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  • Ten Local Business Review Sites Influencing Your New Customers

    Every business –restaurants, doctors, law firms, dry cleaners and other brick (click) and mortar businesses – wins and loses new customers every day before the potential customer even sets foot out the door. Their decision to do you business with your company is often made without ever engaging with your company directly. Some customers may even form opinions about your business without ever stepping a foot in your store. This is because online review sites make it easy for potential customers to look up businesses and compare ratings, all without ever leaving their home. And with so many businesses to choose from, being number one on Google is almost never the only deciding credibility or trust factor. When marketing your business these days, you’re dealing with an educated consumer who does their research on review sites and does not really care what you have to say about your business. They care what others have to say. When friends and family aren’t readily available to ask for recommendations, where else can people turn but the local online community? Welcome to the new word-of-mouth (mouse) marketing. Looking To Online Reviews When faced with too many choices, others will rely on the “social…

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  • Are You Ready for Google’s Next Algorithm Update? Questions to Ask Yourself

    April 21st is a day that most would categorize as “springtime.” But for most marketing moguls and website gurus, April 21, 2015 is being called “Mobilegeddon.” Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that the world is ending. It simply means that there are some big changes happening. You wouldn’t prepare for a hurricane without ensuring you had all the necessary tools and information, and so we’re going to make sure you’re equally well-prepared for “Mobilegeddon.” What is it? Ah, yes. Knowing what it is we’re preparing for is half the battle. Today, Google released a new algorithm update which is now giving mobile-optimized sites a boost in its search engine result pages (SERP). This means that if your site is optimized for mobile, it’s going to be ranked higher by Google. DUN DUN DUN. Are you optimized and mobile-friendly? The first thing to do is make sure you’re optimized. To test this, go to Google’s mobile friendly test and insert your website. Click “ANALYZE.” This will give you a report on your viewports, touch elements being spaced too closely together, whether your font is too small, how your flash usage is and more. It even shows you how Googlebot sees your…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: News from Google, Twitter and Apple

    SEO: This week, Bing announced that they’ve implemented certain filters to target a spam technique called URL keyword stuffing. Used to manipulate search engines, URL keywords give pages that employ this tactic higher page rankings than they actually deserve. Although Bing did not release any specific details regarding the new filters, they did provide the public with signals to help detect keyword stuffing. If you’re searching the web, be sure to check out the Host/domain/path keyword co-occurance, the page quality and popularity signals, and the percentage of the site cluster comprised of top frequency host/domain name keywords. Bing’s update has only impacted about 3 per cent of users. This has resulted in over a 75 percent reduction in traffic to these sites from Bing. On Wednesday, Google Analytics announced that it will be rolling out new benchmark reports that will let users compare their search results to industry standards. The report states that that users can sift through data among 1,600 industries, 1,250 markets, and 7 size buckets. Accompanying the benchmark reports, a heat map feature also helps to identity places that more time and/or resources could be applied in order to yield better results. The company’s CMO, Ross Twiddy,…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Bing’s Conversational Search and Google’s FASTER

    SEO: Google’s latest update to their webmaster guidelines shows, once again, that the company is cracking down on guest blogging for SEO purposes. In the “little or no original content”guideline, the search engine has added “low-quality guest blog posts”as an example of scraped content. In the past, Google has penalized several guest blog networks and is still continuing to set targets on low-quality guest blogging that blatantly attempts to manipulate search results. Bing is continuing to build a search platform that is based on “entity and conversational understanding,”and its newest feature is a step in the right direction. With this feature, the search engine will be able to keep the context of a search query in mind as it goes on to perform a subsequent search. For example, if someone was to search for “who is the president of the United States,”followed by a search for “who is he married to,” the results for the second query would be based on both searches. In this case, results would show pages related to Michelle Obama. Social Media: Twitter has announced that it will begin beta testing a new feature called “Promoted Video,”for brands who are looking to upload and distribute videos…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Pinterest Messenger & The Removal of Author Stats

    SEO: In a new effort toward making the internet a safer place for everyday users, Google is announcing that websites that switch from HTTP to HTTPS —that is, add an SSL 2048-bit key certificate —will see improvements in their search engine results ranking. This ranking benefit will be lightweight, with an effect on less than 1% of global queries, but it could be strengthened in the future to encourage more websites to prioritize user safety. Author stats, a feature within Google Webmaster Tools, gave users of authorship easy access to statistics on how well their content was performing across different websites. Unfortunately, this came to an end this week, as Google removed the feature without warning or fanfare. Google has yet to comment on the change, but considering the removal of author images from search results a couple months ago, it may not be so surprising that author stats has been deactivated, as well. When Google receives reconsideration requests from websites, the company will now provide confirmation that they received the request, as well as a copy of the original request submitted by the website. This is an improvement upon the original confirmation process, which simply gave web masters a…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: The “Pigeon” Update and the Death of Facebook Chat

    SEO: Google is officially implementing product ratings and reviews on the Product Listing Ads in its search results. This feature, only available in the United States as of now, will show consumers a 5-star rating system under the PLAs on Google search and Google Shopping. Merchants have until October to share review data with Google in order for ratings to appear in PLAs, either directly or through third-party aggregators. A new algorithm update, nicknamed “Pigeon,” is aiming to provide more useful, relevant and accurate Google search results. Some local businesses may see an increase or decrease in website referrals, leads and business from this change. Google claims that the Pigeon update is an improvement upon previous distance and location parameters. No comments have been made on the percent of queries this algorithm will affect, or if certain web spam algorithms were deployed in the update. Social Media: Facebook is, once again, killing off its Gifts feature. The original “Gift Shop,” which gave users the ability to send each other virtual goods, was taken out in 2010. Two years later, in September 2012, a physical gift store launched, following Facebook’s acquisition of Karma, a gift-giving app. In August 2013, the feature…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Amazon’s Fire Phone, Updated Google AdWords Policies

