Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Optimize your site for the latest Google changes

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

google updatesGoogle’s recent changes have had all local SEO pros backing away and rechecking what they are doing and why. The changes are not that complex, but you need to be aware of them and what actions you need to take to make sure your sites remain SEO friendly.

So, what do you do if you were impacted by Google’s moves or what can you learn from this to make sure you are in good shape going forward even if you escaped with rankings in tact on this one?

First step is to get a professional marketing review of your site. You can do this by contacting me, Chuck Taft, local Asheville SEO Pro. I can do free quick reviews for businesses anywhere, but can especially help you if you are in the Asheville area.

From what we know now, we can surmise the following:

Sites that have a high percentage of duplicate content are going to be considered low quality.

Develop new, unique content and grow your site.

Let’s look at this scenario: If you have a page here and there that has duplicate content but the rest of the site has unique content, those pages with the dupe content may not fare well but your site as a whole should still do OK.

But when going page by page, if the engines are hard pressed to find quality, unique content then it will end up impacting your site as a whole.  Google’s official take on this: low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole. So be careful!

Those that repost content and then add a line or two with their opinion on the content, and feel that is enough unique content to satisfy the engines are going to find it  problematic heading forward.  If lots of pages have only a small percentage of the page’s content being unique, those pages won’t fare well either.

Google also seems to be looking for pages that have a high volume of ads that aren’t relevant to the content of the page (especially if the ads are higher up on the page).  These pages will not fare well in today’s Google.

Be sure to review your site and get rid of ads that are irrelevant.  Also be sure your site isn’t too cluttered with ads.

If your site happened to rank well for a phrase but the phrase is not really present in the Title tag or the body content, the page isn’t going to continue to do well going forward.

Review your site and make sure each page has unique Title Tags that use keywords that are also present in the body content.

Keywords being repeated over and over and over and over will trigger the new algorithm to devalue the page.  Keywords should be used appropriately.

Review your content, tone down your keyword density of you need to.  Be sure it reads well. One test many copywriters share is reading your content out loud, your brain processed it differently when it hears the text out loud and you’ll know if there are too many keywords stuffed in there.

The next one is something a lot of people struggle with:

High bounce rates and low time spent on the site can impact rankings.  This will force people to really look at the quality on their site and improve things so they entice visitors to not bounce and to stay longer.  It means strong marketing principals and good copy are going to be more important than ever.

Improve headlines, calls to action and general usability of the site.  CTR (clickthrough rate) from the SERPs (search engine results pages) will also impact rankings.  If your site comes up a lot but no one is clicking, you can be sure it’ll impact things.

asheville local seoReview your Title tags:

Pay attention to the length of your Title tags and be sure your descriptions on the SERPs aren’t being truncated before you reveal the most important info. This is key!  People need to be able to see what you offer and how it’s relevant to their query.  So also get your keyword in there early.  In other words, look at where Google is pulling the data from that they display in the SERPs (usually your Title tag is what they use to create the main headline for the listing) and make sure that area of text is compelling, and that is explains exactly what the page has to offer, it’s also helpful if it includes a keyword phrase.

Ex: A Must Have Comprehensive Guide: Learn How To Care For Your Pet Fish – not so good – the keyword phrase is pushed to the back of the phrase and will likely get truncated.

Ex: How To Care For Your Pet Fish – Must Have, Comprehensive Guide  – much better – they keyword phrase is at the start but you also still got the descriptive compelling content in there.

If you need your company name in your Title tag, put it at the end.

Think of your Title tag like an ad – be descriptive of what the page is about but be compelling so people want to click through.  Promise a benefit (as long as your content delivers on what you promise)

They don’t want to see boilerplate content (content that is the same and repeated on every page).

Review your site and look for blocks of content that you are reusing on multiple pages.  Tweak it, so it’s unique.

Sites that aren’t getting some social exposure (mentions and links from social media sites) won’t do well.

Yep we keep saying it, and it’s true – you need to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Need some help with that?  Email me with questions!

Even if you weren’t hit in the big update, if your site has many issues in the areas outlined above you can and will lose rankings over time.  Sites that excel in what Google is looking for will dominate.

Now is actually a GREAT time to optimize your site.  You can jump in there and show Google that your site is worthy of rankings.

Are Tag Clouds dangerous to your blog?

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Here is a fascinating little video from Matt Cutts over at Google talking about how Tag Clouds can be dangerous to your blog. For those of you wondering just how efficient Google is at determining where on the page your keywords are, and this video is informative. In short, it suggests that tag clouds can hurt your blog. There are several reasons why they can cause problems and you should be aware of this:

This can have obviously implications for local SEO. My own research backs up what Matt is saying about Tag Clouds.

