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Google Authorship Dead In 2014?

Written by Kyler Patterson

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

authorship-featured
If you’ve searched for anything on Google in the last month or so (who hasn’t?), you may have noticed slight changes in the results. First, the author pictures next to the results conspicuously disappeared. Then, videos started to vanish for most results (except those of YouTube and other sources where video is a primary source of content). Now, author names have disappeared. According to John Mueller from Google’s Webmaster Analytics team, Authorship has indeed been removed from your search results.

Is Google Authorship Dead

A few months ago, the same search would have displayed the associated Google+ profile picture and related information, as shown in the image below from our prior Authorship blog post:

What Authorship Looked Like

 

Now the posts are stripped down to provide you the content that you’re looking for without the fluff.

 

Why Was Authorship Removed?

If you ever set up authorship, then you know it was not the easiest process to start with. There were several steps involved, including an update your site’s code to add the markup. If you were using a CMS like WordPress, the markup wasn’t too hard, but HTML sites were a little harder to modify. Since the entire ordeal wasn’t an easy 1-2 step process, it had a low adoption rate.

As stated in Mueller’s post, and speculated by many, Authorship simply did not have any direct impact to an increase in clicks or rankings. A direct quote from the post:

“If you’re curious — in our tests, removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. We make these kinds of changes to improve our users’ experience.”
 

Is Authorship Completely Dead?

From search results, it appears to be mostly (though not entirely) gone. As explained by Mueller, search queries will still show relevant posts from your Google+ connections with their information. So if you were connected with an author and searched for information pertaining to them, then you may see something like this:

The Google Authorship Update

Keep in mind, the rel=author markup didn’t just affect search; social media displays this information as well. With Pinterest, you can stand out with rich pins. As you see in the picture below, you will still see the author markup:

Pinterest-Tips-Tricks

 
You can also see it on Twitter with Twitter cards as shown below. If you’re able to edit the author Twitter handle, you’ll also get another spot in the author section.

 

Conclusion

Although authorship has been mostly removed from Google search, it still does serve a purpose and cannot be entirely considered dead.. perhaps undead… zombie(?). You don’t necessarily need to go through the process adding the authorship through Google+ to include the rel=author tag, but who wouldn’t want a good branded back link on a Google product?

What do you think? Is authorship just dead and should never be touched again or will you still be including it on your blog? Let us know in the comments!

Google+ Moves Forward

Written by Brandi Bennett

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Most businesses opt to use Twitter or Facebook as a means of communicating with their customers, or their potential customers; though there are those that are willing to utilize G+, they often do so as an afterthought, making it a nice place for many of us to hang out who don’t like dealing with advertisements in our news, information, and social escapades. Still, with Facebook starting to trail behind the others, as it increases the amount of advertisements and decreases in popularity, many users are starting to turn to G+ as the next big platform.

Google Plus

 

What Does This Mean For Businesses?

You may want to get on board with G+, and Google’s making that easier than ever for you to do now. All e-commerce business owners use some form of analytics in order to determine the best moves for their business, allowing them to find out where they want to take things from here, so to speak.

While this has been somewhat possible through social media as well, many business owners find that they don’t want to pay the additional fees needed in order to access this information, leaving them questioning as to whether or not they are doing things right on the social media platforms. Well, no more!

G+ now offers businesses the ability to access all of the analytic information that they need in order to determine the best methods of connecting with customers, identifying what is working and what is not, and, perhaps more importantly, works to increase the amount of control that small businesses have over their promotional activities. Offered as a part of the service now known as “Google My Business,” small business owners are able to manage many aspects of their online presence, including search results, maps, directions, reviews, and the analytical data offered to them through the use of G+.

 

Time To Make A Change?

Google’s always worked to try to provide users with all of the information that they could ever possibly need or want (and then some), but now it appears as though they are working to take care of not just individuals but businesses as well. With all this available readily at your fingertips, perhaps it’s time for you too to consider making a change; if not permanently, at least working to include G+ in your retinue of tools.

