Google Updates Terms of Service and more…

I thought I’d try something new with this post and deliver the update in video.  If you’re not in a place where you can watch a video, I’ve also included the transcript below.  Let me know what you think.


Hi, I’m Kurt Steinbrueck, Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com.  I’m here with the monthly update of what’s been going on in the search engines.

Google Still Rules!
google-logo-transparentGoogle is still dominant.  Bing, over the years, has done advertising campaigns.  They’ve now teamed up with Facebook.  They’ve arranged to have Yahoo Search results provided by Bing.  All of these things and they still haven’t been able to make a dent in Google.  Google is still providing at least two-thirds of the results.  Some of the stats have them as high as 80%.  It just depends at the different place you look.

Google Updates

We’re going to start with Google, since they’re still dominant.  Google did release a Panda update about a month ago.  Nothing really new here.  These Panda updates have become pretty regular and they are what are known as refreshes.  So, these are not actually new algorithms, but they use the Panda algorithm to update their search results and just make sure that they’re keeping the quality level of the sites in the search results as high as they can.  So, it’s not applying a new algorithm or new standards or anything like that.

As long as you were okay before, you’re probably still okay now.  If you’re an OurChurch.Com client, just know that we’ve always been within the Panda guidelines; so, you’re doing alright.  This update only affected about 1.3% of U.S. searches, so its’ not a very big impact on search results.

Important! Google+ Local Changes TOS:
Google+-PlacesThe big thing for Google, though, was they changed their terms of service for local search.  They now expressly state that they don’t want owners and staff members posting reviews.  This is a change.  Before, it was kind of okay to do that, as long as you identified yourself as a staff member.  Personally, I like to know if a company has happy employees.  I think that’s important.  Google doesn’t, apparently.  So, they don’t want you to do that anymore.  Stick with just your customers.  For non-businesses…

  • Churches – your members
  • Schools – students and parents
  • Ministries – members and people you minister too

Google also changed their terms of service to say they don’t want people to have kiosks or computers set aside specifically for reviews.  So, I guess you can have them there for general use and you can still ask people to post reviews, but you’re not supposed to have it there if that’s the only purpose for it.  If you have Wi-Fi, then, of course, you can always ask people to bring their computers to post reviews.  That’s a good idea.

I don’t know exactly how they’re going to enforce this, because it’s not like Google can see, at least not yet, they can’t see into your organization.  But maybe they’re just going to rely on if people report you.  So, if you’re in a local business, you might want to be careful because maybe one of your competitors will visit and they would see it and they’d report you to Google.  I don’t really see churches reporting each other.  So, probably not too much of a risk there, but just be aware that this is the standard.

Bing Changes

Bing Image Search:
With Bing, they didn’t really change any algorithms, but they did change the formatting for a lot of their search results.  In their image search the pictures are bigger and it’s a little easier to navigate.  Also, the big change for the image search is that now, when you click on an image, it doesn’t take you to a new page to load the image.  It’s right there on the page that you’re on.  So, that saves a lot of time.  It makes it a lot quicker to load those images.  It’s a very nice update.

Bing and Facebook Revolutionize SearchBing Social Sidebar:
They also updated their Social Sidebar.  If you’re familiar with Bing, they have three columns in their search results.  They have the regular search results with the websites and everything that you’re used to.  And then they have their middle column which they call their Snapshot column.  And then they have the Social Sidebar, which has information mostly from Facebook.  However, occasionally they’ll have some things from Twitter and other sources.

They just changed the appearance of it, for the most part.  In some cases they’ve changed how much information is there or who they’re putting in those results.  This is still a good way to connect with social while you’re doing a search, ask questions and things like that.  This was not too much of a change in functionality.

Bing Snapshot now more like Google Knowledge Graph:
They also updated that Snapshot column.  That’s the middle column.  The purpose of the snapshot column was to provide information and the ability to do certain tasks without having to leave the search results.  So, this would be, if you’re searching for a restaurant and you want to see a menu, it might be there in that snapshot column.  You might even be able to make a reservation, if the restaurant does that.  If you’re searching for plane tickets, you might be able to find the itineraries.  So that’s the purpose of that Snapshot column.

snapshot-obamaWhat they have changed is that they now have information about famous people and places.  This is primarily things like biographical information and historical information.  They may also have a picture and maybe a link to a wiki site or something else that would have that kind of information.  So, you would see this if you search for, say, Barak Obama.  You would see his picture and some biographical information about him, maybe a link to his Wikipedia post, and maybe even a link to or something like that.

This is really in line with what Google has been doing with their Knowledge Graph.  Google has been putting information about famous people, places, and things in the right side of their search results for a while now.  So I guess Bing saw that.  They liked it and they decided to do something that was essentially the same thing that Google is doing there.

That’s about it.
No huge changes this month in the search algorithms, which is a good thing.  It’s nice to have a little break every now and then, but be aware if you are an OurChurch.Com customer, we are keeping our eye on these things and making sure that you’re up-to-date and that we keep your optimization up to date as well.  So, you have nothing to worry about.

We are in the internet age. So, you need to stay strong in the search engines and use the internet to achieve your mission online

God Bless.

9 Responses to “Google Updates Terms of Service and more…”

  1. First of all I would like to thank Mr. KURT STEINBRUECK for this informative article! Being a regular computer user I depend on Googles’ chrome browser to browse over the internet. Sometimes I use Bing also! However Google has got a vast database compared to Bing.

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