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Google Search

Google’s Snack Pack Packs a Punch for Local Businesses

By | Google, Google Changes, Google Plus, Google Search | No Comments

As the new “Snack Pack” continues to spread across browsers, it’s becoming apparent that this new 3-pack listing is part of an official roll out and not just a test. We have analyzed the Snack Pack and offers some insight as to what this change can mean for local businesses.

What is the Snack Pack?

If you’re a small business owner and not a marketer, you’re probably wondering, “What the heck is a Snack Pack?” or “Pudding? Why are we talking about pudding?” The so-called “Snack Pack” is the collection of three listings that you see when you search for a local business. Let’s say you’re searching for an online marketing company in the Kansas City area (*ahem*), so you go to Google and type in “online marketing kansas city” (because nobody searches with capital letters, let’s be real). This is what you would see:

Snak Pak
Behold, the Snack Pack. You get the top three results for your search term, their website and directions to their office (if they have either of those). You also get a map of the area with many pins including, of course, ones for the top hits. At the bottom of the pack is a link leading you to more results and an even broader map.

Snak Pak Map

What makes this an update?

Does it feel like something’s… missing? That certain something is four whole listings. Previously (and still for some people), Google would present you with a “7-pack,” or as the name blatantly implies, the top seven listings for your search term. It also linked you to the map, which you had to click on to view.

Also notable for local businesses is that the new Snack Pack no longer links to Google + pages, following suit with Google’s debranding of the service.

Unfortunately, the web address, address and phone number are not visible either, on mobile or desktop. However, the mobile version of the Snack Pack does feature a convenient “Call” button.

What does this mean for me?

Since the Snack Pack is still in its infancy, we don’t know yet what this will mean for business. Tyler has some theories:

  • More people may click on the organic listings below the local Snack Pack.
  • On the flip side, the majority may click to view more, which will drive more traffic to Google listings.

The TTP Strategy Team is going to closely monitor the Snack Pack to identify trends and determine which way people are leaning. In the mean time, according to a heat map study by Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing, organic links see the most clicks, except in the case of restaurant searches.

When it comes right down to it, though, Tyler notes, “This changes increases the importance of local search marketing – it’s important to stay higher up in the local pack.”

Why is Google doing this?

Arguments abound but the most popular idea is that Google is doing this to drive more traffic through Adwords. Hey, the world’s most powerful and beloved search engine’s gotta make money somehow, right?

Call TTP

Still a little hazy? Too many strange, seemingly food-related terms to make sense of? Let Turn The Page understand the Snack Pack, and any update Google may roll out, for you. For more information about teaming up with our freaky online marketing team, give us a call today at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001 or contact us online.

Ranking Outside of Your Physical Location in Local Search

By | Blog, Google, Google Places, Google Plus, Google Search, local search, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization | No Comments

For businesses without a storefront, local search can get tricky.

Google wants to avoid businesses appearing in local search results if that business does not have a physical location in the city searched. They address this in the Google Places Quality Guidelines, where they disallow PO boxes and fake addresses.

The only known exception to this guideline is a business with general service areas. In this instance, businesses are to create a listing under one physical location. They are then allowed to designate those service areas. However, listing the designated service areas may not be effective in those areas with heavy competition.

In order to begin ranking in local search, we recommend the following tips and tricks.

Read More

Google Penguin 2.0 Is Only Weeks Away

By | Google Search | No Comments

Matt Cutts, the head of webspam at Google, has officially let the penguin out of the bag. Google will be rolling out Penguin 2.0 in just a few weeks. Now, many of you might be thinking, “Ummm shouldn’t this be Penguin version 3 .. 4 .. 50 or something like that?” I have to point out, this is not a Penguin “update” and don’t confuse this with yet another Panda update. We’re talking about the official second generation Penguin.

In this video, Matt Cutts responds to the question “What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?”

Advertorials

One of the issues that Google is addressing is the use of advertorials. Matt clearly states that there is nothing wrong with advertorials and native advertising. However, it is Google’s belief that these pages should not violate quality guidelines and that they should not pass page rank. Penguin 2.0 will be more strict when it comes to removing the ability for these pages to pass rank. Matt notes that these forms of advertising should clearly disclose to viewers that they are, in fact, a paid advertisement and not organic content.

