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Google’s Mobile Search Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Google-Update-Header-Graphic_v2

Move over Penguin and Panda, here comes – you heard it here first – Manatee!

Well, maybe not. But your mobile web presence should be prepared for something big.

Last November, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time, according to IBM.  And nearly 28% of all online sales came from mobile devices.

Is your website optimized for mobile and ready for Google’s next update?  While there’s no appropriate animal moniker for the update yet, this one will likely have more of an impact than Panda or Penguin. And it’s only impacting the mobile results.

Google’s official announcement:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

What you need to know:

  • The algorithmic change will take effect on April 21st.
  • This affects organic searches that are performed from a mobile device.
  • The algorithm changes will focus on a number of key areas, including rewarding sites with text that can be read without the need to zoom and appropriately sized content that eliminates the need to scroll.
  • This is at the page level, so pages will get promoted for being “mobile-friendly”.
  • Google has created a Mobile-Friendliness tool that will give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer on a per-url basis.
  • If a mobile search query is highly correlated with mobile app listings (in the Google Play and iOS App Stores), your app could see significantly more visibility within mobile search results pages.
  • Google has expanded the types of information that they scrape and pull from a site, especially in mobile. Whenever you see a little grey ‘i’ in the upper right hand corner of a mobile search result, it means that Google is probably getting a small portion of any related transaction.

How much traffic do you get from mobile?

The image below shows us how much organic traffic is coming from a mobile device. Then go to Audience > Mobile > Overview > Secondary Dimension drop down > choose Source / Medium.

MobileGoogleArticle-AnalyticsMoz believes that Google will launch a new mobile crawler (probably with an Android user-agent) that can do a better job of crawling single-page web apps, Android apps, and perhaps even Deep Links in iOS apps.

How much will it affect your traffic?

Here’s what Google has to say about it (full story here):

“The mobile-friendly algorithm is an on or off algorithm, on a page-by-page basis, but it is not about how mobile-friendly your pages are, it is simply are you mobile-friendly or not.

But as we mentioned earlier, there are over 200 different factors that determine ranking so we can’t just give you a yes or no answer with this. It depends on all the other attributes of your site, whether it is providing a great user experience or not. That is the same with desktop search, not isolated with mobile search.”

Here are some helpful steps to test your site’s mobile capacity:

  1. View your site on various mobile devices including Apple & Samsung.
  2. Review if the links and buttons on your mobile device are large and easy to find, and spaced properly from other elements of the site.
  3. Evaluate page load time. Limit the number of images.
  4. Test your eCommerce, mobile checkout.  It will convert more if you keep your number of clicks down.  If you have a small e-commerce site that processes payments with PayPal, also consider using Amazon Payments (or an API w/ PayPal) which allows customers to login with Amazon and pay with Amazon while never navigating away from your website.
  5. Show the most important & relevant content.  Content is not necessarily king, when it comes to mobile. Pair it down to the most important information. Make sure to insert a button on the bottom right that allows mobile users to go back to the top of the page instantly.
  6. Make sure there is a visible click-to-call button.  These buttons are designed to call the number, when clicked on a mobile device.
  7. Make the content, products and/or services on mobile sharable: Optimizing for social sharing standards is key.

SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) are changing all the time. Knowledge graph has jumped from 17% to 27% of Google’s queries, according to Moz’s Dr. Pete Meyers.

“Google is essentially competing against us with our own information, and I think that’s a turning point in the relationship between Google and webmasters.” -Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

Don’t risk a continued drop in rankings, make sure your site is engaging, creative, optimized and mobile friendly.

Make sure your mobile site is nimble and a hell of a lot faster than a manatee.

Google is taking a mobile first mentality. Get on the same page.

We can help.

The Plus in Google is a Plus for Search

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Back in the old days (the 90s), there were about 20 different search engines, and it wasn’t all that difficult to rank a website.  Oh, how times have changed. Now, because of the massive increase in people on the web and the technological advances and advent of social media, there are numerous factors to consider when trying to rank on the Internet.thumb---google+_infographic

The only thing that’s certain in life – and in Google search results – is change.

Owned by one of the most powerful brands in the world, Google Plus is the second largest social network, after Facebook.  Or, as it likes to describe itself, this “Social Layer” enhances your other online properties and helps build an excellent reader base for your content.

In other words, Google Plus is not just a social networking site but it can give good results in search. When you think about posting on Google Plus, you should think about how it relates to your search efforts.

Alternatively, Facebook is more and more controlling who sees our posts, our interactions and the engagement of potential customers. With Google Plus, there’s more potential to control your own destiny.