    SEO: Google AdWords will be receiving an update to its Policy Center in September, with the search engine claiming that policies will be streamlined to provide more transparency into why they exist and what advertisers can do to comply with them. Most advertisers aren’t likely to be affected by the change, though Google points out that there will be new restrictions put in place regarding weapons, tobacco and fireworks, all of which will fall under a new Dangerous Content policy. At the SMX Advanced event this week, Google’s head of search spam announced that the search engine will be revising its rejection notices for reconsideration requests so that, in some cases, they contain more detail. A screenshot of one such notice shows a new section titled “A note from your reviewer,” followed by specific advice that would help a webmaster to prevent further manual action from Google. Social Media: In a not-so-surprising move, Facebook has launched a new, Snapchat-like mobile app with features that allow users to trade photo and video messages. The app, named Slingshot, does possess a unique quirk, however—users may only view incoming messages after responding to them with his or her own photo or video. This…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Twitter’s Financial Renaissance and Apple’s Smart House

    SEO: In what’s turned out to be a piece of non-news, a Google spokesperson has recently refuted speculation about updates to the Penguin algorithm by confirming that the search engine is not currently working on new Penguin or spam efforts.  The company’s response follows claims from SEOs about drastic changes in search results, especially concerning previously penalized sites. Although Google is denying that they’ve made any changes to their algorithms, webmasters whose sites are experiencing ranking changes are hesitant to believe that. Google’s head of search spam released a video this week to address a very specific SEO question: how does the search engine handle one page that has two links that lead to the same page? He answered by saying that PageRank flows to each link individually, just as it would for any other link on the page. Additionally, the treatment of anchor text may vary with time. In 2009, Google only counted the anchor text for the first link, but that may not necessarily be true today. Technology: According to a new report, Apple is planning on introducing a new smart home concept at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. The company’s supposed plan is to showcase a system…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Happy Birthday BASIC, and Matt Cutts on Keeping Your Body Just Right

    SEO: Google’s Matt Cutts lost his body this week to stress the importance of body content to search engines. In a pretty humorous attempt at making a visual point, Matt’s floating head gave an important lesson to be holistic in your approach. While the header is important, if the content there doesn’t match the content in the body of your page, it can confuse Google, and you won’t receive the best. While obvious and often repeated, create unique and quality content for your header and your site. Brand mentions are becoming increasingly important. This was shown again this week when evidence surfaced that the innocent-looking patent Google filed not too long ago may hold algorithm information and insight into the Panda algorithm. This patent defines non-linking as “implied links.” This is definitely a development worth following, especially for marketers. Social Media: Snapchat has updated their app and now users have the option to keep messages, videos and pictures longer than a few seconds which could be considered a “chat tool.” Another addition to the popular app is the live streaming option that works as long as a finger is kept on the screen. Snapchat has retained the feature that erases…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Shaq on LinkedIn and Siri on Apple TV

    SEO: Google launched nine new features for their Keyword Planner Tool, which will now help to break down important information in aesthetically-pleasing ways. These new features include graphical visualizations for geographic data, trends on mobile vs. traditional devices, and more.  Google has made these new features immediately available for its users who have AdWords accounts. In a more commercially popular update, Google also launched a new feature for the Street View images in Google Maps. For some of the Street View images, a clock icon will be visible, and if it is clicked, a slider will appear which allows users to see those same images in previous years or seasons, going back as early as 2007. One suggested use for this feature is for travelers to see what a particular destination may look like during different seasons. Social Media: The numbers are in: mobile ads accounted for 59% of Facebook’s advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2014. This is up from 30% in 2013. As users of the social media platform continue to ditch their desktop computers in favor of mobile devices, profits for Facebook are on the rise. In the first quarter of this year, the company reported…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Project Ara and Nearby Friends

    SEO: The head of Google’s search spam team addressed the biggest myths he sees today in the SEO industry. The most notable myth, apparently, is that people believe Google makes changes to search results solely to make more money for themselves by coercing people into buying ads. On the contrary, choosing or not choosing to buy ads has no impact on a website’s rankings. What’s more, Google doesn’t make changes to their organic algorithms with the intention of selling ads. Google, in the last year, launched the carousel interface, intending to better distribute content from their Knowledge Graph. Now, the company is testing something new: showing ads from paid Google Shopping results in that carousel interface. For example, a search for laptops will bring up a carousel that features different laptops from a variety of vendors. Social Media: Facebook is back in the news, and this time it’s not for another multi-billion dollar acquisition. The world’s largest social network announced a new feature for its core product this week: Nearby Friends. As the name suggests, the feature will let users see which of their Facebook friends are in physical proximity to them. Nearby Friends will work on iOS and Android…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Heartbleed and Facebook Mobile Messaging

    Around the Web: A massive security flaw, known as the Heartbleed virus, has taken over the Internet, and it very likely could be affecting you. The bug is a flaw in OpenSSL, which is the open-source encryption standard that most websites use to transmit the data that users want to keep secure. It can, for example, make an email unreadable to anybody except for the intended recipient. What is dangerous about the heart bleed bug is that web servers are capable of storing data such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, and other personal info in their active memories. The vulnerability has been in OpenSSL for about two years, and using it leaves no trace, so the safest assumption to make is that your accounts have been compromised. Once websites begin upgrading to software that is not affected by the bug, it is highly-recommended that all users change their passwords. For more information, you can visit the Heartbleed Bug site. SEO: Google is now showing more support for businesses by displaying business telephone numbers for customer service, technical support, billing support, etc. in its search results. By adding a new schema, each number can be specified to indicate whether or…

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