This week the SEO world was hit with big news when Google began rolling out a refresh of its Penguin algorithm. Penguin is the name of an algorithm developed by Google to weed out spammy sites from the search results.
More specifically, Penguin targets sites that have attempted to manipulate their search engine ranking by building a large number of unnatural backlinks. I originally broke the news for Search Engine Journal over the weekend, and since then the post has received over 16,000 page views and counting. Did I mention this was big news?!
In this roundup I will give you all the details about Penguin, as well as highlight a few other new developments this week in the world of search.
Latest SEO News – Week Ending 10/17/14
Speculation about a Penguin update was circulating for weeks before Google finally started rolling it out. At the time, not a lot was known about the newest iteration of Penguin, or Penguin 3.0 as it’s now known as.
Thankfully, only a few days later a Google engineer named Pierre Far revealed more information about Penguin 3.0. We now know that Penguin 3.0 is actually a refresh and not a full-fledged update.
What’s the difference? The difference between a ‘refresh’ and an ‘update’ is that a refresh doesn’t add any new signals to the algorithm. When Google refreshes an algorithm they are running it again in order to demote sites that have been engaging in spammy activity since the last algorithm refresh, as well as help sites that have corrected their spam issues since the last refresh.
That means if you have been penalized in the past for inbound links that were pointing to your site, and have since been trying to clean up those links, it’s possible your site has recovered due to the Penguin 3.0 refresh.
With any algorithm update or refresh it’s always a good idea to check your Google Analytics data to see if there has been a sharp incline or decline in your traffic. Either one could indicate that you were directly affected by Penguin 3.0. If your traffic has been holding steady since Friday October 17th, then chances are you were not affected by this particular algorithm refresh. If your traffic has significantly declined since that date, let us know and we can help assess your situation and come up with a recovery game plan.
If you use Google AdWords to drive traffic to your site, there’s a new feature coming out next month that could potentially have more customers calling your business.
Local number call forwarding will allow you to a use local number for call extensions using Google forwarding numbers (as opposed to their toll free numbers, which are currently the only option for this feature). That means you will soon be able to show a local Google forwarding number on your ads with the same area code as your business phone number, or an area code for the same region.
Since people are more likely to call a number with an area code they recognize, this feature could really help you drive more business if you’re primarily focused on a local market. Full information about how to set up this new feature, when it’s available, can be found by clicking on the link above.
Every year, SEO software company Moz releases a report of factors affecting local search rankings. In this report Moz looks the most important factors Google considers when ranking a site in local search results, and Moz also compares this data to last year’s data to see what has gone up and down in terms of importance.
There is a lot of data to dissect in that report, so I’ll only give you the most important stuff. However, if you want to learn more than you’ll ever need to know about local search ranking factors, I encourage you to check out the link above!
Here are the top 10 ranking factors affecting local search in 2014, in order of importance. If you’re a local business, this is what Google is currently looking at when ranking your site:
- On-Page Signals: Presence of name, address, phone number (NAP), and keywords in titles.
- Link Signals: Quality of links to your site, quantity of links to your site, overall domain authority, etc.
- External Location Signals: Consistency of NAP information across listings like Yellow Pages, Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc.
- Google+ Business Page Signals: Categories, keywords in business title, proximity to individual searchers, etc.
- Review Signals: Review quantity, review diversity, etc.
- Personalization: However Google chooses to personalize results for the individual searcher.
- Behavioral/Engagement Signals: Clickthrough rate, mobile clicks to call a phone number, check-ins, etc.
- Social Signals: Google+ authority, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, etc.
If you were looking to improve your local search presence, but weren’t sure where to start, I suggest going through that list starting from the top down.
If you have any thoughts or questions about this week’s SEO news updates, please leave a comment below!