Google’s Hopped on Their Sleigh and Gone Mobile

santasleigh300Google has really been pushing into mobile lately.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  People have been using mobile devices to surf the web more and more and Google adjusting to that change.  Several months ago Google started penalizing sites with bad mobile user experiences.  Then they started putting warning labels on sites with Flash.  Now they’ve started labeling “Mobile Friendly” sites and started giving a mobile rankings boost to websites with excellent mobile user experience.

That’s pretty cool, unless your website isn’t mobile friendly.

Mobile isn’t the only recent news.  Google updated their local guidelines.  Bing updated their local search results.  Facebook added a new search feature.  And Google made a major change to their Penguin algorithm.

We’ll tell you all about it in today’s SEO Update video.

Video Outline:

Google officially rolled out “Mobile Friendly” label in mobile results and are testing a new ranking algorithm that takes mobile friendliness into account.

  • Mobile is growing at a fast rate. Google who wants to provide the best “search experience”, know when searches are being made from a mobile device and have added a note next to the websites in search results that say “mobile friendly”. You won’t see this note if you are searching from a computer so it won’t affect your rank or traffic in the regular search results. However, if you look at your website traffic year over year, you will see more users are accessing your website through a mobile device. Those websites that are mobile friendly will see increased visibility and traffic compared to the websites that aren’t. Google has supplied several tools for website owners to determine if their websites meet mobile guidelines.

Bing adds local carousel just after Google dropped it.

  • Part of Bing’s strategy is to watch what Google does in their search results and implement certain aspects of Google search if they believe it will entice searchers to use Bing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when Google rolls something out such as the local carousel if it is a test, or a new way of displaying search results. The two things that determine if the test has a positive result are weather it is creating more “click-throughs” to the included search results, and whether or not webmasters are able to manipulate those results for their own gain. We’re not sure as to the real reason Google dropped the carousel, but you can bet there was something about it they just didn’t like. As for Bing…Well I guess they will have to find out for themselves.

Google updates their local guidelines

  • Descriptors of any sort are NOT allowed. This means if the name of your business is Joe’s pizza, you cannot name it “Best Pizza in New York” in Google just to try and gain more business.  You also can’t name “Joe’s Pizza in New York” (adding the city) to try to improve your rankings in New York.
  • Categories should be the more specific category and NOT the overarching, general category. Google has predefined categories to choose from when setting up your local listing. Choosing too many categories or categories that don’t pertain to your business is not allowed.   Also, if you are a Baptist church and Google has categories for both “Churches” and “Baptist Churches” you should select the more specific “Baptist Churches” instead of the more general “Churches”.
  • Two or more brands at the same location must pick one name. This is so companies don’t try to get more exposure by creating multiple companies within the same location just to win over the local search results over their competition. This doesn’t, however, mean that you can’t have different pages for different departments.
  • If Different departments are to have their own page they must have unique categories. If you have business that sells computers and parts and you also have a computer repair department, you can have a page for the computer sales department and a page for the computer repairs department.  Each page will need to select it’s specific category (computer sales and computer repairs).  If you have a church which also has a preschool, you can have separate pages for each and list the pages under the “Churches” and “Preschools” categories.  If you want to make sure you are able to keep both pages, though, you should make sure each “department” has its own contact information (phone, email, maybe even website).  You can use the same address.
  • Virtual Offices are NOT allowed unless staffed. This is big with Lawyers who want to show up in downtown metropolitan areas without leasing out expensive real estate. If a virtual office only costs $90 a month and that address is downtown and is displayed to 1000 more searches a month, it won’t take too many cases to cover that low cost.   But this is not allowed.

Google released Penguin 3.1 on Nov 27 which appeared to mostly help formerly penalized sites recover and then Google rolled most of it back the following week.  Now it appears it’s rolled it out again and many of the sites are recovering again.  Now, Google has officially said that they are continuously applying Penguin and will make changes to the algorithm on the fly.

  • It appears there will no longer be specific roll out dates.  Right now we’ll probably see a good deal of fluctuation in the results for the next few weeks.  After that, once everything has settled in, I expect we won’t see major fluctuations from Penguin with the exception of when they make significant changes to the algorithm “on the fly”.  However, even those probably won’t cause too much fluctuation.

Facebook Search is launched

  • Users can only search for what they can already see anyway on the site.
  • Public posts are not searchable…yet.  (This should change eventually)
  • The exception is hashtags.  This puts an emphasis on the importance of hashtags if you want to be found by people you don’t already know or who haven’t “liked” you.
  • The nice thing for users is that they can search for old posts, now.  From an organizational standpoint, not only might people be able to find your old content, but using hashtags might be a way to attract more people to your organization.  So, I’d encourage you to start trying to use hashtags in your posts.

Tell Us What You Think:

  • Do you use Facebook to search for things?
  • Do you use the Internet on a mobile device?  How important is it to you that a website is mobile friendly?
  • What’s the worst gift you’ve been given for Christmas? 🙂

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