Category Archives: Updates

Local Search Results Affected by the Latest Google Pigeon Update

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pigeon update

July 24th, Google released another local search update that has impacted local results. This update is being called Google Pigeon. This update seems to be pretty significant, although it is still very early to tell the actual impact that this has caused local businesses, but it’s definitely something to be monitoring for the next few weeks.

What the SEO Experts Are Saying

According to the article from Search Engine Land, experts are weighing in on what they’ve seen so far with this update. To summarize, this update is amplifying the Hummingbird update which occurred last fall. Arguably, this update is creating a better experience for searchers. Or at least, that’s what Google’s attempting to do.

You will notice when you search for a local business, a lot of big directories show up in the search results (Yelp, Yellowpages, etc.). This is only increasing with this update, which is why this is arguably a better solution. This pushes local, Google verified, businesses down in the SERPs.

Another big thing that marketers are noticing with this update is the loss the of the 7-pack results. It now seems to change to 3-pack results. This leads us marketers to believe this update was geared to combine desktop and mobile search results. The reasoning behind this change would be because Google wants to limit the amount of local results for mobile users since it’s strictly geared to their location. They don’t want 1,000 realtors to show up when searching for a local realtor. Makes sense.

Some Visuals

Here’s what the search results looked like before and during the update.

Below are visuals for the term “tacos” location in Costa Mesa:

Pre-Update

pigeon update search results7/25

pigeon update search results7/27

pigeon update search results7/28

pigeon update search results(Photos courtesy of: searchengineland.com)

You can see how the results are slowly changing. Let’s take a look at the local pack changes.

When searching for chiropractor Rochester MI, the results haven’t changed much. You can see the pack is still visible here which is good for those local businesses:

pigeon local search results

However, when you change chiropractor to realtor, you can see the local results change very dramatically:

realtor pigeon update results(Photo cred to: brownboxbranding.com)

You can see that there aren’t any local business in the results, but only directories like realtor.com. Which leads us to believe that this update is targeting specific industries that Google thinks is spammy.

Who’s Been Affected?

According to Search Engine Land, spammy industries that have been negatively affected and actually first noticed this change are realtors and DUI lawyers. It seems that these verticals have been removed from the pack (see above images). This means the search results are being saturated with directories instead of actual realtors or lawyers.

Large directories like Yelp and Tripadvisor have had slight increases in traffic since these directories are ranking higher than local businesses. Yelp obviously dominating local search for a while now. If you’re not listed on Yelp with a strong reputation, it might be a good time to start.

The question is, how will this affect other industries across the board? We’re going to have to do some real analyzing during the next several weeks to really get dialed in in the potential positive and negative affects this is going to have on all local businesses.

Closing Thoughts

A lot of questions are going to arise with this new local update. Like, “Will these local updates continue to influence directories instead of local businesses?”. If so, “How effective are local citations going to be in the future?”.

Those two primary questions came to mind after seeing the new search results. It seems that Google is continuing to make the pack smaller which doesn’t leverage as much organic visibility for local businesses. Unless, they’re on the large directories and have a strong presence there like Yelp.

In our opinion, we think marketers should not forget about citations, instead focus more on the bigger directories and building a strong presence there; such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google+, etc. It wouldn’t hurt to try.

What are your findings with this Pigeon algorithm update? We’d love to hear what others have experienced so far. Let us know in the comments or email us!

 

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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Vol. 31: A New Site Is On The Way, Panda 4.0 Is Here, Monthly Marketing Blog Roundup

What’s Happening at Eminent SEO

responsive

For months now we have been working on a new site design, content, SEO and mobile development of the Eminent SEO site. It’s almost ready and we can’t wait to share it with you! With the new site launch we will also be launching some other fun surprises. Stay tuned for more!

