Google+ Local Changes and Facebook Enters the Search Game

Feb-2013-monthly-SEO-Update-captureThis month has seen some significant changes in the search world.  Google+ Local made more changing to their guidelines which will help out a lot of organizations, especially churches and schools, and Facebook has now entered the fray.

Watch the video below for the full update:

Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Kurt Steinbrueck, Director of marketing services with I’m here with your monthly update of what’s been going on in search engines. It’s actually been a pretty big month.  There are some really big changes that have gone on and I’m going to get to some of those in just a minute. But, I want to start with Google because Google is the biggest search engine still.

Google Panda Refresh:Google Panda Update Boosts LocalGoogle did do another Panda refresh.  It’s not that big of a deal.  They are becoming pretty regular at this point.

If you aren’t familiar with Panda, Panda was an algorithm update that they launched about two years ago that’s all about quality. They look at different aspects of a web page, whether it’s:

  • grammar
  • spelling
  • how much advertising is on the page
  • what kind of links are coming to the page

…and things like that to determine the quality of that page. This algorithm is supposed to remove or at least demote the low quality pages and maybe give a boost to the high quality pages.

Now, this isn’t something that applies all the time to the search results.  It’s something that they actually have to manually apply.  So, that’s why they do these refreshes each month. There’s no real change in the algorithm, no real change in how they are looking at pages, but they do apply this so any new pages that come out that are low quality or high quality, or whatever, that need to be shifted around get shifted. In this case we saw changes in about 1.2% of all English-based search queries, not really a big deal.

Google+ Listings for Your Organization’s Departments:
The bigger thing with Google, though, is that they changed their guidelines for Google+ local. This is a significant change.  Before, they said that, if you are an organization that had multiple departments, it didn’t really matter; they just wanted you to have one listing for your organization. Now, they are saying, if you have multiple departments, you can have multiple listings as long as they are distinct enough.

The first thing that came to mind for me was churches and schools. If a church and school were one organization, before Google was saying you can only have one listing. Now, they are saying that the church can have one and the school can have one. That’s going to have a big impact because before you probably only ranked well for either church queries or school queries now you can actually have the two listings and do well for both of them. So, that’s a really significant change.

What they ask is that you’d have different contacts, that these are really distinct departments. They look at contacts for that. They look at things like,

  • The domain name for the website
  • The contact phone numbers
  • Is there a separate entrance is something that they recommend that you consider.  Obviously, they are not going to go around every building and check, but they say that’s kind of the standard that you can apply to determine if you think that you qualify.

If you don’t actually have separate contact information for each of these departments, you may want to consider doing that. This is going to have a huge impact on the search traffic that you get. If all of the sudden you can start getting traffic for your school and getting traffic for your church where before you couldn’t because you only had the one listing, then that could have a huge impact on your organization.

  • It might be worth getting another phone number that you can use before for one side or the other.
  • It might be worth getting either a separate website or at least a separate domain name that can lead to the school section or the church section of the site. Things like that.

If you are a business, the same thing applies. A lot of businesses do have separate departments, but they really do have to be distinct. So, if you they aren’t already, again you might want to consider making them distinct. At we have hosting, design, marketing, and advertising. We might, if we were a local organization, actually create some distinct contacts for each of those departments so that we could do well in the search rankings for each of those niches. It’s something to consider.

Google+ Listings for Practitioners with Multiple Offices:
Another change that they made to the guidelines was for practitioners who have multiple locations. So maybe this in lawyer or a Realtor or financial adviser that actually has separate offices in different cities or maybe in different areas of the city. You can now have separate listings for each of those physical locations.

This does not apply to service areas. So, if you are a plumber and you have one office but you service three different cities, you are still limited to just the one listing. But if you had three different offices, one in each of those cities, then you would be able to have three listings. The only thing that they ask is that you, in the hours of operation, specify the hours that you would actually be at that location. You can’t be 9 to 5, five days a week for every location. You have to have specific times when you are going to be in each of those locations.

Google Images Follows Suit with Bing:
Another change that Google made was the image search. They’re kind of following in the footsteps of Bing where now, if you click on an image, that image opens up right there in Google. It makes for faster experience when you are searching images, but it also might affect your traffic.  If you get traffic from images, then people, when they click on those images, are no longer coming to your site. They are still on Google. So, that’s going to decrease traffic probably. Now, Google is saying that they are putting a link next to the images so maybe it will increase traffic to the sites. But my guess is that people have gotten what they wanted, they wanted to see that image. So, chances are they are not going to take that new extra step to go to the website.

That’s about it with Google

With Bing there are no real changes there.  No real changes in either how people search or in the algorithm.


But here is the big one and this is huge!


Facebook Launched a Search Engine!
Facebook has launched their own search engine. Facebook, who has almost a billion users, has now launched a search engine within their social network. It’s not available to everyone yet.  It’s still in beta testing, but it is out there and they are starting to test it and trying to get this thing to work. It works a little differently than Google and Bing. This is very social focused. They are looking at ranking things based off of likes and shares and people checking into locations and things like that.

It’s still under work. It’s still something that’s a work in progress. It’s a little slow right now, a little buggy. It’s not as intuitive as they probably would like it to be. And it’s not as robust as it’s going to need to be. Right now, a lot of searches end up bringing back Bing results which supplement the Facebook results.  So, they are really going to really need to find a way to build that out, I think, before it’s going to have a huge impact. But, with such a huge user base of nearly a billion people you’ve got to figure that it’s going to be a big player in the search market.

Another thing they are going to have to deal with, though, is when they base their rankings off of “likes”, what is that going to mean? Because a lot of people didn’t really “like” organizations because they liked them, they “liked” them because the organization offered them something. Maybe, like for me, I may have “liked” a restaurant because they said if I “like” it they will print out coupon for a free appetizer. It doesn’t mean I actually liked the restaurant. I may have gone to the restaurant and hated their food, but if I never removed that “like”, according to Facebook I like them.

You are going to have a lot of things out there with people just “liked” companies for contests and free stuff and things like that and it’s going to really skew the quality of those results. So, they’re really going to have to look at how are they going to do that to make it a viable alternative to Bing and Google. But we’ll see! It’s in the very early stages, just a couple weeks ago that this was launched. So, we’ll keep an eye on it and see how things go with it.

That’s what has been going on a lot of big changes but remember…

We live in this internet age.  So, you’ve got to stay strong in the search engines and use the internet to achieve your mission online.

God bless.

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