Last week Google announced they would be implementing changes in an effort to combat inaccurate information and hateful search results from their search engine. In this article I'll cover the possible pros and cons of this update and how it can affect brands.
What is Project Owl and how it works
Project Owl is Google's update gives users the ability to report information they may deem inappropriate, inaccurate or offensive.
Let's see how it works:
1 A new link to a feedback form will appear underneath Google's suggested searches;
2 A new link to a feedback form will appear underneath "Featured Snippets;"
These changes have been implemented after Google has been scrutinized for sharing some questionable content. In December of 2016 the number one result for the search query "did the Holocaust happen" was linked to a pro-Nazi site. Other missteps include featuring Breitbart for a top science or news story regarding the Great Barrier Reef.
Project Owl is Google's reaction to combatting these problematic results. Whether it's inaccurate information or offensive search queries, Google wants to ensure that what we receive is reliable and relevant information.
For years, I've been saying that if you have a problem with spammers in local results, you can just wait it out. I mean, if Google cared about removing spam and punishing those who are regular spammers we'd see them removed fast and often, right?
While there are instances where spam has been removed, it seems these are not fast fixes, permanent fixes, or even very common. In fact, they seem few and far between. So today I’m changing my tune a bit to call more attention to the spam issues people employ that violate Google My Business terms and yet continue to win in the SERPs.
The problems are rampant and blatant. I've heard and seen many instances of legitimate businesses changing their names just to rank better and faster for their keywords.
Another problem is that Google is shutting down MapMaker at the end of March. Edits will still be allowed, but they'll need to be made through Google Maps.
If Google is serious about rewarding brands in local search, they need to encourage it through their local search algorithms.
For some people, it’s gotten so bad that they’re actually suing Google. On January 13, 2017, for instance, a group of fourteen locksmiths sued Google, Yahoo, and Bing over fake spam listings, as reported by Joy Hawkins.
While some changes — like the Possum update — seemed to have a positive impact overall, root problems (such as multiple business listings) and many other issues still exist in the local search ecosystem. Read full article here
How Google transforms search queries and what it means for SEO
In Franz Kafka's novella "The Metamorphosis", a man wakes up one morning to find out he has turned into a giant insect. If keywords were existentialists, they could be experiencing something similar as, having been typed into Google's search bar, they go through numerous transformations to become new, modified versions of themselves — the queries that Google thinks are a better representation of the searcher's intent.
To illustrate what I'm saying, let me ask you for a tiny favor. Go on and type in "oscar" in Google. No, seriously, do it. I'll hang in here while you're at it.
Chances are all of the top results you got are about the 89th Academy Awards that took place a few days ago. Some of the results likely do not mention the word "oscar" (the only word you typed in, remember?) at all. Somehow, Google knows you're looking for the specific Oscars award rather than general information about the ceremony, Oscar the name, or Oscar anything else — and transforms your query behind the scenes into something that barely resembles the original. Read full article here
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