Lots has happened in late May that impacts your online visibility in June as Google has rolled out a very big algorithm update called Penguin 2.0. But that's not all!
Google has sent out message that BrandRank may be coming, that it is actively cracking down on fake Google+ Local business reviews, and giving webmasters more information about local searches.
All in all a very exciting time with lots of important changes. This newsletter tries to make sense of some of these important topics to assist you in understanding what is happening on the Web.
Connect with me online on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Our Blog | Google+
Google+ Community - AdWords Strategies | Google+ Community - Bing Ads Strategies
Is AuthorRank or BrandRank Coming for Businesses on Google?
Is AuthorRank or BrandRank coming for businesses on Google? That's an interesting question and one that I feel Google is leaning toward based on the chatter online, but one I doubt we will see this year. What exactly is BrandRank? First, let's start with a little bit of detail.
This past year Google really pushed AuthorRank as a way to verify individual authors and help to build credibility of content. It all starts with a personal Google+ page, a tie-in to your website, and then tagging of your content you may write around the web. When properly done, you will see a face next to an article and SEO juice flows from links to the owner's website, to the Google+ page, and pushes results higher in personalize and organic placement. It is a real boon for writers such as myself.
Google understood that there are many businesses where this benefit of authority of content would be valuable, especially for big companies/brands. So it quietly rolled out rel="publisher" for businesses in addition to rel="author" for individuals. For brands and companies the ability to tie together a website, blog, Google+ Business page using the publisher tag makes terrific sense.
However, Google has already stated that it won't be putting a face or brand icon next to any of these results, at least not for right now. With Google really pushing AuthorRank, I would expect them to do the same with BrandRank, but more judiciously and most likely not this year. I just don't think that they want to dilute what is happening with AuthorRank yet, but I feel that BrandRank will come in the relatively near future.
In the meantime, I would strongly recommend that you position yourself early and start working to develop BrandRank if it is meaningful for your business. Preferentially use AuthorRank if it makes sense to your business or BrandRank if you are a medium to large business.
Google Cracks Down on Fictitious Google+ Local Reviews
I knew that eventually Google would address the growing problem of SEO firms selling services to create fictitious Google+ Local reviews, and finally they have. Here is a quote from Google:
"For business owners:
- Be wary of an SEO or reputation management service that promises to generate reviews for your business. We've seen companies make up fake glowing testimonies -- and we'll take them down.
- We don't take down negative reviews for simply being negative for anyone, regardless of any other relationships with Google. Instead, we encourage you to utilize the owner response functionality to respond to the review and address the user's concerns.
- If a third party claims that they know how to remove reviews from Google, don't believe them. Google does not work with any third party reputation management companies and we certainly don't remove reviews unless they violate our guidelines.
- Don't set up a computer or tablet device in your place of business for customers to leave reviews on site. Consider sending a reminder e-mail so customers can review on their own time.
- Remember, we don't allow you to give customers free gifts or discounts for leaving reviews." Read the full disclosure for business owners and SEO on this Google page.
Based on what I see, it appears that Google is not only scanning for fake reviews, but actively and aggressively targeting Local Pages that use them, but interesting enough, Google appears to be tracking the IP address of reviews as well. Take a careful look at the section that says don't put a tablet or computer in your place of business -- that means IP tracking.
Additionally Google has turned to crowdsourcing to catch the offenders. If you know a competitor is doing this or suddenly has tons of reviews magically you can report them to Google for review. Google says:
"If you see a review that violates our policy guidelines, you can report the review to us by clicking on the gray flag icon next to the review in question. You'll be taken to a form where you can tell us why you're flagging that review. Please note that we won't follow up with you individually, but we do review every piece of content that is flagged."
This information is very important for website owners. I know of several who have been approached by firms selling these exact review creation services. These resources are stating that they set up individual Google email and Yahoo accounts just for your review creation, work to mask the IP address and then create a glowing supposedly untraceable review. Be wary of these types of services, is it worth being banned from Google+ Local pages to try to scam Google?
Interesting Tidbits on Local Search Results on Google.com
Google has focused on delivering more location specific searches in their index partly because of the new focus on mobile, but also because this is what users want. As a result a new focus on search engine optimization to place on location specific keywords has bloomed into a major industry.
Here are a few tidbits that you may not have been aware of in regards to location specific placement on Google.com.
1. When you check the placement for your site, if you see a map next to your listing then Google is delivering location specific results which may be different than non-location specific results. The map is the key! But Google will now only show seven results in this local grouping. Not ten sites as it used to do so.
2. If when you do a search for your site and you are not in this 7-pack group, take a look at your website, about us page, and all your social media to review and assure that you are adding location specific keywords to help tag your site with the geographic information needed to place in this important local grouping.
3. When Google has more than seven sites that it may want to show in the 7-pack, it will show results based in closest proximity to where it can identify that the reader is located. Additionally I have found that Google will "rack and stack" these listings based on the number of reviews. If your competitors are located nearby to you and they have more reviews than you, your listing may never show in the 7-pack.
4. You can't place in the 7-pack if you are not geographically appropriate to the search query and reader. This is the biggest misunderstanding point for website owners. If you are located in Columbus, you cannot place in the 7-pack for Cincinnati -- you do not have a local space and will never be able to get there. This is a big issue for national selling services. Google simply will not show your results in these location specific searches but rather only local businesses.
For more in-depth information you will want to check out this great article at SiteProNews by Tina Courtney-Brown.