July SEO Update: Round and Round the Carousel

Love Is On The MoveIt seems Google, Bing and Facebook have all decided not to take a summer break.  Even Yahoo got into the mix with their search engine, Altavista.  So, lots of stuff going on.  In addition to changes in the search engines, a recent report has come out which indicates that most people look for reviews when they search for a local company/service.  This demonstrates the user-value of having lots of good, positive reviews for your organization.

So, click to watch the video below.  I’ll cover all the above (and maybe a little more) in this month’s SEO update.


Hi, I’m Kurt Steinbrueck with OurChurch.Com. I’m here with this month’s SEO update, where you can get an entire month’s worth of SEO news in just a couple of minutes.

Introducing Google Places Carousel:

Click for full size image.

Click for full size image.

All right, so what’s going on now? Google has made some changes to Google Places results. Google Places is their local results that they put within their regular search results, so if you go to Google.com, and you search for something like “restaurants near my city,” then you get some local results in there and those are Google Places results.

Well, up until now, all of their Google Places results were local listings on one side and a map on the other side. Now, that’s changed, what they’ve done now is put a carousel across the top that has the results in it right there and these results even look different, they’re not all texts like the old results were. In fact, most of it is a graphic, they pick a single picture and that takes up about 75% of that listing and then there’s the name of the organization, there may be a little bit of additional information.

Now the map is still down below that on the right side, but then on the left, instead of having local results, they just have their regular search results.

So, what happens now is if you hover your mouse over one of the results in the carousel, it will focus the map on that result. If you click on it, the map gets removed and in its place is information about that local organization.  Then, of course, you can click to their Google Plus local page or to their website or whatever they have set up there.

So, what does this mean for you?
confused-thinkingWell, the first thing is that it’s going to change the way people search. People are going to deal differently with the carousel than they did with the old results. We’re not exactly sure how yet.  It will be interesting to see.  Do we still see things as a top result and then going down like you do with the vertical results? Because if you read left to right, then you would probably assume that the furthest left one would be the top result, but you don’t know, maybe people will focus in the middle more.  We’ll have to see what the behavior becomes.

Also, with the graphic being so prominent in these results, it’s become very important that you have a good graphic or two in your Google Plus local page. So right now, if you don’t have any graphic or if you have a very poor quality graphic, you’re going to want to change that.  You’re going to want to upload some good quality graphics that are compelling and would entice someone to click through.

If you have some poor quality graphics up there, you might want to actually remove them so that they don’t get picked, because you don’t get to control it.  Google controls that.

So, if you don’t have those graphics up or you’ve got some poor quality graphics, go ahead and do that. If you’re an OurChurch.com local SEO customer, then just send us some graphics and we’d be happy to put those up there on your Google Plus local page.

Local Reviews News:
In additional local news, a company by the name of Bright Local did a study and what they found is that 73% of people report that they look at reviews before they choose a local organization. Did you hear that? 73% of people look at reviews before they make a local decision. So, that tells you the importance of reviews, especially in local search.

We’re at this point now where most companies are able to get reviews and so there’s not really… Before, people would excuse that there wasn’t a review.  Now, it’s actually becoming a negative, where if they can’t find a review, then “Why isn’t there a review for this company? Do they actually have any customers?” They start to question the validity of the company.  So it’s very important to be reaching out and trying to get reviews, especially getting those good positive reviews, and that’s going to influence whether people choose your organization at all.  That’s what this report was able to show us.

Introducing Bing Boards:

Click for full size image.

Click for full size image.

In other search news, Bing has made an interesting little change. They’ve introduced what they call Bing Boards. Now, if you remember, Bing has three columns in their results. In the left column they have their actual search results and then they have this middle column which was typically devoted to just general information about your topic.  So, if you search for a person, you might find some biographical information. Then the far right column was for social.  So, that was stuff that had to do with Facebook and some other things.

Now, in this middle column they’ve now started adding these Bing Boards. What Bing Boards are, are curated results that are put there by people that Bing has asked to put together some results for them. They’re usually influencers in an industry or maybe popular bloggers in that topic. What they’ll do is they just pick out what they think is interesting. Maybe it’s something that they’ve seen recently that they thought was interesting or maybe it’s something that is just the thing that everyone needs to know about that topic, even if it’s not new, it’s still just such an authoritative piece that they think it should be in there. But it’s interesting because they’re adding personal curation to their search results, instead of it just all being algorithms. So, it will be interesting just to see how that plays out.

Another Google Update:
In other news, Google, over the past couple of weeks, seems to have been rolling out an update, maybe a couple of updates. We think they’re updating Panda a bit, but also there seems to be some kind of an update that lowers the value of partial match domains. This would be… let’s say that you had a domain name that was having to do with limousines, like Tom’s Limousine Service. If you were trying to get “limousine service”, before you were getting this bump because you have “limousine service” directly there in your domain name.  Now, that influence is much less, if not completely removed.

So basically Google first did the exact match update back in December which lowered the value of having an exact match domain name.  This is where the search term and the domain name were exactly the same.  Now, it seems that they’re doing this also with partial match.

So, it’s still good to have your keywords in your domain name or in your URLs, but it’s having less and less importance at this point.

Good Bye AltaVista:
altavistaTwo more final things… Yahoo has shut down AltaVista. AltaVista just wasn’t getting enough traffic for them and they didn’t feel like it was worth keeping it going.  But AltaVista has been around for a very long time, so it’s the passing of one of the early search engines.

Facebook Graph Search Released in the Wild:
Also, Facebook has released Graph Search to all of the US, English-based users. Before, it was just out there in beta. You had to sign up to use it and then get approved.  Now, it’s been released to everyone. So…

  1. It’s going to be interesting to see how people are using the search.
  2. There are some privacy issues there.  So, if you’re on Facebook, go check your privacy settings and you can see what people are able to find in the graph search results.

So that’s it, that’s what’s been going on in the search engines for the past month, but remember, we live in this internet age and it’s important that you stay strong in the search engines so people can find you and you can achieve your mission online.

God bless!

Share Your Thoughts:

  • Have you seen the Google Places Carousel?  What do you think of it?
  • How important do you think reviews are for local organizations?
  • Have you changed your Facebook privacy settings?
photo by: VinothChandar

5 Responses to “July SEO Update: Round and Round the Carousel”

  1. Some great insight here into the updates to Panda relating to keywords and partial matches. This should make some interesting changes in the ranking of some websites. It all seems to be linking more and more to relevant content over keywords and links.

    • I think you're right Jayne. Relevant content is crucial. Keywords and links are still in the game, but they aren't the end-all-be-all anymore. I'd say that now it's about establishing your site as an authority in your niche through links, mentions, good content, social shares, etc.

  2. I can't believe that 73% of people are checking reviews before making a decision. It leads to an interesting thought about web design. If people are checking reviews for local produce they are no doubt doing that for other things too. It just goes to show that word of mouth is still important, but now we are taking into account the views of complete strangers!

    • Yeah, 73% is high, but I don't think it's too strange that people would listen to the views of complete strangers. I've asked people walking (whom I didn't know) out of a theater whether the movie was good or other people in line at a new cafe, "What's good here?". I think we all like to here genuine opinions from real people.

  3. These information is quite correct. The way these search engines are going, there are high chances that we will never get a break from promoting our sites on search engines. We will be toiling for the rest of our life.