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Google Local Icons & New Real Estate Snippets Spotted

August 12th, 2014

As Google morphs SERP design from desktop to mobile, it appears that it has decided that reading words is perhaps too much to ask of our educationally-challenged fellow users. And so it is now testing icons in the mobile results as shown below:

Google Local Icons

I guess it’s easier to click on a cute picture than try to read text while you’re driving right?

Rivers Pearce of Boomtown ROI just sent me this screenshot. It’s from results from the iOS Google Search App. The “Send to Mobile Phone” and “Driving Directions” icons appear next to a personalized result (but they are not clickable so WTF?). Angela Tice of Boomtown is in River’s G+ circle and had posted a link to LiveLoveMaryland.com on G+, so the icons may be triggered by the G+ connection and/or the implementation of Schema.org markup and/or Live Love Maryland’s Google My Business Page.

We are also seeing open house times and location snippets appear with real estate aggregator results in the SERPs. I have not seen that one before:

Real Estate Snippets

It’s getting interesting out there folks…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Google · Google Maps
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Paid Local Pack Results?

August 12th, 2014

Our friends over at Moz saw a new SERP feature pop up in their MozCast.

Paid Local Pack?

Notice the lovely paid ads dressed up as a local pack result? While this is a test, and nothing but a test, is it also a continued acknowledgement from Google that their current methods of dealing with Local search results suck? Or maybe it’s an acknowledgement that local data sucks and Google isn’t making enough money from local to throw serious resources into attempting to crack that nut.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Dan Leibson

Is Pigeon An Acknowledgement That Google & SMBs Suck At Local?

August 7th, 2014

Steve Shackford‘s tweet got me thinking:

 

We are definitely seeing a lot more national-local directory type sites showing up at the top of local SERPs as a result of Google removing or de-emphasizing the local pack results. For the most part I am seeing strong brands like Yelp, TripAdvisor & Zillow basically maintaining their high rankings now often unencumbered by those pesky Google My Business pack results.

There has been a lot of speculation, particularly by me, that this update is a continuation of Google’s drive to bias the search experience in favor of mobile users. But I wonder if this update is also an acknowledgement that people actually prefer these national-local directory type sites v. having to hunt through a seemingly random collection of local business pages or Los Links?

Song to ponder this to: Sabotage

→ 6 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Google’s Top Heavy Ad Algorithm & The SEO Catch-22

August 6th, 2014

Catch 22 cover

 

The SEO Catch-22:

  1. You’ve done all of the typical technical and content SEO stuff but your organic traffic keeps trending downwards
  2. Your SEO guy suspects the culprits are the above-the-fold in-content Adsense units designed to look like content
  3. Problem is they are your top performing ad units by a factor of at least 10x
  4. Fix the ad units and maybe your traffic will turn around, but for sure your revenue will dive before then
  5. Don’t fix the ad units and maybe your traffic will continue to tank and your revenue will dive

 ”…a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to.” 

→ 1 CommentTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

“There Is Really No Way To Optimize For This Algorithm Because The Results Are Random And Make No Sense…”

August 5th, 2014

My initial review of Google’s Pigeon results, Picking Through Google’s Pigeon Droppings…, was posted on SEL yesterday, but it was written last week and a lot has changed since I submitted it. I was going to write an update here but Linda Buquet’s massive review of pre and post Pigeon SERPs does the job well, so let’s leave it to her. Here’s her take on what you can do for now, but read the whole post:

1) Google is in control, so not whole lot we can directly do to change things.

BUT they do everything for users! So there is something with this algo that they believe would offer a better search result. (Which is why I’m calling this collateral damage. I don’t think the innocent businesses that are getting hurt are the target.)

2) I don’t think Google really cares much what a bunch of SEOs think, so our complaints may fall on deaf ears.

They do however care very much for what users think!

So on the examples above and any other bad results you find where spam or bad results (dead listings or bogus listings) are ranking, use the “SEND FEEDBACK” link at the bottom of the SERPs.
It will let you explain and select part of the screen.

Do it from the office. Then do it again from home. Get friends to report bad results too! Someone does read these reports, in order to get an aggregate view of how accurate results are.

3) If you see really spammy listings or bogus listings with parked pages and disconnected numbers, try reporting them and try to get them taken down.

Even if mods won’t deal with the problem maybe if they see a big uptick in spam reports, they’ll realize that this algo is surfacing too many bad listings.

4) If you have a client that suffers due to spam in the SERPs, explain it’s a bad update and reassure them it won’t last forever and will likely be corrected. Repeat #3 if there are bad listings knocking them out of the SERPs. You could also point them to this thread so they realize it’s not just them or not something you did. 

5) Continue to work on all the best practice stuff, just like you always have. When this algo shifts to something more logical and fair – you will benefit.

6) There is really no way to “optimize” for this algo because the results are random and make no sense and again it’s changing almost daily.

