August SEO Update: Google’s Movin’ Like a Freight Train

train-300Holiday ExpressGoogle’s been moving like a freight train lately and this month is no exception, making major changes in both locally and nationally.  I was looking back and it’s been several months since we had a month where Google wasn’t making big changes.

In this video I’ll discuss the changes Google made to their local search, the new link building guidelines Google released, and what Google and Bing are doing about child pornography.


Hi, I’m Kurt Steinbrueck with, and I’m here with your monthly SEO update so you can stay informed on what’s going on in the search engines. It’s pretty much everything Google this month. They’ve just been doing a lot, both in their general search engines and their local, so we’re just going to jump right in to Google. We’ll start with the local.

web-design-tampa-screenshotNew Google Maps Released to Everyone:
One of the things that we’ve been talking about for the past couple of months is that Google Maps has been changing. They’re switching from the old map on the one side and a list to just the map with the organizations in the actual map itself. You can still get to the list, but the default is just that map. That has so far been in beta, but they have now released it to everyone, so anyone can get it. It may still be an opt-in for you, so if you don’t see it yet and you want to see it, you may need to opt into it. But other than that, it is available to anyone who wants to use that.

What’s Up with Zagat?
Another change is that Google released a new version of Zagat. If you’re not familiar with Zagat, Zagat is a local organization review and rating group. What they would do is they would go visit different local organizations, like restaurants and hotels and things like that, and they would review them and give them a rating that was a 0-30 rating. Well, they’ve been doing that for a long time, and Google recently, just a couple years ago, bought Zagat out. Then they started to integrate Zagat into the Google Local information, and they switched to Zagat ratings and things like that.

Now they’re actually starting to switch back to the old Google star rating, the five star rating. We’re not sure exactly what they’re doing with Zagat, because they’re releasing a new version while at the same time pulling back from using Zagat in the ratings and the local listings. It seems like maybe they’re trying to do something more with reviews and things like that; maybe they’re trying to get more like Yelp in some ways. But we’ll just have to watch and see what they do with Zagat. It’s been a little confusing the way they’ve run Zagat so far to know exactly what they want to do with it. But that’s one change that’s been made.

Local Reviews Now a Pop-up Overlay:
Another is that now, if you search in the regular Google results and you see the local results – it’s called Google Places results – when you do that, you can click on the reviews of the different organizations. Before, that would take people to their Google+ Local page. Now, it just brings up an overlay, right there in the Google results, that shows all the reviews. So the visitor never actually gets to the organization’s Google+ Local page, which kind of stinks for organizations, because you’d like to have them on your Local page, and hopefully even get them to your website or to come into your organization.

Now, this is keeping all of the traffic right there on Google. It’s a little faster when you’re on Google, and it may be a little easier for people who are using Google, but it seems like a disadvantage for the organizations themselves. We’ll have to see how that affects traffic. Like all the other changes that Google is making, how is this going to affect businesses? We’ll have to keep an eye out on that and keep watching that.

Google Panda Update Boosts LocalPanda Returns…with Gifts?
In their general results, Google did do a Panda update. I know they said that they weren’t going to tell us this anymore, but they did in this case. It seems like they were just kind of trying to fine-tune things. There were people reporting that they had been hurt previously by Panda, and now they’re actually doing better. Maybe they were trying to fix some things that weren’t quite right, that were harming some websites that shouldn’t have been hit by Panda in the first place. So, that was in many ways a good thing for a lot of organizations.

Google Changes Link Guidelines!
Another thing regarding their general results is that they have changed their guidelines. Google has updated their guidelines regarding linking, and they now say they don’t want you to put keyword-rich links in articles that you distribute and press releases. That was a common thing to do.  You would put out a press release and you’d have a link in there, maybe with one of your keywords, that would go back to your site. Of course, when other organizations picked it up, other news organizations and things like that, then you would have links coming back to your site. Google is saying “Don’t do that anymore, or if you do, at least put a no-follow
in there.” Otherwise, they’re going to consider it a new kind of spamming.

Iconscollection - Exclamation Mark

exclamation-300So this is a pretty big change. They did not have this attitude about it before.

They didn’t necessarily count the links that were on the press release sites, but they were still counting the links that were on other organization sites, like those news organizations. Now they’re saying they don’t want that to happen anymore. So that’s going to change some strategies out there; you should be aware of that and make adjustments as necessary.

In-Depth Articles:
One other thing for Google is that they added a new feature called in-depth articles, and this appears in the results of certain topics. When you search for them, you will now have these in-depth articles, which are longer – as it would imply, “in-depth” – about the topic. Those are just there on some of the topics, and they’re being promoted. It’s just a new feature; it kind of shows up like the videos and the news do within Google’s regular results.

Bing Responds to Child Pornography…Google Does Not.
Parental AdvisoryThe last thing, which has to do with Google but also with Bing, is that the UK Prime Minister came out a couple of weeks ago and was talking about how disturbed he was by the amount of child pornography and child abuse that’s on the web, and how easy it is to find it, especially in the search engines. He asked Bing and Google and the other major search engines to do something about it, to make it harder to find it.

Bing actually responded very quickly. Within a couple of days they had warnings that would come up if you searched for certain topics that would say “You’re getting into some illegal territory here; you may not want to actually search for this,” and some things like that. Google said, “No, we don’t really feel the need to do that. We don’t see any point in warning people.”

But at the same time, it should be noted that both Google and Bing do have things that they do, they have programs in place that remove that kind of content from their search results when they come across it. Obviously it’s not perfect; otherwise the UK Prime Minister wouldn’t have said that. But we shouldn’t just say that they’re not doing anything. Both organizations are doing things to try to remove that from their listings. That was something that was pretty important to me, as a Christian, to know what was going on with that. We’ll just keep an eye out on that, because anything they can do to remove that kind of content will be a very good thing.

Those are the things that have been going on. A lot of changes in Google. It seems just about every month now, there are some pretty big changes that are happening in Google. They’re just moving like a freight train. So we want to keep our eyes to the ground and see what’s coming, and see what we need to do to react and change strategies as needed, because we live in this internet age, and we need to stay strong in the search engines if we’re going to keep bringing in visitors and achieving our missions and goals online.

God bless.

Share your Thoughts:

  • Are the changes Google is making to their local search experience good?
  • What do you think of the change Google made to their link spam guidelines?
  • Do you think the search engines are doing enough to fight child pornography and child abuse content?

3 Responses to “August SEO Update: Google’s Movin’ Like a Freight Train”

  1. Some interesting comments you have made on link guidelines, that's going to alter things quite a bit. I suppose at least it will prevent any old website linking back to yours…

  2. Thanks for sharing. Very useful.