Link Value & Devalue of Upstream Spam Links

Matt points out that they are in the early stages but working on more sophisticated ways to analyze links to determine their value. We can also expect to see focus put on ways to go upstream and devaluing many link spamming tactics.

Hacked Sites

Google is also planning to roll out a more comprehensive hacked site detection that communicates better with webmasters through Google Webmaster Tools. This will allow webmasters to quickly gain additional information about the issue and start the clean up process.

Author Rank

While Matt still does not make what I would call an “official” statement regarding author rank, he does comment that Google is getting better at recognizing when somebody is an authority on a given subject and that those individuals will be given an extra push in the SERPs.

Panda

Later this summer we can also expect a Panda update that softens the blow taken by websites who sit in the gray areas. This will help websites that show signs of quality but were negatively affected by previous rollouts.

Result Clusters

Google will also be looking into rolling out an update that counters the saturation of single sites in the SERPs. A cluster is when you perform a Google search and a grouping of results from a single website dominates the results. Matt mentions that once a cluster is discovered it will be unlikely to discover additional clusters from that website as you move deeper into the search result pages.

By the end of the summer we should see less results for webmasters who practice black-hat and spammy practices and better results for those of us in the SEO profession who are producing great quality content and using the appropriate ethical tactics.

Is Google Losing Its Dominance?

By | Google Search | No Comments

It’s no secret that Google has been the dominating force behind how we search the internet for awhile now. We’ve used it for discovering new ideas, learning about what we’re interested in, how to get to where we’re going, what we want to buy, and even where we’re going to buy it. However, as history has proven time and time again, everything changes with time. The way we search our world has already began to change dramatically and Google appears to be losing hold of its dominance.

Simply put we have more options today that help us quickly find what we are looking for. Let’s look at Traditional Search vs. Vertical Search. Traditional searches are made using a search engine. These have been dominated by Google. When you bypass the search engine and seek out your information directly from within an immediate website you are making a Vertical Search.

According to comScore, traditional searches dropped 3% in the last 6 months while vertical searches continued to climb, reaching an increase of 8%. In a recent report from the New York Times, Amazon has already passed Google in the number of shopping related searches. As the number of quality websites and mobile applications grow, the need for traditional search begins to fade away.

Looking at my own personal search habits, this news comes as no real surprise. A large percentage of my searching is done on a mobile device and it doesn’t involve Google. If I’m looking for news or fresh content I tend to use apps such as Flipboard and Read.it! which provide me with customized content and elegant searches provided in a magazine style format. I find information faster and have a pleasant visual experience in the process.

For shopping purposes one of my favorite apps is ShopAdvisor which not only provides me with a stylish magazine format but it also gives me instant access to full reviews, prices, what companies have the product in stock, and so on. The app will even notify me when products I’m interested in go on sale. This is a service that traditional search simply cannot provide me.

When I’m not searching on a mobile device I still find myself spending most of my time searching content within topical websites rather than Google. For most of the world, search can be broken down into 3 types. The initial search, specific search, and the revised search.

Initial Search

This represents a large portion of consumer searches. At this point the consumer does not know exactly what they are looking for. They only have a vague idea of what it is. These are very generic searches often made using a traditional search engine such as Google.

Specific Search

As consumers discover the websites provided to them by Google they begin to make more specific “vertical searches” on these websites. They start spending more time learning more about what they need to know. They begin to make decisions that will affect the final outcome. What do they need to buy? Who should they buy it from? This is the point where marketers can really help influence the consumer.

Over the years the number of topical websites with high quality information has grown dramatically. Everyday more and more content is released on these sites, making the need to return back to Google during the search process less important.

Revised Search

Consumers might return to Google at this point to make a quick specific search based on what they’ve learned. They’ve already spent a great deal of time researching the subject, outside of Googles domain, and are now getting closer to a decision. In fact, they might have already made up their mind and are simply looking where to get the cheapest deal. The opportunity for other marketers to make an impact on the consumer has most likely slipped away.

We all know that Google is not going to disappear over night. The traditional search still plays a vital role in the overall process. However, the way we use it has definitely changed and will continue to do so. As marketers, it is important not to overlook this change and be ready for the opportunities to reach out and provide consumers with the information they need at the time when they need it most.