So turn off your ranking reports and stop looking at SERPs til this thing blows over.
Or as Mike would say “Take 2 beers and call me in the morning!” 

Read the full post: Google Pigeon Collateral Damage & What You Can Do About It

 

 

 

→ 7 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

How To Find The Source of An Auto-Generated Google My Business Page in 30 Seconds

August 5th, 2014

A dentist called me a few minutes ago with a request to help get rid of a Google My Business page that had been automatically created by Google. The page was for his nephew who had considered joining the practice but never did. Somehow Google got hold of his data and created the page. It will be easy enough to get Google to shut the page down via GMB support and I could quickly check the main data aggregators, but I wanted to make sure we also nipped this problem at all possible sources of the data. But how to find them?

This is where our free Local SEO productivity tool, NAP Hunter, comes in:

STEP 1
I put the nephew’s name and the office location into NAP Hunter and hit “Hunt”:
NAP Hunter Screenshot

 

STEP 2
The app quickly generated browser tabs of Google SERPs for different combinations of the NAP elements.

Here’s one for NAME + ADDRESS:
Name + Address

The first result from ucomparehealth.com had a full listing for Alexander Jubb at the business’ address:
ALexander Jubb Uhealthcompare

 

 

I then found this listing, strangely, in the NAME – ADDRESS SERP:

Alexander Jubb Angieslist

Here’s the complete profile on Angieslist:
Alexander Jubb Angieslist

And a CitySearch profile:

Alexander Jubb CitySearch

Knowing how these sites source data quickly led me to Factual which of course had a profile for Jubb:
Alexander Jubb Factual

And voila, mystery solved, in about 30 seconds, thanks to NAP Hunter.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Citation Research
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Did Pigeon 2.0 Just Take A Bite Out of Recipe SEO?

August 1st, 2014

Woke up this morning to find what appears to be yet another shuffling of Google’s Pigeon update. In this case I am seeing some food query SERPs display local packs, directories and knowledge graph results – but no recipe results.

Taco
Taco SERP
Click to Enlarge for Analysis

Hamburger
Hamburger SERPs

Granted I am only seeing this for queries using singular nouns. Recipes still come up for “hamburgers” and “tacos”. But my hunch is that Google is now overweighting local results in its new algo. That’s good for all of us local folk, but not so great for the poor single guy who just wants to make a taco for himself, watch the game and fall asleep in his Lazy Boy, half-full beer can in his hand…wait, I’m projecting now. End of post.

→ No CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

New Google My Business Hours Requirement?

July 28th, 2014

The other day I was doing the local SEO thing and called Google My Business support to get a client’s duplicate listing removed. After a pretty standard conversation about merging this dupe removed we hung up. A few minutes later I got a call, and it was the Google rep I just spoke with letting me know that their “Places Consult Team” had requested that we add hours of operation for the business to the My Business listing.

Hours of operation

Seemed like a pretty random request so I asked what that had to do with getting a dupe removed and was told that having hours of operation listed is a requirement for My Business listings and unless we add it they won’t merge the listings. Now I am pretty familiar with the local guidelines, and other then stating that you should be able to serve customers during you listed hours, or that you should be available for phone verification during your listed hours there is nothing about requiring business hours in that document. The rep volunteered to send me some documentation explaining the requirement, but so far that hasn’t happened. There were some other choice nuggets that I am going to assume are because the local support team is undertrained and over worked, but since I got a call back over the business hours I’m wondering if there isn’t something else going on…

→ 13 CommentsTags: Google My Business
Posted by Dan Leibson

Schema.org/SPAM – Google Should Get Rid of All of It

July 18th, 2014

I have a client who had implemented schema incorrectly and received a notice from Google that they needed to fix it “if you would like it featured in Google search results”. Of course they didn’t provide any specifics and Schema.org documentation is often confusing:

Then I noticed this very helpful review of Wisconsin Health Insurance, because so many people, well at least 2, are reviewing Wisconsin Health Insurance, which is actually not anything…except a valuable keyword of course:
Rich Snippet SPAM

And if you look at the URL in Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool, er, I mean the Structured Data Testing Tool, you see that it employs hreview-Aggregate markup:

hReview-Aggregate

And if you look on the URL, you’ll see a sentence about these ratings nicely tucked away on the right hand side of the page, where it’s sure to be really really helpful to users:

Schema.org/SPAM

 

A few weeks ago Google did away with author images in the SERPs “to make the experience better” or some such thing. And while the message Google sent to my client shows it is clearly trying to clean up the schema SPAM, I have seen way too much of this crap in the SERPs.

I vote for getting rid of all of it.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Uncategorized
Posted by Andrew Shotland

The Night Google Took Pity On A Client…

July 8th, 2014

Yesterday a client pushed out a new homepage without telling us. I found out because late last night I got this email in my inbox from an actual living, breathing member of Google’s Search Quality team:

Google Notification 2

 

Say what you will about Google (and clients who double-noindex their homepage), but this is pretty awesome.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland