News on 3 Google Search Ranking Factors

Hi, I’m Paul Steinbrueck and welcome to OurChurch.Com’s monthly SEO Update for July 2016, keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the world of search and how it affects you.

You might think there would be less search news during the summer vacation season, but exactly the opposite is the case. We’ve got 7 search marketing news stories to share with you, including 3 about Google search rankings factors a big upcoming change to Google.

Everyone like’s free stuff, so let’s start with this…

1) Free Angie’s List
If you’re not familiar with Angie’s List, it’s a directory of contractors and home service providers with reviews provided by customers. Previously it was a subscription-based website, meaning users had to pay to access the listings and reviews, but that has all changed. Now you can access Angie’s List for free.

This will likely result in a big increase in users and traffic. Search rankings for listings in Angie’s List will increase and referrals from Angie’s List will increase as well, so if your business fits into one of Angie’s List’s categories, now would be a good time to make sure your business is listed.

Angie’s List is now free: What this change means for your business

2) Where do most shoppers start their online search for products?
If you answered Google, you’d be wrong. A recent survey conducted by PowerReviews found that while 35% of people start product searches on Google, 38% start on Amazon. So, if you sell a product, it’s a good idea to find ways to sell it through Amazon.

Survey: Amazon beats Google as starting point for product search

Now let’s get to some news about Google search ranking factors

3) Do Domain TLDs Help Search Rankings?
In the last few years lots of new Top Level Domains or TLDs like .church and .attorney have become available. Some people have claimed that having a domain name with a keyword in the TLD will help a website’s search rankings for that keyword. Well, Google responded by specifically stating that is not true. So, getting a domain like will not help your search rankings for keywords with “church” in them. However, getting a domain like still does.

Google says keywords in the TLD part of your URL are ignored for ranking purposes

4) Goodbye Google Authorship
Several years ago Google introduced “authorship” as a search ranking factor. The concept was an individual could gain authority as an author, and articles they write would rank better no matter what site they appeared on. As someone who has several blogs and regularly has articles published on other blogs, it seemed like a good idea to me. But Google has gradually backed away from it and now its stopped using Authorship entirely.

Google has stopped using authorship completely, even for in-depth articles

5) Google Uses RankBrain on All Searches
RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system Google developed that automatically learns from past searches to improve Google’s search results. A few months ago I blogged about RankBrain becoming one of the top 3 factors in Google Search algorithm. At the time, RankBrain only influenced about 15% of searches. Recently Google revealed that it is using RankBrain on all searches now.

My first thought when I heard that was, “What can I do to endear a site to RankBrain and improve it’s search rankings?” The answer is… nothing. Google says you cannot optimize or do SEO for RankBrain. What you can do though is what you’ve hopefully been doing all along… creating and sharing great, useful content.

Google uses RankBrain for every search, impacts rankings of “lots” of them

Finally, last but not least…

6) Ads Coming to Google Local 3 Pack
When you search Google for something that has local relevance like a church, school, or a plumber, Google includes what’s called the “Local 3 Pack” in the results. It’s a map with 3 sites listed under it.

Google used to show 7 sites in its “local pack” but a year ago they cut it down to 3, making it more than twice as difficult for a local organization to appear on the first page of the Google search results. Google recently revealed they plan to introduce ads to the local 3 pack. The example they gave showed an ad with just 2 organic local listings below it.

If you’re a local organization, you can prepare for this change by increasing your local SEO efforts to get your site into the top 2 of the local pack so it stays on the first page of the search results when Google introduces the ads.

Google confirms ads coming to Local Pack

That is all for this month’s update.

Remember, we live in this internet age, so it’s important that you stay strong in the search engines so you can live out your mission online. We here at OurChurch.Com are here to help you do that, so if we can answer any questions for you or do anything else to help you improve your search engines and live out your mission online, please give us a call or send us an email.

Thanks for watching!

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