May Photo A Day: Tech and Gadgets

For the month of May we decided to have a little fun and share some of the coolest tech and gadget products we have found online. We know you love nerd and geek friendly gadgets, so here is a collection of a few of our favorites:

The 4-Port Lego USB Hub is pretty cool and made by the Danish LEGO company:

lego

Breffo Adventure Camera Kit – Introducing the ‘Octopod’ that essentially grips anything with its rubber-coated metal legs whilst attached to your camera via a screw-mount. A handy solution for taking group photos without having to require the help of strangers:

breffo

If you have a Bluetooth, you can have a virtual keyboard made by Brookstone:

bluetooth-keyboard

Wake up in style and start the day with a BANG with the Gun Alarm Clock:

alarm

Can music be touched? Yes, the designer Jackson McConnell made this type of speaker which can show waveform especially for hearing-impaired people to help them enjoy music in a particular way:

speaker

Do you have a favorite tech gadget? Share with us in the comments!

Google’s Latest Update: Panda 4.0

Matt Cutts of Google spoke at the Search Marketing Expo last March and said that Google was working on what would be the newest Panda update. For smaller businesses this might actually be a good thing as Matt said it is a softer and friendlier update for small sites and businesses. Google has been known to rollback drastic algorithm updates that have had a huge impact to website rankings resulting in dramatic losses.

In addition to this update “softening the blow” for smaller websites, it also is said to “lay the groundwork” for future iterations.

matt-cutts

Big sites however still seem to have been negatively impacted and some of them in a HUGE way! For example:

panda

Webpronews.com attempted to provide a comprehensive list of losers and winners, you can check out the full list here.

So, why the losses? Panda is all about the quality of content. Unfortunately some of these giant websites have a slew of user generated, scraped, duplicate or otherwise lower quality content – and that is exactly what Google is targeting.

If you are concerned at all about Google Panda our advice to you is to take a careful look at your existing website content. Is it poorly written, outdated, taken from another website or low quality in general? Yes? Then it is definitely time for a content update.

Marketing Blog Roundup

5 Reasons to Hire a Website Marketing Company
There are a lot more than 5 reasons, but we’ll start there. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider hiring a professional web marketing company to manage your site and online marketing campaigns.

Effective Ways to Market Your Small Business Online
A lot of small business owners don’t have the time, money or know-how to market their business online. Here are some effective ways for you to market a local business online without breaking the bank.

How to Generate Leads Using LinkedIn
LinkedIn can be a powerful marketing tool when used correctly. These tips will help you get started on marketing your business using the growing social network.

5 Ways to Increase Social Media Sharing
If you are writing great content but it’s not getting a lot of visibility, check out this post. By leveraging some of these techniques you can dramatically increase your content social sharing.

Traditional Vs. Digital Brand Marketing
We aren’t here to say traditional marketing is dead, but for many businesses it is slowly fading out. Learn the differences in offline and online marketing and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

See Ya Online!

That’s it for this month’s edition. Can you believe it’s almost June already? Where does the time go?

Until next time, see ya online

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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The Lowdown on Google Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird

We find it ironic that Google has decided to take beautiful, friendly animals names and turn them into scary (sometimes devastating) algorithm updates….

*sigh*

With names like Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird, Google’s clearly showing a pattern. But, the pattern you should be more concerned about is that with each Google update, Google’s is drastically changing the way they serve up web results.

What’s Changed With Hummingbird?

To put it in perspective, Hummingbird is said to be the largest Google algorithm update in a decade.  It affects more than 90% of searches worldwide (according to Search Engine Journal), whereas Penguin affected only around 3%.

Some ways it affects search include:

  • Knowledge Graph is Improved – Knowledge Graph is a database of 570 million objects and 18 billion facts about various people, places, things and how they are connected. This system was designed to increase search relevancy and to give direct answers to searches at the same time.

Now, Knowledge Graph has been extended so that if you search on a query like “Tell me about impressionist artists,” you get to see a complete list of who they are and their famous works.

  • Better Semantic Understanding – “Semantic search” refers to the idea that Google attempts to understand the main concept behind a search query, not just find the exact words or variations thereof that a searcher typed in. Hummingbird is a leap forward in Google’s ability to understand what a searcher is really looking for.

