Google Giveth & Google Taketh Away Author Icons

Google Author Icons Gone Google recently announced they'd be removing a major element from their search engine results pages (SERPs) that they've been featuring for the past couple of years: author icons. Since this is something we Local Marketers have enthusiastically encouraged, what does this mean for businesses now? Should you still incorporate authorship markup? Here's the skinny from my POV. Reversals in Google development are nothing new, of course. Google seems to take one or two steps forward and then a step back multiple times in a period of only a few years. Remember Google Labs? Remember Google Hotp [...]

Leaked Documents Show How Yelp Thinks It’s Not Getting Screwed By Google

yelp-logo-featured Yelp may once again feel Google is robbing it of its fair share of search traffic, with a study that's been leaked to TechCrunch to prove it. A close read of that study actually shows that it proves the opposite -- or at least, that it's certainly not as damning as it sounds. Leaked Documents Show How Yelp Thinks It’s Getting Screwed By Google is the story over at TechCrunch out today with the study. I've taken my own headline from that to do this contrarian view. Let me say from the start that Google does a lot of things that I think puts it in conflict with publishers. How Google We [...]

The Feature Google Killed The + Command For — Direct Connect — Is Now Dead

google-plus-signs-600 Cast your mind back to November 2011, only a few months after the launch of Google+. That's when Google made one of its biggest Google+ification moves. It demoted a long-standing search feature involving the plus symbol so that searchers could instead more easily reach new "Google+ Pages" that had been launched. Today, this "Direct Connect" feature is forgotten and broken. How Direct Connect Worked When Direct Connect launched, Google promised that people could go directly to popular pages on Google+ by beginning their searches with a + sign followed by a few characters of the page's name. F [...]

Google Knowledge Graph Adds Phone Numbers With Hangout Integration

google-click-phone-knowledge Now, if you search for your favorite local restaurant, bar, business and the like on Google; Google may show you a phone number in the knowledge graph top box that is clickable. When you click the phone number, it will dynamically open up Google Hangouts and let you dial them via your computer to make a reservation, appointment or a complaint. Here is an example of a popular kosher steakhouse in New York City. I searched for the name of the restaurant and added phone to the query. Google gave me this large box with their number: Clicking on it launches Hangouts: Then it will a [...]

New: Connect Your Google+ Business Page To Your Google Maps Listing

google-local-places-featured Google has now enabled those with Google+ business pages to connect their page to their local business listing on Google Maps. On the help page Google gives detailed directions on how to connect your Google+ business page to your Google Maps verified listing. This process will connect your current page to Google Maps and apply the business information, including the business address, the Google Maps reviews, business hours and more from Google Maps to your page. The followers, posts, and managers of your page will be retained. Many businesses have a few Google+ pages listed in their [...]

Where SEM Is Concerned, Google+ Appears To Be Alive And Well

google-plus-featured Last week saw a flurry of speculation on the future of Google+ after the head of Google+, Vic Gundotra, announced his departure. The question raised most often is whether Google+ is going away. Although some are reporting that G+ will kill the product side, the platform (in terms of data collection and unique user sign-ins) is sure to stay -- but in what capacity? Several recent changes to Google+ (which don't indicate a dying or ignored product) either have SEM significance or indicate an effort to make G+ more integral to Google's advertising products. Move away from the idea of Goo [...]

Content Free: 25 Percent Of Google+ Reviews Are “Empty”

online-reviews-featured Investment firm Piper Jaffray has started tracking and comparing Google+ and Yelp reviews. For its inaugural report, the firm looked at a "snapshot of 950 places in 20 major cities" and compared review counts and depth across categories. The firm says it will continue to do so on a weekly basis going forward. Yelp holds a significant lead in coverage and review counts according to the report (embedded below). The main findings reveal some interesting things: Yelp has an average of 142 reviews per location; Google+ averages 69 reviews Out of 950 places examined in the report, Google [...]

Does Google’s Review Count Inflation Give Them An Unfair Advantage In Local Search?

online-reviews-featured We all know that monitoring online reviews is important for online marketing; but lately, it seems that not all reviews are created equal. In fact, Google+ Local reviews may have a greater impact than others on your online marketing effectiveness. According to Searchmetrics' analysis of SEO ranking factors in 2013, Google+ had the highest correlated effect on search rankings for Google UK. A 2013 study from Now Digital Marketing Works took it one step further, reporting that Google+ reviews are the most important factor when it comes to inclusion and ranking in the Carousel. While some c [...]

Starbucks & The Economist Admit To Using Google+ For SEO More Than Social

google-plus-featured Last Friday, a New York Times report on Google+ spotlighted Starbucks and The Economist as two brands currently using Google+ to impact search efforts. Alex Wheeler, Starbuck's vice president of global digital marketing, told The New York Times, "When we think about posting on Google+, we think about how does it relate to our search efforts." According to the The New York Times report, Starbucks has only three million Google+ followers compared to its Facebook page's 36 million Likes. The New York Times says Starbucks, "Updates its Google+ page for the sake of good search placement, and ta [...]

Google Debuts +Post Ads: Lets Brands Turn Google+ Content Into Ads On GDN

google-plus-logo Google has introduced its first monetization effort for its social networking platform, Google+. Rather than running ads directly within the platform, Google has announced a new ad unit called +Post ads, which allow brands to turn their Google+ content into expandable display ads. Those ads can then run across the Google Display Network. Brands can re-purpose pictures, videos, Hangouts and turn them into display ads within the Google+ interface. The ads are distributed on the Google Display Network, which claims over 2 million web sites Below is an example of a +Post ad from Toyota, an e [...]

