No Noise Friday 01 August’14

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC & Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

If your business has anything to do with the online world you know how much information is out there. It’s overwhelming and constantly changing.  Finding out what’s relevant to your business amongst all the noise is time consuming and can result in information overload.

At SureFire Search we want to help you by sifting through all the noise and highlighting what’s new and noteworthy in SEO, PPC and Web Analytics. But more importantly, answer the question – Why this might matter to YOU and YOUR business here in New Zealand.

Here’s what caught our attention this week…

  1. Google’s Pigeon algorithm update disrupts local search results
  2. Verify your Google My Business Page through Webmaster Tools
  3. How Apps are changing search rankings
  4. Darkside of the net – Semalt spam and GoodGoogle
  5. Filter spider and bot traffic with Google Analytics

1.Google’s Pigeon algorithm update disrupts local search results

Google has recently released another algorithm change which is unofficially called the “Pigeon Update.”

The update is a new local search algorithm that aims to provide improved local search results with better distance and location parameters.

Local directory sites such as Yelp have been experiencing improved visibility in the US.

There have also been cases of local packs in the search results being reduced from 7 to 3. See Examples below.

7 Pack Local Results

7 Pack Local Results


3 Pack Local Results

3 Pack Local Results

Why should you care?

Right now this new algorithm has only been rolled out in the US. But the aim of it is to provide the user a better local search experience.

It shows how committed Google is to local search. By improving the distance and location parameters Google hopes to further personalise search results for the user.

This means that you need to make sure that your website is optimised for local search. You should have a Google My Business account that has been verified and correctly filled out. If the local packs do drop from 7 to 3 results in the search results, that space will become even more competitive.

Large local directories are also being promoted in the search results. If you are a local business you should look to get authentic reviews on relevant local directory sites. Yelp isn’t a large player in New Zealand but it is growing. SureFire suggests that you encourage happy customers to leave reviews on Yelp, Finda and your Google My Business page.

2.Verify your Google My Business Page through Webmaster Tools

If you have tried to verify your Google My Business page (formally Google Places) in the past, you may have experienced the difficulty of trying to get a post card sent to your address or arrange a phone call to get a verification pin number.

Verifying your account was a problem when your physical address didn’t receive postage and calls go through a call centre.

However, the days of waiting 2 weeks for a postcard or trying to find a work around for a call centre maybe coming to an end.

Mike Blumethal has reported that you can now instantly verify your Google My Business (formally Google Places) through Google Webmaster Tools.

Google’s Jade Wang announced “starting today, if you’re verifying a page for your business, you may be instantly verified on Google My Business if you’ve already verified your business’s website with Google Webmaster Tools.”

Why should you care?

Google is promoting Google My Business as the best way to be found online, on Google Maps and interact with your customers. Not being able to verify your account meant that you were limited in what you could do with your account.

The verification will now happen automatically (if applicable) when you try to verify a page for your business.

To try and use instant verification make sure that you are signed into Google My Business with the same account you used in the past to verify your website with Webmaster Tools.

It must be noted that not all websites will be able to use Google Webmaster Tools to verify. If your website happens to fall outside of the applicable categories you will still be able to use the old verification methods.

3.How Apps are changing search rankings

One of the things that was revealed at a recent Google I/O event was how Apps are changing mobile search rankings display.

Google is planning on integrating apps into their search results in a few ways.

  • Having App Only search results
  • Giving app developers the ability to index app pages so that they show up like a search result if the user has the app installed on their phone
  • An API which will allow users to skip Google search completely if an app search engine was used for query beforehand
  • Displaying app actions in the knowledge graph. e.g. Play a song

Why should you care?

Apps could affect the search rankings significantly in the future leading to your website seeing more or less traffic.

Google may use App installation as a quality indicator. This is because people are selective about the apps that they install on their phones. This means that something that ranks #10 in regular search could be bumped to #1 in personalised search.

If you don’t have an App this may affect your mobile rankings in the future. For example, a competitors app with high installs may outrank your website which will equal less mobile traffic for your website.

Of course not all industries require Apps but have a look at your competitors. Do they have an App – maybe you should to?

4. Darkside of the net – Semalt spam and GoodGoogle

From the dark side of the web –

Semalt & Good Google

Semalt: Your Google Analytics account maybe showing that a new website called Semalt is sending a lot of visitors your way.

Beware, Semalt isn’t sending you real visitors. It’s a robot that is being counted incorrectly. These so called visitors will mess with your analytics data.

Semalt are basically carrying out an old school form of spam. They are hoping that the webmaster will see their website and go and check it out and hopefully sign up for their paid keyword research tool.

Commentators are pointing out that their tool is offering  information that can be found online for FREE!


GoodGoogle: A Russian hacker has been running a click fraud service called GoodGoogle and using Google’s YouTube to promote itself. The fraud service basically offers to drive down your competitors ads by raising their costs or exhausting their budgets early in the day for a flat fee.

Why should you care?

It’s important to keep an eye for the latest scams or spamming techniques that are out there. Its equally important to understand that just because a company or product includes Google in their name doesn’t mean that its associated with Google.

5. Filter spider and bot traffic with Google Analytics

It seems to be well timed with the annoyance Semalt has been giving webmasters around the web.

Google Analytics can now help you discover how much of your traffic is actually a real person visiting your website and what is a scrapper, bot or spider.

Using a checkbox Google Analytics will filter out all the traffic from well-known bots and spiders – such as Semalt.

Why should you care?

Bots, scrappers and spiders can potentially mess up your Google Analytics data by skewing it. By selecting an option which filters those out you will be able to get a more accurate view of just what is happening on your website.

There are some reports that as much as a third of all web traffic is a bot. So don’t be surprised if you see a significant drop in traffic when you filter bots out.

OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

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About the Author SureFire

These search marketing news updates feature articles of interest picked up through the week by the SureFire team.

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