Practically speaking, if you do a search on “the nearest restaurant in Los Angeles,” the Google of old would have returned results matching “restaurant” and “Los Angeles.”  However, the new Google knows that what you’re really looking for is a restaurant close by. So, instead, it’s going to return a result for a restaurant in Los Angeles that actually is nearby. And, it’s going to let you know exactly how far away that restaurant is.

Hummingbird Is Really All About Mobile Searching

In large part, Hummingbird is all about one current drastic change in search: the increase in mobile searches.

The mobile search page is now much simpler, optimized for touch navigation and results are now clustered on cards which makes it easier for mobile searchers to focus and click on them. It’s also no coincidence that when announcing these new updates, Google did so using mobile technology to illustrate their point.

Finally, mobile searchers are more likely to use voice search to ask questions, so it’s timely that Hummingbird focuses on understanding those questions and providing all the information necessary to answer the question.

What Should Businesses And SEOs Focus On With Hummingbird?

Now, more than ever and especially as search continues to evolve, it’s critical for businesses to identify their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and build content focused on long-tail keywords that answers their customer’s primary questions and concerns.

Oh, and don’t forget about variations…. “restaurant” might be interpreted as “diner”, “café”, or “food” even.

If historically you have done well with a specific keyword, consider expanding your targets into similar variations. Just because your website is optimized for “restaurant” and that is your top keyword phrase that doesn’t mean that in the future you might lose out to competitors who have done a better job including “restaurant” keyword variations.

Get creative. Know your audience and expand your content and offers.

The sites that can implement this strategy now will end up with the best organic traffic in the future.

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Tuesday Is Password Day

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May 7 Password Day

I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve had a new client come to me that has handed over their logins (user names and passwords) for their social sites and website and the passwords are super generic or even guessable based on some basic info I can either Google about the company or the owner.

90% of passwords are hackable

image source: Intel.com

Tuesday, May 7 – is Password Day. lntel has provided a tool that can help you find out if your password is hackable or uncrackable. After I took the tool for a spin looks like I’m guilty of having a hackable password and would take someone roughly 2 hours to crack my password.

I think one of the biggest pieces of advice that Intel provides about picking a password that is going to take some time to adapt to, is moving away from just one password.

Take a peek at the, How Strong is Your Password? tool page – and let us know in the comments below – are you hackable or uncrackable?

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Organic Link Building Post Penguin

Penguin taking a leap of faith

With the Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates there is a lot of question as to what is going to be an effective strategy for organic marketing moving forward. Let’s just clear this up right now. Links are more important than ever before – but the right kind of links.

It’s not about volume, it’s not about high PR, it’s not even just about quality – it’s about what appears to be the most natural OVERALL link strategy. What does this mean? Let me break it down for you:

  • Only all higher PR, authority links in your backlink index looks unnatural.
  • If no one is talking about your website socially, but lots of websites are linking to you, this looks unnatural.
  • If no one is reviewing your site, mentioning your business name, but linking to you with a “keyword” as the anchor text, this looks unnatural.
  • If too many people are linking to you with specific keywords that have higher search volume in your specific vertical, this looks unnatural.

Yes, Google has changed their algorithms – but people have changed the way they use the internet too. People live on Facebook, they share like crazy on Pinterest, they rant on Twitter, they comment on their favorite blogs… people are more social than ever before and they naturally share, link to, comment on and “like” what they see on their favorite sites.

You still need to have a solid keyword strategy. You still need to have a properly optimized website. You still need fresh, quality content. You still need to optimize your website for a great user experience. You still need to build a great navigation for better indexing. You still need to have a site that loads quickly…. You get my point…

BUT, without a good linking strategy, you shouldn’t expect any organic rankings with Google, Yahoo or Bing.

So now what?

Get links. But, get the “right links”.  Of course this requires strategic planning that can expert link building team that can properly execute the plan. However, here are some things you should consider:

  • Social – Google +, Facebook, Twitter, etc
  • Video – YouTube, Vimeo, etc
  • Dedicated Blogging – Links from “SEO Friendly” blogs that talk about you in their blog copy
  • High End Press Releases – Quality, newsworthy content – submitted to the RIGHT places
  • Local – Maps, directories, local business review sites, etc
  • Authority Websites – News sites, relevant sites in your industry that have trust with Google, etc

Of course you also have to consider HOW you place your links, not just WHERE. Too many anchor text links looks artificial. So, you have to focus on your brand, your website URL, reference links, business citations and variations of your root target phrases. If you already have too many links for any one keyword, you have probably already hit the radar and you should avoid getting more anchor text links in the future and focus primarily on your brand and variations of your website URL.

