Posts tagged: Google+

Google updates algorithm – Local

It’s that time again! Google has rolled out another update to their increasingly intelligent algorithm, taking yet another step towards providing the best possible search results for their users.

Broadly, there are two types of updates; little tweaks and fixes that are quietly rolled out, and big updates that change the game.

The latest update is a mixture of the two – it’s been big enough to make the news on most SEO blogs, but hasn’t seemed to be worthy of having its own name. So what has it done exactly, and how can we make sure we stay on its good side?

It’s all about local

Local search is one of the areas in which Google has recently focused a lot of its efforts. People now expect to find local businesses and services right there on the search results, and the quality of the results is becoming more important than ever. It’s not like the old days anymore – instead of simply having links to websites, Google local now displays a huge amount of information at a glance, such as opening times, pictures, maps and reviews.

This latest update seems to be aimed at further improving their delivery of local search results, and making it more relevant to longer tail and phrase-based search queries. Currently it only applies to US English, but will most certainly roll out to other countries soon enough.

What’s the impact?

This new update will be tying in more deeply with current search capabilities, refined more towards local search along the hundreds of ranking indicators that the algorithm takes into account when serving up results. It is likely to better understand query-led keywords and will undoubtedly make further use of their Knowledge Graph, which is becoming more and more detailed as time goes by.

It’s still too early to fully know what impact it has had for businesses and their local rankings, but there is likely to be fluctuations in rankings until things level out again. Google has not yet commented on the percentage of queries that were impacted, but webmasters have already noticed some changes.

Google update

Why make the change?

So why did they make the change? Well, the official and typically vague story is that the update was implemented to improve local search results, but there may be other factors at play here. Local directories such as Yelp have recently accused Google of putting their own local listings in front of other competitors, even if users included ‘Yelp’ in their search terms. It appears that Google were a little too keen to include links to their Google + pages and reviews in favour of more neutral results. After the update, Yelp have once again seen more natural and neutral rankings when Google is queried for local businesses.

What you can do

As with any algorithm update, the best thing you can do is carry on with current optimisation campaigns to improve organic rankings. This is assuming that you have not been trying to cheat the system through loopholes, sneaky tactics and poor link building. Local is a really important part of any normal search campaign, so we recommend that you look into making sure you are listed with all the big local directories such as Yelp, and industry specific websites such as TripAdvisor, if you are a hotel for example, or Urbanspoon if you have a restaurant or café.  Of course make sure you have a Google + account as well, with a confirmed address for their mapping facility. 


The SEO TeamWritten by the SEO Team from Total Media

The SEO team have a passion for search. They love cups of tea, chocolate biscuits and all things online.

 

Internet of Things – A connected world

The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been heavily discussed as it continues to dominate our surroundings.

From objects to animals, the internet is featuring more and more heavily in everyday lives, enhancing our capabilities significantly. The internet has been too long behind a screen, whereby we are seeing growing trends in wearable tech, connected objects such as Nike fuel-bands and even connected plants which can essentially tweet you when they need water (for example through the Flower Power device). 

Tech is more linked than ever

Perhaps the most prominent example of the screen, device divide is evident through the robot Keecker (which as the developers agree, looks like a daft punk helmet), essentially a smartphone robot which allows any wall to become a screen, projecting the internet anywhere whilst even learning the layout of your household (click here to learn more). So while all these things are said to enhance our lives by improving our health and safety whilst keeping us connected to those we love, it appears technology is shaping us like never before.  

Keecker

After recently attending a seminar on the IoT at the IAB, it was predicted that by 2020 there will be 13 billion connected devices, others argued it would be closer to 50.1 billion, raising the point that nobody is quite sure of figures, all we do know is that connected devices will only increase, making our world more intricately defined.
According to Forbes magazine, London has an important role to play in this ever increasing connected world, ranking fourth in the world’s top tech capitals, with companies such as Google investing $100 million in European tech start-ups through it’s new venture scheme. In my opinion, the best examples of technology are those that disappear, they become so normal and embedded in physical devices and it becomes so normal when using them in our everyday lives.

Are we ready to be so close to our gadgets?

However, we have not yet fully embraced the Internet of Things (IoT), take for example Google Glass which is now available for sale, yet there is still a large amount of scepticism as to why consumers would need this product, not to mention the amusement when you see someone wearing one. The point is nobody really needs a lot of these products, but we should want them. We should want them because they have the ability to give us back something we often take for granted, Time. By making us more efficient and effective in our everyday lives, we are being given time, we are constantly connected and can receive information in real time, in theory allowing us to react quicker.

Google Glass

From an advertiser’s point of view, this completely transforms the role of brands as they can no longer rely on pushing products alone, instead they must focus more on becoming utilities. To use an obvious example, Apple, who seamlessly integrate all their products into the consumer lifestyle, are able to promote a connected system for people to buy into. A prime example of this is their new product, HomeKit, connecting all apple devices together which are then controlled by Siri, allowing people to power down devices by simply asking them.

