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You will use Google+!

It’s all change in local search

So as you may have seen this morning, Google Places has come to an abrupt end. Well that is what the major outlets would have you believe, but from what I have seen, it has finally evolved into something that will be of more use to both businesses and customers alike; in the form of Google+ Local Pages. These listings are not dissimilar to Facebook Places and as such, they integrate straight into the Google+ profile of the business. But wait I hear you cry, most businesses aren’t on Google+, and you are not wrong, they’re not but they will be now if they have any sense!

Was that the main point of the entire process? Making sure that people are using Google+? I think we can take a educated guess and agree that it will have been a major factor in the change. But for now, we will overlook the shameless attempt to grow users and look at what it can actually do for you.

So what?

Well, basically all Google+ Local Pages are now completely indexed. Yep there is going to be a serious amount of SEO value up for grabs with these Pages and you’re going to need to make the most of it. It will be interesting to see the different approaches to Google+ Local Pages and what works the best. For now it is a guessing game and we will have to wait and see how strict Google are with spam and low quality listings.

Another very interesting development is making the whole thing mobile and changing the review system to Zagat, the reviews will become far more detailed with a ranking system up to 30 and split between different categories. It should make for a far better user experience. As they are now indexed, it makes sense that the more reviews there are, the more SEO value the page has. Google’s obsession with freshness plays into the hands of the involved user.

You are also now able to see what reviews your friends have left in a very similar way to Foursquare. The change is so large, it needs to be covered by 2 videos, check them out below.



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Has Google+ just become a top priority?

As I am sure that you have seen by now, Google have to the dismay of Twitter, introduced a new element of search. They have called it “Google Search plus Your World” long winded I know, maybe Search+ would have been better but who am I to question the almighty overlords of the web?

But what does this actually mean for you? Basically it means that you are going to get results from Google+ within your search, these will be split between personal results from people in your circles and also just general results from Google+.

Google have been very clever with this and have made it an opt-out system and as we all know, most people will not bother changing it or won’t even know how. As the adoption of Google+ increases and with an estimated 400 million users by the end of the year this social media powerhouse will be influencing SERPs for a long time yet.

But should we accept the inevitable and adopt Google+ into our SEO strategies? My simple answer to that would be a resounding yes! There is little point in resisting the changes that Google implement just because we don’t like them. You would not keep your pre-Panda strategy out of principle so it is time that we welcomed this strange social media hybrid into our lives and made the most of it!

Source: Threeten10.com

Source: Threeten10.com

Is what Google are doing moral? Well this is the question that has really been raised by companies like Twitter. Twitter are not included under the title “Your World” and they claim that this new move has reduced their visibility, now we get into a very complicated and muddled part of this story.

Twitter uses NoFollow tags for all its links and this is Google’s reasoning for their low rankings within Google. But what does NoFollow actually mean, well, this is a hot topic at the moment and there are differing opinions. Some prominent members of the SEO community such as Will Critchlow have said that NoFollow does not mean not indexed it just means that no trust is passed on from the host.

It is interesting to see how this will play out and may actually be a blessing for SEOs as there may finally be a definitive answer to the value of a NoFollow link.

Do you use Google+ for your clients and if not is it something that you would consider? Tell us in the comments.

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My rules of twitter

Now you may be reading this thinking how ridiculous that there should be rules to twitter. But think about it, twitter is social media. In a normal social situation you try and stay within general social conventions so why not make that the case on twitter?

There are a number of things that normal twitter users hate and from what I have seen it is the self appointed social media experts that are the worst offenders.

1. Ok the first thing that you should never do is have a Direct Message set up so when people follow you they get a message that is usually a bit corny and is tailored to be personalised to the entire world and some of them are way off the mark and very clearly not personalised at all. This just annoys people and I know users who see this as a cardinal sin and will make it an instant unfollow. The image below came over to me as soon as he followed me after I followed him. I am rather sceptical as to whether he actually read a single one of my tweets.

How not to use a Direct Message

2. Make sure that you get everything that you want into the 140 allocated characters. Yes I know that there are tweet extenders that put a little URL on the end of your tweet but nobody wants to click them just to see what you have written. Twitter is a fast moving world and it is naive to think that anyone is going to click them to see an extra 10 characters. It is not very difficult to do with just a modicum of effort. I would love to show you a picture but I have unfollowed everyone who does it!

3. The worst possible faux par for me is TrueTwit validation. For those of you who have no idea what it is, here goes. Basically it is a service that auto unfollows people who don’t click the link and go and type in a stupid code. You get the message as an auto Direct Message which is bad enough. Then you are forced to go to an external website and type in the code that shows up on the screen or the person will unfollow you.

Screen Shot 2011-10-28 at 09.32.06

Now the kind of people that are using it are not the high profile celebrity types that you would expect. They are random people who for some reason think that it is OK to blackmail you into validating yourself before they will consider gracing you with their follow. I must admit that none of the people using it are important enough to me to want to do such a stupid thing.

The idea is that spammers dont bother filling in the validation. The major flaw here is that anyone can sign up to it and once they do sign up they never have to validate themselves. What a crazy idea, it takes a few minutes to sign up and this will stop them having to validate themselves. Great you think why don’t I just do that? Well because if you do sign up then all of the people that want to follow you will have to validate themselves as well and why would you want to put your potential new friends through such a stupid process?

Bonus. Finally, this one is not the end of the world but makes twitter a bit pointless on Fridays, you guessed it, FollowFriday. Now it is called Follow Friday for a reason, you want people to follow the people you suggest. If you suggest 30 people over multiple tweets then nobody is going to follow any of them, now I understand that a lot of people seem to use this as FlatterFriday and just tell people to follow all of the people that they want to impress. This is stupid and nobody cares if you suggest them along with numerous other people.

The trick is to suggest only a few people over the course of a day, put some thought into the people you recommend and use it as a way of helping your followers not yourself.

If there are any more things that you absolutely can’t stand then let me know in the comments.

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