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January 24, 2011

SEO Update – December 2010

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Happy New Year and best wishes for 2011 from the team at Bruce Clay.

Welcome to our monthly SEO update for December 2010. This update highlights key news in the Search Engine Optimisation industry during December 2010, key SEO related blog posts from our bloggers in the US and Australia, key articles covered in our global newsletter and key podcasts from our Webmaster radio show.

1. SEO News

a) Local Search Results are taking over more of the SERPs

With 20% of searches on Google having local intent, Google is rapidly changing its results for local searches. Your location is automatically determined, and it influences the results on the page: e.g. a query for “Gift Baskets” will display different results for a user in Melbourne than it will for one in Sydney.

Implication: For certain queries with local intent, such as “gift baskets”, websites will have to be locally optimised so Google realises the website is not only relevant to the query, but also the location. Optimising to ensure relevant pages appear local.

b) Google Favourite Places

Google is rolling out a new service called “Favourite Places”, and so far 100,000 businesses in 5,000 towns and cities across the US have been invited to participate. Participating business receive a sticker to put on their window that allows customers (and people walking past the business on the street) to interact with the business on their mobile phones, getting detailed information about the business such as their hours of operation and customer reviews. Eligibility is determined by how many users looked for information about the business on Google, and is influenced by many factors, such as how many people looked for driving directions on Google Maps.

Implications: Google is serious about local search, and is broadening the factors used to determine a site’s rankings. Now, your offline marketing efforts will start to impact your online rankings, as your popularity can be influenced by customers searching for your address. Ensure your contact details are spiderable and up to date not only on your site but in all other areas referenced.

c) Google Hotpot

Google is experimenting with a new kind of social search influenced by what you, your friends, family, and online connections are searching for. Rate and review places you are familiar with, and see what your social network recommends.

Implication: Google is taking personalisation to a new level by displaying results on Google Maps based on what is popular with your friends. Creating positive online and offline experiences for your customers, and encouraging them to share and rate your services online, is going to become more integral to your search strategy.

d) Bad Reviews No Longer Boost Your Rankings

There was a recent case in the US where an online eyeglass retailer was using bad publicity to boost his website rankings. His link building “strategy” was to give his customers the worst customer service possible, including stalking and threatening them, so they would publicly complain about his business online. These complaints were picked up by newspapers and other authoritative sites, causing the number of backlinks to his site to rise, and in turn improved his rankings. When it was brought to Google’s attention what was going on, they quickly changed their algorithm to prevent this from happening again in the future.

The implication of this aligns with what Bruce Clay stands for: while loop-holes and other black-hat strategies like this may work in the short term, in the long term websites should only pursue white-hat and ethical link building strategies. Also social signals are a part of the algorithm and having your brand + keywords talked about online is key.

e) Mobile Searches Grew 130%

Like Local Search, Mobile Search continues to grow. In Q3, the number of searches from mobile devices increased by 130% year over year. Google is continuously innovating in the mobile space with advancements such as “click to call” in PPC advertising, so their intention to emphasise the mobile platform is clear.

Implication: Rankings for mobile search queries use a different algorithm, requiring a specific mobile optimisation of websites in order for them to rank well. Local searches can also provide Google detailed location data of the query down to the street corner it was made from, further integrating with the idea of localisation. Consider your “local” strategy and what local information your customers and prospective customers will require.

d) Hacked site notifications in search results

Google search results now give an indication of whether a site has been hacked. The notification “This site may be compromised” appears below the search result title. This notification is also a link to an article in the Google help centre which explains more. Google uses various automated tools to help detect if a site has been compromised, and will be removed when the issue has been addressed.

Implication: Exercise caution if you are going to visit a site which Google notes may be compromised.

e) Google Webmaster Tools Updated

The search queries and links area of Google Webmaster Tools received some updates:

  • Able to see “top” pages along with other more detailed data based on the pages performance in the search results
  • Links to your site now shows when a URL redirects

Implication: Continue monitoring Google Webmaster Tools

2. Blogs

Key blog posts in December:

3. Newsletter

Key newsletter articles in December:

To receive copies of this monthly newsletter, please subscribe at http://www.bruceclay.com.au/web_newsletter.htm.

4. Webmaster Radio – SEM Synergy

Podcast in December:

5. Bruce Clay Training Courses

The next training dates are as follows:

For more information on training, visit our SEO training page.

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One response to “SEO Update – December 2010”

  1. Derrick T Spruiell writes:

    Thanks for a great post with excellent points on social marketing strategies! I also love your Social Media Checklist



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