The Week In Search SEO News 14 Apr 2017

Moz 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Released

Summary:

  • For the first time since 2015, Moz has released its Local Search Ranking Survey – and it really is a very good, if long, read.
  • The results are compiled from SEOers in the field without actual access to the various algorithms, so there is always a degree of bias / group-think, and areas where experts may strongly disagree.
  • The major factors for Local Pack results are:
    • Proximity of address to Point of Search
    • Address in place of search
    • GMB Category
    • Relatively standard SEO factors, such as links & citations, quality of link & citation sources
  • The major factors for appearing in Local Organic Results (which may appear beneath Local Pack or where no Local Pack surfaces) tend to revolve around standard SEO factors of links with a twist of geographically related content.

Actions to take:

  1. Review the long list of factors from Moz.
  2. Benchmark current performance against those factors.
  3. Benchmark current performance against competitors.
  4. Ensure your Google My Business information is accurate, correct and up-to-date.
  5. Ensure your external Link / Citation signals are good, without being spammy.
  6. Ensure your on-page signals are optimised.

Discussion:

Moz’s Surveys have a long history, and Local is no exception. The surveys are well-run with a good number of submissions and are reasonably sound in their conclusions.

In this one, Google My Business (GMB) Signals perform strongly, indicating Google places high emphasis on the quality of its database. Link signals also come out strongly, showing up a slightly old-school approach. On-page, Review and Citation signals are also ranked highly, and fairly evenly, showing the importance of casting a wide net and applying expertise to several areas at a time. It is always important to stay within the guidelines here and not spam – that will eventually catch you out.

The biggest change is the rise in importance of being close to the searcher. Unfortunately, there is not a lot anyone can do about that.

More info:

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Google Testing Displaying Number of Reviews by Reviewer

Summary:

  • Google has started testing showing the number of reviews a reviewer has left.
  • Google takes a step in minimising gaming of reviews.
  • Google also puts no spin on the number of reviews – the user can decide if its relevant.

Actions to take:

  1. Keep an eye on reviews for your business.
  2. Monitor the number of high-number reviews and low-number reviews. Both may be indicative of successes or problems.
  3. If a large run of low-number reviews, you may be subject to a fake-review campaign. If a large run of high-number reviews, then you may have moved into territory where reviewers can have significant influence – pay attention to them.

Discussion:

Review of businesses are good for consumers and businesses alike. They allow the business to get a handle on genuine customer feedback and an opportunity to resolve any issues. For the consumer, they give them a chance to see what others think.

However, there are problems with fake reviews from competitors, or trolls, and with low-quality  reviews from people at either end of the brevity / loquaciousness spectrum.

Just surfacing the information, but allowing the user to make a decision is okay, but in the end leaves the onus on the user to decide if the information is relevant. You would have thought with the algorithmic resources Google has at hand, if could take a better stab at weeding out the poor / spammy / fake reviews. Real opinions are fine, but intentionally mis-directed reviews should be removed from the equation.

More info:

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Google Maps Fake Listings

Summary:

  • Fake listings is a problem with Google Maps / Google My Business, despite 0.5% dodgy listings number from Google.
  • Spam and underhand tactics appear to be rife through listings
  • Guidelines are not being adhered to and violations not followed-up by Google.

Actions to take:

  1. Review your local listings and local competitors for signs of spam.
  2. Report obviously spammy / underhand tactics to Google.
  3. Don’t spam, or behave in an under-handed manner. In the long-run, businesses which do that will get caught and removed from the listings.

Discussion:

Well, it seems like Google Maps / My Business listings are the current wild west of the search internet. Reading the SE Land article, spam is prevalent and not being policed / removed effectively. The list of current tactics make for enlightening reading.

It does seem that the majority of spam listings happen in certain on-call industries – where a call-out can be driven by emergency need, with pricing in response to that need. Think locksmiths, they can almost charge what they like. In cash, thank you very much.

Undoubtedly, Google would like to cleanse its listings. Whether or not it can do is up for debate, as it has effectively removed any other business / address reference source. Like the main SERPs Google likely does a good job for a number of head queries, but small volume local search is an infinitely more tricky nut to crack.

More info:

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Google: Dont’t Focus on Disavow File

Summary:

  • Gary Illyes has stated that webmasters should have better things to do than worry about their disavow file
  • He also recommends worrying about it if you are concerned about Negative SEO.
  • Bullet 3

Actions to take:

  1. Unless you have been actively spamming your backlink profile, or have been subjected to Negative SEO, or have been penalised, stop worrying about the Disavow File.
  2. Focus on positive activities for SEO benefit instead – high quality articles, high-quality links, high-quality optimisation etc.
  3. Or go outside and enjoy the sun 😉

Discussion:

Disavow Files and Proactive Link Management are one of the biggest scare stories to hit SEO in recent years. Thankfully, some wise heads are prevailing and realising that it is usually better to spend time working for positive benefits than it is to devote time, effort and resources to what is effectively a poke in the dark.

Negative SEO is a problem, although not as big a one as many people fear. Link spam is also a problem, usually driven by a”rogue” element, with ‘nod and a wink’ connivance from others within the organisation. And finally, occasionally, some people do get caught up with previously good links turning bad and affecting their results.

It is always worthwhile keeping a weather on on your backlink profile, but it’s not worth disavowing every link that doesn’t meet a specific profile. A normal backlink profile will always have a mix of good, mediocre and dodgy link in it. Actively working on beneficial activities will usually derive an improved backlink profile from more people linking to a better quality site / better quality content.

It’s worthwhile noting that this may be a change from previous views on this – perhaps Google feels its algorithms have got link spam properly covered now?

More info:

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Facebook Instant Articles Add Page Like & Email Sign-Up CTAs 

Summary:

  • Facebook Instant Articles adds two types of CTAs.
  • Like Page added.
  • Email Sign-Up Added – although data transfer still needed.

Actions to take:

  1. If you already run Facebook Instant Articles, consider adding these CTAs to your articles.
  2. Note that the Email Sign-Up either needs a manual export of email data, or an API / programmatic solution.
  3. If you don’t use Facebook Instant Articles, consider adding them to the armoury, especially if the programming cost is minimal / marginal.

Discussion:

Danny Goodwin reports pretty successful numbers for the email sign-up – figures of 41% growth and 29% of total are reported for The Huffington Post. Considering the size of that operation, that is a bit surprising & makes me wonder if they list figures they are talking about are a particular subset  of their main email database.

Having said that, the Like CTA is obviously a good way to generate more likes and followers to a page, especially if the article surfaces as a Suggested Post or similar. The email subscription is also a boon to web marketers – and quite a surprise that Facebook is effectively allowing a business to contact their users outside of the Facebook ecosystem. It’s also a surprise as email was supposedly dead, or on life-support.

More info:

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Bits & Pieces

  • The supremely lazy can now submit a URL to Google from the SERPs interface. Perhaps Google doesn’t have enough URLs to crawl. Or its submission page is just too confusing.
  • Burger King appears to have spammed Google Home deliberately with an “OK Google” voice prompt in an ad, which kicked Google Home into action. Naughty BK. Interestingly Google had it patched within 3 hours, which is a fairly impressive response time.
  • JohnMu has summarily debunked the myth that Domain Age is a factor in rankings. Another case of correlation not equalling causation, as a new domain linked by enough quality websites will rank pretty quickly.
  • There’s a small bug (may have been fixed already) in GSC Link Reports being empty of data. No need to panic, yet.

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