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December 2011 may have been pretty uneventful month in search but the history of SEO will certainly remember January 2012.

Google+ or bust

Just when we had thought Google Plus was going the same way as Google’s previous attempts to create a social network, Google has shown it intends to bet the crown jewels on making it work.

The ridiculously named Search Plus Your World (SPYW) has yet to make it to our shores but it can’t be far away. If the pages for brands were a carrot for businesses to play on Google+, SPYW is the flipping big stick.

Gem up with this great Google+ SEO primer because engaging with Google+ is now a must, however unexcited you may be by that prospect.  (Even I’m having a go)

Remember Social Search?

Showing your friend’s food poisoning rant or deliberations over the eloquent presentation of the scallops when you search for local restaurants has been the promise of social search for many years.
scallops
Creative Commons License photo credit: foto.bulle

SPYW is a very large step on this road. As ever Search Engine Land explains it all perfectly. Of course its a bit more serious than just raw chicken fails as this applies to your business too.  People and relationships are becoming key to ranking.

(There’s something ironic about the word “Spy” being in SPYW acronyn – my iPad even auto-corrects it to SPYWARE)

Crap results? Here to stay?

Google has received a lot of flack about the relevance of SPYW and abusing it’s monopoly to promote its own social network.

Will it stick around? It will evolve but it looks like it will. “Like it or lump it” seems to be the message coming from the CEO. It’s either the beginning of the end for Google or the reinvention. Only time (and possibly regulators) will tell which.

Google updating it’s privacy policies at the same time is no coincidence – data from Google’s products won’t just influence the adverts you see, it will start playing a significant role in your search results.

You feel a post IPO Facebook will find it hard to resist spicing things by stepping into the search engine game.

Attacat Joel also discusses Google+ in his Social Media Roundup for January. Overlap between SEO and social is only going to increase.

Rank reports are dead. Long live rank reports

One of the challenges of increased personalisation of results is that rank checking software is struggling to cope. We’ve slowly been losing faith in rank report tools but this month saw a new source that could actually be pretty good – an updated Google Webmaster Tools.

Algorithm updates

Google has stepped up its efforts to reduce the ranks of advert heavy sites . How can they detect ads? This very intelligent speculation provides good reason to question what we assume about what Googlebot can “see” and could well be how Big G is identifying these ad sites.

A monthly update to Panda has now become par for the course. This month‘s stood out though for the fact that it was described as unchanged from last month for the first time.

Quality Rating

My last roundup discussed the accidental release of Google’s Quality Rater’s handbook. The quality rating process is fascinating because it gives insight into what Google wants to see in its search results. Understanding that is an SEO-must so reading this interview with a quality rater will stand you in good sted.

Google penalises itself for paid links

The paid link debate (do or don’t) took an interesting twist with Google Chrome being outed for paid links and then being compelled to award itself a ranking penalty. The paid links were the result of Google outsourcing some marketing to a third party (who then outsourced again). The most interesting question this raises if Google can’t keep control, how do they expect the rest of us to do so. They are pushing water up a hill.

January Resources

Here’s a selection of links worthy of a browse:

  • The impact of freshness on ranks – As SEOs we tend to talk about the importance of fresh content a lot. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever seen that explains it
  • The Rise of Mail Online – It is a sign of the times that I can now learn things about SEO in the mainstream press. I found this BBC article about the Mail Online’s SEO quite intriguing
  • An European Union press release (that isn’t about privacy) – Seems the EU are going to open up it’s data – there will be many an SEO opportunity for those who look.
  • SEO Book has been busy producing a couple of cracking infographics on the evolution of SEO (below)

 

How Google Killed the Longtail Infographic.

Infographic by SEO Book

How Google Hit Organic Links.

SEO Infographic by SEO Book

And finally a word about the English

This happened before the rugby this weekend but hey ho.  Perhaps Mr.Salmond knows how to Googlebomb.

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