How Google Plus Profiles & Pages Gain Search Authority

google-plus-featured At SMX East this past October, I gave a presentation titled, "Putting the SEO Power of Google+ to Work." The centerpiece of that presentation was a first peek at a study I'd conducted that seemed to confirm my hypothesis that Google+ profiles and pages gain authority for ranking in Google Search (and elsewhere in Google, as you'll see below) in much the same way regular Web pages do. In this article, I'm going to expand upon that presentation and lay out the full case. Profile Ranking Mysteries: A Personal Case Study I've been active on Google+ since its third day. Thanks to relationships [...]

What Everybody Missed About Hummingbird: Social Signals

google-plusone-featured Danny Sullivan joined me for a live broadcast event via a Hangout on Air (HOA) this past Halloween, and this included a major revelation about Hummingbird and Social signals. Scott Scowcroft has done an awesome job of extracting this part of the broadcast into a short, 5-minute HOA Nugget video (aka "The Scott Treatment") for me, and you can watch it here: [youtube][/youtube] To summarize, it appears that Google previously had major technical limitations with regard to the use of social signals as a ranking factor. With Hummingbird, Google now ha [...]

Google+ Discontinuing Saved Search, Asks You To Bookmark Searches Instead

google+saves-searches Google is quietly disabling the saved searches feature within Google+. For example, I have saved searches in Google+ for pictures that match the term [google] but now when you access it via the Google+ Circles drop down menu, Google returns a notice that reads: Saved searches are going away. Bookmark this page on your browser to save your Google+ search for later. Google then links you to a page that explains how to use bookmarks. This is not a major show stopper for me, but I assume Google wants to clean up the Google+ circles drop down menu. You can access any existing saved s [...]

Top Social Tactics For Search Marketers

SMX East - Up Close Logo When it comes down to social’s impact on search, it all comes down to three things: Trust, credibility and quality. This was a common theme throughout the Top Social Tactics for Search Marketers session at SMX East. As Google continues to penalize links, and search marketers shift away from traditional link building tactics, social is fast becoming the trustworthy and credible way to obtain quality links. Moreso, it’s a fantastic way to build brands, both personal and business. Finding Your Influencers Debra Mastaler kicked off the session with some great tips around influence [...]

Google Launches Hashtag Search, Shows Google+ Posts On Search Results Page

Google logo The integration of Google+ across Google properties continues in a big way today with the launch of hashtag search. Simply put, if you search Google for a hashtag, you might see Google+ posts using that hashtag to the right of the regular search results. Google's Zaheed Sabur announced the new feature this morning on Google+, saying that it's available initially for English language searches on both and The only posts that will show up on Google searches are those that were shared publicly, or shared with you (if you're a Google+ user). Clicking on one of the Goo [...]

Demystifying Link Disavowals, Penalties & More

disavow-links-featured [caption id="attachment_169618" align="alignright" width="269"] Google Webmaster Hangout[/caption] Findings from a recent Google Webmaster Hangout on Air (video) demystify link disavowals, penalties and more. Read on for the official word from John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google and friend to webmasters everywhere. First, Some Background Last month, I introduced Five Steps To Clean Up Your Links like A Techie. The commenters on the post had a lot of good questions, and I wanted to begin this month with a few clarifications. First, the development of that list was meant [...]

You’re Dead… If You Don’t Integrate Social Media & PR Into Your Local SEO Strategy

The peppered moth (Biston betularia), once white with black spots, faced a strange challenge in London during the Industrial Revolution. Buildings and trees, stained with soot, turned black. The light colored moths could no longer hide against this backdrop, and were eaten up by birds. But some peppered moths survived -- by turning black themselves! To survive, you must adapt and change with your environment. Otherwise, you're dead. That's the powerful lesson business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs can learn from a humble moth. The Times, They Are A-Changin' A major shift has tak [...]

“My Photos” — Google Now Lets Find Your Google+ Photos Within Search

google+photos Google now lets you search your private photos and the photos your friends on Google+ share with you. All you need to do is search on Google for keywords such as [my photos] or [my photos sunset] to bring up matching photos. You can even search for your friend's photos such as [danny's photos sunset] or [matt’s photos of food]. Note, Google explains that they use "computer vision and machine learning to help recognize more general concepts in your photos such as sunsets, food and flowers." So this appears like it will get better over time, as it is used more and more by searchers. [...]

Google Rewards App Developers Using Google+ Sign-In With Better Visibility On Google Search

Google+-App-Search What are the most popular activities done or content consumed by apps? Google's now bringing that information to its search results, assuming the app developer makes use of Google+ Sign-In, that is. Google+ Sign-in was launched in February as an easy way to let anyone sign into a site or app using a Google+ account. Now, apps that make use of the service will have popular activity or uses done within their apps shown in Google Search. These results will be front and center on the search engine results pages and are built to save clicks by highlighting popular content consumed within [...]

Google Downplays Google+ With Updated Authorship Snippet?

google-authorship-new-1366893396 Google has quietly changed the user interface for how they display the authorship snippet in the search results. The largest difference is that they removed the "more by" link that linked to additional stories written by that author. The other changes include that now clicking on the author's image and name will take you to a similar result set that you would have seen if you clicked on the old "more by" author link. I believe the author image and name use to take you to that author's Google+ page, when available. Now, the only way to get to the Google+ page of the author is to click o [...]

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