Wow, A Lot Of Stuff Just Happened In SEO

    June 14, 2013
    Chris Crum

It’s been a pretty big week for search and SEO news. There have been a lot of announcements, not only from Google, but from Google competitors. Let’s recap, and discuss in the comments.

Which of the latest announcements do you believe will have the biggest impact on webmasters? On your SEO strategy? Let us know what you think.

On Monday, Apple had its big Worldwide Developer’s Conference keynote, where it unveiled the latest versions of its Mac OS X and iOS operating systems. Within these unveilings were a few pieces of noteworthy search news. For one, its adding more search options to Safari, which is significant given that it has made moves in recent memory to distance itself further from Google. The big piece of news here, however, was the addition of Bing (Google’s biggest search competitor) to Siri as the web search provider. We discussed the implications of this in more depth here, but suffice it to say, this could lead to a lot more people accessing your content from Bing if you’re ranking there. In other words, you now have more of a reason to optimize for Bing.

Also on Monday, Google released a video discussing mistakes webmasters are commonly making when using the Disavow Links tool.

The most common mistake is that people are uploading the wrong kinds of files.

Yelp, a frequent critic of Google’s (which generates its own share of criticism) is making moves to become a better local search tool. See its newly revamped “Nearby” mobile feature. Local businesses now have even more incentive to be found in Yelp. Speaking of Yelp, Greg Sterling at Screenwerk shares an anecdote in which a plumber claimed that 95% of his leads come from the service. This caught the attention of CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:

Clearly some are finding Yelp well worth it, despite those decrying the service.

Google made a major announcement in that it is readying ranking changes for mobile content. Basically, if you’re not providing smartphone users with the relevant content you’re providing them on the desktop, you’re going to be in trouble.

“Some websites use separate URLs to serve desktop and smartphone users,” explain Google’s Yoshikiyo Kato and Pierre Far. “A faulty redirect is when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-optimized website. A typical example is when all pages on the desktop site redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone-optimized site.”

“This kind of redirect disrupts a user’s workflow and may lead them to stop using the site and go elsewhere,” they add. “Even if the user doesn’t abandon the site, irrelevant redirects add more work for them to handle, which is particularly troublesome when they’re on slow mobile networks. These faulty redirects frustrate users whether they’re looking for a webpage, video, or something else, and our ranking changes will affect many types of searches.”

More on all of this here.

In addition to that, Google’s Matt Cutts hinted at SMX Advanced that mobile site speed could soon become a ranking factor. Google made site speed a signal several years ago, and it looks like they’ll be taking that a step further with mobile in mind.

Cutts revealed quite a few things at SMX Advanced, actually. Here’s the whole discussion he had with interviewer Danny Sullivan:

One thing he mentioned at the conference was that Google started rolling out a new ranking update to clean up more spammy queries. It’s been unofficially referred to as the “payday loans” update. Google had previously warned about forthcoming efforts in this area, and these efforts are now taking effect.

In other algorithm update news, Cutts also indicated that Google hasn’t rolled out a Panda data refresh for a month and a half. Panda is apparently being run about once a month, and rolling out slowly over the course of roughly ten days.

He mentioned a new structured data tool Google is beta testing, which allows webmasters to report structured data errors. Giving webmasters as much control over structured data is going to be increasingly important, as Google is turning to this kind of data more and more for its search results. Optimizing structured data could be considered a vital part of your SEO strategy these days, for better or worse. At least Google providing more and more tools in this area.

Finally, Cutts announced that Google is now including example links in its messages to webmasters regarding manual penalties. Those who have to deal with these penalties find the addition very welcome. Cutts put out a video discussing this:

Facebook, as I’m sure you’ve heard, has launched hashtags, which pretty much turn the giant social network into a real-time search engine, for all intents and purposes. That has some pretty big marketing implications. The hashtags, by the way, can be searched via Facebook’s Graph Search. On a separate note, Facebook is killing its sponsored search results.

So those are some of the biggest stories in a very busy week for search. The mere fact that all of this stuff just happened over the past week really illustrates how rapidly the search game is evolving, and this doesn’t even take into account that Google makes changes to its algorithm every day.

Out of all that was announced this week, which item are you most concerned about? Which are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.