The price of data

With all this new and cool technology, there comes a price, not just a monetary one, the price of information. The IoT is built around collecting real time data and infinites amounts of it, whereby consumers will be tracked and monitored like never before.

According to CNET, Facebook alone processes more than 500 terabytes of data daily. However, Twitter is a prime example of how streams of data can be used to benefit audiences, through the use of Dataminr, who identifies patterns across tweets, such that information about earthquakes and explosions have been known to circulate in less than 200 seconds, and in one anecdotal situation, before the earthquake had even occurred.

So, apart from these outlandish success stories, do we really want people knowing even more about ourselves? What about tracking and privacy concerns? These questions raise the important point that monitoring and data regulations will be more important than ever before if people are to fully embrace the IoT, allowing it to thrive and break more unimaginable boundaries. 


 

Jessica CrosseWritten by Jessica Crosse from Total Media

Jess works as a Media Assistant within one of our media teams and loves all media channels, playing sports and eating chocolate!

 

 

The rise of social media over the last 4 years will clearly add another aspect to the Olympic experience this year. The relationship between sport and social media was fantastically demonstrated in this year’s Super Bowl with the world record for the amount of tweets in a second broken twice. The first came in Madonna’s half time performance and the second at the very end of the match, my own prediction is that #ldn2012 and #ubolt will be breaking similar records. As we have seen before on TV, these social media buzzes will in turn create a drive back to live viewing as people do not wish to miss out on the real time experience of watching and discussing the Games over Social media platforms.

 

Needless to say if you don’t wish to watch any coverage of the Olympics and are hell bent on avoiding the ahem… “massive waste of tax payers’ money”…. then  you will also need to avoid picking up any newspapers as they will have the Olympics story dominating both sides seeing as it’s not often that press has an advantage over TV and online these days.

This week in TV

There is always something exciting happening in the world of TV, from new programmes to second screening, viral ads to banned ads. Here’s the latest TV team round up just for you.

BT Sport to launch on Google Chromecast 

Last month, Google was the latest to enter the TV market with their new dongle, the Google Chromecast, allowing users to send online shows, movies, music and more to their TVs using their smartphones, laptops and tablets. Now, in their latest move, Google have signed a deal with BT Sport to allow the streaming of the service through the device. Other companies to have signed up include Netflix and BBC iPlayer, meaning that the dongle could become a major gameplayer in cross-platform TV viewing. As the latest in a series of similar product launches, Chromecast shows the value of the TV set to the majority of TV content viewers by keeping it at the centre of the experience.

Twitter buys secondsync and mesagraph 

Twitter has strengthened its association with TV viewing by their latest acquisitions of London-based social TV firm SecondSync and Parisian firm Mesagraph. In doing so, Twitter have cut off the deal SecondSync agreed with Facebook earlier this year to provide analytic data to the social networking site. The latest acquisitions will help Twitter to take the TV-Twitter conversation experience to the next level, making the most of their position as the largest host of real-time public conversation around TV viewing. We’re excited to see what they come up with. 

Amazon to launch Fire TV

At the beginning of this week, Amazon announced the launch of Fire TV, a $99 set-top box for streaming media, thereby placing themselves up against rivals such as Apple and Chromecast. Our own Pete Wallace was quoted by The Drum to say the box will help Amazon pursue the media budgets it really wants: ‘This is due to three key factors: data, multi-channel and brand opportunities.’ The box could be a useful tool for the company to help customers move into the digital world with easy-to-use and family room centring. They also have the benefit of a customer database – but is it offering anything new to customers?

TV teams ad of the week

Playing on the premise of Evian making your body feel youthful when you drink it (now that’s some special water), the water brand has created yet another baby advert, this time being a cross-promotion TV advert with a mini-me spiderman. Catching his babyfied reflection in a window, big Spiderman proceeds to look as though he has lost the plot and begins break-dancing to try and catch his baby reflection out (Dawn French and Darcy Bustle spring to mind). Undeniably though, this advert brought a smile to our faces and is doing well to prove out baby-advert theme is indeed catching fire in the TV ad space.

Quick Fact: There are roughly 12,000 black and white TV sets still in use in the UK, with London leading the way, followed by Birmingham and Manchester


TV TeamWritten by The TV Team from Total Media

 

The TV team love a good chin wag, chocolate bribes & all things TV – when they get the time to watch it!

Needless to say if you don’t wish to watch any coverage of the Olympics and are hell bent on avoiding the ahem… “massive waste of tax payers’ money”…. then  you will also need to avoid picking up any newspapers as they will have the Olympics story dominating both sides seeing as it’s not often that press has an advantage over TV and online these days.

