The SEO News Round Up: Google Places and Zagat Scores, Retired Analytics, GWT Link Downloads, Bing’s Foursquare Bit on the Side and Google+ Share Experiment
The Fresh Egg SEO round up continues this week with some interesting updates from Google, including the new link download option within Webmaster Tools and a SERP level social sharing experiment, plus we take a look at Bing’s new Foursquare sidebar integration.
Google Places and Zagat scores
Since Google+ integrated the Zagat scoring system (which people still can’t fully work out), it has been noted that these scores are now being displayed for competitor businesses within results pages for a variety of queries based upon a user’s location.
From a business perspective, it has become even more important to maintain a healthy Google+ business page and encourage customers to review products and services.
The example of a search within the ‘Local’ tab of a Google+ account shows the listings for a search query for ‘Italian restaurants’ within the Soho area of Westminster.
It’s quickly apparent that the review system is now an integral element of the results, and having a good base of reviews from customers can help to build brand reputations. Interestingly, the reviews displayed differ between businesses who have a high number of customer reviews and those with a lower level of customer feedback. The highlighted example of ‘Little Italy’ appears to be a custom amalgamation of previous reviews summed up in a snippet from Zagat, whereas ‘Lorelei’ shows the viewpoint of a single customer.
We’ve also highlighted the key to the Zagat ratings system so you can easily get your head around it.
So long to Google Analytics version 4
If you were particularly fond of the old style reporting within Google Analytics, I’m afraid there’s a bit of bad news: it’s now completely gone.
Google has stripped away the option to dive into the old version of Analytics and have forced us all to get on with the new style of interface. Google has also announced that version 5 is also in the process of being rolled out. Google says it has addressed functionality issues and also thrown in a host of new features, stating:
“Our goals for the new version are to make it easier and faster to get to the data you want and to enhance the Google Analytics platform to bring you major new functionality. Many of the changes in the new version are the result of your feedback.”
Version 5’s new features include:
- Multiple dashboards
- The ability to view multiple advanced segments
- Real-time analytics reports
- Social reports
- Content Experiments
We are particularly interested in the ‘Content Experiments’ feature, which allows users to perform A/B testing of up to six different variations of a landing page. For more information on Content Experiments, check out this video from Google.
Google Webmaster Tools: Link download option available
On July 17th, Matt Cutts announced a new feature had been added to Google Webmaster Tools via his Twitter account:
The feature allows users to download the links to a domain and display them in date order, meaning that it is now easier to track link acquisition and determine if a link may be liable for any penalties incurred.
Thanks for that, Matt.
Google Share experiment
Google+ has recently announced the launch of a new experiment to allow Google+ users to share a link within the SERPs in place of the +1 button. Google’s product manager Sean Liu announced the following through his G+ account on July 18th:
“Starting today, we’re rolling out a new experiment to show a Share link in Google search in place of the +1 button, making it easier for you to share a great website with your friends. Now when you click the Share link next to a result, you can add a comment about why you found it useful. You can then choose if you want to share it publicly or just to your Circles and it will post to your Google+ stream, making it easier for you to share directly from the search results page. This will appear for those searching in English.”
We managed to have a play about with this function and thought it was interesting that a page could be shared directly from the SERPs without having to visit the URL.
An interesting development from Google which has led to mixed reactions from users who were quite happy just to have the +1 function rather than going through the rigmarole of commenting and sharing. Head over to Sean’s Google+ page to see the reactions.
Foursquare tips integrated into Bing’s social sidebar
Bing continues its quest to improve their SERPs by offering yet another social element, this time in the form of Foursquare tips. The function will be tied into location-based queries and be displayed within the ‘People Who Know’ section of the sidebar. Results will be customised to individual user locations and search topics.
Images taken from the Bing blog show what the integration will look like within the SERPs.
Bing’s director Stefan Weitz is pretty excited by this integration and gives a nice video demonstration of the feature at work over here, stating that this is “the first of many more integrations to come inside of [Bing’s] social sidebar.”
Nicely done, Stefan; we look forward to the next feature integrations!
Google acquires design team members for Google+ from Cuban Council
The latest news on the Google+ social network front is that Google has introduced members of high profile design company Cuban Council onto their own design team.
Details of the acquisition are not yet clear, but given the previous clients that Cuban Council has worked for in the past (Quora and Evernote, to name but two), we are hopeful that the design elements of Google+ will become far more aesthetically pleasing for users of the social platform.
A short post on the Cuban Council blog states:
“We’re very excited to share that some folks on our team will be joining Google to focus on design aspects of Google+. Having worked closely with a variety of Google product teams since 2005, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to focus our creative efforts within the organization”.