Hold On To Something! It’s Gettin’ Crazy Up In Here

Crazy Morning - AlliFor the past few months Google has been relatively quiet.  They made a lot of minor updates, but nothing too significant.  Well, apparently they were just saving it all up…for this past month.

Google has made several updates, several significant announcements, including one about a very common link building strategy (guest blogging), and made several feature updates.

Google isn’t the only one who has made some changes this past month, Yahoo!, YP, and Bing all make the list as well.

I’ll tell you all about in this month’s SEO Update video:

Full Transcript:

Hi, I’m Kurt Steinbrueck with OurChurch.com, and this is your monthly SEO update, keeping you informed.

There’s a lot going on this month, especially with Google, and so I’m going to kind of move through this as quickly as I can to make this video nice and short. If I go through something a little too quickly for you and you’re not quite sure about it, please feel free to ask a question. If you’re watching on a blog, go ahead and post a comment down below. If you’re watching this from an email, you can go ahead and just shoot me an email. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Or of course, if you have any thoughts on it, any points you want to make, love to hear your thoughts.



Guest BlogStop Guest Blogging?
So let’s dive right in. We’re going to start with Google because they’ve had so much going on. But we’ll just start with this: Matt Cutts, who’s one of Google’s more vocal people – he’s the head of the Webspam – he came out a couple weeks ago and said,

“No more guest blogging,”

and then everyone freaked out, and then he came back and said,

“Okay, you can guest blog, but not for links. We don’t want you guest blogging for links.”

This really isn’t much of a surprise. Google has been going after any kind of link building where you’re creating the content and then putting your own links in there to come back to your site. They want other people to be creating content and linking back to you. I guess their idea that that’s the only legitimate kind of links that they like. So now they’re just saying don’t use guest bogging for link building. Guest blogging is still good; just don’t use it for link building. In fact, they want you to use a no-follow tag for any links that you might put in a guest blog.

So why should you guest blog?
Guest blogging is actually a really good thing. There’s a lot of good benefits for it. You can build your audience, you can establish yourself as an authority. You build relationships with other bloggers. All those things are good things. So there’s a lot of good reasons to continue to guest blog; just make sure you’re choosing which blogs you want to guest blog on well, and then making sure you’re creating great content for it and using those no-follow tags in the links. There still could be a link-building benefit to this as well, because as you build your audience, as you make connections with other bloggers and all that kind of stuff, people tend to share you and link to your site more often because of that. So you can still actually get some link benefit from guest blogging; just not directly from those guest blog posts.

So do guest blog; just don’t do it for links.

Affiliate Sites – No Thin Content:
Thin IceAnother thing that Google came out and said was a warning to affiliate sites: no thin content. If you have an affiliate site and all you do is get a feed from the parent site to your site and you add no original content yourself, Google doesn’t think there’s any value to that, so they’re not going to rank you, or at least not very high. You need to be creating good quality content, original content for your own site so that there is some reason that Google has to put you in the search results instead of just the parent site. So they’re saying no thin content. Now, they did specify especially for pornography sites. Hopefully that’s not an issue with us; we’re not distributing that garbage. But I’m just mentioning it because they said it. Even if you’re not in that industry, you still need to be creating great content for your site. And if you are in that industry, get out. Don’t do it anymore.

Google Update Against Structured Markup
Google is also now penalizing people for spammy structured markup. This is rich snippets, which is basically different sections of pages can have different kinds of content. You might have a video on your page, you might have a recipe on your page, along with other content. There is this thing called rich snippets, or structured markup, that you can add a little bit of code around those pieces of content to tell Google and other search engines “this is a recipe” or “this is a video.” So that helps the search engines to better understand what kind of content it is, and they actually will use that in their results. When you see videos in results, they know that it’s a video either because it’s on a video hosting site or because it’s on a regular site and someone put the markup language around it.

Well, like so many other things, it was a good thing that someone came up with, and it’s still a good thing, but people have gone overboard with it, and they’ve started marking up things that weren’t supposed to be and kind of going overboard with it, becoming very spammy with the markup. So Google’s saying “No mas. Just use the markup the way that it was supposed to be used; don’t go overboard with it, and you’ll be fine. If you start getting spammy with it, we’re going to penalize you.” Just the same way that they dealt with keywords. They said, “Okay, keywords are important, you put them on a page,” and then people went nuts and they’d keyword stuff, and so then they penalize you for keyword stuffing. Same kind of concept. You have a good thing; people have gone overboard with it, and so now Google is penalizing people for going overboard with it, but not for the good intended purpose. If you use it the right way, you’re fine.

