Online Marketing News this Week – 20th Mar 2012

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Google Places Ranking Factors – You need 5 reviews!

Bizible has just published the first of five planned reports on Google Places optimisation.  Google places has a massive hold on local search and local search has a massive and increasing effect on many businesses.  This is a detailed and well researched report and essential reading for anyone involved in local SEO.  Many of the findings are interesting and some are surprising.  The full report is: Local Ranking Factors Study 1 of 5 – Google Places Optimization.  Here are one or two findings:

  • Having the search category in your business name is a strong ranking factor.
  • Make sure your targeted search categories (keywords) and location appear in the “at a glance” section.
  • The mere presence of a business description does not improve rankings.  Having the search category in your business description does.
  • Having an average review score of less than 1 hurts your rankings.  Increasing this to just below 5 makes for some but very little improvement.
  • Reaching 5 Google reviews significantly improves ranking. You have to get to 100+ for the next significant gain.!!!

Moral: Don’t write anything without keyword targeting.  Hustle for 5 reviews and then don’t panic about competitors who have 40.

If  local search is where it is at for you, watch out for the next 4 reports:

  1. On-site optimization
  2. Citations
  3. Reviews
  4. In-bound links and off-site

Google working on ‘Over-optimized’ penalty

In recent training day discussions a sort of content writing mantra developed around here:

  • Research your keywords
  • Use natural language


  • You are more likely to get in trouble for over-optimisation than under-optimisation

Here it is from the horse’s mouth, in this case Matt Cutt’s from Google:

What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.

Barry Schwartz transcribed this from the published audio of a Search Engine Land panel discussion called: Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!

The ever changing world of search results

About the only thing you can say with certainty about search is that it will be different tomorrow and a recent WSJ article points to some, apparently, radical possibilities being looked at by Google.  I say apparently because it is pretty easy to argue that semantic search has been around for a long time and that the article is discussing fairly predictable consequences.  That Google is looking for active ways to keep people on their site and away from the sites of competitors like Facebook, for example, is interesting.  Interesting, mostly, for the effect it could have on the look of  search result pages.  Eye-tracking research already tells us how important such visual changes can be and SEO strategies will need to be ready to react.


Related posts:

  1. Online Marketing News This Week – 20th Aug 2010
  2. Online Marketing News this Week – 3rd Apr 2012
  3. Online Marketing News this Week – 19th Jan 2012
  4. Online Marketing News this Week – 26th Apr 2012
  5. Online Marketing News this Week – 2nd Mar 2012
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2 Responses to “Online Marketing News this Week – 20th Mar 2012”

  1. What I do hope in the long run is that Google would announce what is “normal” in their eyes, because there are some white hats that may be affected by this upcoming update. I’ve asked a question in some forums with people that resell SEO services in it about this topic, and I’m looking forward to seeing their answers later.

  2. SiteStream SEO says:

    Hi Gerald

    Thanks for commenting. My guess is that you are correct. In fact, I think a LOT of people who think of themselves as white hats could be affected by this kind of change (depending on its scale).

    Many SEOs who consider themselves white hat will be doing what works, i.e. aggressively getting links that help their rankings. There is plenty of low rent link building being done by “white hat” SEOs and if Google devalues or penalises practices in that area there will be the usual flood of “Poor me, why is Google being mean to me, I did everything right” on all the forums.

    In this case, it may be less a question of White Hat vs Black Hat and more one of competence vs not so much competence.