Google Penguin 2.0
The new version of Penguin that has been forecasted for some time finally took effect on May 22. The new version of the update originally released last year is said to be a “deeper dive” into webspam commonly found on some websites.
Penguin 2.0 did not have as much of an impact as what some webmasters were expecting. A poll done by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Round Table shows roughly 43% of webmasters who contributed as being hit by the new version of Penguin.
The consensus in the SEO community is that if you have been paying attention to warnings and conducting white hat practices then the new update was not harmful
Stricter Rules for Paid Links
There has been more trending of Google targeting link networks/blog networks across the Internet. In a video released earlier this month, Matt Cutts stated that any paid links should be no-followed and clearly labeled as such. Clearly labeling links that have been bought includes both coding (no follow) and for users (disclaimer).
Elimination of Host Crowding
In an effort to clean up their SERPs, Google has released more sophisticated result filters to eliminate domain crowding. What that means is that search result pages will be limited to one URL per domain for a search query.
While the update is aimed primarily to improve user experience, there is a ripple effect for SEO by freeing up real estate in the top pages of search results.
New Structured Data Markup Helper Tool
Google released a new helper tool for webmasters to help fine-tune the already useful schema markup. While webmasters can designate schema within the code of a website, using the tool is thought to be advantageous to some webmasters.
By using the tool you are taking full advantage of schema opportunities while at the same time making sure it is completed correctly in a way that is easily crawled by Google.
Matt Cutts Recommends Severing All Ties
Matt Cutts has finally come out and stated that the disavow links tool should be used generously where it is appropriate. Rather than going through each link from a website to find the ones that are “questionable” he recommends disavowing site-wide links.
Bing Search Update May 22
Some webmasters noticed a change in the Bing results on May 22nd, the same day that Google Penguin 2.0 was released. Many people believe it was coincidental, others think there was also a Bing update released that day.
Local Search Updates
No Additional Local Results
Google Maps is no longer offering users the option for “additional local results”. It used to be you could click on a link showing a more comprehensive list of local businesses.
New Interactive Google Maps
Google Maps is now more interactive with easier access to integrate the Google+ social platform into the Google Maps experience. The new interface is available by invitation only, which has to be requested through a Google+ account.
Move Reviews to New Listing
Google announced a new feature in Google+ for Business that allows business owners to migrate their user reviews if they have to create a new listing. This is a huge step for streamlining the process of optimizing a Google listing. In the past there have been issues with consolidating multiple listings and keeping the user ratings and reviews left by loyal customers.
Business Rating Back to 5 Star System
Google+ for Business has announced that they are returning to a 5-star rating system for businesses. The change is being welcomed by many business owners who felt the point rating system was less noticeable and less liked by users
More Details About Google Listing Setup
In an FAQ on Google Business Help Jade W from Google answered some common questions posed about Google+ for business reviews. The FAQ is a helpful resource for new listings verified on Google Plus.