Matt Cutts Announces Panda Update,Google Settles Data Harvesting Case, Facebook Opens Up About Graph Search, & More.

Matt Cutts Announces Panda Update,Google Settles Data Harvesting Case, Facebook Opens Up About Graph Search, & More.

This Week’s Industry News

Compiled By Rocket Clicks Staff

Matt Cutts Casts A Spell Of SEO Doom Over Bad Websites

Taking the stage to an awed hush at SMX West (we assume), Google’s Matt Cutts announced an impending comeuppance for violators of its quality website guidelines. Specifically, Cutts said a Panda update is headed our way this Friday or Monday, and an upcoming Penguin update will be “very significant.” Plan accordingly, ye SEO sinners.

Additionally, Cutts later said that Panda updates will soon be integrated into the real-time updating process of Google’s algorithm, meaning we’re less and less likely to see one-time bulk changes and more likely to gradually see things shift.

Source: Search Engine Land

Facebook Discusses All Things Facebook Search-Related

Facebook is starting to open up about the algorithm that produces its Graph Search Results. In a blog post that also mentions plans for comment and user post search functions in the works, Facebook’s Sriram Sankar provides a high-level overview of how they score different queries, and how Facebook combats results that may be too homogenous.

Source: Search Engine Land

Bing Ads Makes Changes To Campaign & Ad Group Targeting

With its February release, Bing Ads made changes to how ad group and campaign targets relate to each other. Prior to the February release, ad group targets overrode campaign targets. Now, both target settings will be considered to boost ad relevancy and delivery.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google Place Pages Don’t Allow Redirects

The latest update of Google Place’s guidelines now forbids your listing page from containing any URL that redirect to other URLs.

Source: SEO Roundtable

Over Half Of Mobile Purchases Happen Within One Hour Of Initial Search

55% of purchase-related conversions via mobile happen within one hour, according to a new Google-Nielsen study. The study, conducted over Q4 2012, employed several different methodologies-user diaries, search query logging and online follow-up surveys.  Additional findings included:

  • 45 percent of mobile searches “are conducted to help make a decision” (in a store, that number goes up to 66 percent)
  • 28 percent of mobile searches result in conversions

The study also found that mobile search-ad recall was highest when the searcher was in a store.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google Search Results Magnify URLs, Add ‘Search Within’ Instant Search Option

Google is making URLs more prominent in its search results, enhancing the size of the green font URL underneath the clickable link. Additionally, Google is soon making it easier for brand searchers to specify what they’re looking for within their original search.

When people search for big brands (such as “CNN”), Google now automatically displays a “Search Within” option that converts their Instant Search into a Site Search straight from Google. This isn’t a new feature, as Google has had “site:” search for some time, but it improves that targeting for the common searcher.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google Will Soon Crack Down On Bad Merchants In Its Search Results

Another SMX revelation from Matt Cutts involved Google’s plans to weed out bad retailers from its search rankings. Cutts indicated the change wouldn’t happen for at least a couple quarters, and the ultimate motive is anything but surprising. Google’s Trusted Stores program is the rough merchant equivalent to the rel=author tag, and it only makes sense to get rid of “bad user experience” on retail stores if Google is doing the same with “bad user experiences” on content-based sites.

Source: Search Engine Watch

Facebook Is Staying Out Of The External Search Engine Melee

Facebook’s Graph Search function appears to be their only foray into the wonderful world of search engines. At SMX West, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions, Grady Burnett, said a Facebook external search engine is not happening anytime soon. Burnett added that Graph Search is their priority, along with making sure people never leave the social network.

Source: Search Engine Land

Study Finds Just 29% Of Mobile Users Search For Local Businesses

Mobile was the bookend thing to 2012, and is the current big thing in 2013. However, according to a recent study from BrightLocal, just 29% of mobile searchers look for a local business in a given month, and 19% of mobile users doing so at least once a week. Predictably, bars (32%), general shops (31%), and restaurants (31%) top the list of most searches.

There’s some other useful bits of local data in the study (such as people’s specific habits in third party apps like Yelp), and the article generously outlines some action steps for local businesses now in possession of this data.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google Reaches Settlement In U.S. Data Harvesting Case

Google has reached a $7 million settlement ending its longstanding data harvesting case related to Street View in the US.  38 states will split the cash evenly. Wisconsin isn’t one of them. The case dates back to 2010 when it was discovered that Google’s Street View vehicles had been illegally snooping on local Wi-Fi networks and grabbing passwords and other sensitive data.

Source: Search Engine Watch

Wisconsin Woman Has No Idea How Search Engines Display Ads, Sues Them Anyways

Two weeks after a Wisconsin court ruled in favor of a law firm’s choice to bid on their competitor’s name in AdWords, the Dairy State is once again at the center of a Google-based lawsuit. Beverly Stayart is still batting goose eggs, after a Court of Appeals tossed out her suit against Google, claiming the search engine misappropriated her name by displaying it next to ads for Levitra, Cialis, and other spam sites.

This would be her second go-round attempt at squeezing money from a search engine, as Stayart made a similar claim against Yahoo in 2009. Funny enough, the lawsuits act as self-fulfilling prophecies, as the more Stayart is mentioned next to Levitra and Cialis in news stories, the more likely she is to have those ads appear next to her name. Ah, irony.

Source: TechDirt

Study Uses Facebook Likes To Predict Personality Traits

Utilizing IQ and personality tests in conjunction with the Facebook Likes of 58,466 people, a University of Cambridge study has created a predictive model for determining a person’s likely personality, sexual orientation, etc. Among the most amusing findings: someone that likes Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is likely to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Source: Gawker

Notable Commentary

Axiomatic In Its Brilliance

Why Branding And Perception Can Often Trump Quality

By now, we’re all familiar with the “Bing It On” and “Scroogled” commercials. Even last week, a study declared Yellow Pages a more useful resource for local data than Google. However, Greg Sterling contends that Google’s brand strength is so good that it really doesn’t matter if we can definitively prove their search results are inferior.

Analysis By: Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land

INFOGRAPHIC: Google’s Mobile Money Machine, In Visual Form

WordStream has a fantastic infographic (that looks like a phone!) that runs down how Google makes its money off the growing mobile search population. Even better, WordStream “grades” each app, Places layout, and AdWords feature based on user and company benefits.

Analysis By: WordStream

A Never Ending Quest For The White What That Is Content Length

Is there an ideal amount of content you should aim for when writing copy for clients? Rick Whittington explores this question and includes some tips for breaking through the post-college version of the “How many pages does it need to be?” question that often hampers writer creativity and quality.

Analysis By: Rick Whittington, RickWhittington.Com

Eight Reasons Source Code Matters To Your SEO Audit

Glenn Gabe at Search Engine Watch explains why source code is so important to SEO Audits and offers eight potential SEO pitfalls that can be nipped in the bud if you know what you’re looking at.

Analysis by: Glenn Gabe, Search Engine Watch