This week we learn Google is really getting fed up with two things: deceptive robocallers and repeat violators of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Also, another nail was driven into the proverbial coffin that is Google+ and structured data markup may start to become a whole lot more important in the near future.
Full details on each of these top stories in this week’s SEO news roundup.
Latest SEO News – Week Ending 9/18/2015
Google vs. Repeat Violators
Google came out this week saying the company is fed up with repeat violators of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Here’s what’s going on. Site owners are doing things to intentionally violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, such as buying links for example. When these site owners are hit with penalties, they get the troublesome links removed and then submit a reconsideration request.
After reviewing the request, Google sees the links have been removed and so it revokes the penalty. When the site owner sees the penalty is removed, they then go and get those troublesome links back thinking Google will no longer check for them.
Well Google does check for these things, over and over again, and site owners are repeatedly getting nailed. Google is apparently tired of site owners constantly breaking the rules, and has said it will start to take further action on repeat violators.
What “further action” means is unknown at this time, but I certainly wouldn’t want to find out first hand. Word to the wise: play by Google’s rules!
Google vs. Robocallers
Have you ever received an automated call that claims to come from someone working at Google? Many business owners are receiving these calls, and subsequently being pressured into paying for local search services.
The problem is that these calls are not coming from Google, and the companies making the calls do not have your best interest in mind. In most cases, if you tell them you’re not interested they will call again and again until you commit to an agreement for services.
Google announced this week it is suing one marketing agency accused of deceptive robocalls, which should send a message to other companies to cease this practice.
Google doesn’t send automated phone calls, so if you’re speaking to anyone other than a human you’re not talking to Google. Google has created a form where people can submit the names of companies making robocalls, so hopefully one by one they will be identified and have appropriate action taken against them.
Critical Changes Made to Google+ in Search
Google+ has much less of a presence in search results. It was noticed this week that even when you search for the name of a business, you will not get a link to the Google+ page.
When you conduct a local search you will still get the local 3-pack, but when you click on it you get a Google Maps listing along with a link to the business’s website.
Below the 3-pack are links to sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, OpenTable, and so on.
Google+ is practically invisible now — you’re not required to have it, you can’t find it in search, and who knows how many people are even actively using it.
Where Google goes from here with it’s social network is anyone’s guess — the company has made no official statement. However, there’s no doubt it has happened and it must have been done for a reason.
Structured Data Markup May Become a Ranking Signal
We include structured data markup in all of our on-page optimization strategies because it’s a way of providing more information to searchers within the search results pages.
Soon, structured data may end up having another benefit: better rankings.
This news comes from Google’s John Mueller in a Google+ Hangout earlier this week, who said structured data may be used to help find the most relevant pages for particular search queries:
”If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard. We don’t have to guess if this page is about a car.”
Mueller went on to say Google will try to find a balance between sites that are done technically well with structured data, and sites that have the best on-page content.
So, structured data on its own won’t create an automatic rankings boost, but it might help Google determine if your web page is more relevant than another when assessing different sets of search queries.
Wrapping it Up
It sounds like robocallers will soon become a thing of the past, and Google would like to put a similar stop to repeat Webmaster Guidelines violators. Google+ is largely becoming a thing of the past, and structured data may become an important new ranking signal in the future.
If you have any questions or concerns about this week’s top stories, please leave a comment below and I will be sure to respond.