Matt Cutts, suggests that quality guest blogging can be useful to help gain a wider audience, but it should never be used for purely SEO tactics. Yet, that doesn’t quite explain or identify what quantifies as “quality” strategies. So, while we await an instructional guide to avoid Google penalties, we do have a few suggestions for our clients:

  • Continue to focus on quality content that promotes your business services
  • Avoid keyword target strategies that focus on search engine recognition, and instead focus on audience
  • Promote new content by building your audience rather than spamming (use guest blogging sparingly)

Google also made a cosmetic change this month. The SERPs have received a face-lift. Among the changes included, removal of underlines for all website links for both paid and organic searches, a new font style & size, and ads are annotated rather than shaded. While the change has been mainly cosmetic, it does change the visibility of website title tags with only 55 characters now visible.

Local Search

The biggest change this month came from Moz Local (formally GetListed). The enhanced tool offers similar service with more capabilities for local search. Local Search agencies and business owners now have the ability to research where their business appears online, as well as utilize the feature that Moz Local setup to connect Google Places categories to headings/categories of other directory sites. They also offer a list of data aggregators where you can manage your business’ information. These sites include:

  • InfoGroup
  • Neustar Localeze
  • Acxiom
  • Factual
  • Foursquare
  • Superpages
  • Best of the Web Local
  • eLocal

This month we also saw a local-wide update from Google, moving all businesses in the old Google system to the new Google Places dashboard. Google is, also, placing temporary holds on those accounts/businesses that are in violation of terms. Meaning, if a business has duplicate listings, the upgrade may not have fully processed, and Google has most likely sent a request to correct the information in order to complete the upgrade.

With the upgrade, it's important to note that Google no longer allows more than one owner per business location. So, if you've claimed your business in the old dashboard, chances are that it's been upgraded and it's been assigned ownership to whomever claimed it when the listing was first created. Our local team is currently investigating ownership policies and admin access right for listings.

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