Five Must-Have Google Chrome Extensions For 2014

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

I’ve found that while computers have made our lives exponentially easier and more organized, sometimes the user can’t keep up with the technology, allowing mainstream tasks to become obsolete. For those of you who are unaware, a browser plug-in is a piece of software code that allows a program, or portion of a web page to do something it couldn’t by itself. One of the most common being Adobe Flash Player; without it, you wouldn’t be able to view videos embedded into web pages.

For these reasons we thought it’d be a good idea to share five plug-ins and browser extensions that may make your work flow and internet capabilities that much easier.

  1. Facebook Unseen- Block’s Facebook’s read receipts from being sent.

I actually really like this one. While Facebook has become an integral marketing tool, it has also become one of the largest time-sucks from a day of productivity. It’s hard not responding to a message from a friend or client when it’s indicated very clearly that the message has been received.

Sometimes we receive a message via mobile and don’t have the means to respond properly on the go. I find this is the perfect solution to still being able to read a message, while not offending someone while you wait to respond until later.

facebook_unseen

 

  1. Grammarly Lite- Rest assured your e-mails are making sense.

Spell checking is nothing revolutionary when it comes to most e-mail and comment boxes. However, when it comes to ensuring professional fluency in the messages you send out, grammatical mistakes often go unnoticed until the message is already in your sent box. The ways in which you’re covered include:

  • Prepositional errors

  • Inaccurate usage of pronouns

  • Irregular verb conjugations, etc.

Spell checking is also included in the set of features, which may come in handy for less developed messaging programs. Grammarly Lite works on all Social Media applications as well, so status updates, and messages will be on point.

 

  1. LastPass- Securely store your passwords and personal information

How many contact forms are you going to fill out before you entrust a third party to securely remember all of your Log-in information? With LastPass you won’t have to again!

Personally, I get overwhelmed with how many accounts I belong to, and how many new registration forms are requested on a monthly basis. Saving minutes here and there while logging in really amps up efficiency during the work day, and prevents remembering all of the various user-names and passwords we’re accountable for as individuals.

last_pass

 

  1. StayFocusd- Block out your online distractions

Here I sit, guilty as charged. As a writer I spend the majority of my work day pinned between my word processor, and a limitless expansion of digital distractions. My saving grace has been allowing StayFocusd to do what my discipline could not, and that’s block the pages and applications I knew were hindering my work flow.

Notable features include entire domain blocking, specific sub-domains, paths and in-page content (images, games, videos). You can even set a time limit if you want to browse for only a reasonable period of time. Many companies have put out comparable applications for considerable annual fees, StayFocusd is free!

 

  1. NiftySplit- Split Chrome into two windows

Not quite dual screen potential, but for anyone doing work on the go, having your browser split to surf through web pages more efficiently is a wonderful tool. How it works is you open your favorite website (The Homepage) and when you click on any link it then opens in the right hand side of the split screen interface.

Researchers, shoppers, and anyone just browsing web links will love not having to open a web page, click back and find their location in the link index again.

nifty_split

What are you favorite Chrome extensions? Let us know in the comments!

 

Image sources:

Facebook Unseen- http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage/f/facebook_unseen_for_chrome-518325-13771402970.jpeg

LastPass- http://www.majorgeeks.com/index.php?ct=files&action=file&id=2566

NiftySplit- http://core5.staticworld.net/images/article/2013/09/niftysplit-100054314-large.jpg

A Quick Primer on Google’s Panda 4.0 Update

Written by Brian Rakowski

Friday, June 6th, 2014

In Chinese culture, the panda bear is considered be a symbol of peace. So why did Google name one of their best known – or maybe most notorious is more like it – major algorithm updates that has caused a lot of headaches in the SERP’s over the past few years after this wonderful animal?

To be ironic?

Who knows, but since there are a lot of people that are trying to figure out how to “beat” it (first step, stop always being reactive) and there is a ton of speculation out there on it, I want to take a few minutes to distill what’s being said with a few thoughts.

A Quick Recap Of Panda

Google makes hundreds of tweaks to their search algorithm every year, but the updates that are especially impactful typically get internal code names like Vince, Caffeine, Hummingbird (this is a core rewrite to a major part of their natural language query engine, so calling it an update is an understatement), Penguin and Panda.