Lastly (but not least-ly *ha*)– consider link velocity. Sure, great content, announcements and website specials can create a bump in linking, but overall Google is looking at the link trends and if you have too many links coming in all at once followed by no links for a long time, this does look artificial. You want a link trend that can be trusted over time. Slow and steady wins the race here.

Looking for a post Penguin Marketing Package? Gimme a call: 800.871.4130 ex 1 – We have you covered.

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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A Roundup: Google Panda and Penguin Algorithm Updates and What To Do Next!

I have been reading and reading and reading until I thought my mind would explode. About what? The Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates of course! So, rather than bombard you with 100 plus good blog posts to read, I thought I would recap my findings and share some personal thoughts…

Wondering what the heck am I talking about?

Read on…. It looks long, but I’ll make it worth your time.

What is an algorithm update?

When you use Google to search for something on the web, you are basically asking Google to serve you up the best, most relevant information on the subject you are searching for. When you use Google Search, your results are pulled from the algorithm Google created to calculate which web pages should be served up based off of relevancy and quality criteria.

Every so often Google updates their algorithm which changes the way they evaluate websites and calculate where these sites should rank organically in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

What is the Google Panda update?

The Google Panda update was first released in February 2011. The update aimed to lower the ranking of “low quality sites” and in turn raise the rankings of higher quality sites. It was said to only affect 12% of all search results, but as Panda 2 and 3 (I think we are at 3.3 now?) rolled out even more tweaks, many website across the web have been significantly impacted by this update.

So Google Panda targeted LOW QUALITY websites.

So, what does this mean to you?

Google used human quality testers who rated websites based on measures of quality including: design, trustworthiness, speed and even whether or not they would return to the website…. If you had a lot of ads on your pages, your content was lacking, your design was outdated or not user friendly – your site may have been flagged as “low quality” and therefore hit by THE PANDA.

However, as mentioned in a previous Panda and Penguin post by Kirstin Douglas here – just because your site lost some rankings doesn’t mean your site was penalized! Many, many other sites across the web were hit – particularly blog networks. If your backlink index contained links from these sources, they could have been hit and you are simply suffering from the loss in backlinks.

What is the Google Penguin update?

The Google Penguin update was first called the “over optimization filter” by Matt Cutts, then the webspam algorithm before finally being formally named the Penguin Update by Google. This update was first thought to be yet another version of Panda – but now we know it is its own animal (hardy har, I know). Having only rolled out this month (April 2012) there is still a lot of speculation as to what exactly this update impacts.

What we do know? Google Penguin targeted SPAM and OVER OPTIMIZATION (via what they consider “spammy”).


So, what does this mean to you?

If your rankings dropped this month, forget Panda – you might have been hit by THE PENGUIN! Unlike Panda, Google did release a list of questions that webmasters should ask themselves in order to ensure they are following the Google quality guidelines.

This awesome post from Webpronews lists them verbatim along with some additional thoughts for the areas that are still pretty grey:

There are 8 “specific guidelines”. They are (verbatim):

1. Avoid hidden text or hidden links.

2. Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.

3. Don’t send automated queries to Google.

4. Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.

5. Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.

6. Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.

7. Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

8. If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

Some of them are more black and white than others. For example, avoiding hidden text or hidden links seems like a pretty obvious thing. Just don’t do it. The duplicate content one is a little different. What does Google consider “substantially duplicate content”? How much is too much?

Beyond the specific guidelines, Google also lists 4 “basic principles”. These are:

1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

2. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

3. Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

4. Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

Google provides plenty more guidelines and elaboration on the quality guidelines in its help center.

Of course, none of this is new. It’s just that now Google has a better way to enforce them (or at least, it hopes it does).

