The Walking Dead, Google Authorship Edition

Summary of Search

Google recently announced the end of Google Authorship, a feature the SEO community thought might become a major part of Google’s ranking formula. With Google Authorship, photos of writers were shown in Google’s search results – when rel=”author” and rel=”me” tags were embedded pointing to their Google plus profile.

zombie-156055_640In December 2013, Google reduced the amount of authorship photos showing in their search results. Then photos were removed altogether in June. And finally, Google completely removed Authorship from their search results last week.

Low Adoption Rates by Webmaster and Authors
Authorship was sometimes difficult to implement, and not appropriate for all sites. Many brands didn’t feel a person’s photo was the best representation in Google’s search results.

Provided Low Value for Searchers
Some studies showed an increase in click-throughs for listings with Google Authorship. But Google found users were often being distracted from the best content.

Snippets that Matter
Google’s Representative John Mueller did provide Google’s future direction: Expanding support of Schema.org: “This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.” The rich snippets for “People” and “Organization” are certainly something to include where possible/applicable.

Implications for Google Plus
Google plus adoption is well below expectations, especially considering the tie in with popular services such as gmail and youtube. Google authorship was also tied in, and meant to improve the social rank in search results for those producing great content. With the death of Google Authorship, it looks like one more “nail in the coffin” for Google plus.

Are Authors Important?
Some interesting bits of information have been given away by Google. Amit Singhal, the head of Google Search, said that Author Rank was used for the “In-depth articles” section – which appears in 12% of Google’s search results.

Google has also long been able to read bylines: These were used before Google patented “Author Rank” in 2007, are more naturally included where applicable, and are likely to continue being used.

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Doing the Pigeon (Update)

Last month, Google rolled out one of their largest local search updates in quite some time. Since Google didn’t name the update, Search Engine Land named this one the Google Pigeon Update. It’s seemingly unrelated to Google’s Pigeon Rank, an April Fools joke from back when Google did good and funny things.

This update does not penalize sites, but does change how local results are shown:
– Fewer queries are generating a map listing / “local pack”
– More traditional SEO signals are used, such as title tags and quality inbound links.

Some interesting things are happening with this update:
– When a query includes the word “yelp”, those listings on yelp.com are back at the top. This fixes a recent bug.
– Web design and SEO companies are getting shown in local queries again!

If you depend on local traffic, hopefully your results weren’t negatively impacted by the update. The best approach for local visibility includes these tasks:
– make sure to update and creat local directory listings on authority sites such as yelp.
– Use the highest quality photo on your Google+ business profile, and get more reviews. You might make it into the Carousel listings at the top of Google for some queries.
– Make sure your business Name, Address and Phone(NAP) are consistent on your site, google+ business page, and local directories.
– Be sure your city/state is in site’s title tags

And now for something good, and funny:

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Their site also provides an excellent backlink. You may even get human visitors, website projects and new partners. Now THAT’s business development link building!

Penalized: Even Web Giants Aren’t Too Big To Fail

In the early days of the web, having great search engine optimization meant increased visibility for a business. Outranking the competition could lead to higher sales. Any leads that came in via the website were icing on the cake. Now, a strong web presence, leads and web-based revenue have become a vital part of business. In today’s world, the web represents a significant portion of even a brick-and-mortar’s revenue.

For companies such as ebay.com and retailmenot.com, losing Google’s traffic overnight due to a rule infraction can be a killer, but that is exactly what has happened in recent months. Ebay.com lost 33% of their organic traffic after being given a “manual penalty” from Google. Retailmenot.com lost 25% of their revenue, thanks to Google’s Panda 4 Update.

Other penalty stories and analysis continue rolling in after-the-fact. Only Google truly knows what eBay did wrong. Ebay employs some smart SEOs, but they may not truly know what everything to do – or undo. They can file a “reconsideration request”, and wait. But we can only guess when the penalty will be lifted. It’s unlikely that eBay will rise to its former position anytime soon, as the trick is up.

Reailmenot, which is, ironically, funded in part by Google Ventures, has overall guidelines for content quality they can try to adhere to more closely. But these Panda penalties are not always cut and dry, either.

SEO is becoming more and more about risk management. Could your business afford a substantial drop in rankings? Google’s formula is continually being updated and even practices that were recommended by Google in years past are now being penalized. Looking at Google’s future direction is more than a whimsical pastime for business leaders – it’s vital to ensuring future growth or survival.

With arbitrary rules and swift justice, it’s important to future-proof your SEO as much as possible:Hyper Dog Media Denver SEO

  • Create content that your prospects will take the time to read, share, and discuss.
  • Market your content to other sites using social media, outreach and good old fashioned business development.
  • Don’t get clever with Google. If Google hasn’t already started penalizing a certain tactic, know that it will.
  • Stay up to date on Google’s ever-changing rules. Our Hyper Dog Media Monthly Summary of Search is a low bandwidth newsletter to keep you in Google’s good graces.

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Get a free link for your agency: Would you like our monthly take on the changing world of SEO delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Hyper Dog Media SEO Newsletter HERE! When you subscribe, each newsletter will contain a link idea for your business!