The Panda updates are geared towards content quality on a website and are intended to boost higher quality sites while punishing other site’s that have primarily two things:

  • Thin or spammy content
  • Duplicate content

The idea with the Panda updates is to try and send searchers to sites with high quality, helpful, unique and relevant content that’s going to satisfy the intention behind their query in the best way possible. One could definitely argue that’s the point of Google’s entire search algorithm, but this is all about the content side of the equation.

SEO Joke

 

Ask.com gets Eaten By A Rabid Panda

 

SEO Visibility

 

Since there’s not currently a lot of hard data out there on what exactly is being targeted other than the general stuff I mentioned above, I wanted to provide a quick example of a site that got hit hard which will hopefully provide some insights.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean this as a post to call out Ask.com for doing anything wrong, since I think this is an extreme example of a site being de-ranked vs. completely penalized. The former rewards competitors for producing better content while the latter is a direct slap to the face with a stern “No!” in response for doing something against Google Webmaster’s Guidelines which often results in dropping 100+ spots. Hopefully, they’ll bounce back soon.

As you can see, Ask.com saw a MASSIVE drop which coincides with Panda 4.0 which was officially announced early evening on 5/20/14. Many SERP trackers like Mozcast and Algoroo saw big fluctuations earlier than that, though.

SEO Graphs

Considering there was another announced update which reported went into effect around May 17th or so which targets traditionally spammy queries/niches like payday loans, it’s hard to tell exactly which update we’re dealing with. It could very well be a combination of the two depending on the verticals each tracker is targeting. Nonetheless, you can see that there was a pretty large shakeup in SERP’s around then.

So Where Did They Lose Visibility, And What May Have Caused It?

When I dug into what may have happened using one of my favorite tools, Searchmetrics, I immediately noticed that the vast majority of the drop happened with a handful of specific subdirectories. So what’s going on with them that could have caused the panda to get so angry?
SEO Organic Directories on Ask.com

Scraped Content From Other Authority Sites

So let’s check out some pages in the /question/ subdirectory to see if we can find some things from a content standpoint that might be causing the cataclysm.

Considering that I work in the web hosting industry, I decided to check out questions related to “Web Hosting & Domain Registration”, and a question about TLD’s (Top Level Domains) immediate stood out to me. Here’s what I found when I clicked over to the page:

What Is A TLD
I immediately noticed how little unique content is on the page, since the vast majority is just scrapped from other sources like eHow and Wikipedia. Even the direct answer to the question at the top of the page appears to be part of the Wikipedia description on the right with an additional sentence. No bueno.

When I clicked through to the Wikipedia link on to top right, I’m taken to what is essentially an entire scraped post from this Wikipedia page.

What About User Experience?

When it comes down to one of the main things that Google cares about, the user’s experience, I don’t think that Ask.com is 100% in the wrong. Sure, it would be much more valuable if they expanded on the topic by including unique additional reading that they produced vs. scraping it from other sites, but I also think that there’s value from the searcher’s perspective in having these related resources available on one page. In this example, the question is answered, and there’s additional reading that’s readily available without having to go back to Google if the searcher needs more information.

That seems like a good user experience to me, but I think this is definitely one of those cases where both sides can be argued, especially since there are so many sites that do similar things which don’t add any value to the user.

What do you think?

Do sites which primarily just act as content syndicators provide value to their users?

Should search engines like Google show the multiple sources to the searcher instead?

Is Google overstepping its bounds by essentially forcing the internet to adhere to its vision/standards vs. just arranging and displaying the world’s knowledge as they originally intended?

Google’s Thirst For Quality Content Continues

While this isn’t intended to be a definitive case study on Panda 4.0, I think provides some possible examples of why a huge site lost a lot of visibility in Google due to thin and/or duplicate content issues with some of their top subdirectories.

If there’s enough interest, I’d be happy to take a deeper dive into additional large sites that may have been affected by Panda 4.0, so if you’d like to see that, please let me know in the comments!

 

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