What Has Google Been Doing for the Last Couple of Weeks?
Well, it’s been a busy few weeks in the search engine world, with several important announcements having been made recently. Some of the more important ones include Google’s approaching mobile wallet launch and the search engine’s changes to its technical operations.
First of all, I’d like to apologize for the inactivity of our blog, since we usually try to publish posts on a daily basis. I was offline for a few days while visiting the country music capitol of the world (Nashville, Tennessee – Yee Haw!). What a week to miss; I have to admit, it wasn’t the best timing, with the SMX East conference taking place and with Google therefore putting out a lot of content and improvements, as well as innovations.
Here’s what I was seeing while unplugged in Nashville.
But now I’m back and ready to dive back in. So, in this first post, I’m going to try to cover (if only simply gloss) the exciting/important/notable things that have been announced in the time since I last blogged. The answer to the question posed in the title of this post is pretty obvious: Google has been improving old features and releasing new products (in their beta testing phases). In the time surrounding the SMX East conference, which took place last week in New York City, Google announced multiple important changes and improvements to a couple of search features. This post will delve into some of the more notable changes that occurred over the last couple of weeks.
Technical Features Improved – Reconsideration Requests, Pagination
If you are a webmaster or an SEO, then you likely know that when your site has been punished and removed from the Google SERPs, you can file a reconsideration request. The process for doing so has evolved over time, as Google’s updates have continued to change the landscape of search.
With changes come penalties, which can be extremely severe for some, especially those who have suffered recently in the wake of the Panda update. And for those who feel they have been unduly punished, there are Reconsideration Requests, accessible through Google’s Webmaster tools. As long as your site does not violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it should not be removed from the SERPs.
If you are in a position to file a Reconsideration Request, Google is willing to work with you. In the past, the search engine has modified its request system so that webmasters were receiving not just one email confirming the request had been received, but also one other email confirming the processing of that request. Now, Google is working on sending out more detailed (don’t mistake detailed for specific to each individual case, though) responses to these requests, in an effort to improve transparency and possibly make the lives of many webmasters much easier.
According to the Google Webmaster Blog post about this subject, the following changes are taking place:
“Now, if your site is affected by manual spam action, we may let you know if we were able to revoke that manual action based on your reconsideration request. Or, we could tell you if your site is still in violation of our guidelines. This might be a discouraging thing to here, but once you know that there is still a problem, it will help you diagnose the issue. If your site is not actually affected by any manual action (this is the most common scenario), we may let you know that as well.”
This is a step in a very helpful direction. Many webmasters are still reeling from the drastic effects of Panda, and now they may be able to better understand what they need to fix to slowly make their way back up the Google rankings ladder.
Now, webmasters can use rel=”next” and rel= “prev” in your site’s HTML to connect related URLs in a paginated series. Google describes when you can use these HTML link elements and provides the following graphic:
“Throughout the web, a paginated series of content may take many shapes- it can be an article divided into several component pages, or a product category with items spread across several pages, or a forum thread divided into a sequence of URLs.”
When you use these HTML link elements, you are sending Google a message that you want the search engine to group the links in the series and direct users to the beginning of the series (you are providing Google with more information about your content so that when your pages are indexed, the most relevant page to users, usually the first page, is recognized).
“View all pages” has changed slightly because of pagination changes. Basically, if you have a view all page with your patterned paginated URLs, these are considered together; the URLs that are paginated are seen as parts of one whole, with the whole being represented on the “View All” page. If you have a view all page, this will be more likely to show up in the SERPs, because this is what Google believes to be the most effective. However, if you don’t want the view all page to rank, and just want the paginated URLs to rank according to relevance, you can block this action so that everything functions as described above. Read more about this here.
Travel Search Beta Released
Flight search also became available, though it has hit a couple of bumps in the road (most notably, it listed the World Trade Center as an airport – albeit a closed or “unavailable” one. First noticed by someone in Australia, this listing has since been removed, but it caused quite a bit of negative buzz at the outset).
For a limited number of cities, if you type in something like I did above (Flight from NY to LA), “Flights” will show up in the left hand column.
Voila! You can filter your search based on airline, number of stops, outbound time, return time, etc. You can also set your price range. While this may not be groundbreaking in itself (you can get this kind of functionality with any other type of travel site, like Orbitz), remember that this is just a beta. Google is likely not going to stop here. More will likely be integrated to make the functionality of this feature more complicated and more integrated with other Google services.
The Mobile Wallet May Have Reached its Launch Date
It’s rumored that the Google Wallet will be launched today, so keep your eyes peeled for that giant development! Though the mobile wallet will only be available for one phone model (the Nexus S 4G) – the technology is still groundbreaking and the opportunities for the future are endless.
TechCrunch got its hands on paperwork indicating the launch will be today – though, it hasn’t officially happened yet. Search Engine Land reports that the launch will be largely “symbolic.” Greg Sterling’s post notes that “the limited availability of Google Wallet makes the launch largely symbolic in many respects. But because of Google’s brand clout and visibility mobile payments are now on the radar. And intensifying competition guarantees innovation will continue to happen.” He mentions a few competitors, and we know of at least one other that is likely to offer similar technology. It will be interesting to see how the Google wallet changes the landscape of credit card usage – and how its competitors match up to what is going to be a very limited product at first.
For any questions about Google’s newest changes and innovations and how they might affect SEO, please continue to visit our blog for daily posts about the goings on in the search engine and search marketing worlds. For more specific questions related to your business, contact our Atlanta SEO Agency at 770-481-1766.