Hummingbird

Giving you a more conversational and sociable search experience, Google continues to refine its algorithm to deliver more natural results.

When some people hear the name hummingbird, their first thoughts may turn to cake, but it is in Google’s latest attempt to give us more accurate answers of search queries. Just like its winged namesake, Hummingbird is precise and fast, being more able to understand the meaning behind the words we use when searching. This way it can give us more relevant and direct search results with the aim to save us time when browsing through dozens of search results.

Google are well known for announcing updates here and there, but what took people by surprise with this one was that it wasn’t an update but a brand new search algorithm (something that hadn’t happened since 2010). Another surprise was that it had been running for almost a month and no one seemed to have noticed!

Google hummingbirdSo what exactly does Hummingbird do?

 Google has improved its ability to take into account context, time of day, conversational search and the searcher’s location. We have already seen this happen when we look for things like ‘coffee shop’ and get a list of businesses local to where we are, with a map, and calculated distance – all very handy! There will also be further improvements made to the knowledge graphs, helping us get instant answers without having to click on a link and Google those organisations out there that take advantage of social platforms including Google+,Youtube, Hangouts, Facebook and Twitter will also see benefits.  It’s important you send out social signals from regular sharing and engagement to show that your site is alive and growing!

Why did this happen?

 With so many people using smartphones, local and voice searches have also become used more , meaning Google has to focus more on the meaning behind what is being said rather than picking out certain words. A bonus for Google (whether intentional or not) is that vocally inputting search queries will keep users on their search results pages longer, increasing exposure to sponsored ads, ultimately leading to improved ad sales and revenue.

What does this mean for SEO and our clients?

Don’t fret! This doesn’t mean the end of SEO, like always it’ll just require a bit of adaptation to make the most of the changes, and continue adhering to best practice guidelines.  Hummingbird will continue to rely on link analysis, so credible backlinks are just as (if not more) important. Previous Panda and Penguin updates will remain but it would be wise to expect further adjustments to how The Mighty Algorithm derives value from links and content. As Hummingbird still uses the same techniques to evaluate a page’s reputation and authority, guidance on how to rank highly remains: have original, high-quality content!


 

The SEO TeamWritten by the SEO Team from Total Media

The SEO team have a passion for search. They love cups of tea, chocolate biscuits and all things online.
 

Needless to say if you don’t wish to watch any coverage of the Olympics and are hell bent on avoiding the ahem… “massive waste of tax payers’ money”…. then  you will also need to avoid picking up any newspapers as they will have the Olympics story dominating both sides seeing as it’s not often that press has an advantage over TV and online these days.

What is Google Local and why is it important for your Business?

Formally known as ‘Google Places’, Google Local is a great way for local businesses to put their physical location on Google maps.

However, it’s more than just little red peg on a map for your business; you can also add important details such as opening times, addresses, contact details and photos which go a long way to increasing overall online visibility.

Say, for example you’re looking for a local takeaway near your home and you type ‘takeaway’ into the search engine. The results you get will then display all the local eateries near your home that have place markers with Google Local, with the option to view those businesses in greater detail together with a link to their website.

Ok, but why do I need it?

Put simply, local search increases the capability of your business to be found - but how? Well, for one, it’s a highly targeted form of online marketing that reaches potential and current customers directly. It’s not like leafleting or other forms of advertisement; this is a highly targeted and effective form of promotion, reaching those customers that are searching for a specific product or service when they need it the most. Also, with so many people using search engines to find local businesses, you might be left behind the competition if you’re not listed!

Another important capability offered by Google Local is that customers can leave reviews, which can greatly encourage others to use the service (as long as the ratings are favourable towards your business, of course). User reviews are a great measure of how you’re perceived by your customers and where you may need to improve, and also gives you a chance to directly address any comments or issues.

Benefits to SEO

There is no direct evidence to show that Local improves organic rankings for a website, but it is widely believed that it does indeed help in some way. If anything, it increases discoverability as a company will take up more real estate on search results pages if they have a Places listing. Another bonus is that a number of online local citation sites (that act like online ‘yellow pages’) crawl Google Local and add details to their databases, which can provide further SEO benefits towards your business.

So there you have it! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using Google Local. It doesn’t cost anything, setting it up is really simple, and the potential benefits are well worth the time it takes to get listed. 


The SEO TeamWritten by the SEO Team from Total Media

The SEO team have a passion for search. They love cups of tea, chocolate biscuits and all things online.
 

Needless to say if you don’t wish to watch any coverage of the Olympics and are hell bent on avoiding the ahem… “massive waste of tax payers’ money”…. then  you will also need to avoid picking up any newspapers as they will have the Olympics story dominating both sides seeing as it’s not often that press has an advantage over TV and online these days.

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