Google Search Introduces Social Results & the Knowledge Graph

By | Google, Google Plus, Google Search | No Comments

It’s how you find the telephone number of your favorite pizza joint, it’s how you reconnect with long-lost relatives, it’s how you learn about things never taught in school textbooks — it’s Google Search. Google Search has revolutionized the way we access information, and they’ve just launched two tools that will make the information-seeking experience more personal and effective than ever. Fellow Googlers, meet Google’s latest — social results and the Knowledge Graph.

Social Results

It seems like just yesterday that the search engine giant created Google +. Since, Google + has established itself as a unique social media network, connecting anyone with a Google account to millions of other users. To enhance the Google Search experience, the search engine masterminds have added a personal touch.

Now you can make social queries on the search engine. It works like any other search: simply enter your query and wait for the results to appear. Social results will pop up with public search results. Finally, you can read your friends’ minds, Google + friends, at least. Any non-private, search-related pics, posts, or pages your friends have shared on their Google + account will appear in your search.

Hungry but can’t remember the name of that amazing gyro restaurant your friend always mentions? Look no further than Google Search. With the swipe of a few fingers, any search-specific Google + posts she made will appear, resolving the afternoon’s gyro dilemma.

Sounds pretty awesome, right? We couldn’t be more excited! The only catch is that your search must be made from Google.com while you’re signed into either your Google or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) account. Your language must also be set to U.S. English. Aside from this, you’re free to mull through social results to your heart’s content.

Knowledge Graph

If you weren’t able to pin down the name of your friend’s favorite greek restaurant, the  Knowledge Graph may be the next best thing. Simply search for a person, place, or thing — think elementary-school noun lessons — and look for a small box to appear on the right-hand side of your screen. And, no, this isn’t a “Birchbox” filled with goodies. It’s still pretty awesome, though! After making your search, this little black box will pop up with oodles of helpful information. Most often, you’ll see basic facts, photos, and other informational gems acquired from Google’s most popular search results.

Who’s to thank for this great tool? The Knowledge Graph, Google’s resource for linking “real-world things” to other related entities, is the driving force behind this tool. For the most part, this information will be relevant, progressing organically with time and new information. See something irrelevant or outdated? Google’s constantly updating its information, so your feedback is encouraged! Although this tool is currently limited to people, place, and thing searches, it will help you find better Google Search results in no time.

Because curiosity and the desire to learn are embedded in our DNA, we are some of Google’s biggest fans. With the ability to get social results and access information more effectively than ever, we’re pretty stoked to put these tools to work.

Want to learn more about Turn the Page? Google us! We’re always discovering and sharing new information.

Google Now- Now Available for iOS

By | Google, Google Search, iOS | No Comments

Google Now- Google’s predictive search service- is now available to iPhone and iPad users. Google Now has been available for Android devices since last summer and has gone from its early stages to possibly shear genius since then. The way it has evolved in just the last year leads us to believe desktop users may even be using Google Now sooner than later.

How does Google Now work?

Google Now gathers your personal information and provides you with information “cards”. Based on the information it has gathered, Google Now searches for what it believes to be information you need or would like at the time. To determine these searches, Google Now pulls information from:

  • Your current location and your location history

  • Your Google searches

  • Your gmail account and flight or hotel confirmations sent to your email account

  • Events on your Google calendar

  • Google+ contacts and birthdays

  • Companies listed in your Google Finance portfolio

With information from these sources, in combination with public information such as news and traffic for example, Google Now comes up with answers before you ask the question.

Google Now Information Cards

The information provided to you through Google Now is displayed using cards. Examples of these cards include: Weather, Traffic, Sports Info, Stocks, Packages, Boarding Passes, Public Transit, Birthdays, Appointments, and many more. As you can see, Google Now needs access to your accounts and your location to be able to work its magic.

Let’s say you searched for the score to the Royals game last night. Google Now has now qualified you as a Royals fan (Go Blue!) and that info will now be provided in the cards without you having to do a search.

Google Now for Desktop?

Though Google hasn’t said, we believe that it makes sense for Google Now to begin to appear on our desktops where many searches are also being made. Perhaps we’ll even see a transformation in the Google homepage soon. In the meantime, Android users can update their device via Google Play to use Google Now. For iOS users, download or upload the Google Search App via the App store.

So what’s the catch? The only thing that could make Google Now inaccurate or not helpful is for those who don’t use Google products for email or search. For Google Now to work properly, it needs access to your information and location.

My advice- Get Google Now.. now. If iPhone users haven’t already, it may be time to leave Safari and Siri in the dust.