Here’s what making news in the SEO community in the last couple of weeks.

Moz Ranking Factors Preview

Moz is getting ready to publish its latest set of Search Engine Ranking Factors and gave author Eric Enge early access to some of the data. Here is what he has found:

  1. More and more Top 10 Results are Mobile Friendly:
  • 75% of Top 10 Results for commercial searches are mobile friendly.
  • 64% of Top 10 Results for informational searches are mobile friendly.
  1. Using HTTPS is a very new and minor ranking factor:
  • 17% of Top 10 Results for commercial searches use HTTPS.
  • 11% of Top 10 Results for informational searches use HTTPS.

Gary Illyes of Google confirmed HTTPS as a minor ranking factor on July 22, which we are told is used as a tiebreaker when two competing sites are similar in all other aspects. Google has warned that they will continue to increase the weight of this ranking factor over time.

Actionable Takeaway: Mobile Friendliness has arrived. To maintain or improve your rankings your website needs to be Mobile Friendly. HTTPS is on the horizon and many are waiting to see the impact this will have on rankings and the best way to implement on various types of websites.

Google Showing 3 Local Results Instead of 7

We started noticing this ourselves last week and Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable confirmed it on August 7. Google is now showing just 3 local listings with a link to see more. Previously, it had shown 7 local listings in Search Results.

Many SEOs and businesses are upset that just 3 make it to the Google Local Pack, making the competition even tougher.

There are a number of other big differences between Google Local 3-Pack and 7-Pack, as pointed out by Jennifer Slegg:

  • Exact addresses removed (just street name is shown)
  • Phone numbers removed (mobile version still has “call” button option)
  • Google+ links removed
  • Store hours added
  • “Google Reviews” now called “Reviews”
  • No fly out listing when you hover over a business (must click to see information)

When you click on a business from the Local Pack you will see a list of 20 additional local listings (competitors) in the left column, the selected business’ local listings information in the middle, and a map of the area on the right.

Google says they are exploring the best way to bring a better search experience but many business owners and marketers are wondering how this will impact potential calls and clicks.

Actionable Takeaway: Make sure you do everything possible to have a complete Google+ Profile including customer reviews. Make sure your website is properly optimized for the opportunity to show up below the Local Pack. You need to do everything you can to try to get in the Top 3 Local Pack, have a complete profile for if searchers click on you from the list of 20 Competitors on the side, and have a great ranking site if searchers scroll right past the local listings all together.

Reviews Deliver ROI

Myles Anderson has spent a lot of time and resources uncovering the true value of reputation management for local business marketers. Some of his latest findings include:

  • 83% of marketers believe reviews and reputation management absolutely delivers a good ROI,
  • 61% ask customers for reviews, and
  • 73% spend less than 20% of their time on review/reputation related tasks.

The results suggest that Review Management doesn’t have to take up too much of your time, is as simple as asking customers for reviews, and can provide a great ROI.

Anderson sought out an additional four experts in the area to provide advice on reviews, which included:

  1. Positive reviews can mean more clicks than your competitors.
  2. No reviews can be just as detrimental as bad reviews.
  3. Take the time to read, mine, and apply your reviews – both good and bad.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask multiple times for a review.
  5. Remember all sources for reviews … Facebook, Yelp, Google+, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Houzz, Healthgrades, and more. Niche sites in your industry are important too.

Actionable Item: Follow Anderson’s advice in thinking of this process as Reputation Development rather than Reputation management. How can you further develop your reputation?

Recent Google Algorithm Ranking Updates

Google makes hundreds (300-600) of changes to its algorithm each year. Many are minor and go unnoticed but there are some more major updates that affect a significant number of websites and get the SEO community buzzing.

So far in 2015 there have been several Google ranking updates that people are still talking about:

  • Panda 4.2 – July 17, 2015
    This is the 28th Panda refresh that is expected to take months to fully roll out. Panda was first launched on May 20, 2014 and is designed to target low quality content.
  • The Quality Update (aka Phantom) – May 3, 2015
    The SEO Community started buzzing about large scale ranking changes and named this update “Phantom” before Google would officially confirm it. Google did finally confirm this as a quality signals update that has a broad impact.
  • Mobile Update – April 22, 2015
    For the first time ever Google preannounced a ranking update before it happened plus the exact date it would hit, giving website owners a deadline to upgrade to a mobile friendly or mobile responsive website. Many took the warning seriously and upgraded their websites to become mobile friendly. So far the update has had a smaller than expected impact on websites although it is expected to increase in the future.

Actionable Item: Google is making changes to how your site might rank each and every day. Focus on Google’s best practices and principles, and take a holistic approach to SEO and online marketing as a whole.

Have you kept up with all of these changes, or do you need assistance going mobile friendly or secure? Do you have enough reviews and local exposure?

Call us at 1-888-262-6687 for advice.