SEO update: Google adds +1 recommendations in search results

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The folks at Google continue to make recommendations important to SEO. Today they’ve rolled out a new function increasing that aspect that you should be aware of as you focus on building and promoting your webpage.

Google’s goal is to get you the most relevant results as quickly as possible. But relevance is about relationships as well as words on webpages. That’s why they recently started to include more information from people you know—stuff they’ve shared on Twitter, Flickr and other sites—in Google search results.

Today they’re taking that a step further by enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results. It’s called +1—the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. Soon these +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results.

The +1 button will appear next to each search result

After pressing the +1 button, you have the option to undo the action immediately

Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, Calif. When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate. And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop.

The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results). For more information about +1, watch this video:

So how do they know which +1’s to show you? Like social search, Google uses many signals to identify the most useful recommendations, including things like the people you are already connected to through Google (your chat buddies and contacts, for example). Soon they may also incorporate other signals, such as your connections on sites like Twitter, to ensure your recommendations are as relevant as possible. If you want to know who you’re connected to, and how, visit the “Social Circle and Content” section of the Google Dashboard.

To get started +1’ing the stuff you like, you’ll need to create a Google profile—or if you already have one, upgrade it. You can use your profile to see all of your +1’s in one place, and delete those you no longer want to recommend. To see +1’s in your Google search results you’ll need to be logged into your Google Account.

Google will be be slowly rolling out +1’s, starting in English on If you can’t wait to start seeing +1’s, they’ll soon let you opt-in to the launch by visiting the experimental search site. Initially, +1’s will appear alongside search results and ads, but in the weeks ahead they’ll appear in many more places (including other Google products and sites across the web). If you’re an advertiser and want to learn more about how the +1 button works on search ads and websites, visit Goggle’s AdWords blog.

The new +1 feature, combined with all of the social content Google  is now including in search, will mean even better, more relevant results than you get today. It’s effect on SEO and local SEO will be huge as you will want people to +1 you as much as possible, raising your page rank on Google searches.

Yelp jumps ahead of Google using service areas as ranking factors

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Nearly a year ago Google added the ability to set a service area for local businesses in Google Places. At the time there was speculation as to how it might influence rankings and many local SEO’s quickly realized it didn’t have as much influence as promoted. Except that if you opted to hide your address, because you were a home based business, it more or less kicked you right out of the rankings all together. That unfortunate side effect of hiding an address has been fixed since the roll out of the new blended organic-local results. But there still is no strong ranking benefits outside of the actual city your address is tied to.

Service Area settings in Yelp

Will Google one day get around to using service areas as a ranking factor for businesses serving say, a larger metropolitan area from one of the outskirt communities (a common occurrence)? Well it appears Yelp has recently done just that.

…business owners in service-based categories who have unlocked their Yelp page will be able to add up to 5 major cities to their areas of service via our Business Owner Tools!

The best part? Once a business updates its areas of service, it becomes searchable in those cities on Yelp.

This feature has been added only for specific categories of businesses, these that tend to be service based businesses that travel to customers locations.

Now that Yelp has upped the ante, how long till Google follows suit?

New focus for Google Social

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Google announced last week that it was no longer relegating its so-called “Social Search” results to the bottom of Google search pages. Such results  have been “lost” there since the feature was introduced in 2009. The results from users’ social graphs (to use a Facebook term) will now be integrated with standard search results (including those displayed with Google Instant) based on their relevance to user queries.

According to a post on Google’s corporate blog:

First, social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created. So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture [click the image to see it full-sized]:

This sort of result requires that “friends” either link their social media to their Google profiles or share media directly via the profiles (for example, via Google Buzz). However, social media shared publicly by your friends will also now appear in search results:

For example, if you’re looking for a video of President Obama on “The Daily Show” and your friend Nundu tweeted the video, that result might show up higher in your results and you’ll see a note with a picture of Nundu…

Perhaps the most useful enhancement to the social search results, though, comes through easier, more private linking of social media accounts with either your Google profile or your Google account:

You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now we’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account. (After all, you may not want everyone to know you’re @spongebobsuperfan on Twitter.) In addition, if our algorithms find a public account that might be yours (for example, because the usernames are the same), we may invite you to connect your accounts right on the search results page and in your Google Account settings.