Google Plus is a social platform that connects all of Google’s services together. Google+ is a content marketing machine. It’s also a social network.Google Plus + Infographic

Many businesses are utilizing the awesome features on the network. Your business’s activity on Google+ is tied to your website, your Maps listing and your YouTube channel.
And it’s also a very visual platform. The tools and features within Google+ make it an ideal platform for local businesses and companies using visual content.

It recently reached more than 2 billion registered user accounts, according to Greg Miernicki.

You can create a live hang out with friends or customers easily and it works similarly to a TV live broadcast.

What are some of the basics to get you started?

  1. Start with a Google+ personal profile and then create your business page from there (similar to Facebook).
  2. Follow people & brands. Follow people and pages that are interesting to you.
  3. Look at your settings. To keep on top of a conversation, adjust your settings to receive a notification every time someone makes a new contribution.
  4. Be human. Be helpful.
  5. Join a few “Communities”. These are places where like-minded people seek help & find vibrant discussion around specific topics. Here, you can humanize your brand.
  6. Check out CircleCount. It gives great analytics and is a fantastic discovery tool.

As of Dec. 3rd, you can pin a post to the top of your Google + profile or business page. To pin a particular post, open the drop down menu on any public post. When someone visits your page, they’ll see the pinned content first above the rest of your posts.

Google+ and social media on a whole is an opportunity to elevate a conversation, foster community and expands offline activities into not only a vibrant online space, but a vibrant and successful business.

Google Launches New Pigeon Update

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Google recently pushed out a new algorithm update for local search, which Search Engine Land dubbed the “Pigeon” update.

Why “Pigeon”?

Depending on how your site has been affected and your recent SEO efforts (or lack thereof), some might argue it’s the proverbial kaka that you may have to deal with in the local search results.

But more likely, it’s based on the heart of Google’s search technology, PigeonRank™, a system for ranking web pages developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. PigeonRank’s success relies primarily on the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon used for thousands of years to carry brief written messages.

But, I digress.

Google confirmed that the update started to roll out on July 24th for US English results. The aim of the update is to provide a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results, with enhanced distance and location ranking parameters. Google also said there were relevancy improvements to distance and location ranking. And unlike Penguin and Panda updates, this is not a penalty-based update, but a core change to the local search ranking algorithm.

  • Local listing packs disappear for a large number of keywords
  • Local rankings are expected to depend more on website authority
  • Local carousel stays as a way to gain extra exposure

Google Pigeon UpdateSEO expert, Mike Blumenthal, noted that 7-local listing packs have disappeared, many real estate related searches have dropped out, while SEO and web design local packs are back after being dropped in 2009.

Search Engine Land reported that the Pigeon update solved Google’s “Yelp problem”:

It looks like Yelp and other local directory-style sites are benefiting with higher visibility after the Pigeon update, at least in some verticals. And that seems logical since, as Google said, this update ties local results more closely to standard web ranking signals. That should benefit big directory sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor — sites that have stronger SEO signals than small, individual restaurants and hotels are likely to have.

In a sense, this update has reduced organic duplicate results, and while the overarching impact is still unclear, there’s speculation that Google is attempting to better align desktop and mobile results.

The assumption of local intent has now been dialed back in a number of cases, so local companies that were experiencing good local pack rankings – despite having a poor SEO website presence – will likely have to step up their game.

Tips:

1.    Create a Google+ Local page for your local business so that you’re included in Google’s local index.
2.    Use a local area code on your Google+ Local page. It should match the area codes traditionally associated with your city.
3.    Make sure the website URL, name, address and phone number of your business match your Google Places/Google+ Local page. Google cross references this to verify everything matches.
4.    City or state should be included in your website’s title tags.

One could speculate that Google *might* be doing what another web powerhouse did recently, working out to their financial benefit. Facebook just experience its biggest financial quarter to date. Did Google just pull a “Facebook”?

Time will tell, but let’s hope not.

Someone once said (attributed to Scott Adams but most likely originated elsewhere), “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days the statue.”  Keep up with your site’s SEO, local search and updates to make sure you don’t get – you guessed it – pigeon-holed.

Local Internet marketing firms join forces

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Today, Graphtek Interactive – a leader in Web development, online technology implementation and creative services announced that it has joined forces with Globally Locally – a longstanding leader in targeted local search advertising. This strategic alliance will provide highly cost-effective, single-source online marketing solutions for small to medium-sized companies who are looking to increase profitability and… (read more)