Keeping up with the updates
Earlier this year, Google began making its transition from an old, dated local listing page known as “Google Places” and moved over to the new, social-integrated “Google Plus Business” or Google+ Local page. After three months, we were finally able to decipher that these are virtually the same thing - well, aside from the kick-ass new dashboard and the added feature of posting socially to Google Plus.
Still, businesses are wondering what the benefit maybe to upgrading to the Google Plus Business page - even if it’s for the social integration. What good will it do? There are few bonus features in Google+ Local that can help accomplish the ultimate goal of ranking for your specific keyword targets.
Although most businesses are aware that the new Google+ Local dashboard allows for descriptions longer than 200 characters, what’s great about this is it gives local search experts and business owners the capability of adding social links in the description. This can highly increase CTR (click-through-rates), especially for mobile usability. It’s also been stated that using the social functionality of Google+ Local and adding the regular descriptions, photos and keyword categories will affect the Local Carousel that is slowly rolling out to Google Maps.
But what’s most important right now is Google’s attempt at initializing an auto-merge for its Google+ Page. Meaning, if you wait, your dashboard will be upgraded automatically -- so you, too, will be able to have the social presence and video capabilities of Google+. This may lead to the bigger picture: Google is attempting to create an integrated system where all listing management can occur from within the Places Dashboard. We’re just not sure when this update will be complete, but we’re noticing subtle changes now. So whether you decide to upgrade now, or later, the change will eventually happen.
Google Hummingbird update affecting local search?
We have found that it has affected some of the local search results. For example, our SEO market in Denver has seen one of its first bugs that is most likely linked to Google’s Hummingbird update. We’ve discovered that “Denver SEO” keyword is triggering something called the local one-boxes. Meaning, when searching for term “Denver SEO” you’ll see that only one business in particular is showing up for that search result, without the 7-pack listing.
There’s been a few concerns from our clients regarding this bug, but we’re guessing that Google will have this issue fixed soon. Which leads us to our next point: What is Google’s new Hummingbird update?
As mentioned previously, September in SEO has seen the biggest update so far: Hummingbird. 51Blocks is getting familiar with the new search algorithm that Google initialized about a month ago, though they only announced it last week.
What is Hummingbird?
It’s Google’s newest search algorithm. In other words, it’s the coding that Google uses to to sift through billions of web pages to return the ones that most appropriately match the search. Google uses a variety of “success factors” in determining which web pages signal the best results for that search.
The good news is, most SEO practices (if they’re done well) are upholding with the new release of Hummingbird.
What has changed?
You may remember that Google rolled out its new Panda and Penguin updates a couple of months ago. Did those just go away? No. Google has kept most of the “equations” that went into developing their search algorithm -- particularly the ones that are functioning perfectly, like Panda and Penguin, among others. In fact, Google says Hummingbird is a “new engine built on both existing and new parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today”.
However, there are some change aspects in the new algorithm. Particularly, conversational search. Most people are using this feature from mobile device, so Google is now allowing a way for people to find more useful search results when having a conversation -- rather than seeking out keywords to identify. In other words, Hummingbird should focus on the complete meaning of a sentence, and each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query is taken into account.
The new update also aims in providing the data more concisely to allow people not to navigate to another website to find more information. The changes mainly affect the ‘Knowledge Graph’, which is a box that appears on top other search results. In particular, the new version will be able to compare a searchers interests and location. The problem with this reshuffle, a new way in identifying interests and location, is that is causing internet traffic to skew dramatically. So, many pages’ rank have fallen or risen in recommendations.
In all, Hummingbird has completely replaces Google last algorithm from 2009, “Caffeine”. Although it still much the same as the last, Hummingbird has also added the ability to more quickly parse full questions, instead of word-by-word. This is huge for the modern-era of smartphones and query searches. There are a few bugs affecting a few local search results that are currently being evaluated and improved.