Google's new advanced search

The folks at Google have been busy again, this time revamping their advanced search page. The page has been redesigned with most of the functionality staying the same however some of the search options have been renamed or removed.

The removed tools include the ability to ‘Find pages similar to the page’ and ‘Find pages that link to the page’. 

Although the ‘Find pages that link to the page’ option has been removed, entering the command “” into the Google search bar still works.

Before :

After :

Site Explorer close today!

It has been coming. We had been informed that Yahoo would be winding down their Site Explorer tool a while ago but the day has finally arrived. Yahoo Site Explorer will close down today.

Yahoo’s announcement on their official blog:

“With the completion of algorithmic transition to Bing, Yahoo! Search has merged Site Explorer into Bing Webmaster Tools. Webmasters should now be using the Bing Webmaster Tools to ensure that their websites continue to get high quality organic search traffic from Bing and Yahoo!. Site Explorer services will not be available from November 21, 2011.”

Yahoo Site Explorer was a very useful tool for website owners and SEO professionals to find out link data for websites. It was particularly useful because it was data coming straight from a search engine.

If you were a user of the Yahoo Site Explorer then there’s no need to threat, the Bing Webmaster Tool will have the Site Explorer functionality. Many other third party tools offer link data such as Majestic SEO or SEOmoz.

New Local Search results from Google

A couple of days ago, there had been sightings of Google testing out a new “sources” box on the right hand side of the SERP’s. This box gave information about your search without having to click through to the website. Google have also started showing a box full of information in Google’s local search results.

The new results page seems to pull in all the information available in Google Places about your search query and displays it on the right hand side of the page, similar to the “sources” box. What this new box shows depends in your search query? For example, if you were searching for a restaurant, the new results can show a map, a link for directions, pictures, opening hours, reviews and even a menu.

This is a great new feature for user experience but could be harmful to businesses and marketers as users might be able to get the information they were looking for without ever clicking through to the business webpage.
After several months of testing, Google have officially announced that they would begin showing Adwords at the bottom of their search engine results page.

According to Google, the testing has shown that these ads at the bottom of the search results performed better than ads on the side of the page as they fit better with the way a user views the page scanning from top to bottom.

Having ads on the bottom of the page will give marketers more chances to get their ads appear on the first page of results rather than on the second page.

Google start encryting signed-in search

Google have made changes to the way secure search works for users logged into Any search performed whilst a user is logged into a Google account will be done on a secure socket layer (SSL). This change also means that these searches won’t pass on any search term referrer data.

Google claim that “As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users.”

Whilst Google is claiming that it is making the move to better protect user privacy, search term referrer data will still be passed on to advertisers who use their PPC product. This has left the some of the SEO community unhappy, with claims that Google are effectively saying that you can have the search referrer data but only if you pay for it.

Panda update alerts!

Google may start using social media sites such as Twitter to keep searchers up to date with any Panda updates or Google Algorithm changes in the future.

In the past, Matt Cutts used his blog to post any news on the Panda updates. These became known as ‘weather reports’ but last week he used a tweet to announce that there would be some minor Panda updates implemented in the next few weeks.

Many Seo-ers would welcome this as any information regarding changes would help website owners and marketers maintain their sites to keep their presence in search results.

Google have shown signs that they may be willing to be a bit more open regarding any updates in the future, perhaps the tweet by Cutts could be the start of it.

Google Merchant Centre updates

In July, Google released a statement saying that it was updating the requirements needed for Product Feeds in its Merchant Centre.

All feeds had to comply with these new specifications for the 22nd September or face having your account suspended.

Google will give you 7 days warning period to get your feed up to date. If you do not heed this warning, your account will be suspended for 7 days. If, after the 7 day suspension, you still refuse to comply with the new requirements, your account will be suspended for at least 28 days.

Although Google are claiming they will be tough on people who do not comply with the new requirements, they have been trying to help people update their feed information. A tool that allows you to upload your product feed to the Merchant Centre in a sort of dummy run, allowing you to check and fix any errors that occur. You can also use this tool as many times as needed. If you need any more help, you can check out the official Google Merchant blog or check out the tutorial videos on YouTube.

Google Plus Emerges

As we patiently await Social Media Week Glasgow we thought it would be worth taking a quick look at Google's new social network and the impact it might have on SEO. It's still very fresh, so the work is still ongoing to see what the impact could potentially be however some early signals have already emerged.

The +1 button has a substantial impact if you are signed into your Google account when searching. Items you have +1'd previously will show up in prominent positions if you search for related terms, while content which those in your circles have +1'd will receive a similar boost.