END quote from WebProNews.com.

WHOA.

So, now what?

Run out and remove low quality links? Get rid of keyword stuffing and bad content? If I “fix” everything list above Google will automatically rank me again, right? Maybe… maybe not. Google has made a TON of algorithm changes in the last few months and they don’t appear to be stopping any time soon. Besides, do you know if you were hit by Panda or Penguin or hey, maybe you were one of the ones hit by the Google mistake parked domain classifier issue… ?

Of course you should do your best to follow the Google quality guidelines and PLEASE don’t use black hat spam (and if you were still using black hat spammy techniques, such as cloaking, you kinda deserve to be penalized, just sayin). AND, clearly make your website a great, quality site built for your USERS with awesome content (images, videos, design, function, speed, etc).

There is HOPE, keep reading…

No, SEO isn’t dead. Yes, there are still effective marketing techniques to get your site found again.

If you have been hit by Panda/Penguin, even if you have done everything you can do fix the issues – don’t expect to see your lost rankings recover over night. Google has come right out and said that the penalties are the effects of an algorithm change – so even if a human looked at your site, it takes spiders (not humans) to bring the rankings back up again. The best advice I can give is to be patient, carefully evaluate your current standings and make educated decisions. Getting too excited and making a ton of changes can create other issues. If your site is quality and deserves rankings – it CAN rank again. KEEP IN MIND, if you were marketing your site via SEO techniques before, your marketing is likely what helped you achieve your rankings in the first place. So, if you fix your issues you may no longer be “penalized” but that doesn’t mean you will rank again without continuing to market your website.

Don’t have time to wait for rankings to change?

Not sure what to do next?

Give us a call at 1.800.871.4130.

We are happy to do a discount website audit for anyone recently hit and help you come up with a strategic plan to get your site in order, diversify your long term marketing plans and help you supplement your organic traffic loss with other marketing techniques while we work on fixing your website issues.

Remember, Google is only ONE way to get traffic to your website…

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Understanding the Penguin and Panda Updates

Google and their algorithms have people jumping out of their seats and scrambling to fix the penalty warnings they received from Google Webmaster tools. But receiving one of these doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem. According to SearchEngineLand “Google might no longer be letting the traffic from the link networks you were in carry weight. You’re not penalized. You’re just not benefiting any longer…Getting a warning doesn’t necessarily mean you got a penalty, it seems.”

All that was in preparation for the release of the Penguin Update (designed to combat Spam) launched April 24th… along with its pal Panda Update 3.5 (designed not to combat SPAM but poor quality pages) – everyone is freaking out. Now that Penguin is fully live, sites are able to determined how much they were affected by this update. If you saw a decrease as early as a few days before the actual launch date then you were hit, if you have seen an increase you benefited from this update – and obviously see no change? It didn’t affect you. Currently, there is no way to determine if Penguin did affect you other than running a search and seeing if you disappeared completely.

To those of you who were affected, you can submit a reconsideration request, however according to Google since this is an algorithm change, all penalties were issued automatically from the system and not by a human. Because of this Google says that a reconsideration request won’t actually help nor will they be considering any of these – only fixing the issues will.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Google lets you Block Websites and Contribute to Panda

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Now you can be a part of the Panda updates by blocking websites that provide less than useful information. The best part is it’s easy to do, all you have to do is log into your Google account and start looking up whatever your heart desires.

Once you have checked out a link and decide that the content on there was irrelevant, unhelpful  – you hit the back button, right? Now once back on the search results page something amazing has happened, a note has appeared beneath or next to the link:

 

 

Once clicked, like magic Google removes all the links that came from that domain and now your search is that much more relevant to what you were looking for. OOPS! Chose the wrong link? No problem, click ‘undo’ and you are good to go.

Now this super power hasn’t been around for very long, only since March, and it wasn’t until Panda’s global roll out that Google began looking at this blocked data as well as their Chrome  Personal Blocklist extension as useful tool.

This has not rolled out to non-U.S. websites, but keep your eyes open for a new ‘experiment’ in the near future.