This is all well and good, but what’s the takeaway? Google has struggled to come up with any sort of reasonably competitive answer to Facebook. It just hasn’t happened. Google’s strength, however, has always been search and managing the countless bits of data on the Web through complex algorithms. One has to ask, in fact, if Google even needs its own social platform if it can instead just index and make more useful all of the other social platforms that already exist. Time will tell…

The return of Google local listing ads

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Remember Local Listing Ads?  You know, the ones Google released way back in October 2009 when lots of you were at SMX East?

Well, they’re back.  Only this time, they’re available through the ADWORDS interface rather than the Places interface.

Google just announced that something called “Location Extensions” are now going to have the same effect — a blue pushpin clearly labeled as a sponsored result, but one that shows up on the map of local businesses within Place Search also.

Clearly these are going to have the greatest effect for the businesses than can afford to get that #1 slot (or at least a slot above the 3/7/O-Pack), but it’ll be interesting to see whether clickthrough levels will also go up on the blue pushpins for advertisers who maintain their bids at positions further down the page.

Two of the things I said about LLA’s are still relevant 16 months on:

1. Internet Yellow Pages (and any businesses without a physical location) who tried to cope with the loss of traffic by buying more Adwords are now going to find it even more difficult to compete for Local searches.

2. The blue pushpin icons are sure to have a significant positive impact on clickthrough for the businesses advertising with LLA’s, taking traffic away from traditional Adwords (i.e. for non-brick-and-mortar businesses).

But, there’s one big difference:

LLA’s had easy-to-understand benefits and pricing.

These location extensions require an SMB to be a pretty savvy Adwords advertiser in order to get them to show up.  I’ll be interested to see whether Google re-releases these location extensions as a simple “one-click install” within the Places Dashboard soon.

SEO and More: the many uses of Google

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Local SEO gurus spend a lot of time on Google, but even we are surprised sometimes by all the different services this seemingly simple search engine provides. Some of these handy uses can help with local search engine optimization and some can’t, but it’s neat to know all of them and convenient to use some of the shortcuts Google provides.

The architects of the most powerful search engine in the world have included some really handy algorithms in their service, which allow searchers to quickly locate particular and specific types of information.

Area Codes

Enter a US telephone area code in the URL box to see a map of the area covered by that telephone area code.


In order to quickly find the definition of a word, simply type “define: word” in the search box. Google will then provide the definition of the word.


Type a math problem into the Google search box, and Google will calculate the answer. Google acts as a calculator when mathematical calculation is presented. Google recognizes the following mathematical symbols: addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*), division (/), to the power of (^), and square root of a number (sqrt).


To see the weather for many US and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, US zipcode, or city and country. Google will provide a current weather forecast.

Current Time

To see the current time in any city around the world, type “time” and the name of the city. Google will display the current time for that city.

Patent Search

To search for US patents, enter the word “patent” into the Google search box, followed by the patent number. Google will display the details of that particular patent.

Track Shipments

Shipments can easily be tracked using Google simply by entering the tracking number for your UPS, FedEx, or USPS package directly into the Google search box. Google will return the tracking results and status of the shipment.

Stock Quotes

Google can help investors keep an eye on the changing stock market. To see current market data for a given company or fund, simply type the ticker symbol into the Google search box. The resulting webpage displays financial data from the Google Finance service.


Looking for a map? Type in the name or US zipcode for a location, along with the word “map” and Google will display a map of that location.

Convert Currency

Google also has a built-in currency converter. Simply enter the conversion you would like to see performed in the Google search box, and Google will provide the currency conversion.

Flight Status

To view the flight status for arriving and departing US airline flights, enter the name of the airline and the flight number into the Google search box. Airport delays and details can be found by typing in the name of the city or three-letter airport code, followed by the word “airport”.


To see trends for population and unemployment rates of US states and counties, type “population” or “unemployment rate” followed by a state or county. You can click through to a page that lets you compare different locations.

Related Websites

Google will display webpages that contain similar content. Include “related:” followed by a website address in the Google search box for a listing of related websites.

Linked Websites

When “link:” is used in the Google search box, and followed by a URL, the search results will include a listing of all webpages indexed by the search engine which contain links to the specified URL (i.e. to see how many websites are linking back to your site, or to a competitor’s site).

20. Indexed Pages

When “site:” is entered in the Google search box, followed by a domain name, the search engine locates all documents within a specific domain, including all of its sub-domains. This is an easy way to get a rough idea of the number of pages indexed for a given domain.

There are plenty of other Google tricks and uses, some of them even I haven’t discovered yet and some I have. Google continues to be more than just a search engine for millions of people.