Social feedback seems to be Google's latest idea to determine the most appropriate result for specific searches, and the +1 button will give them vital feedback to help find quality content. The challenge for those offering search engine optimisation services is encouraging  people to share the content they are trying to promote, a task that will be far easier in some areas than others.

Google Plans New Algorithm Update

It is widely expected that Google will be applying more modifications to it’s search algorithm in the near future. This will see Google roll out it’s Panda 2.2 update.

Google’s Matt Cutts revealed at the SMX Advance conference in Seattle that the next update has been approved and will be released some time soon.

The latest Panda update is reported to trace websites that republish content to get higher page ranks and superior positioning in search rankings and punish them. It is hoped that the update will also fix the false positives (sites that were wrongly penalised by the 1st Panda update).

Cutts did confirm that the updated algorithm will be on the look out for pages that may use “hidden text”. If any of these pages are spotted, they could be penalised on search rankings.

It will be a nervy few weeks for website owners and SEOers at our SEO Scotland office as the Panda update rolls out, waiting to see what effect the new algorithm update on their sites.

Social Signals And SEO

Following the much publicised recent changes in the Google search algorithm (known as the 'Panda' update) there has been a lot of discussion as to just what the biggest influences on the SERPs currently are. Recent research by SEOMOZ suggests that social signals, such as Facebook shares and likes, retweets on Twitter etc have a much bigger impact on ranking results than they did previously.

A similar study in June 2010 showed that .com domains with exact match addresses and the number of linking domains had the biggest impact on the results. Now, as of late March 2011, the Facebook 'share' appears to have the biggest impact on the rankings, outranking even Twitter in the impact it has on the results. The study has the following takeaways:

1 - Social Signals Appear To Correlate Well With Strong Rankings
Pages which earn a large number of tweets and shares correlate well with earning links, and send direct traffic on their own.

2 - The Testing Of Facebook Shares Is an Urgent Matter
The impact of a viral Tweet has been well established, it is imperative to test this with Facebook link shares.

3 - New Strategies Are Required To Achieve Facebook Shares
Shares are not easy to come by, and some brainstorming is required to find new ways of getting people to share your link

4 - Shares Appear More Valuable Than Likes
A like on a link will appear on a user’s wall, whereas a share is much more likely to be in the 'Top News' landing page of a user’s friends and family. This should, in theory, allow more people to view and then share your link.

5 - Twitter Might Not Be As Powerful As Previously Thought
The data showed that the presence of tweets in the rankings was, compared to Facebook, a lot less than anticipated. This requires further analysis and testing.

The full report can be found here, this article was by EQTR SEO, Glasgow.

All the talk over the past few weeks in our SEO Glasgow HQ has been about the recent 'Panda' algorithm update which intended to remove low value or spam sites from the higher end of the organic search results. However one thing which has become apparent is that Google is now incorporating user feedback and social signals much more prominently in its algorithm, and this brings with it another area for SEO teams to consider. This won't come as a shock to those who have been monitoring the recent statements from the company, and the impending introduction of the '+1' button and the option for users to remove sites from their results will help give Google feedback on what sites users are finding value in.

The exact amount of influence these factors will have remains to be seen, though I have no doubt there are countless SEO'ers running their own tests at the moment to see which of these changes is most prominent and we will have a clearer picture in the not too distant future. It will also remain to be seen just how quickly the less ethical side of the SEO world find a way to manipulate these features for their on gain. It's already an interesting time, and the next few months should prove fascinating as we start to see the outcome of the research being done.

What is SEO?

For anyone who has managed to stumble on to the blog by mistake and has no idea what search engine optimisation is, I will give a very short, brief introduction.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process used to improve your web page or website’s visibility in a search engine such as Google or Bing etc via the unpaid (also known as “natural” or “organic”) search results.

Generally, the higher the position your page or site holds and how often your site appears in the search results usually contributes to the number of visitors it will get from search engine users.
 In an SEO marketing campaign, an SEO will consider what strategy to use by considering many factors including how search engines work, how people “use “ search engines and what relevant search terms (keywords) are typed into search engines.

There is so much more I could write here but I wanted to keep the introduction quite short. I will hopefully go into much more detail as more posts are put up. So if you are interested, keep popping back to check for updates and if there is anything you’d like to know, get in touch

Thank you for visiting the Search Engine Optimisation Services Blog. I have been working in SEO for a digital agency based in Scotland. In the next few weeks we will be looking to post news and updates on all things related to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).