Google and Smartphones:
Google has also updated their smart phone user agent. That just means that – their user agents are their bots that they use to crawl the web, and so that just means that they are better able to understand content specifically for smart phones and mobile devices, so that’s good.

OneBox is Getting Smarter:
They’ve also made several changes to the features in Google. They’re getting better with their OneBox answers. OneBox is if Google thinks that they know the answer to a search you do, they’ll just put the answer right below the search box. For example, if you go search for “Easter 2014,” they’ll just put the date right there before all the rest of the results, because they think they know the answer. That is their OneBox, and so they’re getting better with that. With a combination of the Hummingbird update and the things that they’re learning through Google Knowledge Graph, they’re able to answer more complex questions now and just more variety of questions, so they’re getting a little smarter with that, which is a good thing.

More Info Box:
They also have added more box info, which is related to Knowledge Graph. With Knowledge Graph, they’ve been trying to learn more and more about entities and organizations and the way things interact. So now when you have search results, if they know information about the organization that’s in the results, if you hover over the result, a little box will come up, if you hover in the right spot, that will tell you just some basic information about the company or the organization. I don’t know how much value that is to you, but it’s a feature that’s there.

Videos Embedded in Search Results?
Snap 2014-02-17 at 21.45.25
They’ve also started to display large videos embedded directly in the search results. This is kind of an interesting thing. If you search for – especially if you search for something that’s a video, but even if there’s something that it’s not specifically a video, but there’s a really good video that deals with that topic, you’ll see that video now, large box, right at the top of the results, embedded right there. You can just click play and watch it right there in the search results. I don’t know if this is a test or if they’re going to keep doing this, but I’ve seen it, and it’s a pretty neat thing when you’re searching, especially if you’re searching for videos.

So those are the things that Google has done. They’ve been really busy this past month.



Yahoo! Local Update:
Yahoo! has also made some changes, primarily in the local area. One of their changes is they updated the local results so that when you search for something local, normally they’ll have a box over on the right with the map in it, and then you can click on the results and all that. Well now, when you hover over the results, that box changes to the information about the specific organization you’re over. It works just like the way Google works. I think they basically just kind of copied Google with that, but hey, if it works, it works, and Google’s layout was good too.

Yahoo! Teams Up with Yelp:
So they’ve made that change, and they’ve also now signed a deal with Yelp to get information from  Yelp that will go into their local results now, so there’ll be reviews and rankings or ratings and other information that might be in the Yelp results, being imported into the Yahoo! results.



YP-LOGOA couple other things: YP, Yellow Pages, they are really trying to push forward and rebrand themselves, get away from just the idea that they’re a book, and more than just a Yellow Pages where you just look up phone numbers. They’re really trying to make headway into the local market as a place where people go to do business and to find organizations, do reviews, all that kind of stuff. They’re still working on it; this is what they’re trying to do, so whether they’ll achieve it or not, it’s up in the air, but you should have a listing in YP.com. If you don’t already, go do that. If you’re a client of ours, you’ve already got it. So that’s something to watch out for.



Bing Saved Searches:
And lastly, Bing has added a new little feature to their search where if you do a search, you can now bookmark that search as long as you’re logged in. So instead of having to leave the window open until you can get back and go through the results the way you wanted to, you can now just save that and then go to it whenever you want.

So those are the updates that we have. Hopefully blew through them quickly enough, but got the points out there. But remember…

We live in this internet age, and so it’s important to stay strong in the search engines so that you can achieve your mission online.

God bless!

photos by: ishane & Rooster306, psd

7 Responses to “Hold On To Something! It’s Gettin’ Crazy Up In Here”

  1. Just reading this (after a few guest blog gigs and lots of "link parties," which I stopped a few weeks back simply because they took too much time to participate in for the miniscule traffic they provided). So my question now is two-fold:
    1. Should I go back to previous guest blog posts and update the inks to my site so they're "no follow"?
    2. Should I remove the links I shared with link parties? (if that's even possible)

  2. I've only done a handful of guest posts, all for upstanding sites and one in particular with great rank. I've abandoned the link parties as of 3-4 weeks ago. It doesn't sound like either of these are at great risk for damaging my search traffic.

    I did check the list of inbound links in Webmaster tools and there are a number of sites there I don't recognize. Are you in favor of "disavowing" unknown sites or at least asking them to make the links no-follow (not really sure how to go about disavowing in a way Google will recognize, but I've read opinions of other bloggers who advise it)?

  3. Yeah it is good because I did not like the old modifications they have done to Google. The strategy of common link building strategy is good though. The Yahoo and Bing have also done some new updates to their application this month as well.

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